The Sorrowful Heart of a Nineteen Year Old Girl

I met her with an ice cream licking friend
Amidst a crowd where she wore a floral skirt
And rickety shoes, her eyes lacking an eyeliner
Her skin storyless and pure
She called me an unusual scientist with weird ears
And said my nose was like a rocky hill
Even my hair wasn’t spared, she thought of it
To be worse than the mane of an old mare
Later that month I’d find her
Strolling across the race course
Staring at horses speed past her morose eyes

Her morose eyes

The wintry tears and snowfall of regrets
Her perfect face cancelled by her imperfect self, even
The teenagers from the suburb
Felt she was too smart
But she was just a stupid girl
With a sorrowful heart

For days I’d let her talk, not just
The usual hormonal rants but even
Lyrics of favorite songs, oh for that matter
Plans to travel to Rome and back
We even booked our trains to China
But it fell apart once the phone cut

The phone cut

Years later I met her in a mall, she
Dragged around a cart filled
With discounted flour and tea, it even had
Vegetables and frozen meat, she looked
the same except for her skin

Dark in places, pale in some,
Her eyes slow to blink and her hair overdone
She stood in a line with
A heap of worries and despair, the winter
in her eyes colder, sparked
At the cash counter
When they touched a travel magazine
That made promises of blue seas
And islands with beautiful men,
She thought of picking it up, but then though,
Life’s a lie, and at 28, 
its rather better to look elsewhere

Sitting at a Study Table

Both beautiful and sad, your face
Draped in a table lamp’s offering
Stares at its old versions in yellowed albums, you
Browse through former laughter trapped
In static pictures, your hair
Lush and immortal, even your eyes
Seemed larger and unexplored

Around you scribbles and poetry hangs, some
Sits and the other stands, some
Pinned against a softboard’s worn face calls
To be rewritten, you switch it all off
Over you the ceiling smeared with
The city’s long shadows, as
They move and carpet across and out, a million stars
Sparkle in the distance
You cannot see them from here, they shine
Atop your favourite mountain
That is, somewhere, ageing alone in the fog

Bucket Boy

in a single sweep history
rewritten by a spade, a whiter race
armed with gods and texts, made
demons of the browns –
percolate as mismatches, on
the outskirts the hutment absolved
mocked by pigs, dead cows
rows of faeces

parked amidst a river’s gush, vessels
stained by blood, a cloth line
blots hanging as linen – a crow
calls for a dead gecko, the woman appears
in her a child about to die
at birth, it will be named as its father
roaming with a bucket
its hands substituting
the water in latrines

Goa, Circa 2013 

Strolling in the drizzle one becomes green like the hills
Clotting besides the river, between you and them a bridge
Last catch of fish dissected at the creek, prawns –
Your favourite
Cooking somewhere in the breeze

Roofed red tiles, curving street, scent of sausages
Drying ignored and becoming potent like an education
A radio clicks, fuzz of signals punctuate the harbour
A ferry roams in its waves and reaches you pregnant

While I sip insipid tea from a patrao’s cart
The season brews over the river, coming with it
An ancient scent of stacked cashews

Francophone

Today the day scatters moodily, scarfs
tied against pulled back hair
embroidered with block-printed tales
wave along the smoggy air
…bus stop, white earphones
a farewell bid to unknown faces
senseless proximity with strangers
in the distance a coffee shop dead- livened
by an opening shutter
the flux of beans roasting released
a cup rinsed by black
black, and more black
french accent, african descent
a country opens its newspaper

Upbringing

the chalk that rivers across the blackboard
last smudged my fingers
when I was 11 and crew cut

they anglicised our language for us
uniforms, leather,
uptight references to the weather
the use of local words
within an essay
banned like one bans dangerous drugs

how stupidly I obeyed it all
and stood first, acing
every exam like a long distance runner
at the end of the race my mind splintered
my roots cut, my feet
insulated from my own earth
as I was now ready, to conquer
the air conditioned world
ironing my new shirt every evening