Carriage

Ran through paddyfields repainting your feet. The wind’s favourite sport was to enamour your forehead with numbness.
Left alone in the backyard you trespassed – robbery of jackfruit and cashew apples you failed to guess were liquor.
Grew up to be a burning torch of unfulfilled desires. Painting every city with slang ridden verses and slurred tongues.
Later at thirty-seven you picked up the telephone, at the other end was your brother’s son, unaware of his uncle.
A rare instance of you returning – mother – now about to be extinguished into a memoir; you were late (absent) again. You crossed fifty.
Met your nephew, finally; transferred your leftover age into his and said a prayer – his hair felt like the first time your fingers ran through paddyfields.
So many trains dispersed, alas, we stood at the station watching you depart,

and then all of a sudden we gasped when a fruit crate was unloaded.

carrying the scent
of lost years

…mango breeze

Incoherent List of Reminders

She reads the screen then reads your face
mid-morning, late-afternoon, purple evening –
all these awkward times of the day when
nothing is happening, is when she remembers
unsaid prose and lets it out in non-linear fashion;
“thank you, for sharing that, I had forgotten
how much I liked poetry’, ‘I also used to
love the sound of onions crackling in oil’,
‘thank you for watering the plants, now, I
remember the romance of petrichor’, ‘will you
speak on the phone in the next room? It will
feel like this home has more people than it does”
I obliged; then on sultry nights I played synth-pop,
practiced my French, got reminded of former flames
and failed loves, still lingering like spices on fingers
post a marinade rub; then late one night, ‘don’t
speak so much when you snore, choose one’, that
was the last straw; I unfurled old photos, former
calendars where nothing was striked off,
found a pristine boy in some of them
his hair was lush and he wore my name
winking at me from another country
smirking and holding a chord in his teeth
about to sing, the choir will join in, the
street market will disperse sweets, a city shall
remember him as special, and the
monsoon breeze
blowing from that day into this
will wipe the dust off this memory

Walkthrough

Turn right from the church then proceed
to the main gate of my school where I had my
first strawberry ice-cream and later my first crush,
she’s married now; never mind, go south and find
a junction smelling of baked firewood and garbage,
a fish market bang opposite and a ruckus of kites,
scores of corvids, all a graffiti of wings in the sky cut
by wires with beggars in the foreground expecting you
to make their day better; ignore – walk past the
ice crusher that creates beds for dead fish and be
pecked by kittens smelling of offal, a tungsten orchard
illuminates rows of corpses – wood thudded by chops,
which reminds me, I used to learn Karate but then
stopped. I also stopped singing, calligraphy, piano classes,
asking advice from elders, praying, being nice
to myself when I was wrong, I stopped in this market
fifteen years ago and decided to write poems while friends
binged on obese textbooks already written by someone else
so that they’d nail exams to become someone important,
have a life – I wondered at that prospect like someone
who reads signboards written in a foreign language – while
I sat on the floor of the market and soiled myself with:
blood, a concoction of stenches, eyes (dead and alive),
bargaining techniques, that faraway promise of kebabs,
waste paper shop scraps, leftover mince, a lonely half
smoked cigarette battling drizzle, vernacular debates
rousing balding vegetable sellers, that one lie I lied that still
floats around as a rumour ~
turn left from the market and venture on past the
lush dairies and spinach stalls and shoemakers
buy yourself a jackfruit, some dates, there is even
a beedi shop at the end of it, a sandwich cart that
doesn’t say no to extra cheese, a Parsi eatery now
endangered, a country bar with orange peel liquor; enough.
Now you know know everything essential about
this street that one needs to know, and there is only
so much about me that is even remotely interesting,
one thing though
turn right from the market and find school textbook shops
where I bought my first books on most subjects and
later in my teens lied to my teacher that
I was happy and soon-to-be-published, she’s no more,
never mind, next door is a great bakery whose cream
rolls are just ~

Old Song Now Outdated

Often that night your smoke, unconfined
spoke lucidly to the walls, spoke as ether
to a window that longed to hold you closer,
the crunch of crisps and weightless foam
of cheap beer, each stroll of our paired eyes
plotting a new poster, finding a new face
to laugh at, laughs reciprocated by a music player
embalming the room, the corridor, 
the neighbour’s
lonely dinner, and later, in the car
it kept persisting side a, side b, free
from a future touchscreen and unchained
by the listener’s choice to change midway, allowing
you to rest over me quoting some Persian
saint’s soft poetry, followed by inconsistent hints
to draw nearer, a scarf of azure blue deepened,
a defocused indigo under the dim influence
of the room’s changing mood, your embrace
was a curtain parted, noiseless, a ball of fragrance –
nicotine, young sweat, loosening cotton,
hidden fruit, yesterday’s perfume; the decade
lingered on as a single scent, recently

Reminded of the smell, tiring eyes
falling prey to the night, got wetter
I understand then, why old people said
music in our time was so much better

Village

I come back to you guilty of having slept with distant cities
With eyes carrying signs of urban affairs shamed by the sea breeze
Before me you drop the sunset into the ocean and let it spread
The coast painted by its endemic orange glow sends back
The tides it moments ago tried to contain but could never catch

Old fishermen walk past me with monsoons full of cancelled tears
‘return before you mature into a foreigner’, you said
before slurring an ancestral chant to cleanse my forehead
You released me sagely like the hill releases a sea eagle
But I revisit you with eyes polluted by dark circles
Asexual and cold like a lover who has divorced desire

The coast scarred by my rugged feet is peppered by crab holes
Coconut trees bend over the long line of my preserved sorrow
Eventually at dusk, four hundred years ago, a ship comes in with spices
A man with my surname recites a story about a future city
Where more like me are lonely and without a language

(translated from Marathi)

Passing

light voyages of fingers, a book
ruptured then pinned down, deftly

a swallow pecks a lake’s portrait, mirror
rippling mutely, eventually regathers

clouds that once were grey, like your
grandfather before he laid bare, on wood

set alive by a son’s wound, his eyes
covered by postponed tears, light

voyages of fingers, a lifespan burning
into a temporary mirage, deftly

Night

chinese lanterns – popcorn – photographs
old records – mozzarella – sweatpants
heat – bollywood clinging – seabreeze
stench of rum on a collar
untimely teardrop of a cloud
a window curtained by
shadows contemplating union

culminating in a linen cove
a script – generous parentheses
suggesting a future lunge
confirmed by fingers hinging
a rain percussions for the ceiling fan
to take bass, while a duet
swells the air, repaints walls,
deafens the city for the time being

Years

a few years ago I left my voice at the bus stop
it asked a lady for the time, it made small talk with passengers
when the conductor asked for change, it shrouded
no one has heard of it since

a few years ago I left my feet at a lover’s house
they searched for slippers and hoped the raincoat
wasn’t torn, in the flooded city they floated –
by winter, they were nowhere to be found

my heart, I left it at the center of the old fort, it’s been years
by now a tree must’ve grown there and
sent out blossoms to the dargah, or maybe
it was brushed aside by morning sweepers, who once
introduced me to the art of dipping biscuits in tea

Eight years ago I left behind a boy of sixteen, virgin and strong
I filled him with songs and told him to never return
I scolded him and told him time is everything
And blocked him out so that he finds his own wisdom
Haven’t seen him since, not even virtually
But sometimes through a crowded local train when there’s just
enough space to peep through outstretched arms
I see someone like him walking with a stubble and soiled notebooks
ashamed of his stutter while trying
to light a cigarette with a borrowed matchstick

Afternoon

humid breath 

between the rain and I 

a steamed window

one kettle
brews a future sip
of both tea and mint

intoxicated, 



leafbird dashes

once grey air 

now flourescent green 


damp wood
-
quiet lungs
perfumed 
final monsoon