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)

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The Sorrowful Heart of a Nineteen Year Old Girl

Met her through an ice-cream loving friend
Amidst the fete crowd she wore a floral skirt
And rickety shoes, her eyes lacking an eyeliner
Story-less 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, her convent accent
Described it as an abandoned nest
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 jabber, not just
The usual hormonal rants but even
Lyrics of favourite songs, oh for that matter
Plans to travel to Rome and back
We even booked our trains to China
But it kind of fell apart once the phone cut

The phone cut

Years later with m shirt tucked in
I found 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
At the cash counter
As they touched a travel magazine
That made promises of blue seas
And islands with beautiful men,
She thought of picking one up, but then thought,
Life’s a lie, and at 28,
it’s probably better to look elsewhere

Incomplete

How could you, how would you
Just come up with random things, on the spur
The prank of the refrigerator, the thought
Of having glowing star stickers
On the bedroom ceiling, signing
Your emails with a Buddha quote –
Stories, nightmares, dreams,
Wicked jokes and shower screams
In each room you left behind signs of you,
The good and the mad
The dirty and the sad
A garden that reeks of bad cutting
A sink that is tired of drowning
A toothpaste unclosed and hanging
Like most things, you too, left incomplete
Either too fast or either too early, for which
In a corner crying
without a battery change
Without the reflection
of your childish face
Even the clocks remember you

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

Mother of Two

I’m sad to meet you again, mother of two
Scared in a supermarket stuttering at the counter
Hunting for change

Your dark circles root towards our days
Scattered in suburbs drinking whisky
Pouring poetry, singing badly
The grim romance of Chinese lanterns
In your room-mate’s house where we were alone

You’ll only get older, scarier
And me, stranger, lost, probably never
To see you again; how sad it will be to
meet you again, more aged and remember
That I once promised you our own island at fifty

Bone China

mother left
the quiet house, writhes
slowly in her bed
asking to be loved well
end of monsoon

sunbirds twich outside, hibiscus
and bougainvillea spread indisciplined
even the wasps fly faster, staying
for longer
in the window sils

i broke a saucer yesterday, mom
bone china splintered over the floor
just recently mopped by you, as I stood up
regathered
a to-do list lost its adhesive
and flew outside, forever unread