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)



Elsewhere, people murmured
in closed rooms and dim bars
lulled by generic music
calling for comfort when needed
unaware of the scent of a harvest,
unaware of the sound of horses running
ruminating their presence everyday
in cities clogged by their own waste

in the hills women gathered firewood
a leopard leaped, frightened
by the murmur of tribals

a marriage lit up a cluster of huts
the sarpanch started a boar fire
toddy spread like air, over the night
friends sang folklore, the banyan
pulled an ancient story
narrating it lengthily, under an open sky
humans collapsed, drunk from stargaze
unaware of traffic lights
lulled by interludes of old owls


Sarod. Winter morning.
A quiet farm of millet and breezes. Linen
with soiled creases.
A village with ancient excuses.

Practice. Afternoon.
A moment of silence dots
the river of time. Plucked
by an unwavering note
floating over a bed of rhythms.

There in the corner, besides
all the figurines and rice sacks
we sat sagely watching
a composition ripen, the end
mingling with the distant calls
of winds conquering farms of millet.

Stuffed Brinjals

You would grow them yourself 
The groudnuts too, the farm
with the amber hills in the backdrop
Silenced by the rustle of neem trees
The black soil that moulded through toes
After the last drop of monsoon
You were never old, even
at 70 you ran faster than me
Hearing the lambs alarm

By noon you crushed the roasted peanuts
Filling the house with the promise of lunch
The iron pan crackling with white butter
While the perfect mix of chilli and garlic
Married the softeness of brinjal

Later in the day I’d venture into the open
Watching the sky dotted with kites and vultures
They never come around these days
And at the funeral when you lied still by the river
I heard the terns caw plaintively overshadowing the echo of wails
Even the sarpanch was sad, so was
that farmer couple who smiled at us
when we joined them once, uprooting
Treasures from the earth
Never to be found
in the cities I have touched