Four poems by the author of And What Remains in the End: The Memoirs of an Unrepentant Civil Servant and The 70th Milestone, a collection of poems, published by Speaking Tiger Books, which will be launched at Gymkhana Club in New Delhi by Kapil Sibal on January 4
A Love Song
Tell me that your love for me is more
than that for any other.
Tell me that you need me for existence,
that you may not survive my departure.
Tell me that I gravitate within your being,
that nothing matters apart from the
oneness that we share.
Tell me that each wound you inflict
upon me, makes you bleed in turn.
Tell me that all human touch
but for mine is leprous to your sight.
Tell me that the shroud I spread
upon the world should blacken until
there is nothing prior to our liaison.
Tell me that in the ordinariness of interaction
nothing matters except what we have shared
for if this is not how it is to be with us;
Tell me how to resurrect on another crutch,
To go ahead with life’s paces,
To proceed with the little relationships,
To occupy time, to obviate human thought
Or tell me that we may catch up yet
In some other place where human form
and its context are more acceptable.
And in the absence of this remoteness,
tell me how to traverse sufficient distance
to forget and to remember.
Lament of Zafar
Incarcerated in a wasteland
Amidst a crescendo of despair
The nightingale sings her seasonal song
Unmindful of the pain I bear
She serenades her hunter
In the blossoming gardens beneath
Swinging from bough above
As my mind wanders from heath to heath
I once prayed for life to extend itself
to savour the myriad colours of hope
instead the hours fragmented themselves
scattering obsessive longing in their wake
Bleeding with lacerated heart
enabled to welcome pain no more
I direct all desire to some other haunt
to traverse another shore
the breath of life is passing swift
with shadows flickering upon my grave
the accursed Bahadur Shah Zafar,
denied in death a resting place
in the beloved land I ruled,
I take leave of you now
as there is nothing beyond the end
At Government House, Kashmir
When you are ready
I shall be gone.
The first chill
to the trees
and in the
the dead leaves
to the start
of another spring.
Betty Memsahib of Narangi-Bagh
We have run out of excuses
for not getting to know
one another better
The frailty of your argument
interspersed with apology
hold for me strongly
as I have altered a little
and my mind now reacts
In the natural reflex
your layers of strength
have fallen away
and I now love you
for your limitation,
and for the intensity
that I shared with you
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