Her Marred Maang
Two flailing oiled chotis
slap me out of stupor.
The Goddess arches out
hinged at the pole,
her saucer hands clasped
A hooting call answered
with crystal stare
from wide apart eyes
that grazes my shoulder,
wounding me. Incoherent slang
shot with a nasal twang.
A crisp line scarred
by ghosts of stitches drawn
on scalp with the edge of a comb
down, down the valley
of her marred maang.
The milkmaid, having borne
of an agitated udder,
the warrior princess
sporting the memento
of unanticipated victory.
An ecstatic partner
with clammy palms, thrown
off a phugdi rotation,
Devdas marks Paro
with expressions of love
garnished with glass shards.
*** This happened one morning as I shared the foot board of a Mumbai local train with a most astonishing girl, standing in front of me. chotis: braids (Hindi); maang: a line formed by the parting of hair on two sides (Hindi); phugdi: an act performed by two or more people holding hands and flinging themselves in a circle, common during Indian festivals
The Ride Home
6.45 pm on a Saturday, two bodies try to catch up
with traffic swayings and omnipresent speed breakers
Our Maruti Alto negotiates its presence and passage
with bikes, cows and vegetable carts
A third body inverts itself between the two seats
Legs up and hands groping air
reaching towards a wheel
that juts out of the car dikkie
10 minutes of flailing in limbo
My right shoulder bettered
by an afternoon session
at the physiotherapist groans
A moment before I falter and let her jump
for her prized wheel and crash,
You park the car and jump out
Plucking our bawling distraught child out of my arms
In the car now drenched by a wave of silence
Shuddering more out of exhaustion than anticipation
I look out to see a vision radiating happiness
Vismaya in her new red and black tricycle
A fair distance away from the park.
dikkie: the storage compartment of the car. Also trunk (North American English), boot (British English), dickie (Indian English)
Architecture and Motherhood
You feel like a design
I'm working on,
whose date of submission
is not yet fixed,
by indecisive studio professors
who want us students to work more,
just a tad bit more.
On nights before a pre-final review,
like a tracing full of ideas,
essential but tentative,
you have the power
of lingering in my subconscious,
making me jump out of intermittent sleep
each night, to engage with you.
No paper to draw on,
you draw from me what is yours now.
No name plate either,
for your loved ones
use sounds borrowed
from seven languages
whose alphabets cannot be lettered.
I comb strands of your hair
so they fall in parallels,
like meticulously pointed bricks and dressed stone
rendered into masonry, in ink on paper.
I wipe eye secretions, tears, milk stains after a feed.
Your smudge-free face
becomes a drawing, complete.
Every once in a while
I place my ear on the floor
to gaze at an exactly angled ray
of sunlight working its magic
on a sleeping you.
A roughly 1:3 scaled model
of who you may be in 20 years
stares back at me;
your myriad expressions
changing by the millisecond
a satisfying thought crosses my mind:
did I just happen to create you?
I Want to Sing Like You
To Vidhya Gopal
I want to sing like you
I sing like the
single running stitch
of an unoiled tailoring machine,
reaching, quite linearly
from one point to another,
amply wandering, uncontrolled
outside the edges of sur in the songs i sing
You sing like the
convoluted floral embroidery
of a kurta worn proudly
created by hands, weathered by riyaaz,
making listeners lose themselves to
the nuances your textured voice creates
in snippets caught on Insta and Facebook
The completion of your song
holds no relevance to me
as the safar has become
more khoobsoorat than the manzil
and i enjoy your rendering of individual words
as you nurture and embellish them
with seemingly effortless harkatein
Your singing comes from a place of truth without pretentions.
It has made me knock on the door
of that room within me.
I have been following this girl for some time now on Facebook and Instagram and my, how she inspires me!
sur: a musical key or a scale; kurta: a long tunic like shirt; riyaaz: practice; safar: journey; khoobsoorat: beautiful; manzil: destination; harkatein - movement. Here it means a variation taken in the tune.
let's look out
the same window
lift tinted panes
don’t pay heed
to frequent reflections
to re arrange
as it shows
so we have
only each other
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