Untitled.

Kapu

The sky blushes at Kapu,
blushes for every kiss
we imagined stolen from our lips
for every kiss that was stolen
just beyond our line of vision
for every kiss the wave pressed on the shore.

The sky blushes at Kapu,
blushes as we try to squeeze words
out of the last drop of red sun
and instead collapse in laughter
holding onto the railings of the lighthouse
daring ourselves to lean a little too forward.

The sky blushes at Kapu,
blushes as the wind steals our voices
and rushes into the horizon as we lay on our backs,
the sun framed between our knees,
the roar of the ocean silencing the noise within
and the hush between wave and wave
punctuating our confessions of love and loss
and the inherent injustice of the world.

The sky blushes at Kapu,
blushes at our insolence,
trying to make the last drop last till tomorrow
As each wave pushes us one moment forward
we push back, closing our eyes,
pretending to fall asleep and ignore the sinking sun
like children who pretend the world ceases to exist
everytime they blink, we try to escape the future
by ignoring the present.

The sky blushes at Kapu,
blushes because it knows we forget;
colours always fade in memory.
The silence expands between us
on the long bus ride home
we close our eyes and surrender
and only the sky blushes at Kapu.

Dear Mr Eliot

Dear Mr Eliot,

I wish you were here so that then I could burst into tears on your shoulder. I need a shoulder to cry on tonight, and I wish it were you. You, Mr Eliot, because you would understand. You would understand this feeling of never belonging, of never being able to do enough to belong. because if you belonged to any place, any time, any person, you would cease to be who you are. You Mr Eliot, you so caught up in your own diffidence, translating everything you could not say into words. You Mr Eliot, who knew the inadequacy of language from the very beginning, but knew just as surely, that there is no hope for us but in the trying. You Mr Eliot, who buried yourself in books to escape the outside world. Who fled from America to Germany to Britain looking for a tradition that you can surrender to. I wish I had the conviction you found in religion. Tell me Mr Eliot, when you were younger and wracked with fear, did you look at words as your only salvation, your only security on nights like this where there is nothing to do but curl up and deny everything or loose your mind? Did you ever feel that way Mr Eliot? That you were slowly slipping away from yourself, dripping through your own fingers, melting before you could desperately remould yourself? I heard you were a bank clerk. Did you return home casting off one skin, peeling off another, wanting to scream at the universe no no no! Do you understand Mr Eliot, that on night like this the only voice I have to talk to is your words on a page, and I find your voice quiet and reassuring saying the words slowly with those long drawn out vowels of yours, unhurried, as I crash through your lines discovering your rhythm discovering the anger that is more mine than yours. Mr Eliot, do you not see, I am an imperfect version of you. You are everything that I ache to be, just as you ached to be somebody else, and that person ached to be someone else, and that endless circle back to the beginning of time. Except of course, you would tell me, time does not work that way. Why do we hanker to be anywhere but where we are? Why can I submit to time, as you say I should, and in turn escape it, thinking about nothing but this. These words. On this page. Instead Mr Eliot, here I am conjuring you out of the timeless eternity you have escaped into, and here I am holding your hand and weeping, except of course you do not know the right words to say, because you never do. Did you ever think of living your life like a poem? I know that you never did, you were much to practical for that, you paid your bills by working in a bank after all. Have you noticed Mr Eliot, that those people whose lives are poetry are not very poetic? It is those of us who are always on the outside, pressing cold noses to the windowpane, it is we who construct poetry, because we are so good at narrating our lives back to ourselves in retrospect. We live our lives through stories of make-believe, through moments of hesitation atop staircases. Those who live in the timeless moment cannot write about it. Mr Eliot, did you make a deal with the devil, did you agree to always living on the wrong side of the glass, as long as you have the words? Did you promise the devil that he could steal your life, as long as you write it all down from afar? And now Mr Eliot, now that your life is over and done with, now that everything that could be done has been done, now Mr Eliot, do you ever regret? Do you ever regret that first choice you ever made, do you ever regret that you never chose to annihilate yourself?

On a party I never went to

She told me on the morning after
the party that we are all
fat cats. Smug purring engines

vintage motorcycles thrumming
of beer, shining lazy-cat smiles
under lids heavy with second-hand
puns and damp politics.

Night after night we gather
in the shadows of empty houses
to raise our voices, caterwauling
to a moon long gone

about the words of mad men
who live no more. The air is thick
with abandoned arguments
and hash. A sharp retraction
of voices cuts

but the night surges forward
dissolving all into softness,
belly-up complaining in the dark.

Ranakpur

You, who created Ranakpur,
freed moon-white pillars of flowers and sex
from the coldness of stone,
I salute you.
When I saw your magnum opus,
the pillar to the diagonal left of the southern entrance,
I knew: here was perfection that should not be forgotten.
I stood in front of it, smiled and flashed the peace sign.

As I blinked into the pale shadows, recovering from the overdose of light,
I caught sight of Time puttering around quietly,
absorbed in his own world as all master artisans are,
and I wondered if there had been any friendship between you.
Did you have long conversations with him,
confessing your dreams of immortality,
did you hold his hand and weep?
Did you tell him about that recurrent dream,
where you saw the faces of your great great grandchildren
still with peace, lit by the coolness of marble?

Whatever it was you said,
you will be pleased to know that after all these years
he touches your work with such gentleness,
delicately running his fingertips over your coiled flowers.
You should have seen him, stepping aside,
out of the frame of my friend’s camera,
around the French couple pointing at your marble lovers,
between the Gujarati family on holiday.
The soft of his hands rubs away all the sharp edges you left behind.

First draft

Girl, descending staircase

One foot delicately suspended
between the surety of a moral upbringing
and an uncertainty gained through experience.
A hand lightly rests on the sun drenched wall
reluctant to seek support in a moment of imbalance.
Eyes pensively gaze through a glass slated window
betraying no turbulence or recognition,
only a mild amusement at the present state.
A gold earring brushes against the curve of the neck,
drawing attention to a single strand of dark hair
come loose and tucked behind the ear
with the artistry of a baited hook.
The unmarked cheek blushes,
as it feels the yearning of the world
to leave an opinion,
a scratch.

Measure of Speech

We come pre-programmed with the need to speak
a certain quantity of words a day.
The amount is chosen at chance’s quirk
and there’s no explanation as to why
one person feels the need to talk more words
than someone with an identical life.
We have to speak our daily dose of words
as though if we do not say ‘pass the salt’
the universe will forget we exist
and we start doubting our own existence.
And if we start to doubt? We write. We touch.
We make off-colour jokes and wear bright clothes
to make the universe pay attention
and notice our far away restless holes
where we the alive, pace and dream in silence.

Writing exercise. Iambic pentameter.

Falling out of love with an old hobby

It’s a bit of a shock,
when you realise you don’t love something
the way you used to before.
You are fond of it now,
the way you are fond of
an old school friend
you haven’t spoken to in years-
but seeing something that you crafted
with your hands and your time
slowly disintegrate
does not wrench you with anger and worry,
only a little nostalgia and mild thoughtfulness
as you wonder whether it is worth the effort
to create it all over again
or just shoot it
at the back of someone else’s yard,
in one final show down
and let it have that little dose of drama
at the very end, as a small mercy.
You fell out of love with your favourite obsession
slowly but surely,
it’s not your fault, you tell yourself,
analysing the situation clinically,
you no longer need it,
there are other things pressing for your attention.
You have outgrown it now,
like how most children outgrow
their imaginary friends.
It has fulfilled its purpose.
The only regret you feel is as you wonder
if this was the best you could do for yourself,
you with your assumptions of brilliance-
It is that sad smile
when you look at pictures of childhood crushes
and think about how small your world was then.
It is an awkward feeling, outgrowing love.
You feel a vague sense of obligation
that you don’t know quite what to do with,
every scrape and slow crumble cries you to you
to rush back with soothing words and plaster,
but you chew at the back of your ball point pen,
studying your rearranged list of priorities,
shaking your head dismally.
You feel like you are shedding
each of your childhood dreams one by one,
and the feeling is not pleasant.
You are cleaning them out to make space
for new interests you haven’t named yet,
but you cannot shake off the feeling that
you are somehow compromising yourself.
These new loves will never fill you
with excitement like the old ones.
That obsession for something of your own creation-
you were as much in love with everything it could have been,
as you were in love with what it was.
You believed in it,
in the way only parents can believe
in the greatness of their children.
You took pride in each other’s flaws.
The use of the past tense saddens you, but
you are cheered a little in the knowledge
that someone else may need it more now.
You have let him see what you loved,
and hopefully he will love it too.
You, the jealous creature you are,
like to think that he will not love
as deeply as you did,
but maybe, it is only that you love differently.
Maybe, it is time for a reinvention,
he will recreate it in his own image,
just like how, you had moulded it in your own,
though you won’t admit it.
In any case, you try to make peace
with an old love
and find other distractions
to believe in.

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