13 years ago, the moon and I mused
From atop the spare cylinder, upon my balcony
I wondered in verse
Of what it might be to be in love.
The traffic below flowed in starts and fits.
Worries of the impending Math exam
seemed stuck in the dredged muck
by the side-walk.
I think I saw you
in the pond by the next lane,
waddling with a family of ducks;
Raised possibly for slaughter
Or eggs for consumption
at a premium no less.
It was hard to say which was richer:
The irony in their seeming freedom
Or my belief that I could wish my fears away
through you – then, a distraction.
The ripple of rain on the surface of the pond
From all those years ago,
Came back to me the other night:
The LIIT brimmed a wink on my glass
the glory of the multi-coloured fountain below,
Dancing to the rhythm of changing lights –
An unseen, crude programming
randomising the change like the Chinese water torture.
Sukanta’s jholshano roti shaped moon
seemed to rest in Bonolata’s birds’ nest eyes
melting away from the kohl lined tears
that spilt out of my eyes
against the cold November night of Noida.
You’d flit in and and out of the gaze
Trained away from you
Reminiscing all beautiful beginnings
That have dissolved into bitter acrimony,
When the promised love perished
in ramblings video-recorded cautionary notes
I do not know if I can love anymore.
For love is now the delicious beguni and piyanji
that sizzled along with the aloo chop and bread-cutlets
free – floating on hot oil,
Fresh to order.
Yet with a promise of stomach cramps through the night that followed.
The wafting scent of the savouries
From that tiny pavement shack- painted blue
Remind me now
of how you could lift and break your plaything- my heart
At the altar of progress and a better life
With another – just like that Bijoli Grill
Expensive and hygienic
Stole me away from that much loved, much feared
A decade and a year of revolution around the sun
Might not seem like much,
Then again, at 21, little else does,
Save perhaps the self – assured sense of purpose
and righteousness that is the fare of youth.
And as far as wicked smiles go,
Yours seem like the magic Freida Kahlo urged for in a lover,
Potent and graceful in equal measure
from your ignorance of their power.
Between the two of us:
Is there an Upagupta? A Basavadatta?
Robi Thakur had this gift – among many others…
To choose and bring forth to life
forgotten classics – jewels more valuable for their crux
than their poetic ornamentation.
If I were wise, I’d heed the words of caution –
Black pestilence masquerading as benign adventures
corrode more than just souls – they feast on hopes
Till there are none.
My heart sings with the danseuse from Salim’s court
rolling the dice -gambling
my world for that silly, toothy smile that capture
the brilliance you are,
Or, perhaps, earn and shed some tears
Knowing I can still love… You!