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After two hours of
Pretencious company — flimsy talk of
Radical Art, smoke rings
Exhaled like a steamer off course —
I stop by the status of the
Late Minister of Health; and watch, as from his head,
A crow, perched, regard me on a pause.
In his sad eyes he seems to say:
“In a moment comes the unfurled barrage of
Short women carrying their umbrellas,
— Fussing as they splatter redundant drops of rain —
At your shoulder length, cursing you as they
Brush past you; for at rain time they all go mad; insane”.
The drizzle builds up and I see the
Clouds are thicker than I, at first, thought they were.
Darkness spreads from end to end and when I turn back again
To take a second good glance, the ministerial crow
Has taken flight. In the mildness of the soaking spirit
I continue to walk towards the night.
It gathers in the weight with which it falls.
Trickles down the sides of the spectacle arms.
Down the hair-mown head, in what feels like the
Flush of a thousand toilets down the sides of the
Sides of the ears, down the nose. In a moment —
In a moment — It has pelted you. And you stroll on.
I let them be, I let them fester, I let you rot deep inside,
Gave no words that would give you comfort, a shoulder to meander by.
Though you confessed that it is over, that you have really tried,
You already knew that it was all futile. You remain with a sigh.
When he made you lose the child that you carried
And walked away like a bear to a waterhole
– Since you were already a mother and a fool, married –
I made no attempts those wounds to console.
Now, you claim that it is all over, that I’m a vicious enough brute
That doesn’t pay any comfort, attention, when needed the most.
Well, what words can I administer? In what way could one sooth
One who scampers through the breeze to hug some ghost?
He stopped me and he stopped a foot from me
And excused me for disturbing my stride
And he said that he was a Lance Corporal (in civvies) someone
And that he had left his purse behind:
“In the bus that I got off from, there
At Borella junc. I had given my bag to a lady
And I forgot to pick it back on”.
Said, “Sir, I am on my way to Vavuniya,
The bus fare is all I want”, I said,
“But, I will give you money to Fort
Where one of your camps you can stop by to doat”,
He said — “No, but without identification,
They will detain me” so on and on. And I lied that
I had no money on me, cos from an ATM
I had the money to be drawn.
“260 rupees” he said, is all he wants,
Dark face, eyes almost at the edge of tears.
“Money to Fort” I promised, 13 rupees,
And I said it again — he may have to supplicate his peers.
Held out a ten rupee and a five rupee coin
And I told him it is 9 bucks from the following halt.
He thanked and he took it and on he went
– If, indeed, he is a soldier — to where his duty called.
When you are in need of me the most,
I am here, on my own,
Playing racquet games, burning
Mosquitoes and midnight oil,
Whispering to myself that you are alright.
Close my eyes, to feel the pain that you
Feel as it passes touching your bones, your spine:
I recall watching as they moved from side to side
– The unassured world in your eyes –
Mapping, as they were, a world stalled shaken.
Just a spectator on the side — like I have
Never been: standing outside the reel
Watching minute after minute passing by:
Comparing it with worlds bombed and blown –
Of hurts that were not ones your own.
Till on the morrow, until we meet again
I sigh, that your expectations I bruised,
Considered wisely, but let down:
That, on that train is where my overalls should be,
Slow walking at you, now.
When you enter, close the door,
Return a call or when you walk
Past me, or watch me sit, the way you measure
Your molecules, indicates that you think there is
Something that I think there ain’t: that I’m in love
And am fascinated, burnt
Half like a cashew by you —
Which is not true — which is not lies –
And I sometimes thank almighty God I was made of glue,
When, sometimes, you meet me with your eyes.
That you think there is
Something that I think there ain’t: and
We’re equals in this game; and at times
When the world is absent (with their tuned ears)
We confide in each other our most intimate fears.
We never say that you think that I am
Unnerved by you; nor do I say that I ain’t.
We talk of Garfunkel, of Johann Sebastian Bach.
We talk of ourselves and we answer each other well
And go our ways with small farewells before it goes dark.
It disintegrated beyond recovery
And we are strangers now
Once again, as we were when we met:
Nursing ourselves for another day in life,
Scuttling among petty kicks we regret.
Ironing a shirt, lengthwise — arms first –,
parting the hair there where it is set
To be parted — now well creased — that even the
Turbulence of sex would not unsettle that perpetual creasing.
Rinse. Wash. Flush the toilet.
Look at my stride as I walk:
It is even, it is smooth, it is virile
Even while the edges cut against my skin.
I greet your face as you face to greet me
And casually say ‘how?’, concerned about my suffering.
I stare at the buttonless man, the big-bummed vehicle,
The emission of gas — think how
The glaciers trickle to dust. The gregarious build
Of the dangling many-fold woman and the many firm eyes
That to follow her must.
They follow their dreams — I follow my shadow
As it precedes me, as the sun falls on my back,
Urging me on. Pushing me down the road
And the screen only has a missed call that I miss
From a pathetic piece of flesh with whom I am bored.
Jacques Kallis retires from Test Cricket.
All stern-faced those who held a bat straight
Are leaving, one after one:
Brother Jaques — rock-solid
Unattractive mountain standing at the wicket, that I disliked –
You, too, are gone now, you emotion-less tin
Man of a gift.
Not with a whimper. With a bang:
A nerve-held hundred on the last outing
Until the last moment, all emotions held in check:
A signature, one last time,
The steady cannon you were; before your enemy’s deck.
They are leaving, now — yes: one after one,
To be commentators,
Media icons — how sad.
Where you walk out, Jacques,
Other Jacques — like in Dickens’ book —
Will — perhaps — come and take over the good work,
Though not as good; not as as done by that
Whipping blade with a muscle to match;
Giant hands that scoop off from millimeters to the grass
And a number 3 who runs in steaming
Over after over; And bends his arse.
A rainbow sets
Of the Rainbow Nation.
Farewell, Brother Jacques —
Your willow, now breathing easy.