Now we’re playing contraband on some reunion night.
On your shoulder, with a vacant smile,
Sleeps the face, now bolder, of once anticipated wife
And of a soldier you speak: that their
Allowances, pay need to be raised
And those sitting with us your banter praises,
Though, speaking for myself, I’m itching, my friend,
Like there’s pesticide in my underpants,
As she’s dozing there you play your hand,
This is us meeting as friends in some foreign land.
“So, machan, Sripathi” Dev shows he’s politically there;
Was he framed? Or was it that he was silenced –
Was it that he really died?
“Every second I’m there, machan, I think of home. I care”.
That’s a charitable addition to his fucking my once-girl.
“Let’s hang out some place” Dev’s girlfriend is bright,
But Dev points at once anticipated wife dozing there
Like a green blade grass in the garden light and
“Ok, let’s wake her” is the call, but you, once for all
Gently cushion your girl with assured warmth
That none will dare wake her.
None will ever take her
From that kind of assurance: Union Assurance is closed.
“Had a long day – she” you speak on behalf of what’s lovely
Where it was touched; where it is held.
I’m, of course, preoccupied with my cards,
Trying to commit to memory my Brandy, Camera, Whiskey:
Would I ever have had her drawn close like that?
Could I ever give assurance, spending all my warmth?
Did she, then, against belief, go and make the right choice:
Specially, since that belief was only mine?
I catch Dev’s girlfriend catching me with her eyes:
“You’re meditating” and where her bosom cold lies
Lies a crucifix caught fast unto a thin silver chain.
“Oh, my God, you’re cut?” and, of course, I’m not cut:
Not that I drink to get cut. Maybe, she wasn’t watching me,
That I didn’t touch a drop. Or, then again,
Maybe it was she who was cut. And, thus, tonight
She takes the sweet Lord in vain.
The cool breeze hums, in the balcony, where we sit
In my twenty fifth year. And this is it –
After years of striving for this that and the other
And after hours and hours long hours growing up together,
Running wild, doing good, studying this, buddying that,
Taking walks, lying in forests in forgotten mountains
Full of footpaths and once-been-feet:
We meet. And we play cards half cold with empty hearts.
“Sripathi, machan, was asking for it” Dev, it seems,
Had developed this new love for a minister he never knew.
A now dead minister he will never get to know.
Just a way of saying that these chaps, though far
From home, knew what was happening and that
Their concern was as valid and that, though they came back
Now only on visits, I had to buy their words
Of that imported dent.
You play in silence and you twitch very little,
Perhaps, that, then, your girl might wake.
I sense, in my pocket, a low humming noise
And I feel my phone vibrate and shake.
“Excuse” I say, fishing phone I walk
Away from the players to the edge, to the rail
And as I move away enough the ringing duly stops.
But, then, perhaps, it was only a ring-cut.
I turn around and I see, in the half-lit light
Four sitting on the floor of white granite tiling
And Dev’s girl should be saying something awfully bright
Cos I see Dev’s smiling. “Oh, my God, you’re cut?”
“Oh, my God, you’re cut?”. Too true, little bitch,
Someone’s just driven a rusty screwdriver up my vein
And it bleeds somewhere, elsewhere it pours.
I just wanna go inside and sleep.
Walking back, I slowly fold my cards
And drop it on the floor where I had been sitting,
To which Dev looks up. “Finished playing?” you ask:
A shocked twang vibrates your final note of it.
I smile – no, not the least; how can I be finished:
I’ve just begun, for the night is young.
“Pee” I say, slowly walking for the door.
I’ve had it all, my friend. And I want some more