Monday, October 22, 2012

Do you see the lives you couldn't save?

I always saw you
 As the man who would get back home
 Later than other fathers
I was a little scared of you
And overawed because everyone saluted you
 You were always posted somewhere else
 And came home once or twice a month
 Sometimes fewer, 
You always brought me something
 Some little gift
 Even at nineteen
I think that is all you do,
Being a father
But you are a person too,
 With your own insecurities and fears
How do you live through it,
 Rescue the dying and come
 Back home to us,smiling for me?
How do you do it, Papa?
How do you wake up each day
Not knowing if you would come back to us?
Is that why you can't sleep at night sometimes,
 And you say it's because you are growing old?
Do you see the lives you couldn't save?


All the places you avoid

It's strange how we keep on living
Laughing, driving on the dusty roads
In newspapers they write
 Of the curfew, the dead toll
Of the faltering peace
My daughter still goes to school
Her hair tied with red ribbons
She kissed the apple I gave her for breakfast
My husband left for Moreh
 Halfway through breakfast.
Some disturbance at the border
The girls in the shop next door continue
 To weave the muga phi
Giggling at the young men
Who glance at them
The media would be disappointed
 At the presence of enthusiasm
Weren't the streets supposed to be deserted,
 Windows closed, lives halted?
In Manipur, Myanmar, Rwanda, Somalia, Afghanistan
All the places you avoid,
They go on living, breathing,
Sometimes more deeply than you do.

Over the years

Over the years
 I have realised that
The only way to get over
 This overwhelming sadness
(Perhaps of loss and scarred remains)
Which descends like a blanket
Of cold night stars
My warm blood
 Slowing turning Cold
 Cold like my collar bone
Over the years,
 I have begun
To depend on transferring it
 To a cause larger than one life
So I have a shelf of them
Like a collector's prized possession-
On Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur, Gaza.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We have established a routine

We have established a routine
 Sitting on the rocks,
Being pulled by the lure of the black sea
Violent, turbulent and it still calls
And you are tempted
Tempted to go just a bit nearer
 This happens everyday
 Till the third day
 For three days
We pile out of our rooms
 Knock on doors
We walk the streets christened with French names
We walk, we smoke
We sing a Puducherry song
And we eat, counting the decreasing wad of cash
Young, and penniless- our predicament
We file back into our rooms
By midnight
 Doors close
And in smoke-filled rooms
(The kind I imagined the poets inhabited
When struck by poverty
Or heartbreak, whichever you please)
You pull me close
Tug at my blouse
Mouths and tongues dissolve
 We have established a routine.

Wake me up tomorrow

You are going about the routine tasks
 Of attending social gatherings
Picking up glasses, red with alcohol
 Cool with ice
You witness yourself
Bent over a sink; sick
And then you lean back
Stare back at the bathroom tiles
Luminescent. Swirling.
You pick up your phone and type-
Wake me up tomorrow.
Come back to me.

Monday, October 15, 2012

....You grew up absurd
Thinking guns are the only things that talk
I grew up normal enough
In places where money talked
But isn't that twisted too?