What we want from lovers
is their stories, all the details
that make up the person we yearn for
We want to know the first time
you scalded your knee, the first
girl you fell in love with,
even that distance you keep with
your father, and were you loved?
We want to know
how you appeared in my life
and changed everything even by
the most mundane of encounters.
We want to know the feel of your skin,
already our hands lying in proximity on the table
before us seem to shoot electric currents,
we want to know how it feels like
to sink into your world and then swim up again,
we want so much all at once,
it's as though we set ourselves
up for disappointment,
Sometimes we think the whole damn world
is contained in a person,
in lovers who aren't yet lovers,
What we want is as incoherent as this
poem, full of fits and starts,
of restless waiting and longing,
the whole world suspended in the wake of
the whirlwind of whatever-this-insanity-is.
And what I wouldn't give to be beside you again,
on the road to somewhere, nowhere,
leaning against you, listening to
the humming of your heart.
Grief is intimate in a way
joy can never be,
It chokes you out of breath,
It carves rivulets of hollow-nothings
in the cavity of your chest
By now you know one can
grieve for oneself, selfishly, childishly.
Grief lurks in waits for you
when you are hanging onto\a mugful
of tea one uneventful afternoon
to take possession of you,
to make you realise the gravity
of your loss.
Even that rage you carried
with you all of last year,
it dissipated like everything else,
lost, irretrievably lost,
shedding parts of you
that you thought you couldn't
possibly live without.
It's as though the world has finally
opened its gates for you
and you are hurtling
in a pace and direction
you can't quite control.
And those mental images that
you still hold on to somehow,
Childhood relics that haunt you,
asking you if you really found
the great adventure you were looking for?
What remains of us?
Not the unaccounted-for-love,
Not the devastating fights
Just plain wonder
at how it had overwhelmed us,
Struck us like a disease in the beginning
and left us so drained in the end.
I am no longer searching for you
in other people
and that is something.
What remains of us;
a worn-out pair of shoes,
a few drops of perfume,
and something that could pass for kindness.
You've been thinking of claims that people make
The love for a land which is not even theirs
You wonder how that came about
this righteousness, this strong emotional
rumbling you hear everyday,
You claim nothing, not even your dreams
You've been thinking of love
and home, that after all these years
of being scared out of your wits
to come back, you are really back
and it hasn't scared the hell out of you,
not yet; a part of you wants to stay here,
be a part of a story the way you would never
truly be a part of anywhere else,
Because I should have written on the day
you left, now I am already used to your departure,
a dull ache has settled by now, the rawness
has lost its edge.
I can see our lives stretched out till where
the ends of the earth meet the sky.
We are little more than children still,
finding happiness in propinquity to each other.
What love is this that feels like breathing?
You need to get out of here
before you get too comfortable,
already you have reverted to your
old tongue and it has embraced
you with open arms,
the prodigal daughter that you are.
Already you are drowning in
the sweet dullness of this
place which keeps no time,
It will engulf you whole
if you stay too long, you will forget
the days, the months and years,
Do not give your heart to this
place because it doesn't keep
its promises, it will offer you
so much and take it all away.
Already you have begun to love
the rhythm, already lulled into
a love as ancient as the hills.
Yabane Adum you say,
That's how you learn languages,
I think, from lovers.
Though you aren't mine
but another's. Hayengdi emannabagi luhogba ama lei
Anything mundane inflected with your voice
registers as though a poem
over which I could weep.
You are not mine to claim,
I tell myself
You do not see me
the way I see you, Manakta leiragasu henna thapchaba
But we are singing songs over coffee and tea Koina paiba chekla ni
This is madness, I know,
this soaring and sinking of the heart,
this licking of wounds, this thwarted affection,
this lingering sensation that I cannot get rid of
and the unfairness of it
that you don't think of me at all,
not even a little.
Don't show up like this
with the smile in your eyes,
and your big heart that envelops all.
Don't ask me for anything,
because I would inevitably say yes
to the words rolling off your tongue
and I suddenly see how it works,
how our language is supposed to be used.
I know I am not the one for you,
your eyes look for someone else,
your poems dripping with love for her,
But suddenly after all these years,
I have found you, a reason for staying.
Wouldn't you one day wake up
from a dream and see me in a new light?
Wouldn't you one day long for me
and write me a love poem?
I write this partly as a spell,
partly to exorcise you,
Because if you are never mine,
atleast let me forget you.
Looking at you I think maybe I could
even have a life here, finally stop running,
Because I see you now with that
smile in your eyes, and I think we
could have the whole world.
All these years we lived across the road
from each other and never met;
even then we were lost in other people.
I read your poems and I think I missed
out so much, would you catch me up?
What life separates us, what literature
brings us closer, maybe you will
never know because you never asked.
But we are on the road now, the
evening light frames you as though
you were in a movie, smoking a cigarette,
And I am thinking, lets never go back.
The question you asked me,
the perennial question really,
probably asked by millions of people
who left behind the home they grew up in
But I haven't left my home, not yet,
merely found myself in a country
that doesn't belong to me.
So how do you identify yourself?
Is there a dissonance?
For that I would have to trace myself
all the way back to the summit of Koubru
where we once dwelled,
because everything else was a vast
expanse of water, when the water retreated
we stepped into newly formed land,
leaving behind our abode in the clouds;
and then the oft-repeated story, sung
as songs, the filling of the swamps,
the clearing of the woods, the sowing
of the seeds, of Gods and their mortal lovers,
a love that didn't last.
But facts are scarce and far-between,
I make myself up as I go, string bits
and pieces of stories together,
One in the long line of the witches
that elude, breaking down the old
with our laughter, creating anew
with spells wistfully whispered.
How you still read my words
the way I want to be read
We got a lot of things wrong,
but this strangely stayed
And even though years and kindness
separate us now, I am always
so touched when you tell me so,
Always tell me so.