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Wilder Park

 

Hyde-Park-5

 

In the morning, the acres resound

With rubber soles slapping

Tar and bicycle bells ringing in

The day. Dogs need no leashes and the park

Pants with them. Hot heavy breath.

Filled with the promise of life.

 

At noon, lovers stroll

Arm-in-arm and

When none looks, tongues

wrap tight around each other like gift paper

On birthday presents.

Things get wet…

 

Because it rains but children don’t care

And run to the park in the evening, indenting

Wet soil with their size-3 shoe prints.

Anxious mothers follow this trail

to find them laughing gaily as

The merry-go-round spins to a stop

One final time.

It’s time to go home now because

Twilight arrives in a daze.

 

The park is off limits at night-

The guards lean against their

Black jeeps, waiting, watching and

Sometimes laughing-with the trees leering

In gothic rows behind them.

 

The rain comes back again quietly,

Like a disconcerting guest-

Making everyone shuffle uncomfortably.

The guards huddle inside their jeeps biding

Another sleepless night.

 

The steady stream prises open the rigidly locked soil

And it flows with the inky ease of a fountain pen.

He glides in, his black skin

Needing no camouflage.

 

The next morning they discover

A body dangling-

 

From the slick branches of a tree.

 

 

Hands work in haste

Alternatively rubbing red eyes

And hiding black death from

Plain sight. None needed

An early morning fright.

 

The jeeps pull away and

The park opens its gates

To a new day.

 

An old man stared at a tree whose branch looked grotesquely out of shape-like a fractured limb. But he didn’t see a rope coiled loosely on the ground. It was still knotted.

 

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Daily Prompts

Birth of Nations

Hello Amma,

I caught you standing in front of the mirror, with your shirt lifted up. I watched you watch yourself, and I felt many things. Most of all, I felt wonder.

Your stomach looked like a globe. Round. Spotted. Uneven, like the map-man had run out of ink in some places, or pressed down too hard at others. Amma, you contain nations.

A thin coat of melanin covers that sphere. But when I look closely, I see the green of trees, the blue of oceans and the red of love.

Somewhere in that ball, you are home to the sun, moon and stars-the celestial circle of life.

You are glorious.

Do not worry when you pull your shirt down, and see it stretch over the bulge. I walked out of there once but-instead of leaving you empty, I left you full.

Amma, in your girth

Lies the birth

Of nations.

Via Daily Prompt: Glorious

Uncategorized

The Man with the Binoculars

Front back

Left right and

All around-a little girl

Bobs on a swing

That spreads out behind her like an oval wing.

 

There’s a smattering a

Pitter-pattering; the rain slants

Like the slope of a graph she

Never quite understood and

From the distance, neither

Did he-I mean

The Man with the Binoculars.

 

From those glass circles perched

Upon his nose he knows

She’s coffee-sipping

On her swing-dipping

Rain-dripping but dry

Page-flipping—

A book. She reads it clear, for the words

Have not bled, gotten wet

From the torrential tears of the sky.

 

But The Man with the Binoculars struggles

To find a Home within his World for

Tagore cannot give him the answer and

He lays down his binoculars.

He has seen enough,

But not quite.

 

And the little girl

Bobs on a swing

That spreads out behind her like an oval wing.

 

Uncategorized

Lungi: a sarong-like garment wrapped around the waist and extending to the ankles, worn by both sexes in India and in Burma (Myanmar), where it is the national dress

alumkadavu-boatman-01.jpg

Oh father,

Where is the lungi you once wore?

The white one with black checks-

It felt soft and

Old-old with the pleasant weight

And lightness

Of being

A Malayali.

 

You wear shorts now:

Little boxes you insert

Your legs into-searching

For a freedom

That can only be afforded

By a lungi.

 

Oh father,

Did you forget

The stories of

Our rice fields

Our coconut trees

Our painted faces and

Our ritualistic dances-

 

Let not the backwaters of your still Malayali mind

Wash away these echoes of our past-a past

That is still very present, and

It is your lungi that has all these stories woven,

Tightly packed in those checks

Of your fabric.

 

Dear father, please

Wear your lungi again because I-

Still remember

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Blue is the Warmest Colour

Floating-Jordan-Dead-Sea

In school, it was made compulsory, where we had two classes a week. I was deeply conscious of my jiggles and wiggles, and I dreaded donning the suit. It didn’t necessarily have to be Monday for me to feel the blues.

But try as I might, the water kept coming back for me. I’m quite absent-minded, and had this uncanny knack for landing plop! In the middle of puddles even though I had so carefully avoided them in my head. The water bridged this dissonance between my imagination and the harsh reality. But sometimes, it came to my rescue. I was socially awkward for the longest time, and when I wanted to cancel a date, all I did was take one look at the sky above, and imagine that the clouds looked like stones being angrily rubbed against each other to start a fire. Only of course, it wouldn’t be fire, but torrential rain. That my predictions almost never came true is another matter. I had succeeded in wriggling out of my commitment.

I made up my mind to live only in sunny places when I grew up. I remember when I was little, I spread out the moth-eaten map that belonged to my grandfather in front of me, and traced my fingers along the places where the sun never set. Thailand. India. Libya. Perhaps Spain. In those moments, I imagined myself a traveller walking across hot sands and sipping cool drinks, and a warm flood washed over me.

But before I could grow up and chase the sun, I still had school to complete. In the 12th grade, my class teacher announced that she would be taking us on a surprise trip somewhere. I groaned. I was always trepid about surprises. “Just make sure you carry lots of sunscreen.” She had said, and my soul soared. We were going to a sunny place! For the first time in my entire life, I was excited about a school trip.

But when we reached, I felt betrayed. The sunscreen was to guard us against the sun…at the beach! I was so upset; it looked like the sun in my face had already set. I sat on the sand, under the shade of an umbrella and looked mutinously at all my classmates who were playing Frisbee, or swimming. No amount of coaxing would make me so much as dip my feet in the water. I sighed and took out my pen and paper, to vent out my angst in pretentious poetry.

Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any worse, the wind swooped down on me like a bird and pecked the papers out of my hand. I let out a small shriek and chased after it, unmindful of where my feet where headed. The ocean wrapped around me like a net, and arrested my fall. For a while I choked and gasped, arms flailing, but eventually I began to bob like an apple in a bucket. In fact, my calm was reinstated in a bit, and the water was surprisingly not so cold. My fear melted into the warm giant blue puddle.

My papers were lost, but the poetry remained. If the world was my oyster, then I was glad I was a creature of the sea.