(iStock/phototechno)

UNLEARNING

Look at the tree choked by the lustrous electric pole of civilization
Between the racing roads where cars, trucks and buses throw up the Sun
There is a man (whom you and your accomplice call lunatic) beneath its scrawny canopy
Collecting Colours of Pain in a garbage bag
When you become me and I become him, we will unlearn the past and learn

What you called Light
Is a glitter dotted line drawn by a child with clumsy nimble fingers
What you called Shadow
Is the mirror of a curtain drawn by the clouds
What you called Travel
Is world running past a very still you
What you called Yamuna
Is a river subterfuged by milky froth emissions
What you called Winter
Is perspiration of Earth

After this, when we return
We shall draw out and separate the skein threads of our consciousness
And learn more
what we call Home is Earth that has no borders
what we call Roof is Sky cerulean by day and lantern lit by night
what we call Religion is a cry for help, corroded by hunger and cold in refugee camps
what we call Human is a mass of Bones and Blood beneath Unmarked Graves,
gender is only a square column in paper work
what we call Child is a Dawn sleeping on its stomach with closed eyes, bent knees, on the shores of Mediterranean
what you call Poetry is blood flowering with the tap of a keyboard


BY THE COAST OF MALABAR

At nightfall I become a mason.
Piling brick upon brick, plastering them,
Shaping the pillars and alcoves,
Applying final coat of blue tinged whitewash
Breathing life into them,
I rebuild memories.

I become a gardener, planting those ancient seeds.
They grow into robust trees, heavy with fruit.
Red, thin legged ants crawl up their trunk
Crow drops a half-eaten mango
Fibrous core yellow, sweet
At nightfall, purple jasmine opens
Drinking from the tumbler of silver moon
A moon which looks at its face in an ancient well
She towers in an unearthly splendour - my home.
When dawn chases away the last remnants of dream, I am a little girl, growing old in a strange land


ONE DAY

One day
You will step out of your home
And find corpses of little dolls strewn in the garden
The pavement, sidewalk, streets, lifts, subways, trams, metros, gutters, manholes
Those plastic faces, the shine of the apple of cheek
Smeared with the dirt of your guilt
Heads half severed, mutilated limbs
Dangling from electric poles, branches of surviving trees
Their eyes mauled,
Tongue blue, rhymes frozen in them
Crushed on the zebra crossing like insects
Little frock and pinafore torn
Hair a mass of filth where flies rummage for remnants of sticky candies
You will stoop down to gather the frayed pieces like a scavenger
Cart away the mangled fleshripped apart and left to rot,
Beneath the heap of those corpses, there might be a possibility
Of finding a little heart beating fast
Crouching in fear


TO SKETCH ARABIAN SEA

Saffron fish lay in a row, their bellies white
Under heaps of crushed ice
‘Bridegroom fish’, said the hawker,
I loved it most, years later learnt it was red snapper
In the intervening years thin streams that ran across the pristine sand of Calicut beach swelled
Spewing venom into the Arabian Sea which I had once sketched in deep blue
All I had to do was now to smear black


WOUNDS OF PESHAWAR 2014

“Would you,
Or Should I ?”
Half past eight, right after dinner
We flung the question back and forth
You mumbled distractedly,
Shoving dog-eared books into an almost worn satchel
Mid term
All this while
Size no.3 shoes, white canvas,
They sat patient
Waiting to be polished
Some dawns I woke up, frantically remembering
There they were,
Rubbing nose by the window sill
Gazing at the mist and moon
Half dreaming of muddy football grounds
Polish caked onto surface

Royal icing on a plum cake, your favourite
Laces stiff, like cat’s tail
They’ll come back home
A little muddy, grimy, worn and sweaty by noon,
I smile.
You would fling them to a corner
Running off to play barefoot.

Some dawns you woke up
And found them drying under a furious fan
And even more furious me
Shoe polish takes time to dry.

When they lined you up
When gunshot rang through the air
Did you stagger, run?
Did those shoelaces come undone?
I wish I could find answers

A mourning dove coos by my empty window sill
I think of a bloodied little shoe,
Abandoned by the sidewalk

Size No.3
It is not dry yet