An Ode to Parting





There was a monsoon the last time
I left home,
the treacherous gale swayed branches
and rivers lapped
onto the topmost step
where a lone bum once slept
under the winter moonshine
and wept.
We had met in our trembles
and fears,
our brown eyes turned lucid like dreams
minutes trailing away in trepidation
of a farewell we hoped would end
someday soon.

 

Seven years,
and the city still smells of a love I’d left
in my rearview mirror,
a mother waiting on her toes
for footsteps to the door,
the saggy moustache of our landlord
through which a smile left for every man he’d met
and loved, the songs of the bum by the ghat
whom we’d visit, Ammu
like old friends,
reincarnations the universe skipped,
at odd turns for lives with friendships
and passions
from people who weren’t just strangers
in love.

 

I take the bus to Ayemenem,
my bags are heavy with damages that come
from years of living,
my eyes, involuntary in their search for you
somewhere in hearts of the city
we once called our own.
The mid-August skies are ominous,
shaking strings in the heavens above
as though for our little stories
to blow sighs at unforgotten things
that grieved us into fools
we are now.

 

Ammu,
by the riverside bus-stop where we’d wait
with shaking feet and flaccid hearts
every Sabbath for getaways
to the weekly market joint,
today it sighs
a bland rush of crowds,
your face on every stranger’s body
melting in torrents of hurried lives—
at home,
under the afternoon fan
I wonder if I’d really seen you.

 

Near dawn,
I fall asleep on my mother’s lap
in the city that I realise could never have been made
just for us.

 

***

 

Souvenirs of a broken engagement,
and Pride wearing a one point five inch heels,
stare back at me as I
count the crevices on the ceiling,
inhaling the stench of my armpits,
and growls inside my tummy.

 




And Manu,
who told you solitude blemishes memoirs?
Running up like a twine
spiralling about the butterfly’s wings
that once fluttered
until they turned numb
being touched by the thousand sighs I gulped down,
seeing you fading out from the city that once
pinned its ears back,
at the wavering intonations of our love,
as you ran into me on those days,
overlooking the Silence that stood stark naked,
seeking a detonation.
And you
never let your eyes fall on her,
to toss that scarf you rather preferred to
wear around your neck.

 

Today,
watching a piece of our city
hanging at my window,
my thoughts run like line of ants
about the suitcase that once held my dreams—
the odds that mushroomed on
what we once called to be love.
Where did I go wrong?
I asked myself all these years;
From the early cup of indifference my mother served me,
to the colourless glances of my father that sheltered on
his darling who chose to be an artist,
and built her throne on a sinking palette.
But all that born from the
strokes and strikes,
watch me in awe as I pack my empty bag today.
And it will no longer be like pissing in the wind, I tell them.
I tell them, as I see you in the fragments of my thoughts,
wondering if your pregnant baggage had any room left that day,
chewing over the odds of us being together.

~ Mrinal Kalita and Anakha Jeevan

 


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