Saturday, February 27, 2016

Aligarh

Dr. Siras,
In those nights,
you must have felt loneliness like a drip.

The walls of your room
would’ve been held apart only by a faint song,

and memory must have sat by you all night
combing the hours.

In your Marathi poem, Dr. Siras, the one about the ‘beloved moon,’
the one in which you somehow eke dawn from the dark sky,
I read it last night on the terrace,
it held me, it held my hands,
it let grass grow under my feet.

In this house that I have lived in for three years in Delhi, Dr. Siras,
the windows open onto a Palash tree.

I was 27 when I had rented it,
and at 27, the landlord had not spent too much time on the word ‘bachelor’
he had only asked if I had ‘too many parties’,
I didn’t, and I had got the house.

But next time, Dr. Siras, when I will try and look for a place in this city,
I will be older and they will pause at "but marriage?"
and I will try to eke out respect from a right surname,
from saying ‘Teacher’
from telling my birth-place,
and will try and hide my feeling small under my feet.

What had you said, Dr. Siras,
when you looked for that house in Durga Wadi?
What had you said for the neighbourhood, ‘Teacher’, ‘Professor’,
‘Poet’?

What gives us this respect, Dr. Siras, this contract with water?

In those nights,
weighing this word in your hands,
you must have felt weak, like the sun at dusk,
you must have closed the window to keep out the evening,
you must have looked back, and hung the song in the air
between refusal and letting go.


(thanks to Apurva M Asrani and Ishani Banerjee)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

हमारी 
       उमर 
            भी तुम्हें लग जाए 

Monday, February 15, 2016

For JNU

You can chew the sun here & spit it out,
You can make the mighty eat dust,
It is a university that we're talking about,
Not a king's court where we must.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

To the soldier in Siachen

Come back,
the snow is treacherous,
come back,
they are making you fight a treacherous war,
you were not born in snow,
you do not know snow, come back,
I do not want you to fight that war in our name,
I want you to rest, I want you to be able to feel your fingers,
I want the snow in your veins to give way,
for you to be able to breathe, to melt
into a corner,
to sleep.

Come back.

Go home.

Go home to Dharwad,
Go home to Madurai, go home to
Vellore, Satara, Mysore, do not stay in the snow,
go home to Ranchi, that war is not for you to fight, that war
is not for us to give to you to fight, let not our name be ice,
let it not heave on your shoulders, do not let us steal your breath,
the people there, the people of the snow do not need us,
they do not need you to fight, come back,
you were not born to snow,
you do not know the treachery of the snow,

go home,
to rest, go home to the sun, to water,
go home to the nights of your village,
go home to the sweltering market-place,
to the noise of family-homes, to the sweat of the Ghats,
to the dust of the plains, go home,

may you never
have to see white ever again like that,
may you never have to see
a colour become death in your very palm.

Monday, February 8, 2016

That night in Mumbai when Brandt asked 'Are you good with speed?' and I said 'Yes'

it was as if
I pillion rode the moon
on the Western Express Highway,

and every mile we raced on his bike
we reclaimed from the sea,

the Goregaon high-rises passed us by
like longing measured on a Richter scale,

and the sky, window-lit at Malad, tripped
onto us,

at Kandivali, the fortieth floors spun out
into the night till the sky was only staircases,

and when he dropped me
by those black mountains of Borivali,
I realized I had held onto my seat
like the black holds onto basalt,
like the skin holds onto bones,
like Mumbai holds onto sea.