In Hampi

In Hampi, I met the loneliest elephant.

Twenty- nine years old and the only one

On both sides of the river.

A rolled up note would buy you a blessing

From her. From Lakshmi.

 

In Hampi, I met the story of

A politician turned afeem farmer

And his love for his wife.

They never spoke out loud.

They never needed to.

 

In Hampi, I met a baba

A banker at one point

Meditating naked on the Himalayas

At another.

Policemen gifted him contraband weed.

He gifted them and the others

An ear. A shoulder.

 

In Hampi, I met a boatman.

He rowed so much,

he couldn’t sleep at night.

 

In Hampi, I met the story

Of a man who drank his lover’s blood

before they made love.

He never made love otherwise.

 

In Hampi, I met a woman

a caretaker of a public toilet.

We gushed about the healing powers

of aloe vera for your skin,

and then we gushed about weed

and how she smoked without her husband knowing.

 

In Hampi, I met me

as I traced centuries old camels

carved into stone.

As Nandi watched over me

from the boulders above.

As the river rushed over

gates of an ancient empire.

 

I found me.

I found magic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

nose

He was a tall, bearded man with kind crinkly eyes. His nose was a fat, white freckled bulb, an onion crumpled by three accidents as he grew up- the latest that bent it to a valley happened in a bus accident where ten broke their noses as it swerved and flipped a curve.

She had a tall nose, a carrot in a proud, beautiful face framed by thick, long curls. Coincidences traced their story along the lines of their faces, their noses, their lips, their fingers.

They met in fleeting moments. She snapped. He tittered. Their parents had tried to fix a marriage between them. She had refused blindfolded quick. He blamed his mother for her matchmaking.

Second time they met it had been a surprise for both of them, wary they circled each other in a place where the clouds ebbed against the mountains. They began a friendship, the easiest the oldest kinds with the trading of insults. A friend with an unavoidable nose himself was the one to point out to them their distinctively matching noses.

They fought for fun, matching comebacks, giggling fits, drinking nights. The stories never ran out, to tell each other. Strains of a catchy tune wrapped the two of them, they would dance a happy jig alone in their rooms or in an empty supermarket aisle, tap it on the steering wheel stuck in honey thick traffic moving ever so slow, on an empty hallway with their echoing footsteps.

They were happy. Nose to Nose. They had found their home and yet stubborn as they were, they refused to accept it.

Maybe it was more in spite, a rebellion against their clueless, doting parents so worried and eager to see them settled. Maybe it was the fear of how much the other would matter. They were both wizened to the ways of the world. They knew the dangers a real love would bring. Or maybe it was their noses, such a pair of distinct characters crammed, stretched and crushed into their noses.

 

 

 

hummingbird

I remember light fluttering kisses on my eyes my cheeks my forehead- never before had I ever felt so loved. I didn’t even know you then.

The hummingbirds always get tricked by the glass, no matter how many times they collide against it. They still never learn.

You knocked on my door with a flimsy excuse. I knew you didn’t just want water. You wanted to check out the new neighbours.

“This is what it means to be in your twenties, lying naked on a worn out mattress sheets smelling of sex in a shabby room you share, smoking a cigarette with your lover.” I told you once. I had run away from job interviews and impending adulthood to come see you for a day or two. That time when I left for home, you cried into my shoulder as you hugged me goodbye. You kissed every part of me for all the times you won’t be able to. I fell again then, even more into the bottomless pit of loving you.

The giant hummingbird weighs almost twenty one grams. Experiments conducted by scientists frightened of death concluded the soul weighed twenty one grams. They waited and weighed beside dying beds. “At the moment of death, there has been a marked difference in weight, a difference we calculated to be twenty one grams”

“I can’t think of the rain without thinking of him. A bulldozer rolling thunder woke us up. The monsoon is here, he whispered to me kissing me urgent and desperate; we have to celebrate, he said. We once ran through steady rain into an abandoned auto, piping hot jalebis in our hand, as the sugar burned my lips we kissed with the rain rushing down outside. Now I can’t think of the rain without thinking of how it felt with him. He consumed me so much at times I felt the world together with him. It became him.”

You would ask me out awkwardly forward, earnest eyes imploring me to say yes every single time. I didn’t want to admit it but you bothered me. I didn’t want to admit it but I liked it. I liked you.

The shaman call them messengers from a higher world. Our ancestors who have crossed the great sea send them to us to help us with this world. They carry all that is good all that is pure, your very essence to replenish you, fill up all the holes the world had carved into you. The tribe considered the hummingbird most sacred. The land had a future if it was visited by the bird.

“I love you, you said that night for the first time. You took me out two days back and you were already convinced of it. It had been your birthday that night. I lost my virginity that night. Fairy lights burnt till morning. The first rays of the sun peeked into my room as you kissed my eyes my cheeks my forehead and you said the words again and again. Feverishly. I didn’t want to fall or maybe I did. I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t help myself from you.”

No matter what I said, you would still come back. My friends made fun of you while they smoked your weed. I would complain to every other guy about how persistent you were. I couldn’t shake you off. It bugged me. It flattered me. What did you see so special in me, I would wonder. Why do I appeal to you so much? You a stranger who I didn’t even call a friend.

“You asked me the same thing, a year later. We were in different cities living different lives trying so hard to meet midway. Why do you love me so much? I was tongue-tied, how could I put it in words, what I felt for you?”

Those days I saw so many hummingbirds, their long swordbill beaks flashing in and out of the flowers. Their stout wings beating persistent backwards. We were so in love head over heels.

Then I had to leave and then you left me. I don’t see hummingbirds any more. You don’t stare back at me from the mirror. Your hands don’t hold me anymore. I look at myself in the mirror. The person looking back looks like me but it isn’t-something’s missing. You are missing.

I imagine my hummingbird ferrying my piece of soul from the heavens above, blessed you with it. She knew my spirit even before me. She knew my love even before me.

“May you be loved as true as I do you, no matter if we be together or not.

May you always be loved, if there had to be a reason, let it be because I loved you and will always do.”

 

 

 

 

 

that day

She danced that day

The day that blurred into two.

The day the year passed halfway

 

She found her half that day.

 

The half she thought she lost

Forever, with a lover or a friend,

Had he been both or

Had there been more,

She couldn’t remember.

 

That gnawing gaping hole within her

was all she remembered

all she had missed.

 

That day though

She beamed whole.

Full and radiant

She danced that day.

 

 

As the clouds ebbed against the mountains

As the flowers peeked through the rocks

She fell and she found.

 

That beautiful blessed day.

 

Love hidden in the whishing of the trees.

The cooing of the pigeons

The rainbow lining of the setting sun.

In the shared smiles and widened eyes.

In the magic setting over their limber bodies.

immersed in such magnitudes of feeling and awe.

 

 

She danced. She soared.

She loved

As she fell and she found.

 

That day of renewal

That day of birth

As the year

Turned half.

 

The parrot and the squirrel

Once upon a time, in a gnarled, wizened hole on the old, casuarina tree lived a parrot. Emerald green bright she would zip through the pink flower tufts.

The World never ceased to fascinate her. The humans their nests their noises their young. The ravens would murmur among themselves, “Doesn’t she know they hurt as much.”

In and out she would weave through the neighbourhood trees, the cornered terraces, the orchid hung balconies- she would whizz by other nests and snatch food from open gangling chicks. The weavers despaired the most, just at the moment when the knots were to be tightened, she would fly through it breaking it to stray strings and they would have to start over again.

She didn’t care what any of them thought, as far as she was concerned, her life was perfect even without them.

The hole she called her home, was a much coveted spot on the tree.  The tree in itself was a favourite of all the birds in the neighbourhood. Young males would fight each other for a space there. Young females would count the seasons the elders have stayed there already. “When will it be free?” they would obsess with each other.

When she was younger, she gathered for herself such a fearsome notoriety she didn’t have to do anything out of her way to get her home.

Our story begins on a day before the monsoons were to arrive. Everybody was excited and chattering even louder, scampering about to make all the arrangements in time. Nobody wanted to be caught in it and they were definitely due for an emphatic monsoon. The old casuarina tree was visited by a tiny, bedraggled, starving squirrel-he brought with him the monsoon and a shiver he couldn’t shake off.

He was so vulnerable and scared, he managed to touch her selfish, little heart. She couldn’t help but offer to share her cozy, little hole with him.

They soon became the best of friends. Hand in hand they explored, every day a new adventure.

She began to think of him as an extension of herself- the two of them, a team against the world. He began to slowly come out of his timid, meek shell. His personality began to show, an infectiously vibrant enthusiastic one that too. He was so affable, not even the grumpy, sleep-deprived owls could hold out against his charm.

The problem began when the rest of the world started squeezing in between. They liked the squirrel, the parrot they barely tolerated some going to the extent of blatantly ignoring her. They would talk only to him. They would try to catch him alone.

It had never mattered her to before but now it hurt. She was jealous and sad. She felt lonely. She felt rejected.

He tried to include her but she hated the trying even more. They fought more nowadays.

She kicked him out of the hole, the other day, in the heat of the moment. He also lost his temper and told her how he agreed with what ‘they’ said about her.

They haven’t spoken to each other since that day. They haven’t been friends since then.

 

 

 

by bye baby

Imagine that

In seven years

Every cell in me

Would have been replaced.

 

Imagine that

No part of me you would have touched.

No long tugging kisses.

No lingering bites.

My hands wouldn’t have either.

No part of you familiar to me

 

Imagine that

Love is not defined by me.

There is no us.

Lives not shared.

Nights apart

Days disconnected.

Home is not me.

 

Imagine that

We meet new

In another time,

In another place

Would we walk away

A glance held too long

The only story?

 

 

 

The actors we never saw

 

There are no odes written for them.

They receive no adulation no recognition

And yet there can be no doubt

They are the greatest

The greatest actors playing on the world’s stage.

 

Whish. Whoosh.

Hush. Shush.

 

There see, yes right there

See how they flow to the next scene.

The next story.

See how taut they hold the pause.

See how seamless they transition.

 

They are the oldest of us all.

Before time was even born

They have been watching.

And yet they are not revered.

They are not loved.

 

Whish. Rustle.

The most delicious shiver down your spine.

The warmest, ebbing golden

See the wind rustle the leaves

Begging them to play again.

 

“Another story, please.”

“Please.”

“Please.”

 

sing-a-song

Turn a page. Turn a year.

“I love, love love you.”

Turn a page. Turn a day.

“She is the love of my life.”

 

You may run.

You may hide

 

You may stick your feet

in the mud and refuse to move.

You may fly on the wind

and swim to the secret coves

 

You may breathe or you may live.

A little bit more.

A little bit less.

 

Turn a person.

Turn a memory.

Over and over.

Is it the same?

Over and over.

 

Designed for heartbreak

Designed for greying cynics

Designed to disbelieve

 

Turn a page. Turn a year.

Look in deep. Look in hard

Do you see it?

 

You are it.

The shine, the magic

The stories, the songs

The World.