Thursday, October 30, 2008

Herald of Absences

I saw him sitting on a whale
Herald of absences

Wearing the mask of an old man
The boy
Typed his life with one finger

I met him last on a sea shore
Surrounded by crabs
The length of his evening

Grand Trunk Road, Bombay -1992

Bombay, clogged with your smell
paint peeled structures
cinema posters, Premier Padminies
stalks of noise, shadows
scents of Grand Trunk Road

Cloth lines in the faded
balconies spilled bras, panties
dark colored salvars, kurtas and summer

The hijada pimp, wearing
glass bangles, long skirt
black dotted bandana
at the ash painted stairway
asked for an identification and taste

Pebble like rhythm of tabla
rumbled through my eardrums
So rude, the horns in the street
She disappeared into a narrow corridor

The door opened again
A Begum draped in a scarlet sari
emitting fumes of heady Pan
smiled like a vampire
Strong, cheap perfume
knocked me off for a full minute

Evening daylight sketched
protracted shades of our walk to a room

My eyes throbbed
Intruding into the dark
Puppet theatre

In the stale air
primeval smells of bedsheets
potpourri, talcum powder and sweat

She came close and I smelt me
in her, a stench of camouflaged pains
I touched her, feeling for the
puppet strings, glossy fake silk

In the dim lit box, poised
to strike, my body froze mid air

Above the creaking rough bed
Portrait of a man in sepia tone
White kurta, sharp moustache
twinkling eyes, watching
the celebration of glistening nude puppets

‘My Appa,’ she said

In a sweltering Bombay afternoon
aroma from the downstairs puri-bhajiwallah
swathed us like an invisible magic blanket