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Today
I hold my breath against yours
and stoke this barter of living

counting the hours of a bus ride
suspended in the rugged steeps

counting the hours of a sleep
just before a dream strikes

If every measure is a moment of understanding,

then all the distances
from this candle
to the dark walls,
shrink into a wick,
blazing the air,
membrane by membrane

The spark is as subtle
as the opening of an
old, almost forgotten book-
spilling dust and drudgery,
as if the only way for
the light to transpire
is from within

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Turbulence

Sometimes
coming close
is the same as
going away

Is it the turbulence
of a camphor or
the air, that
builds a fire?

Some stars explode
and become dust,
others linger
for us to gaze upon
and render meanings

Brooches, frames,
scents-leftovers
are an indictment

Schism

From the banks of nostalgia,
recedes a ripple of shadows
on the translucent, moss-green waters,

disfiguring the present from the time.

Forgetting is a skin-deep wound,
it takes a while to grasp what
has been crooning over the senses,

is not merely the whiff of sandalwood.

You begin to let your questions
astray on the beaten towpath,
that once charted you out.

Garhwal Chronicles

Trudging nostalgia

I.

Driving past the pines
for the lust of deodars,

morning towers in dull topaz-grey
from the dungeons of these mountains,

holding years of dust migrating
from plains and elsewhere.

Summer is the only bright lantern
in the corner of a dark room,
attracting hordes of moths
like these restless tourists

II.

Time goes grazing in the forests
that thrum in nights,
altitude is an escape, or a refuge.

Clouds and fog shield the white peaks,
and sometimes these quaint towns and villages
from the news of wars and rapes that
the rest of this country sins.

Young city-clad folks at the local chai dhaba,
grumble of phone network issues.

Oblivion, not peace, is the end of the Himalayan retreat.

III.

Some mountain edges smell of
fresh asphalt and coal tar,
few other gods yet to be
invaded in the Devbhoomi.

Resurrection is a seasonal borrowing,
of hammered glaciers
and multistorey evolution.

IV.

Salvation, apart from the Ganga-dips,
is an everyday quest for firewood
for these women in iridescent scarfs
and enormous nose-rings.

At Devprayag, I immolate my disbeliefs
for the sight of conflict-less confluence
of two different races of river,
becoming both Alaknanda and Bhagirathi

to this flowing, unified Ganga.

Lessons from a friend

You are a bird,
looking down into
the world from
a branch below

Your branch makes
the sky look too
far, and the earth
too crumbled

The loftiness of
this tree remains
half-exploited,
like your imaginations

Before taking another
precarious flight,
climb up a branch
higher,

where too much mind
ceases to be;
now try travelling
to other trees

 

(inspired from an e-mail conversation with Neha)

Amrita Shergill Marg, Delhi

 

I

 

Laburnum blooms whisk sanity

away from the wind; past

is a shifting

cloud.

summer

is pastel yellow-green,

picking purples from jamuns

  shedding over the jaded footpath.

 

 

II

 

Colours descend at

                                     night,

fragrance is a whore.

 

III

 

Moon becomes all the words,

where there is no language.

 

You are the silence I seek.

 

IV

 

Memories drizzle

in times of drought,

 

monsoon is still far away.

 

V

 

There is no walking on this street.

 

Minds float like lighted lamps in the

river that desires,

transposing myths and reality.

 

VI

 

The quest is for eternity,

yet time throws things

either changed or hewed,

 

for instance, that

 

proud, naked-branched tree

which used to be the muse

of our conversations;

 

a year is a testimony enough.

 

 

An accident

The road ahead could only be cautioning,
and not belong to the world divided in utopia or dystopia
like the one I walked on thursday afternoon-

an uprising in itself, like the horse I’m riding on
gone wild in search of a tree shade in moorland-
less of a collision into a car, more of a

collision into an unprecedented faith, to which
I woke up beside tyres, in unfathomable survival
of my senses, of this life that could slip away

in moments like these, and I don’t know if
I ventured into god, but I did find myself
soaking in a different light-

that carried physical wounds and healed
internal pains-letting me see all things undone
in the labyrinth of my flesh and bones