Saturday, September 30, 2006

Trainscapes






landscapes
jog with me
during my
long journeys;
they spread wide
to the horizon
some rise up in
craggy mass
then fall into
watery
declensions
shuttling the
frontiers.

a blind singer
played percussion
on a concave drum
tailed by a girl
in sari tattered,
torn blouse
fallen sequins,
half-worn
in her sojourn in poverty
a while ago,
a chirpy
young boy
in an oversized rag,
moped the foot-printed
train floor
on all fours
his non-stop chatter
earned him a few smiles
extra coins
an overdose of benevolence
and he left behind
the ugly grin and stench
of life
that lingered over
deos and sprays.
--- waterless loos
crusts of
fossilized excreta
never-ending
woes of travellers
eager to get back:
home/work----


drones wane
at the glimpse
of journey’s end

(never-ending
cups
of sweetened tea
unshelled
peanuts
for ‘time pass’
trinkets,
smuggled
Chinese goods)

beggars parade
in different shapes
and handicaps
a puckered blind man
displayed his stumpy arm
dangled another
like a molten pendulum
he too gained our pity
appraisals
a few sorry pennies


the more grotesque
the more you sell
another hobbled in
legs burnt to splinters
all looked away
extending blind alms
I fished out a coin too
from my empty purse
and I conveniently
turned my eyes
away to the
lure of
trainscapes




TONIGHT



Tonight
I watch the night alone
her inky-blue skin,
moon’s belly button,
ploughed by stretch-marks of
wispy-clouds across the sky.
A lone star shone
like your tear drop
not unseen by me.
I saw my ardor
drift away with the
marauding rain clouds.


Love is a distant memory
on forlorn, lonely nights
and love-making
a forgotten ritual.


Then
swiftly
poetry enters with a force
thumping hard on the ribs
words stifle memories
never finding a way
off my breast!





26.05.06

I hate the way you linger, get lost!


look! there are things
that draw me to you
the spontaneity and vigor
your deft moves
you act with a dart-like ease
your smile
and probably the songs
you break into
when drunk with my eyes.

at the same time
there are things that i hate
in your confidence
oozing
to the level of shattering
the sheet of reticence
between us
the same maleness
under the weight of which
i act out my feminine
part-real part-unreal self.
your silence disturbing
the crooks and crannies
of my heart
your silence that lets loose
my eloquence
on things that top
my petty priority list.
and I hate the way
you dominate my thoughts
and linger
there with a familiarity
which you should not have!!

seasonal infidelities: after wcw

after a winter sprig
of mild mist, moonshine
and drum beats from
the heart of the hills;
a warm gouache of
autumnal-spring
heralds in
whorls of
red, auburn
tawny leaves.
they glide, skate and fall.

those emerald beads
once clung snug
onto my bosom
feel your racing pulse now;
slashing a horizontal tendon on your wrist
scoring an unsavory tale of love.
I smiled, when you looked away,
these beads have captured
your pounding veins
made them mine own.
pardon me,
that was without your knowledge.


01.04.06

The ghost haunting my adult realities

My haunted house is
cobwebbed by childhood
remembrances,
the shadows of the past
lurk my dark curves.
I am stalked by a child
breathing fantasy in every gasp
‘liar’ written all over
saddling the weight of a
dead grandmother’s pack of lies;
a dead uncle’s lunatic bouts
branded on his back by brutal lathis.
The horrors of taunting teachers
failures, incessant humiliations.
Fighting the nightmares of
a distant male relative’s
groping arms baring shame
on an unchaperoned wedding eve.

This child fumbles my insides
a mane of unruly hair
big, black eyes
staring out of a sallow face.
Her friend said ‘I will show
the delights of adulthood’
She was all eyes
till her brother hissed an adult dictum;
emptying the ten-year-old wisdom
to the seven-year-old innocence.
‘For a woman virginity is all’
This remained a blind rule
for her till she lost it
ceased to believe in it
and laughed over it.
This child haunts my insides
the ghost refuses to be exorcised
from my grown-up adult realities.

Home Coming: Trivandrum- Guwahati Express

We confessed
probably I lied
And your truth pierced
me like a spear,
Yet, I was drunk with love
which couldn’t be scourged.
You made me a woman
stabbed by the pine needles of love.
You brought me pine-fruits
papered, varnished
daubed with silver and touchwood
placed on the wicker basket on my lap,
I crooned love songs to your deaf ears.

* * *
The weariness of the train journey
sinks in, slowly massaging my
spine, thighs and forehead
like a lover, yearning to make love.
My eyes reached out
to the grimy waters across the river Pennar.
The dhobis, carried their bundles on
their scrawny haunches, scrambled on its banks.
In the train, I saw young Khasi boys and girls
speak strange tongues in frenzy,
their fingers strumming my heart.
Men, with their butter skin,
close cropped hair and pullovers, women
their snug jeans clinging to their curves,
look so displaced in the plains.
(I thought of the strange blend of coffee and butter)

You call us ‘mayangs’ love
you struggle to fit in the lair
I see you give up,
tear-away from the
nitty-gritties of ‘Indian’ life
Many times have I longed to ease,
soothe your eyes with my tears
and make you belong to me.






Used by the Thankhul Nagas for any outsider.

The Bangsi§ Player


for Agat A. Sangma





The merry tunes
of Wangala· played out
by the Bangsi player
were all mine.
His red embroidered
folded dakmanda©
that hung around his waist
in a precarious knot
seemed to tousle at the wrong jerk,
it hung adamantly to him
never leaving him,
bound in a harsh union of body and garb.
His bowstring legs bend
backwards like a pliant cane,
hoarding the tunes of time,
a songsarekª one from the green hills,
a culturally pregnant one for
the fawning tourists.
He smiled through his furrowed eyes,
betel-stained teeth flashed,
gory horns of masquerading heifers.
An organizer shoved him hard near the mike.
Clumsily, adjusting himself
he smiled again, the red-tooth one for technology.
Someone thrust a plastic chair.
Bow-legged he walked backwards
apologetically, but much relieved
he slumped down and played his magical tune.


november, 2004

§ the Garo word for flute.
· the harvest festival of the Garos, celebrated as the Hundred Drums Festival, which attracts a lot of tourists.
© The Garo wrap around for women, during festivals men also wear it by folding it into half.
ª the followers of indigenous Garo religion.
.

Gangtok Poems


In a Monastery: Fiddling on Mother Guilt

I have seen it all
felt it all,
when the prayer wheels turned on
a muffled chanting, pressing on
the universal rhythm of life.
I saw it all; I was he, who
parted the young tender lips
from my full breasts;
slowly slithered away
at the brutal crack of dawn
to stumble on my destiny.

Racing my future in the train
I thought only of mundane estimates.
fees, comforts, evenings drenched
in music, wine, friends, flirtations .
Tender beady-eyes would have searched for
the warmth that scurried
towards free will,
to clichéd adages like
‘a space for one’s own’.
As the prayer flags dispersed
goodwill; I wished an earnest
drop of tear would well out
of my kohl-rimmed eyes,
dampen an inch of crusty earth
raise as misty vapor and
embrace the elements.
Miracles hardly happen
probably I have forgotten to cry

* * *



Teesta and I

The emerald twirl of Teesta turned
to a brackish brown on my return
she slid and dodged many a rock
sculpting girdles of forgotten desire.
a lone cormorant perched on an inky stump.
Teesta warbled, gliding smoothly on eroding silts:
at thirty , time furrowed my forehead with
a callous plough, creased my eyes
I did not wince
for pain is nothing but a force of habit
a matter of getting used to
sores, cuts, gashes, wounds, scars...
As loneliness stealed on to my heart
like a stealthy lover
I listened to the wind
howling through the swirling fronds
tapping the window glass,
sometimes banging hard on my door,
and at times lifting my blanket
creeping snug close to my warmth.
* * *

Lovers

Kerala: I saw longing in your eyes
reflections of mine.
In the wedding card I caressed your name
glued with a stranger’s
and felt an emptiness
that came out of my stifled scream.
The Hawa beach was empty, the tourists left,
the sandcastles we built, melted in the air
like incense, which soothened my nerves.
I turned to the balm of love again
to douse the fire of my coffee skin
I was a nymphomaniac
committing hara kiri with my own passion.

Delhi: was the lovers’ paradise.
Some leaned on to my thighs for warmth
some chatted me over some tea and pakodas
in the way side dhabas,
some invited me to their sleazy hostels
over some lousy music, dim light and beer.
Some demanded my love which I refused to give
and my girl friends drew a lakshman rekha
forbidding men
to safeguard my ‘ever vulnerable’ heart and hymen.
Instead, I fell in love with women.
Spanish, Bengali, Marathi and South Indian.
I pretended to be lesbian for a while
and hated them all the same.

Tura: In the golden ring that wound me
and in the Brahmin thali
I sought to seek myself.
Like a serpent I waited for the slithery nights
when rains beat down
the tin roofs in an incessant refrain,
uncoiling me, easing my virginal knots.
10 o’clock carried me to the class rooms
in jittery rickshaws,
I pined for warmth as the rain
trickled down the Rexene windows
drenching my skin, goose bumps and all,
back home you were waiting
we eased off our twilights with rum, beer and wine
cigarettes set on perpetual fire burning our lips,
against the blue mountains that turned black with time.


november

In Poem: One

For them
My brother was political
and I was personal,
Science was his passion,
He was measured and sharp.
Neck-deep in disorder, and uncertain art
I was reckless and vague.
‘Mindless’ my dad thought aloud.

Today
When I speak on political correctness,
My brother charms us with his toothy laugh
While I write papers on body and gaze
He believes dress codes for women
would do them oodles of good
and save their species from violation.
It taints his honor still
when I, a thirty-year-old, get eve teased.
He believes my unwieldy flesh is to blame
(My droopy breasts and withered butts!!
He, a pulmonologist, prescribes a tread-mill walk,
“Have to lose 200 cals as a rule!”)
He loves being in the main stream,
dreams of practicing abroad someday,
pities me who is trapped in a jungle lair
fit only for occasional male escapades.
He tells me how to save money,
how to live a healthy life,
spirals of smoke rings fogging my mind,
the broken bottles in my backyard,
synaesthetic memories of reefers
testify to my self abuse.
He lectures me on spirituality
knowing little
that I believe in nothing,
and I am …
but guilt and grime
and a bundle of nerves
trying to unwind in chaotic poetry.

a poem for myself

somewhere do I crave for you pain
and your tear pins me down
like a dagger
my heart cringes in its lonely
corners like a guilty child

I love yearn hate
try to escape from
your voice
trickling down
the cellular phone
then your missives
I loathe reading your darts
yet I do- frowning;
the ugly grimace of love
that dies on our lips
like stale kisses-
I wallow in the abysses
of painless terror
my wedding ring,
faded with use,
lost its gleam
gold remains
like bondage.

can you come to
me with cheer
I ask my tears
they smile down
my cheek
drenching my
leathery skin
parched like
a cracked desert.

11 September, 2006

Friday, September 29, 2006

looking for muse in the hospital


looking for muse in the hospital

muse in the hospital
the stench of phenyl
mingled with urine
women with children
swaddled behind, weighed
down by a range of
emotional undress:
howl, puke, drool, tears
stain little snotty faces.
I watched with a sling
plaster-of-Paris ballast
my cracked left-elbow.

there are moments
when laughter echoes
like sniffle and sob
it curdles your blood
along the narrow
vaginal corridors
of the maternity ward.
women clabber past
laden-shadows
bear the burden
of their massiveness.
somewhere, an infant
bawls in the background
an ancient midwife
in a neat modern
apparel; white skirt
shiny shoes and a cap,
removes the bloody-gloves
glares officiously
through her glasses
with her knowing
expert-frown.

putrid smell of after-birth
blood mixed with phenyl
dissolves into the dark
hospital corners
muffling the screams
of hurt wombs
and their losses and gains.
28.06.06

Tura: A Melody of Love and Hate

I come from a land
where the sun shines
through the veiled coconut fronds
sun beats down the concrete slabs
as heat trickles down our sweaty napes.
the rain gods offer in unison
their seasonal libation
to the emerald glitter of the sea
expanding to meet the turquoise heights.

it was new for me, this
December fog, mist, chill
descending down the green-hills
its many-coloured shades
mixed with yellow, brown dry leaves
billowed by a cool breeze, dab my eyes.
the morning sun, often loath to open his eyes
shone with a warm benevolence
from his sleepy cavern.
streets heaped with wicker- koks
leafy greens, tender oranges
mellow vegetables, stacked by
women chewing betel juice and
counting coins over their bargains.

I have been an insane wanderer before
my eyes hunting for reflections of mine
concealed in averted eyes.
I have been a lover before
never have I belonged
but in the soft-winter-chill
of succulent mornings
roads spread out beneath my feet
with an immodest serpentine twirl
beckoning me its secret hideouts
of ever-verdant desire
the vagabond lover in me
stalks the streets and by lanes alone.

Chikram: The Insane Wanderer

Chikram: The Insane Wanderer


Chikram;
the one who plays the drums
in the ripples of rivulets,
the insane wanderer,
stalks the streets, untrodden paths
he haunts the dark sinews of night
daring the formless, headless spirits.
prowls in the bushes near my house.
in his inane mutterings
he spells my distortions
begging admittance
to his own mirror-image
he bangs at my door.

once, I saw him grab
his crotch, his intense
untamed glare scattered
the women in panic
with a few vulgar jerks
at the fleeing humanity
he guffawed like a king
and walked the roads alone
searching his groins
muttering outrageous
secrets to his self



5.07.06

To my secret self

for my secret self/other: for de sade

we met by chance, didn’t we?
ignorant of our existence
we lived our lives
in different worlds
as man and woman
white and brown with
black shadows trailing behind.
you were a monk
in your abstinence
till you indulged your
excesses
and killed those
women with your eyes
you, whispered to me:
guilt is a wasted
emotion young lady
live your dreams with me

drawn by your wild
woods, trailing your fragrance
that maddened my senses
intense, starry eyed
my dream was you
I lived the forbidden
world, in a universe
conjured by you and I
your past and my present
linked by ethereal words
whispered by our despairs
and no one knew
our secrets, hide outs
but just you and me.

from my daze
I wake up to see me
merged with you
you were me
and I was you
and in us two worlds
different colors
met, mated
and became one.

Nokrek


for the ‘good goonda’

Far from the heat
I saw you, your hills
and lost my heart;
trapped in your eyes
your sprawl on the grass,
curtained by hair,
my eyes, wayward breeze.
I was a little girl,
with those glypted memories,
on the forest path,
in pebbles, splashes
of jade, emerald, black,
Roots stretched out their arms
feet squelched on damp leaves,
burnt-sienna, scarlet,
russet, tan.
We walked the pathways
sequestered by soft sun
smiling in patches through
the deep cover of green.
I caught the twinge of pain,
in the nooks of your eyes,
as we tread the groves
trees hushed like elves,
mushrooming wisps of fairy forms,
on their mossy-hair barks.

* *

On the mist-roofed peak
blinded by green, pat by pastels
of grey, curls of spongy clouds,
I told him: Come, I will show you poetry.
I will teach you to dig the roots
unearth the sandy tubers of words.
I will teach you to carve many
a pattern of desire on my body;
show you the darkness of night
on calluses, my eyes, hair;
the secrets of smudged hills,
against the finger-printed pale grey
awash with the quiver of the moon
and paint words with the swish of pen.
I will teach you to get hurt in love
to weave words from your mangled self;
and smile when beauty stares at you
from the abysses of terror.
I will teach to you inhale the
scent of your beloved
from the dewy-grass, razor-edged,
and crusts of earth furrowed by
time’s hungry lips.
* *
Incredulous, he gazed at me,
I, with my knowing smile, turned away
slid down the ravines flaked by desire,
ravaged by time trickling through my arms

* * *

15th to 17th April. 2006

* Nokrek is the highest peak in West Garo Hills, Meghalaya

In Poem 3

dad’s imprints on me: remembering Roethke


Not once, but
Many times
I bore my dad’s
Imprints
He would
Wash them
Away in
Moments of
Remorse
As he laid
His beefy
Palms on me.
They have
Fossilized
In my memory
Caked with
Tears and hate.
I remember
The bolted door
Papa’s waltz
Branding me
With lashes,
the leather-whip
Drawn from
His waist
For my date with
Five boys
At one go.
He loved me
too much
To let me go.
My be I was
Too dangerous
For a girl of
Twelve!!!

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