Lahore

For Zamurrad, after two years.

 

The sand is a violence of many hands,
the bus a trespasser scuttling across dank furrows.
Fangs of arrowroots rise in speckles of sighs,
match-boxes are lopsided love stories. Black tar,
a smoke of fulfillment braided to the tin sheet of the bus.

Lahore’s shadow sprouts faces of recklessness,
the red rimmed eyes tired of sleepless nights,
a tongue paralysed by an alcoholic trance.
It is anything that is solid and angular,
like the borders beaten to a weary surveillance.
The spongy mounds of earth slit open a pitch-black
howling sky. Thoughts under the wheels take shape
into boulders, round, useless, designed in a fragile heaviness
of numerous arrivals. The watery desolation up your head
swells with her schizophrenic fullness.
Voices pouring down.
A vessel shaped city.
Zamurrad’s Lahore rain.
This smell, a familiar hint of her sweaty thighs,
a taste of tangy, cheap lozenges in Anish Darbar,
uncaring, pursed lips failing a language, a memory
of timeless rejoinders. This smell a song
falling and rising in undulating phrases,
of soft rejections, departures wafting through the wind.
This smell, of all, a palimpsest of forgetting all other smells.
Atop the white buildings, the heat of the symphony
seeping into your mold-washed concrete, stays longer
than usual. While Lahore thrusts out
its thousand hands to pull the brocades down.
Her song thinner, rebellious, ensnares in a country
of your awakening. Zamurrad’s song.
You dip a finger in the lukewarm tea, stirr it
as the rickety bus pushes the flow. To this side, that side.
The song too doubles up as twin bodies.
Bouncing hard like the unruly fluid.
Zamurrad’s song.
The snaky road splits your skull into halves,
fades into the last flicker of homelessness .
This city a fleeting ghost on glass windows,
dust stained light, slabs of squares,
octagons, sleek slivers, tangerine.
On her muslin dupattas, leather bags,
torn terracotta.
The fish tailed city. A sting of being held by a woman.
By Zamurrad again. Yet again.
Her body a spillover of artificial light, changing hands.
A swirl of the asthmatic neon lamp on crevices
of the night. Here one building mounting
on the other in an orgy of closeness.
A half eaten place.
The night empties out
its oeuvre of sighs,
it looks for a futile sniff in the stillness of silence.

The heads of the Peepul shake from right to left,
from left to right. In unison. Frail stems rising above
the soil in a grim vehemence, enter the nodes,
fragile creases of the pavements.
The roughened sculptures contrast the monotony
of your shirt, psychedelic lavender and dust—
the exasperation of the night.

The land folded as a paper, is bent at the nape.
Probably it’s a rear of a rusted plane
tied to my son’s window rod. For some centripetal motion.
For creating a madness to tear apart
the symphony of the wind.

Lahore retracts into a pale marble mannequin.
The white alleys become
the cracks of the sun.
Light plunges into camera reels
blinding us. A labyrinth.
Of wheatish plenitude.
Zamurrad’s Lahore.

 

Namrata Pathak

Namrata Pathak

Namrata Pathak teaches in the North-Eastern Hill University, Tura, Meghalaya. She has published two books, Trends in Contemporary Assamese Theatre (2015) and Women’s Writing from North-East India (2017). She is a regular contributor of The Assam Tribune. Her writings are published in Muse India, North-East Review, Café Dissensus, Setu, Indiana Voice Journal, Aneekant, Negotiations, Ruminations, and others.

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