I. Sam, Rajasthan

Tourist’s camel ride–
With a promise to find the location for shooting
Of Chandani
I had imagined the throes of love with an older man at the age of fifteen,
The film had given me gooseflesh.
The bonfire and kalbelia dance
I was ready.
Mehmood brought his camel
I was ready.
And I saw the sameness of the desert
Arid vast lonely fierce.
Dark brown foot hollows that the sand registered
First Mehmood’s and then the camel’s
Soon to be whisked away by the wind.
The hollows are temporary.
Mehmood does not need footprints in the desert.
The song of the peacock dance played in my head
And I stared at the Indecipherable desert.
The wild sterile solitary dunes.
The colour of the turbans
Specks in the far off,
More camel men for more tourists.
And
The hypnosis began!
He asked, “Are you married?”
I said, “No.”
He asked, “Why have you covered your face?”
I kept quiet.
He continued talking…
“When you come with your husband next time
I will see your face”
I kept staring at him.
Greying brown eyes carrying the lost night of the desert.
Mine appeared black to him.
The desert wind on the first day of January in Sam,
Piercing through us.
Smitten numbness flowed from me to him.
Asphyxiation!
He could see that I was caught.
He had his lines rehearsed, as if.
“Camel run madam, you in front and I take back seat”
I wanted to absorb the desert in him
The abandon of the dry wind in the red of his eyes,
Mirages in the lines on his forehead,
Rigid, stubborn dry hills on the bridge of his nose,
Sand on his lashes,
Hollows of the dunes in his sunken cheeks.
I kept staring at him.
“No”, said I, with a vacant voice.
Sinking in the soft sand.
I wanted to tattoo him on my chin.
I had seen women with three dots on the hollow of their collar bones.
The ride got over.
The sand sucked me in.
He left.
And
I kept playing with his name.

Meh- ‘Mood’ – Desert-er;
Meh (my) mood;
Desert-Mood!

 

 

II. Chequered Mind

Rooms within rooms….
My mind races through many.

How can I write poetry?
Do I know the meter?
What is rhyme?

“How presumptuous…
You amateur poetess.”

Can you grow the Iris?
“Only a poetess can grow irises.”

I don’t even water
The ever growing money plant.

I brought a pup home.
The lice at its ear,
Repulsed me.
And I left it to die in the cold.

“How does a kiss feel?”
The tongues entwine,
And the nose is bewildered.

I like to use pencils.
How silly and childlike.
“Are you so unsure?”
Can you sustain lead prints
On paper?

“Silly girl, don’t you want
The others to read…
Your words….”
Whatever stuff you write.
“Are you in love?”
Yes, maybe.
With yourself?
What is love?
Is it a state of being?
How horrid!
Please never attempt a love poem.

“Why are you talking to yourself, Virgin?”
Should I be proud or embarrassed?
“Try this, you’ll look beautiful.”
And then maybe…
But am I not?
A bell rings at the door.
Which one should I open?

I am bored
With spiders
Silly creatures…..

 

 

III.  White and Brown don’t Mix

 

(1)

The mind is wired;
Multiple colours and strands,
Turn into images,
And a link is formed.
Connecting purple with cloth.
Aubergine with taste.
As the tongue rolls,
The food in the mouth,
The drink becomes Red
In my eyes.
The world turns into a happy place,
And all the people appear nice.
I feel a happy solitude.
I have my lover by my side.
Worldly.
Ashamed of my state and
Amorousness.
Returns my kisses,
With eyes staring at the world.

 

(2)

Where,
I stand lost and drunk.
Unworldly.
Unconscious in love,
Touching and feeling him.
The hands turn cold,
As the flesh fails
To love me back.
It lies there –
White and dead and cold.
Heavy under a moral dilemma!
I become the four-legged
Unabashed in Love.
And he – the coy ‘man.’
I see love receding
Like a wave that has
Washed the beach.
I feel the tremors.
And have the goose flesh.
This time to devour,
Out of disgust.
Only if the woman in me could strangle.
As the brown eye ball
Catches the sunlight;
It radiates,
And I see the pupil expand.
More than his flesh.
That does not live anymore.

 

(3)

The white skin looks pale,
And tired.
Wrinkled.
Attached to its own kind.
The foam of the wave,
Leaves the sandy beach.
White on brown
The brown soaks it and waits.
But the froth floats on.
He accuses the whiter ones
Of racism.
Yet revels in his ‘whiteness.’
This is a dialogue;
Quite like –
The ‘sahibs,’ ‘nabobs,’ and the ‘regular Indians.’
The colour doesn’t die.
The shades don’t merge.

The unstable eye,
The roving eye,
The lust ridden stare.

 

Namrata Jain

Namrata Jain

Namrata Jain has taught literature in English for a decade at the University of Delhi. She earned her M.A. in English from the University of Delhi and her doctorate from the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her area of interest/research has been feminism, literary theory, European drama, post-colonial studies, and Contemporary Indian Theatre. She has been actively engaged in theatre since 2002.

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