The platform looks cleaner than the last time.
A familiar rickshaw picks me up from the crowd.
I smile inside myself–
I don’t remember his face,
he doesn’t let go of mine.
Last time when I came, there were fewer street lights.
He takes me through the old school-gate beside the high walled prison,
where my father used to take me every morning
just before the first prayer bell rang.
We take the long road beside the dakbungalow,
where my father used to wait for my mother.
It is a main road now
and you can’t wait here.
He takes the shorter route to home,
I give him thirty bucks,
the same I’ve been giving for years from station to home.
Nothing has changed, we tell each other.
At the End of it All
There is no rustic charm in coming back.
You take the rickshaw and pay the same
fare that you’ve been paying for years.
It is afternoon now,
and you hate the local markets buzzing with flies.
Half of what you say in this din,
vanishes like the hay dust the women are sifting beside the road.
The same smell in your childhood
of new currency notes and cadbury greets you at the square and you feel closed.
Back at home,
you find your mother has kept flowers on your table.
She tells you that she had thrown away the old ragged things you never used-
a broken pencil box you stole from a friend,
some coloured papers and plastic crayons.
Your father tells you about your relatives
and your mother loves you more.
They ask you to tell your stories.
You perform very well.
You gasp for a smoke.
You know you can’t smoke at home.
You hear your parents laughing softly,
and your grandfather talking in sleep.
It rains now,
and there is no way you can go out in the rains
without letting them know