A sad small affair
In the street
— men and women
And budding generations
In a disenchanted cluster
With old folk songs, timidly whining from a brand new tape recorder.
The old woman,
(Mother-in-law to my landlady)
Carries on the sunless late afternoons of Dilli’s January
Oblivious to the melancholic streets.
Melancholy with joys of a new child,
In a family — who own the best of brand new tech.
Or so it seems from the second floor,
Of a barely furnished flat.
Of people who wait,
(the way they do in small sleepy towns)
And pry on the lives of
Others who live by in a city.
Often through the crowded stale streets of Dilli
I see those Kashmiri fingers,
Tying a knot, or pulling up the weight on their backs.
The elegant pink fingers next to hard backs
Of bales of cloth
Of promised riches and warmth.
I wonder, in a city of purani Dilli
How well do these sundry voices survive?
When I sit with ink between my swollen fingers
Tracing the eyes of people
Knowing nothing more than their dainty fingers and hidden backs.
The light years
The small window
With a cracked glasspane
With the juices of raw mangoes,
In summer, sometimes.
I sit here
Next to you
Savoring the voice that drips like the juices of raw mangoes
From your chin, sometimes.
And I remember,
Sometimes, this face,
Cracked and rippled,
Sagging with the winds of Dilli summers
Sticky with the juices of raw mangoes
It never is so, not anymore.
The raw mangoes burn yellow
Under the civilized sun.
I always see you
Lone among these woods.
Let us be companions
Because it’s early and dark and people sleep in soft supple arms
I have my walking stick; you, her songs.
His silence rakes me;
You fly unflinching among the Chinars.
Would we ever know?
Why do we wander?