A History of Mirrors
The first mirror was shared,
inside the hostel — it had white
lips frothing with Colgate staring back.
The second was rented and broken;
his reflected face too broke in the one
half that remained of the mirror.
The third was grand
and expensive, and rented
of course. It was this that
provided the luxury of
reflecting his entire torso, down
to the growth of pubic hair
below. He stared into this
one for prolonged minutes and,
on the day he turned twenty three,
witnessed one strand turning grey.
Remember/ In Memory of
Remember the arrival of spring:
the ceiling fan suddenly resuscitating
opening its eyes, breathing,
coming back from a coma.
The ceiling is no longer a still life,
the ceiling is alive.
Remember what spring was last year
the arrival of sunshine,
the end of winter chill,
the end of a course of medicines.
Remember the struggle of sleeping without Trika,
the onset of dreams. Remember, remember,
what a change it was
to have the knowledge of sunshine
on your skin.
This spring, I am fine, shocked at the ease
of being sane.
My depression left as it came: without a warning.
It left when winter left the city.
Since it rained in the morning
I thought it’d be a good idea to meet you.
I had heard you had shifted to a new room
in the hostel. I took yours, when you left the flat
and inherited a poster of Bhupen Khakkar.
The man with a bouquet of plastic flowers is now mine.
There are also a few books you’ve left behind,
and an incomplete journal. I can inherit the former;
the latter – unfinished poems I mean – should be returned.
Can abandoned lines be inherited at all?
In your new room, you pull the drawer
and examine what the last occupier has left behind.
For those who move in and out of rooms, this is a routine:
scrutinising the one who slept before you,
imagining the one who will come after.
We pull out this fellow from the drawer:
he is a Levi’s t-shirt tag, fellowship forms,
and quite a few strips of medicines.
We try and guess his possible ailments.
A year ago, after I had come back from the doctor,
you were looking over the prescription.
Your quick glances shifted from the sheet in your hand
and my eyes ploughed into my face.
They were wondering, perhaps,
if my insane eyes will look sane again.
No matter how much we vacate older rooms,
enter new ones, decorate them,
we leave our catalogue of sins,
a trail of medicines.
Be careful of what you leave.
The one who will after you
will construct himself from your fragments.
Be careful, especially, with the strip of medicines.
The new occupant may inherit your diseases.
After you left Mantra, for instance,
I became the man with a bouquet of plastic flowers.
Look at me.
Sane again, sane
“I have a little OCD, your room drives me crazy”
You are tumbling out of things you’ve left behind: books,
t shirts, a study lamp, bedsheets, two pairs of underwear
you couldn’t wash: memories rush out like stars at
night every time I pick up your books to read, books which were,
“Sorry, too heavy to carry.” This book for instance, has a flight
ticket, a boarding pass, a pamphlet for the GSCASH elections,
and a sticker where you’ve scribbled a line: You are attempting to
describe your body. Each time I begin to read your books, I trouble
their isolation – the isolation of lying undisturbed between two
pages, the isolation of undisturbed memories. Now,
for instance, you have emerged as a flight ticket dated exactly
three months before, coming up to me, saying hi, like a surprise
tap you might have received from an acquaintance while waiting
for the metro to arrive at Rajiv Chowk. In fact, there’s so much
of your stuff scattered inside the room that I worry you’ll come in
half an hour and start arranging them as soon as you step inside, say,
“I have a little OCD, your room drives me crazy.” Now, without a
kind helping hand which can bring some order, the contents of the
room are multiplying themselves: clothes multiplying into more clothes
when I’m asleep, light multiplying into more light during the day,
night multiplying into more night during the night, things sprawling
into more things, transforming a rented room in an overpopulated
city into an overpopulated city. Now, in this original mess, completely
of my own making, I can finally call this room my own, this city my
own, unlike three months ago, when you were here, when you explained
whom you’re voting for the students union, and stared into the wall and
crying straight for half an hour; three months ago, when you were
so completely in love with me,
so completely unhappy with me.