Two Poems

My Delhi’s Call to Dusk

You? Is that you, there?

A menagerie of dazzling, lifeless stones!
Are these your limbs, now?

Wearing paan-spits and conniving beggars
over footpaths puddled by urine streams
interrupted by some violated vagina’s muffled screams!

Walls peopled by pictures
of helpless gods and towering bigots,
over an emphatic collage of casual schemes
that plagiarize each day your daily dreams.

Encompassing tepid sustenance amidst
snoring corridors of power,
felling bridges, stadium roofs.
Yet the bustling many don’t give two hoofs
and do not stop to cower!

But do remember each day,
Open-eyed we, all of us
catch a glimpse, on our way back
of our surrendered, forsaken selves,

beside the hot breath of CNG buses
amongst the scowling faces of each other
in the slow moving evening traffic jam.

You there? Is that you, there?
What are you making of us?

What have we made of you!

Mira the Spinster

This is not the holy Ghats,
where we wear white.
eyes still hunger for you through bald pates.
A desert between our legs
simmering in cold solitude,
longing for bygone loves;
In the name of holy loneliness.

My pointed nails are painted green,
a dirty glimmer has dulled
its sheen.
Skin bereft of thousand lotions,
I work in Ashram halls
Bodily present,
Mind somewhere else in transcendence.

Pining Meera became Princess,
for you, at least!
But I, Mira,
wear cheap, yellowed washing gloves
amidst a heap of dirty utensils
stare, stare through vacant eyes
Wait, wait, waiting
To salvate

In name of a lonely holiness.

(The Ghats refer to Benares, infamous for its ill-treatment of widows, who lived a life banished from society after their widowhood. But the speaker is not one of those widows. She is a spinster working in the Ashram dining hall at Pondicherry. Meera is an allusion to Meera bai, who was much eulogized for her unswerving devotion to Lord Krishna.)

*Shortlisted for the All India Poetry Prize 2013.


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