I will conceal myself
in the farthest corners of Kitaabkhana,
lurking amidst Manto and Guattari,
breathing Garcia’s dry roses, tripping
over Basho’s haikus – tender like your fingers
turning pages of a Winterson novel
whose black lava slowly spreads
at the nape of your neck.
Some of these are second-hand, third-hand, passed from owner
to owner, you know, like legacy – tattered, dog-eared, pencil marked
gravy-marked – each pencil scribbled page is my body scarred
by memories of another you.
I am Midnight’s Child, beating
a Tin Drum crying your name on a winter’s night.
I am the dog David Lurie saved, Humbert Humbert’s shame,
Iqbal’s complaint and that unnamed boy’s curiosity
that pushed him to cross the Shadowed Line in search
of your laughter; I will use verses from Gitanjali to
chart the resting place of
the Oompaloompas and Lilliputians. I will scrounge
the farthest of shelves marked V,
looking for Pale Fire to douse the chill
you collected in your throat
from Zhivago’s frozen landscapes.
While I write this, I am closer to Baharisons,
bungee-jumping from Strand, waiting for our game of hopscotch and
Crosswords at Blossoms. While you mull
over Rankine’s politics, I will hide like Michael K’s passion
in the inner crevice of your dream; I will wake you with a start,
not as yourself
but as Samsa sans the tentacles. I will wait inside
jacket covers, on the ‘Dedicated-To’ page, along thin ribbons
attaching bookmark to book, below the imprint, or as the sentence
struck off at the last moment
from the author’s bio.
Like any story
I wait to be read, heard
and devoured by meaning.
I also wait
to snuggle with you
in a blanket on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
But mostly I wait to be picked up and read,
as if I were only
*Shortlisted for the 2016 All India Poetry Prize