Hear the Book Speak*

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



for you.


*Shortlisted for the 2016 All India Poetry Prize



3 responses to “Hear the Book Speak*

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