Home // January.3.2018 // Abhijit Khandkar


for drying, amidst the pickle, papad and lies

Drape me a dream tonight,
this morning mist is at loggerheads with my mind.
My dreams are a cacophony of that hawker
who tries to sell his wares
in a bazaar no one frequents anymore
By the end of the day
his discounts outlive their selling price.
Death is a distant memory
that comes to me whenever I close my eyes.
It’s been 371 days
since I last closed my eyes.
I set sail for new places
as soon as I reach the old ones.
All the old places that I have left behind
dress up in a benarasi silk saree
and cajole me to undrape them one last time.
I have so many lovers,
so little time.
My memories are an algae
that’s not green but lilac;
spread out on the roof for drying,
amidst the pickle, papad and lies.
Afternoons are for all the love
that remains unprofessed.
Evenings are a lonely fork
that fights gallantly with the knives.
I feed fate with my bare hands
take away all this cutlery,
that which is as useless to me
as a kaafir to a shrine.
Every poem is a mole on my face,
your face.
I still count your moles
in between the lines of my text.
and caress the ones
those that remain hidden
between the gap of your thighs.
Your moans haunt me
as I smoke my first, right after sex.
They perch on my window-sill,
a raven dark as the charcoal night.

There’s someone else in my bed now,
someone who doesn’t mind me
calling out your name
louder with every climax.
I make her scrambled eggs
the morning after.
She responds eagerly,
every time I wrongly address her.
I wonder who is it
that loves me more.
You are in a faraway place
the name of which I can’t even pronounce.
Yet I wear you everyday
like my favourite denim shirt
which hasn’t been washed in years
since it was last touched.
Our lust is a reindeer,
Christmas for whom is yet to arrive.
My hurt is a painter who sketches
himself in the nude with thick impasto
and douses all his masterpieces
in these forsaken flames
The smoke from which reaches
your benarasi saree and sets it ablaze.
Your fur-boots trample the tip of my neck.
Done with my heart,
they now reach for my jugular instead.

Our woes are a bad spoken-word
gone viral for all the wrong reasons.
You lust for my body
with a similar ferocity
to that with which you detest the word ‘viral’
and love the word ‘lies’.
And every time I try to hit unsubscribe
the hits on the channel increase instead.
Depression is in vogue, so is death.
Next stop they tell me
would be disembodiment.
We snap our fingers vigorously at both.
I wonder which organ of mine
would give away first
A massive landslide awaits...
my body is a fancy motel
that will soon be razed to ground
in the floods of Uttarakhand.
There’s only so much deforestation
it can take, before it all gives way.
and the silt becomes my blood,
my blood, the silt.

Let’s make a dank meme
out of all the earnestness
that’s left in this world.
I hear memes are all the rage now.
Maybe then everyone would sit up,
take note of the vermilion
you have smeared all across my face
That which isn’t red but black,
a parched piece of land, in Vidarbha,
as honest, as futile, as a farmer’s death.
Age is a mutant mosquito
that’s reared by this world
to suck on our death
after our demise.
Distance is an abused child
who puts out S-O-S statuses for help,
cries silently to Patakha Guddi
on cold December nights.
Let’s take it out for a stroll,
buy it some candy floss,
some popsicles, a dairy milk
Mourn together alongside,
spit on the moon
douse the lamp of this night.

Gulzar’s ghost whispers in my ears
as I try to memorise
the mechanism of neurotransmitters.
Poetry is a scorned mistress,
hates playing second fiddle
to my sworn-in wife.
I make love to her discreetly,
yet with the abandon, the depravity
that’s a million nights overdue
Sometimes on a whim,
I google writers
who committed suicide.
There aren’t many stones left in this world now,
and those that remain
aren’t worthy enough.
So I might fill the pockets of my coat
not with stones tonight
but with tears,
walk into the Ouse River cursing all my fears.
I have this urge,
this urge to see
if Mrs. Dalloway awaits on the other side.
Come along, if you feel like.


Banner graphic source: photo (cropped) of a palampore counterpane, created around 1700-50 in Gujurat, India. In the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accession number 57.168. From the collection description: "Large rectangular panel of cotton twill, chain-stitched with bright polychrome silks. Central area shows a brown tree growing out a green hillock; the branches bear a great variety of fantastic blossoms, leaves and fruits." In the public domain.

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