Dead old lady

Where is the dead old lady ma?
Where is she?
My niece, three years old and
Full of wisdom, was perplexed
On not finding the ‘dead old lady’
He saw ten days ago
Lying in a rented glass box
All calm and coldly familiar
Where is the dead old lady ma?
He asked again and again
Because it was his mystery
And his mom out of grief or decency or
Lack of imagination never quite answered the question.
He was crossed yet dared not
Venture ten feet away from
The end of her saree
A neighbor in an attempt to pacify him
Said, dear son, the old lady will arrive now
But inside a big brown urn
He looked at her as if she
Was the dead old lady and the neighbor
Gave an understanding like smile to his mom
And exited the grieving home
My niece remained normal
The rest of the day
i.e beat up his little brother
Till the latter started wailing like a foghorn.

Clothesline

It was evening
When neem flowers
Sprinkled some rest on the slew
Of roof tiled homes
That had a lengthy clothesline
In front of them
Like decorations for some festival;
As it grew dark
A single tube light blinked inside
One of the homes
And a lone child
Kept playing in front of the house
Looking now and then at
Other children playing at the park
On the other side of the road.
He seemed reluctant to get inside
His home
Where if one observes closely
Various possessions of the family,
Acquired in their lifespan,
Were cramped inside the four plain walls.
As darkness descended like it must,
The clothes remained wavering
Unattended like that lonely child
Even when they were dry
And needed to be protected from
The unseen forces of falling night dew.

Waiting

She was waiting for me

To pick her up

From the suburban railway station

Were people shifted here and there

To reach their temporary destinations.

Resting on the cement bench

Behind boys who sold soggy popcorns

She called on the wind

That was carrying my anxious scent

To deliver me faster.

But when you long

For your loved ones to soothe you

Time always playfully resists

Stagnating your sense something like

Dead clouds on a blue sky

And she felt exhausted.

I didn’t know that.

I was smiling from ear to ear

When I received her cheerfully

And as she saw me,

From a distance that her short sightedness

Would allow her,

The agonizing pain to exist among

Unknown humans subsided

And the melodic familiarity

We shared through our smiles

Seared her heart.

Genuinue

Genuine people
Talk few words
Slipping in words like the flowers
That the wisdom tree
Let go.
So is she, yellow,
Full of beautiful light
Inside and when I
Converse with her iridescence
I get rubbed off with
Some of her shining froth
And glow faintly in this
Dim world.

Her Antique Room

After a long time

My sister called me to

Unlock that dusty room in her mind

That she opens to no one else

In the pretext of well faring

About me,

Her brother lost in time.

I didn’t complain

Because like a child

I am always fascinated by her

Antique room

And all those precious thoughts

That she keeps for herself

That she dusts and present to me

For inspection.

I pass inaudible comments

Hoping that would be enough

For her to get excited and show me

The whole content of the room

But always

Always

We get tired halfway through the tour

And crawl back outside

To shut the room with bolts and locks

Because she and I

We both can’t afford to be what we are

Truly.

After the call

I will sometimes ponder

Whether I have a room myself

Of some kind

And most of the time

My thoughts would take the tone

Of my sister and say

I don’t know.

 

Staircase

On the top floor of
The apartment building
Under the mischiefs of stars and sky
Two older women
Sat talking on the dark
Staircase that led to their
Respective houses
Their voice trailed soft
Whispering secrets, gossips
And tiredness.
With the shadows poised like guards
Against any privy ears
That may sabotage their lives
Or so they fear
Silent lizards would cry and try
To raise alarm to the secret keepers
Who would arrive
And take log the prostituted secrets.
As if a sign
Practiced from unknown times
An owl would screech in the distance
And the women would remember
Their husbands waiting in bed
And the everyday chores
Preparing for battle the next day
So they would bid goodbye
And long for the ritual again.
 
-Nantha Kishore

Staining time

When I woke up

I sensed from my room on the tenth floor

That the perilous night had sneaked back

Into the world

 

Where its prime

Inhabitants build tombs upon themselves

That refrigerate their destined course

And play in loop

 

The air that

Chokes them their dreams with institutions

So rotten that you would want to gag

And die quickly

 

Without missing all

The loud cacophonies of misplaced egos

That silence the silence needed for a human

Being to live

 

And not transform

Into readymade mechanical bots that

Are set auto-everything even love

Which is sad

 

Really because now

Everywhere living things move in darkness

Stinking like the kind of oldness that I hate

And escape from

 

Suddenly I felt

Nauseated of the everyday drama that stains

Time so I closed my eyes once again to go

Back to sleep.