/there are so many things we could do/

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There are days
when we would go out
to the seashore behind
your first home,
as hazardous the road might be.
“Watch your step,” you would whisper
telling me where the bushes were sharp
and I would move my skinny body
lean against one of those large rocks
and stare for hours
at you, at the clear water running.
In the sea
shadowing everything inside it.
Like small fish and the rocks, that the sea
covers
every time it hits the shore.

It feels nice
to witness you every day
to stare at you like this
like the sea and the sand
changing, moving, shifting.

The sun touches my face gently,
like when you are desperate
teasing me, flirting. Kissing my face.
Look towards the sky
and see
the moon is jealous.

/there are so many things we could do/

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Cities like these.

 

In the past 15 minutes, I had covered the lengths of his rather small garden at least 12 times. I would have preferred to sit down of course but there wasn’t much I could do in this case. I was wearing a pair of shorts, and I am sure even in all my free time, I couldn’t possibly have counted all the mosquitoes near the door of her house. The only place which had amounted up sitting place made out of granite.

The downpour was slow, but there were no signs of it stopping completely. Anjali, the friend I had gone out for dinner with was ranting about her ex-boyfriend the whole time. Like how the first time, they kissed, it was under a huge tree, and he was scared the whole time about being spotted. ‘Bloody faggot,’ he wouldn’t even let me change my clothes in the same room together. I just smirked. He has been taking Spanish classes for a group of teenagers somewhere in Rohini all this while. He dares not come near South Delhi.

The ashtray in front of us was already full. We had smoked some 8 cigarettes. If this was not a rooftop restaurant, our food would have surely been spoiled with all the smoke around us. I remember the last time; I met my uncle, who boasted proudly about how people aren’t allowed to smoke in public spaces at all in the old country. He had only recently moved back to India with his family, after working about 20 years as an engineer in Kuwait. ‘Delhi is better’, my dad was almost always adamant with his statements. ‘Jo Delhi me Milega, wo Kuwait me kahan? Bhaisahab, parathas to yahin ke aache hote hain!’  (You’ll not get what you get in Delhi, back in Kuwait. The parathas are always the best here)

There is a certain sense of pride in everyone who has ever lived in Delhi. Whether it be the South of Delhi, where only the elite live or the noisiest and student occupied North Delhi. A hub of cheap food, liquor, and everything else.

Anjali and I weren’t any exceptions either obviously. Lying, endlessly about our lives. From the kind of cafes, we go to, to how our fathers own Luxury car brands. There is just an endless parade of lies hidden in a cabinet, only waiting for their right occasions. Then there are other constants like there would be days, when I would just walk out from my home at 11 in the night, to get kulfi at the local store nearby. Somehow, the vendor always has things to talk about. Last night, he reminded me how the GST had gone down to 5% and I shouldn’t let the high-end pretentious cafes fool me. And on others, he would tell me stories about the security guard who has probably gone for a cigarette or for a quickie with one of the transgenders, that lean on the walls in a small lane towards the left of the ATM, that the security guard watches over.

Anyway. The rain has stopped now and he is not still not here yet. I wish he could see me right now. Like this. Wet. My hair all messed up. Irritated really.

Anjali said, that the only time, her ex-boyfriend and she really went all out, the boy came too early. Boy, what a shame! I could see that she wanted to ask me about my own sex life. About how gay sex really works, and how much does anal sex really hurt. She muttered some words, but stopped in between, if only for another puff out of the 11th cigarette. This conversation was never brought up again.

My uncle, who was surely in his late sixties now, had his own take towards my sexual preferences
‘Baat to same hai beta. Ye Hole ya vo. Maje hain tumhare. Baache ki daar nahi.’

(It’s the same thing son. This hole or another. You have all the fun since you don’t even have to worry about kids)

It cracks me up every time.

I can hear a car stopping at a slight distance now. It’s been exactly 45 minutes, and my pedometer says that I have walked over 10k steps in this small garden already. It doesn’t matter really.

He looks at me once, smiles apologizes right there and then, without any words.

There was once a time when I wanted to be a poet, a writer of some sorts. Right now, when I look at his face, and my legs are weak, I wish I could really write any poetry at all. I try.

Your smile is like dew drops on rose petals
Falling straight into my hair
It’s all messed up……………..

Grrrr……….
We are finally inside our tiny little home, the keys that I forgot at home today, are lying on the kitchen floor, exactly like I remember.

From porcelain artifacts to beautiful lights in our terrace, we have it all. Maintaining this South Delhi aura around us. For once,

Keep our secrets, here safely, within stories of this ugly old city.

But fuck this story,
I look up straight in the mirror and then at him.
There is hot water running in the shower
He enters slowly.

Naked. Examining if the water is exactly at the right temperature.

He waits. And I must go.

Full stops as Hurricanes.

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Fashion me,
and this crisis.

the guy in front
spills coffee on his shirt
and he sighs in frustration,
I laugh
blushing in acknowledgment.

we sit side by side
in the parlor
2 hours and we leave
he sighs off again
his hair an ugly mess.

we have sat down for coffee again
but my lips desire something completely else

signing off
he holds my hand again
like in the bookstore
in an empty aisle.

he left about 4 days back
and probably thought that I died
but I am alive. Very much.
Only wondering if he too was just
another reflection of a man.
I saw, six years back.
Hatred, the same.
In both their eyes.
Pitch black, their stone cold hearts.

Artwork by Manjit Thapp.

Queer.

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In the last maiden
season of spring
mother told me that the jasmine wouldn’t bloom
that year and they didn’t.

For father had died
the day before
and the flowers knew how to cry.

So why do they bloom now
when the lover has taken rest
and that one bite on my neck has vanished away
in the air around us.

only mother knows

she who sits on the porch
knitting sweaters and mumbling sounds
to the flowers.
‘Queer’.

Garden.

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Now
I steal facts
from your history
As if they were secrets at a factory.

And annoy the gardener
at your father’s house
every time the machines rumbled,
Moaned, or cried.

Now again
When the leaves have fallen
and sprung again
In spring.

I can feel them
just the same way
I felt your soft breath on my neck,
the last time we kissed/ made love.

Only this time
the opportunities are low
and I have allowed this transition
from touch to just the wind that touches my skin.

What do I know of love,
after all?
Except that you, my love
are the flower that takes the longest to bloom.

O heart, smile or cry, but never shatter.

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Today seems like just another rainy day, sometime in the month of July. When my house used to be enchanted with the smell of dahlia and jasmine, with a scent so strong that I can still smell them in my Mumbai flat, where the seasons change just as fast as the person living in the slum right outside my flat and not a single flower has grown over the past 6 months of me moving in.

Mother hated the fact that I loved gardening and the fact that I liked dancing in the rain like a girl. But it was always very instinctive to me as if my hands had always known the art to birthing these beautiful flowers or as if my feet sprung to the act of dancing all on their own when they heard the rain drops falling on the cemented road we had outside the house.
It rains here too, and I can still hear the raindrops; I dance too, but very rarely.

It has rained the entire day today but it doesn’t sing for me anymore. It never did after I moved out of my grandmother’s house, I wonder if it sings for the house anymore. Its rubble now, I hear and I fear the house withdrew into silence long ago. Maybe even before I first moved in. Among books and birds, I grew into a house that shone every night with the moon and the stars and woke up even before my grandmother. How often do I wish to go back, maybe just for the air that must have frozen at its place, or to peep right through the windows with those thick steel railings? Maybe too often.

And if nothing, maybe in the wild despair I can still smell the rain on the thick grass that must have grown, right across the bedroom I shared with my grandmother and sister. But oh my darling, do you really believe in any of this? Can you really believe that I lived in such a house, Can you believe that I loved this rubble once?

“In the quiet, the children could hear everything that the house had to say. Even when it was perfectly quiet for everyone else. They heard stories of their grandparents moving in and of their own first steps. The house would giggle too with the children that played within.  And the children were proud, and the house ever so loving.”

But today when it rains, I have no memories of my childhood, or of the urge to dance in the rain anymore. I desire sitting by the window in my desolate flat and stare outside. I desire to be locked in and never let out. I desire nothing but you, not even the momentous pleasure sex brings with itself. And I know I ask for a little too much but trust me I’ve always been like this.

You, my lover, are a cruel irony to my love, akin to wild things that decide their own fate, like the dead leaves that float in the air, in a forest away from anyone’s gaze; you recognize me but care not. And I stand beneath the gaze of onlookers, the moon, and stars that are forever young and old, and have loved many who died in their presence. Memories cuddle and run away, these memories who are souvenirs of our love. And the moon and the stars, rule over my endurance, leave me to die: my longing lost, recognized but flown away by the wind.
You remain in the air.

“O heart, smile or cry, but never shatter.
Endure the agonizing pain of memories,
and survive.”

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