Sand.

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You walk slowly in the sand
looking down the whole time.
Measuring footsteps
between us.

You look up once
and see me waiting,
You test my patience
in the oddest ways.

But would it really be you.
if you came gently, like the summer wind.
You are the sea breeze,
covered with sand.

We enter our room,
half naked. We must enter the shower,
and clear the sand
it has no place here.

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Shahid #2

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But shahid,
I have seen all the gardens,
abba would walk to pluck flowers
for his early morning rituals.
An assorted array of colors
for an assorted array of gods.
Abba knew his prayers by heart.
 
Then why do the flowers refuse to bloom
after you left.
Tell me, did you make them
fall in love with you too?
 
What did you promise the flowers?

Not yet

I could have swore that you had brown eyes and not black, but who am I say any of these things. Last night, when you entered me and my body relaxed itself, you knew immediately what that meant. And that’s probably all.

But it has already been a long pressing day. And at its peak it was 42 degrees in the afternoon, right when I had left home. The wind was stronger than usual because of which my students at the slum came only an hour after I had arrived. And that irritated me. I was angry so I left early. And luckily caught a volvo fast, for the long ride ahead.

It would approximately take me another hour and a half before I would reach home.

I need a shower. A long shower to take everything off my mind. And the fact that no one would be home for the next two days is a relief.

Maybe I could skip tomorrow’s work. Taking a day off would surely not be a big deal.

It was the first time I had ever kissed a guy yesterday. So thinking of everything that happened last night was certainly not the easiest thing for me to process.

“Certain landscapes demand fidelity,” wrote Agha Shahid Ali. He was a master of poetry that resonated with his past and that of the places he had lived in. I wish he were still alive. And whether he had ever loved Delhi more than Kashmir. And somewhere in my heart, I knew he would say yes. And it would snow so much that night in Kashmir that every house would know the stories of betrayal.

Some lady is shouting on the top of her voice from somewhere in the front of the bus. It seems that her husband(i presume) just got pick pocketed. And of course there is no one to catch. She shouts at the driver first and then at the conductor. I am not sure if she understands all of this at all.

And I, I have decided to just sit and watch this from my seat somewhere in the back. I swear I have never thought of someone so much as I have of you. You have taken up residence in my own intimate memories and something about this feels so right and wrong at the same time.

Smog covered skies and windows shut, the city is capable of poetry only twice a day.
First in the night when the wind is strong and the moon watches over you and your lover. Now holding hands, the stars are capable of promising kisses even in public spaces.
And in the first half hour after dawn, when there are vendors selling jasmine garlands and the sun bearing witness to the eyes that wake up early. Contrary to afternoons, this half hour is when the plants are the greenest and your hickies visible, dark red.

Afternoons aren’t capable of poetry or of lovers kissing in open spaces. Delhi isn’t capable of lilac skies or of the color pink with cherry blossom flowers. Pink here is your shorts and that t-shirt you just saw but left because it was too girlish. Soft pastel shades of pink and blue, and white and yellow. Balloons in the sky, Beyonce’s album, pride parades. Delhi isn’t capable of the color pink, but you are.

I am smiling but I swear I could cry any moment.

My phone rings in the middle of all this, it’s you on the other line. And I remember asking you to call me around this time, knowing I would be done with my work for the day. But right now, I just don’t know what to say.

“Heyyy, Apoorv.”

“Heya. Work ended early today. I am already on my way back home.”

“That’s great. Any plans for the night.”

“None really. It seems that no one is going to be home tonight. Family is leaving for a visit to Rajasthan. Why don’t you come over.”

“Sure.”

We talk some more and I ask you what you want to eat for dinner because I know you haven’t had lunch.

You promise to come before 8 and not leave unless I’m fine. But I fear I’ll never be. This middle part is the hardest. Coming to accept you, means forgetting so much. And I am not ready for that.

Not yet.

Shahid.

emba dibujos
There is a scream coming
from the quietest corner of the house tonight
and I do not know how to respond to this
oh shahid
wouldn’t you know
exactly the right words
 
abba always said
you knew everything
as you grew up. He had seen you
like he had his own child
and every night
he would come to your room
to close the window
that you liked looking through and speaking
to trees that would always
protrude enough branches to reach
our windows.
 
and
intrude in family matters
hearing abba and ma fighting.
 
abba made a point to get the tree cut down
last summer
the same year you left home
for your studies in the foreign land
where my grandparents grew.
 
amma died last month.
but abba still mumbles the same swear words
some nights
in his sleep
and
on others
he wakes up
walks to your room
in the hope
that he would find you sleeping and close the windows again.

/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/

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.