Ghazal for Goregaon & Other Poems
When my friends left the country,
one by one, I ate and drank and sang
at their farewells, talking of how true friendships last
across the tunnel of distance.
Goodbyes glittering in those terminal summers.
The last coffees, jam sessions, the jokes nobody understood
but us. The inadequacy of reason
made no difference in my Bombay.
We were playing the cards we were dealt.
The lanes in the old colony are now absent:
Sooty faces squirming their way
up the light that never went off.
Our houses thinning like a departing aircraft.
It may never snow in this city.
Alone is rather unromantic.
Face to Face
Her eyes leak the terrible secrets
of our destined fall.
In the concupiscent hall
of our lip-marked closure
logic dodges the unobvious.
And our hearts imitate irrational numbers.
The touch-and-go decimal
that we found in our abysmal
arithmetic of the in-between.
Like two nihilists
Abandoning a time machine.
Ghazal for Goregaon
Someone’s going astray in Goregaon.
We’re all lost halfway in Goregaon.
A junkie writes a song of despair
and then listens to reggae in Goregaon.
Varun could have played for India someday.
His failure is already a cliche in Goregaon.
He who drowned at the Ganpati Visarjan
was declared lucky next Monday in Goregaon.
A woman is eager in the Westin lobby.
Who is she about to betray in Goregaon?
Oberoi International charges six lakhs a year.
How affordable is a school day in Goregaon!
Carbon’s forming compounds in the air.
And people will destroy Aarey in Goregaon.
What is upsetting mothers these days?
So many died last May in Goregaon.
Flyovers disagree with my life’s path.
But Mihir is here to stay in Goregaon.
You see the shooting of Orion’s invisible arrow
as in the story you read before physics and poetry
ruined your life.
A Gangs of Wasseypur song jars you out of unreal time.
Somewhere, Ashwatthama is walking with a death wish.
You have all the answers now
but no question is relevant anymore.
Deep pockets, high-jackets, skyrockets.
The Bandra of your FYJC is floating in midair –
its pubs and prawns and low-cost shararas.
Our gray grungy sky of think smoke and weak metaphors
looming over a diatribe against fidelity.
Somewhere, she must be laughing at the joke I never cracked.
You don’t believe in ghosts. But that is not the point.
Whose ghost is most likely to bother you is.
Think of all those who died while you lived on.
Aubrey, the just-engaged senior from college
who died in a bike accident on New Years’.
Uddhav, the childhood neighbour
you played Chor-Police with
and showed off magic tricks to.
Mother’s brother who died
thirty-three years before you were born.
Friend’s friend who collapsed in a bath.
The grandmother who screeched
through your ear; the grandfather
who invokes the Mahabharata
he once read out to you.
Or the watchman who was reduced to a dusty cloth;
the shopkeeper who disappeared on a Sunday.
Or the father whose body was stiff
like the G. I. Joes he bought you
before you broke the door open.
They died their way without you.
And the dead don’t even think about you.
Leaving a Job
With a line based on a line by Varun Grover:
“Ulta karke dekh sake toh
Ambar bhi hai gehri khai”
The street outside the house is mostly empty.
The last batch of construction workers at Oberoi,
walking back in pairs, holding hands, sharing a beedi.
Outside the makeshift cobbler shop
a pair of dissimilar shoes hangs across the road.
You look at the moon expectantly and look down again
to see if it changes your world view – it doesn’t.
A light from the far end exposes the hour.
Somebody at Westin must be working over the weekend,
waiting for their boss to approve the revised PPT
so that they can drop that girl home
or at least grab a drink with a colleague.
You darken the dotted lines of experience
and deduce the scenario.
It’s your last two weeks at the job.
Two and a half years pencil the horizon.
From awards to compliments to friends –
you think of all things you’ve won along the way.
But the one thing that you didn’t stabs your heart.
That one and only regret of yours wrecks the hour.
You shut the window and go down for a walk
seeking lucidity in the confessional dark.
You are not the first person to leave a job.
And leaving is not all that bad after all.
How ordinary would be the act of entering
if nobody ever left.
You’ve seen the holes in empty spaces,
egresses to unrequited dreams.
The colony of old laughs
interlaid with the street’s expanse
collapses like a city in American sci-fi.
How many more partings before you die?
The night cooks slowly in a clay oven.
You look up to give the world a miss.
The sky, too, is an inverted abyss.
Photograph collected from mid-day
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