A white room with monitors
an otherworldly space in winter
I see you from the flip side
of the soundproof glass-wall;
tubes inserted from every side
screens playing an unscripted
language in motion.
Your body is immobile – but your
eyes, they dart in all directions
in their yearning to remember –
our eyes meet for a moment,
I read the question inscribed
in your glance – what if death
actually means forgetting to live?
You are motionless on your bed-
I try to wake you up; but your
eyes are wide open. I know
that a coldness entered your
body – like a town taken over
by a curfew on a winter night.
I still believe that you remember.
How can you forget me, after all,
and leave these spaces to emptiness?
How can you negate the meaning
of our everlasting togetherness?
Maybe you are still sleeping
with your eyes open (why not!)
and dreaming into your memories,
going backwards in time.
I see you in a train window; you
are leaving this town. You see me
without guilt. I don’t want to know
where you are going.
I only hope you have a ticket.
How to Score in a Small-Town
You have to find an alley invisible
to the rest. It will be the most overlooked
one, in a bustling centre. There, you’ll
find a half-blind old man in the saffrons,
sitting on the steps of an abandoned
government building. He will be drinking
tea; sit next to him and try to strike
a conversation. He is cranky, he will
scare you away, he will cuss you for being
a horrible human being, he will say the
meanest things about your existence,
and eventually, he will open up to you.
He will tell you about the news he read
in the morning paper and then
about his family. How his middle-
aged daughter and her ill-minded
husband are plotting to kick him
out of his home. His wife died of cancer
a few years ago, in the government
hospital. He says life is an end to itself,
that there’s no hell or heaven and
death is the only thing he is waiting for.
That’s when you tell him why you came
and show him the money you have,
ask ‘oka potlam’.
He will take it out and hand it over
as you give him the crumbled notes, the
only evidence of your identity, your life,
in a town numbed with the high of reality.
Her name is a curfew
in the night of a country;
It’s the letter that writes itself
in the hurry of turning into ashes.
I try to hold on to her name
every time I say it; it melts
away into the history of nouns;
a flake of ice on tongue.
There are so many things we
don’t notice in our lives.
‘For instance’, I ask her, ‘where
did the nails you bit off
in the morning disappear?’
Her silence is the gunshot
fired at a distance.
Her silence, the war ground
many lovers died in the past.
The words that fail reach her,
they go astray in midair; They
abandon meanings and become,
winds in the night,
chasing street dogs.
“I am afraid of your absence”
I say, loud enough for her to know
what I mean. “Everyone goes
missing in this country” she says.
In the end, there’s a finitude.
She says ‘Take care’ before
dissolving into silence. I say,
‘You too’ to her ghost.