Friday, September 28, 2018

A taxi, a birth

once in Mumbai
I was driven around the city by an autorickshaw driver
whose wife had delivered a baby exactly eleven minutes
before i flagged him down on my way to the embassy
he refused to take money because 'i am very happy today, madam, I am a father, after all these years of trying, finally God has heard my prayers'
so I asked him to take me to see his baby
there in a dirty tiny shed, in a dirty little chawl in a dirty big slum in that dirty miserable city,
his wife lay swollen and exhausted next to a sleeping baby boy, 'he has my color and my wife's beauty' said my friend, the driver, beaming with pride
I tried to ignore his chest that puffed up like a rooster's while everyone around clapped him on his back
congratulating him
as if his five second ejaculation was more important than what
her body did
someone handed me a laddoo and a glass of watery tea and pulled a chair next to the bed where she lay,
after all I was their special guest
'this is for you and for your baby, pls do not refuse' I said
thrusting two thousand rupees into her hand, which she quickly stuffed under the bed
'your husband is very happy, I think' I told her
she looked at me and met my gaze
'he is happy madam,
because
this time it's a
boy'

My shadow and I

some days
I'm more scared
of my shadow
than all the people in the world
put together
the things it knows
the things it has done
the things it would do
for love
while seeming all innocent
are the things
my nightmares feed on

Monday, September 10, 2018

bees and us

yesterday I read about a custom in parts of England where you inform the bees staying in your house about the passing away of someone in your family so that they get enough time to mourn the death.
what if someone gave us enough time to mourn the death of our loved ones?
so that when my grandfather passed away of Alzheimer's, when he had deteriorated to the extent that his death was a blessing,
someone could give my mother, his favourite daughter, enough time to mourn
she spent the first nineteen years of her life with him and then the rest married into a distant land,
she never spent a day more than the twenty two days of summer every year when she and her father licked their fingers clean of the lamb curry that my vegetarian grandma would prepare
In the last few years of his life, my mother had no inkling of how destroyed he would be by dementia
so that everytime she visited home she would cry
because he would ask her who she was 'Are you the new maid?'
'yes' she would reply because saying that she was his daughter brought nothing back
'you clean well, I will increase your salary by ten rupees' he would say kindly, retreating into his days of youth
Somedays he would ask her to sit next to him and he would ask 'are you my nurse?'
Other days he would scream at her to get out accusing her of coming into his room to rob him.
Those days my mother cried in a corner, hiding,
wanting to go back to the years before he lost his memory,
so she could spend more time with him relishing food from hotels, walking in the fields, just being together.
I wish someone had told my mother that her father had died happy so she could have mourned properly,
instead of being called in the middle of the night twelve hours before he died
'come quick, your father is slipping away' grandmother wept
I wish someone had told my mother she could mourn for as long as she wanted to,
instead of sweeping regret under the carpet, and spilling guilt onto the floor, and turning her heart into stone.
In a world where even bees are thought of kindly,
I wish someone had been kind to my mother over a death in the family.