Cow dust

Our twilight blinks a transitory day
A moving shadow on a series of hills
Like overcast eagle looking for prey.

This is the time of cows return dust
The hoofs lightly askew in earth hour
To home, a night advancing in moon.

(Cow dust(godhuli) is the dust raised by the returning cows at the twilight hour- a frequent reference in Indian literature))

Laughing to death

She was the old woman of our age
As we hurtled towards our old age,
Her crinkle too young for our age.
Her body shook an entire laughter,
Acting life like it was no real thing.

An old woman of our essential age,
Her body wrinkled as if it laughed
Its guts out, emptying inner bags
Of its several childhood laughters
Spilling on the floor, rolling over
As inside-splitting ,old hag bodies
That had gone and to go hereafter.

(At the ripe age of 102 , the veteran actress Zohra Sehgal passed two days ago)

Village cooking

A stone is her food industry,
A smoke a stomach warmer
Rising to blackened sky-roof
Of straws of a year’s vintage .

A big fat stone grates a yellow
Condiment for our stomachs.
Its grate on an afternoon nap
Has eyes dream river breeze.

Yellow paste and grey smoke
Delineate an existence in time
A grate so warm on stomachs
Under a sooty thatch ,due for
A yearly renewal before rains.

The village post master

The village post master has passions
Smelling of red chillies drying in sun.
His body’s blood has ancestor smells
Vague in blood,with inbuilt difficulty
To pinpoint dads to their grand dads,
The women running own chilly farms
In bodies ,with passions hot as spice
Such as the ancient Europeans braved
Rough seas to discover,a white species
In preservation of red stomach meat.

The gentle man has morals somewhat
Flexible, in a highly progressive village,
Failing to distinguish villagers money
From own ,as the money orders arrive,
His bags somewhat loose and money
Slips through its chinks, like starlight
On many moonless nights on his roof
Where he dries chillies in the nights.
He keeps the secrets of the villagers
When their letters arrive, a custodian
Of community’s secrets, lips sealed
About everyone’s farms, quid pro quo
That makes him a hot village darling.

Girl statues

We do not remember our girls too long
After the warmth of their girl feet is cold.
So let us make hanging statues of them
After our young have duly defiled them
Taking their girlhoods and their breaths.
Girl tears do not come cheap,their cries.
Let us preserve them as statues hanging
On trees,leaving to birds to defile them.

(Two girls were found hanging after their rape and murder by unknown hoodlums,in Badaun U.P)

Turbans

From the sleepers I get up and go
Past dreams by their inert bodies
Careful not to brush fragile winged
Butterflies of their eyes enacting
Fierce war dramas behind the lids
Their butterfly movements in sync
As in choruses of some tragedies.

Now I survey bodies and turn back
To remove their turbans as trophies
For my own dearest sister who took
A private fancy for their many hues.

At dawn’s crack , bodies will get up
And go, their colored turbans gone,
And their swords drawn for a battle
With below- the- turban knowledge
That dreams are gone with turbans.

(From a scene in the great Indian epic Mahabharata)