A New Year

Day#8 of IntrotoPoetry

Prompt: Pleasure

Device: Anaphora

 

On a wintry morning, she wakes

Regretfully leaving behind layers of heavy quilts

And the welcoming, warm limbs of her sleeping roommates.

 

On a wintry morning, she turns the tap

The water is merciless in its icy gush

Her fingers turn numb as she gazes at the fog outside.

 

On a wintry morning, she changes

Goosebumps immediately cover her

An inadequate blanket against trembling skin.

 

On a wintry morning, she sips

The coffee shares its heat with her.

Dressed now, she’s ready to leave.

 

On a wintry morning, she lingers

The most peaceful of smiles tracing her face

This year, this January, her happiness surprises her.

Let’s Dance

Let’s dance dance dance

Barefoot on top of all the mess,

With watery smiles to show we don’t care.

.

Let’s dance dance dance

Hold me close, let my lips touch your shoulders

So that the things that are shaking within me

Feel steady for a while, just a while.

.

Let’s dance dance dance

I don’t want to look into your eyes tonight

Don’t want to see for a while, just a while

Let’s keep swaying, the world’s stillness

Terrifies me. Hold me close, let’s dance.

.

We might be strangers now,

But in a moving universe

When I can lean on to you and close my eyes

I can almost be happy.

.

Let’s dance dance dance.

 

Creation

It’s been a while since I wrote. So far, I hadn’t thought about it. But when I found myself at the centre of a universe of books – the sort of stuff my dreams are made of – I felt a twinge of regret. Where had my urgency to write gone? Was my writing only fuelled by excessive emotion, a hot outpouring of rage, my heartbeat that refused to slow down until I had feverishly scribbled feelings I never even knew I possessed?

Other things have been claiming my time though. A one hour metro ride, for one, where I try my best to flip pages without finding my face slamming into the armpit of the person next to me, who is simultaneously holding his bag between his legs and glaring at me. Then there’s the hours at the office, which pass faster than office hours are supposed to. And then, there’s my new passion – cooking.

I’ve always known to cook. In a spacious kitchen shaded by mango trees, I’ve watched my mother gently rub an electric red paste into gleaming, silver fish. I began with washing her dishes. Slowly, from cookies that left soft sugary powder on your fingertips to chicken drowned in gravy thickened with silky coconut milk, I grew to love my time amidst the granite tabletops and sober grey tiles, with my mother’s expert fingers ever ready to fix any mistake.

It’s been a year since I’ve moved to a flat. A kitchen that fills when the three of us occupy it, my roommates and I divided cooking into three neat columns – breakfast, lunch and dinner – spanning from week to week. Sometimes, I lost the happiness I felt at home, when cooking was an indulgence, not a necessity.

Now, with my two months of staying alone coming to an end, cooking once again relaxes me. Coming back from work, strangely exhausted, I peel and slice. My hands are swift and purposeful. In the kitchen, I realize more than ever that I am becoming like my mother. It isn’t a realization that frightens me.

The oil here is a sunshine yellow, not the amber of the coconut oil Amma uses. It feels less heavy, like the teaspoon of coffee Amma used to mix with my milk when I’d told her I was too old to drink plain milk anymore. I feel strangely cheated. However, the onions quench their stinging nature in the sunshine yellow oil, seething in delight they lap up the burning liquid.

The onions are soft now. They’d taste sweet, if I took them out now. I put in the crushed garlic and ginger. The overwhelming aroma of the garlic eager to burn and stick on the pan’s surface never fails to bring a smile to my face. I inhale deeply, the smell filling my stomach more than my nose. The scent changes every few seconds, the onions are rimmed in gold, the garlic and ginger have slipped their way through every corner.

The sliced tomatoes that fall into the pan now aren’t the fiery red I’d like them to be, but the flaming green of the chopped chillis contrast with the paleness of the onion. I stir as the tomatoes shudder as they release the water in them and lose their colour. The salt goes in, and the flaming chilli powder rushes its hue throughout the pan. The paneer, white and soft, slices easily under my knife. It’s delicacy protests the spicy red gravy it’s going to be soaked in. I watch as the paneer rapidly absorbs the gravy, the surrender complete as the white leaps into shades of yellow and a sombre orange.

My mouth waters as the tip of my tongue tastes the gravy, and then swiftly licks the spoon, burning it in the process, as usual. My hands have already been marked with burgundy souvenirs from previous culinary expeditions, which unhurriedly fade into beige.

The spiciness is tempting, and for a moment I re-consider the final step. But finally, I pour in the fresh cream, and its thick, creamy whiteness gently invites the scorching red to gentler shades.

Am I not the author of this? This fills my heart too, in a very similar way to what writing does. But it leaves me full, contented, sober. Masochist that I am, I want what leaves me exhausted, panting, restless. And so, I pick up my pen again. I don’t know how quickly I’ll place it down, shuddering, but for now, I pick it up.

When People Move Away

When people move away, and you’re still in the same place

The same place turns into something strange:

It feels new because you seem to know nobody,

But it is still new because the new place excitement just isn’t there.

.

When people move away, you finally realize

How your mother felt when you left home.

The phone calls are rituals, obligations,

Like a habit which when stopped hurts the other.

They don’t depend on you so much any more,

Don’t tell you what they do, and leave out the details.

.

It sometimes scares you, always makes you sad

Do they not remember any more, the little things

That made things work? And sometimes, you wonder

If you’ll be the first they call, like they always did,

When nothing is going right, or they just want

A bit of love, a taste of home, a long hug…

.

Or would the geographical barrier have succeeded

In separating them from you? Will you be strangers

Who smile uncomfortably at reunions,

And make small talk about separate lives?

.

What makes relationships last, things work?

What makes the distance go away, so that

When you finally meet, it feels like home again?

Like the most comfortable love in the world?

How to Fall Apart

You do it slowly, agonizingly

Remember the past as if it was

Another life, until it becomes so.

Realize that a photo changes

Every time you look at it.

Watch your phone, waiting

For it to ring, for loved voices

To fill your life with their stories,

And sigh when the phone never rings.

Sit somewhere solitary, probably with a view

Of an orange sunset fading into purple.

Feel parts of you that you thought were true

Leaving you, and feel the burn of it,

Like a bruise you realize you had

Only when it stings you while bathing.

Pin your expectations on something hazy,

Like people, or conversations, or the past,

And tell yourself again and again,

Life is not how you want it to be,

But still keep hoping for it to be.

Waiting

One day, I hope not to wait

Watching as you erase  me

In new faces, places and stations.

I do not want to always hear

Your hurried goodbyes, two and a half minute

Long conversations about how busy you are,

While your friends laugh in the background.

.

I do not want to watch my days go away

As I watch my phone to make it ring,

My decision to be cold and not pick up

Evaporating the moment I hear your hey.

.

One day I hope to be you

Letting places and people push me around

Then I will not have to try

To make you a memory, it would be too easy

To forget you in the time I am busy.

 

 

Little Happy Days

Little happy days like these:

Summer suns which suddenly dissolved into

Soft winds, wandering clouds and grey rains,

Long walks to nowhere, laughing at my songs,

Roadside momos and juicy mango shakes,

Hurried mutton dosa and a tiny cup of vanilla ice cream,

The bed on my floor: I look up and see an endless sky

And the wandering clouds lazily chasing each other.

Coffee grounded by my grandmother. A room just for me.

A place where I can look up to see an everlasting sky

Where only the wandering clouds smile back.

Little happy days like these, soon to be over,

Always to be loved in that happy place in my heart.