From Lt.Bourke Street

10°C, my torrid bones are freezing. The street is a river of glossy black caramel, spreading out at both ends, before hugging herself, narrowing again. Condensation is sweet quinine. It had rained all of yesterday. The trees are bare. I can’t name them. Wordlessly I assign them to the bright purple poinsettias back home. Mrs. Parma’s is quiet after dolling away the preceding night. Sans the glare, she looks less intimidating. I stare at the foreign-ness of the atmosphere. Spun sugar-candy. The taste sticking to my palate. Cul-de-sacs fold into themselves, melt away in scentless symphonies of glass and steel. Today the morning had blushed silver on the walls of the Ovolo. With the duvet pulled up to my chin, I had stood before the mirror, still wearing the letters I had written you on my skin. Still unposted. Still alive. The skies are already a solid blue, roofing Parliament station in thin sheets of translucency. I had wanted to ring you up after getting in drunk last night. Craving the primal heat of intimacy. This ache is still a mystery. A recursive mystery. Relentlessly chasing me. A silver haired lady in a green sweater keeps me company in the loneliness. Later in the Yarra, we would talk of Calcutta and the IPL. I cross the wiry street a hundred times, trying to warm up under layers of borrowed wool and think of the beaches at Lorne. Think of your voice. All those unanswered calls. Emails. The trams are still in bed. I always wanted to say I love you. I don’t know why I did not. Maybe the rain will return. Soon. This city is garnered in folds of black and grey. Everything sparkles, sings to me in bee-lipped accents. I lean against the lamp post, smile at nothingness. You should come every season, because every season the magic is new, the lady from Tasmania whispers.

Linked to D’verse Meeting the Bar

#095

some people grow up like me, some the way
i wish. but then it is
often (=always) a game of circumstance:

those that can impose a new memory on an old
-forget the underlying print-
escape. some try shaking off links,
leave out certain tastes, places, smells.
even certain degrees of light.

but most slowly crumble inside and
are gone in a way no one ever
sees.

for example, i. sometimes when it
rains i am a bird. sometimes the rain runs
down my shin in slow lines. it is strange anaethesia.
and i can hardly tell how capsaicin seethes
on tastebuds. even salt is a dead song.

after maa died, i gave up everything i loved.
and swore to waste away. yes,
exactly this way, in permanent denial.
it is all sillage, nothing more.

secretly i still crave her crisp mourola bhaja

©Mohana Das

mourola= Indian anchovy

unmoored

wednesday, 25th june

13:00. A white and blue steamer bobs slightly. Abandoned. Through the blast of chill, I can see her face. Eyes shut. Breathes rusty. Anchored close to a supposition I know nothing about. A love. To whoever classified the living and the non living- you were wrong. Didn’t you hear how on afternoons like this, when the storm is real, even metal grows a heart, assumes a life of its own?

I am drenched. Fabrics push themselves against the skeleton. The heat around my thighs is teething. I want to unravel myself into every flower out there. Let the rain tattoo every inch of me. Stem and stigma. And salt skin. Flat faceless masses of kochuripana float downstream. Torn apart by the current. Unite. There is no shore. No song. Not to my left. Not to my right. Suspended precariously in the uneven light, I sit on a wet wooden bench. Strain my eyes through the savage dance. Find nothing. Right here in the middle of nowhere. Unmoored.

The skies are grey. The river is grey. And fat grey droplets swallow us whole. And the grey expands. On the retina, this film appears so grainy. And I know there will be no sleep tonight. The graininess will jump out from crevasses of memory and punish me. Strike straight at my lungs. In an indiscernible fluorescence, I will sketch the arch of your back. Rub sand paper all over. And begin again.

Wait to bleed.

1:00. Waterlogged streets. The rain runs its green tongue over bulbous halogens, up along poles painted with aluminium. And smells of fish. I still think of floating. Bearing-less.

I sometimes wonder if you are a meteor. The way you had crashed into my daylight and set me on fire. The mirror has been removed. It stands at the far end of the corridor now. Spiders spin spittle in her silvery cracks. Outside trees bend. Mostly obtuse. Pipes are ripe with deluge. Arteries draw redness inside. Contract. In between sleep and sleeplessness, there hangs another state. Sometimes I have to bruise my face in the pillow. But I have never touched myself.

Instead I have chosen to wait for you.

pre-monsoon

i wear your taste across my
collar bone. the earth gasps underneath,
footprints sink in the mud of wistfulness-
rainless twilights: you’ve always frightened me.
overhead, flowerpots topple, and buds
hang from parapets, osculating
shadows of black-livered clouds.
then there are moments of effulgence,
crows connect dots in space-
hours of gorgeous storms.

there are things you
know. and things i know.
things we never say, accept
nonetheless. but darling, i love it this way-
the feel of wet earth squirming
‘tween my toes, the warmth of
your eyes heavy on the river of green
snaking down my neck.

©Mohana Das

march

red vines pop against walls,
unspin themselves
off gravity, then falter
like a pair of pin-hole eyes.

she wears her scars agape-
an unmoored Arachne- spins
metamorphosis down her
dystopic limbs.

this march is cold.

clouds wilt with grace.
i feed on a carcass of air.

©Mohana Das

Photo: Deconstructing the spiral

#094

you leave in your wake scentlessness.
the static zaps, and suddenly under
my skin, i am haemorrhaging. blackbird-

no, the rain didn’t come. and i didn’t
have a word. or an apology. chalk-
mouthed, i folded in the hurt. feigned
sleep. and the pickled April heat
sung to me all night. and all night i swore to
hate you and hated myself. nothing

stung. everything was a black hole.

©Mohana Das

Aside

#093

She wanted you to let her leave. And you never wondered why. You overlooked everything. Even in summer, the trees were bare. Everyone is different. And she was so damaged, it hurt her to face the light. And no, her eyes hold nothing. The afternoon was gradually slipping into a memoir of bitter almonds.

And you overlooked everything. She trembled. She panicked. Hell rose in deep black waves and crashed upon her skin. You overlooked how pain oozed through the cracks. Or why she answered nothing. You bring up no ghosts from the past. Yet she wants to run somewhere far. She thought you different and she was so wrong. Like always. Like every time. And temperature hangs shimmering in her neglected tresses. Disappointment, you called her. But she was screaming on the inside all the while and you chose to ignore. As if red-ink scratches and nameless grades mattered more. As if they could save her from running blades down her wrists. You never wondered what made her want to leave, what made her brown knuckles so curiously pale. You didn’t care to see what the tiny redness of her mouth said. Right then she hated you. Right then she wanted to set fire to every line she ever wrote you. You will never know what it is to look in the mirror and see a monster. What it is to an anomaly. And even if she said, you will gift her indifference with knitted eyebrows.

You weren’t there when she needed you the most. And she hadn’t slept for two days. Flitting instead along shadows and ribboned heat. Collapsing. But you overlooked everything. As if she could ruin you exactly how you desire being ruined. But she’s left and there is no trail. Perhaps she wanted you to hate her. Perhaps you will never see her again.

un-portrait

colors wilt. the
summer hangs high on
her forehead, spurts

blood. my palms are nets
of lines that grow, collide,
fish ambiguity. and

suddenly constellations are nothing
but jealous wishes. from the other
side of the mirror, she
whimpers- come closer. her

lips are parched. i can
see the fear in her eyes, burning
hungry over her hollow-ness-

i can see myself reducing, i say,
quietly as time ticks her Soul off- i will
metamorphose into you

©Mohana Das

Lined to d’verse Meeting the bar

Moments II

Everyday I travel 40 km up/down in crowded suburban locals. College and back home. Outside the window of the beige and green Eastern Railway locals, Bengal unfolds her saga of pleated greenery. Fields blend into each other. Deep greens and pale greens. Sap greens. Moss greens. Greens of devious algal delight. I don’t count telegraph poles anymore, or watch with wonder how the wires dip and rise, dip and rise. These days life calls their little dance, sinusoids. I watch, like everyday, and my eye are balls of fatigued marbled glass.

Today, I am late. Out of nowhere, evening has swooped with alacrity. The dregs of winter wistfully hang across a violet sky. The palash is in bloom- fiery red flowers blaze the naked branches. The cool wind slaps my face. Inside the coach, it is mid-summer already. The humidity runs her sticky fingers over my clavicles. Saaris cling to all shapes alike, lithe or voluptous or mid-way. We cross the bright orange housings of Mankundu. A lady shoves her little boy down the aisle. He looks at his mother, a hint of fear in his large brown eyes. She insists. He comes and stands right in front of the window, his tiny fingers loosily holding onto the black bars. I look at him. Smile. He looks away shyly.

Stations fall back. Another train screams on the next track- a blur of white fluorescence- and it is gone. Bhadeshwar recedes. The darkness presses tighter against the inky sky. The moon is a feeble crescent, with hollow cheeks. I lean against the cold metal for a little fresh air. Before me, the little boy is wide-eyed, his red mouth a perfect O, beautifully expressionless. Suddenly my senses are taut. I watch as his eyes devour the landscape:

The mist has carved itself into long, white striations, swinging gracefully round the palash, the palms and every other tree I cannot name. Acres of emptiness bloom outside under a pall of luscious melancholy. A heady scent of some wild flower creeps into my blood. Fireflies glow like green stars- improbable, aimless drops of waltzing lights. Underneath, the semi-dry canal whimpers, his throat choked with distilled loneliness. The high banks are empty. The slopes shelter a hundred different ferns and lianas and bushes and greenery. Trees wears tiny tiaras of those green-lit worms, all bereft of leaves. There are stars, I know, but my eyes cannot trace them. Time has transformed into poetry, opening petals like tantalising secrets.

We come to a halt. The moment has passed. I quickly recollect myself. The little boy is looking at a man selling peanuts on the station. The ecstasy in his eyes has dissolved.

The magic is over.

This post has been published for the Kissan Nature’s Friends Contest on Indiblogger.
Official link: http://www.kissan.in/

Of long lost summer vacations

Dear Maa,

I am spending the summer with Dadu-Thamma in Begambari. Dadu talks of you all the time. You know, finally we have electricity here! And the roads are no more mud tracks. And Dadu has planted a new mango sapling called Amrapali and Thamma’s knitting me a new sweater, red with pompoms. God! There is so much I want to tell you about.

Summer is blooming and Dadu’s orchards are graciously ripe. The wind whispers and waltzes all day inbetween the trees. And sweet, wet rain comes pelting down at will, tapping the tin-roof, beating music out of the silence and suddenly the scent of earth and wood permeates everything. There are caterpillars everywhere, munching fresh leaves- half of them dying beneath feet of careless men, half curling into the chrysalis, metamorphosing into bright yellow butterflies. The sojhne trees are their favorite! Tall crowds of grass beckon you, waving their arms, from every direction. The sky is usually a perfect blue, with clumps of fat white and grey clouds lazing around. The atmosphere is scrubbed clean. Mimosas crowd the aisles inbetween fields, their fuzzy purple heads held high. I watch with delight as their pinnate leaves shy away at my tender touch. Today baba took me around the village, to see our fields and the village school. The palash trees are still in bloom- fiery red flowers blaze the naked branches. The ponds are full with hyacinths, their iridescent peacock plumed petal mesmerise me. You know maa, they have replanted the paddy and I slipped and fell into the thick mud. Had to claw out my sandal! My legs and arms were nicely splayed and baba said let it be and laughed! He laughs so little these days. Life is suddenly so empty without you.

Anyways, I made a new friend here, a girl named Papri, who calls her pet stray “Kulfi”! She is teaching me to cycle on the school grounds. We had a whale of time, rolling tyres on the lanes, eating sour mango pickles, chasing pigeons, waving at the train ofcourse, running like dryads through green green fields! Late afternoon, we came back home, our mouths stained with the vibrant violet of jamuns. Oh! how I love those juicy little fruits! We are planning to sneak into their neighbour’s orchards tomorrow- the litchi looks welcoming, hanging low in bright red clusters. But sshhh, this is a secret! And you know maa, there are spirits in those bamboo groves, she told me!

Day end, the cattles and the goats are herded back, and the scarlet sun throws long shadows of the sisals and palms on the flat fields. Blackbirds and sparrows play hide and seek in the shimmering shadows. Stars appear more youthful here, blazing bright like the cheeks of a maiden- just kissed. And the moon, I swear, has been repainted with fresh coat of nacre. The midnight rain bathes the drooping hibiscus buds as they wait for dawn to unfurl. Dewdrops sleep on broad chested kochu-pata and dangle from the tips of tightly rolled bamboo leaves. I wish you were here, maa. We would have walked in silence over acres of lush fields, or held hands and walked over the railway tracks. You would tell me stories of your childhood, how you climbed the mango trees in the backyards of mama-baari, and played hop-scotch under that ancient banyan. By the way, this scent of jack-fruits annoys me. Dadu says you loved it. Did you? Or is he trying to trick me into tasting it? No way! And not the fish either.

After sundown, the cicadas take centre-stage with their incessant song. Thamma still has to light her earthen lamps and kerosene lanterns because electricity is very irregular. Lithe coconuts, palms and arecanuts sway overhead like deceiving ghosts as the wind keeps whooshing around. The handpumps groan their sore-throated groan, the water splashes loud on the cement below, and frogs croak and hop away. Tommy turned 5 this year. He follows me everywhere, wagging his tail. At 8, the last train whistles like a bansheee past the signal. We sit on a charpoy in the courtyard, drenched in pearly moonshine, the sweet scent of mangoes sheathing us, munching on jhal-muri. I tell you, maa, that pungent smell of mustard oil and fresh chillies is ethereal! Conversations unravel easily over Darjeeling tea. Then the hot pakoras with hotter chutneys come in. The night seems endless.

We talk. We laugh. And in the midst of life, maa, I find you so close.

Love,
Nimi

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Reproduced from one of my childhood essays on summer hols! :)

Word notes: Dadu-Thamma is paternal grandparents, sojhne is Indian drumstick, palash is the Butea monosperma tree and its blazing red flowers, kochu-pata is Colocasia leaves.
Begambari is a small village in the Purnea district of Bihar.

This post is published for the Kissan Nature’s Friends contest on Indiblogger. All photographs belong to the author.
Official link: http://www.kissan.in/