Paper Boats

we never discussed the rain.
this monsoon when the water threatened
to swallow us whole, you curled
like a snail inside my rib-cage; Kolkata slept.

you are 6 and i your child-bride, quarter
mother held you to her sallow frame-

i dream i have let your fingers go in the onrush.

later i trawl out seaweed, sit
braiding strands of pastel disappointment into rugs as you
launch your umpteenth paper boat into our soggy lane.
i smile through my teeth; the
tea-laced morning has caught a flu.

©Mohana Das

Date Notes, 28 Apr ’15

evening- the sky threatens to inundate-
we pack a plate of momos- chicken,
schezuan- hop into an auto:
darkness swirls over the aged buildings of Hatibagan.
trams, their toothless mouths stuffed with romanticism,
hobble unmindful. all morning, we tried
etching secrets onto each other’s skin, ears
cocked for the softest sound of feet down the
corridor: as we kissed; as we exhaled the
anguish of seven long days out on the cold red
floor. the rush is thinning spasmodically.
a cubic angstrom of my brain feels exhilarated as the traffic count
goes 5-4-3-2-1- yellow taxis zoom, i bump sideways in his chest-
everything smells of sweet,
wet earth.

at Ahiritola, we find the river weeping:
blue-black bruises blotch her swollen face,
the wind lashes, tears froth-lipped waves into
tattered skeins- i clutch his arm,
the jetty trembles and the sky is electric.
when it starts raining, we have just
unwrapped the momos- hurriedly, my mauve umbrella
goes up. our backs are slabs of ice.

evening- it pours- monsoon is an enraged
raga. the strings of her tanpura are ablaze.
leaflets engorge with ecstasy, the bloom of petrichor percolates
through flesh, bones- i feed him momos,
hungry for touch and warmth and proximity.
the bridge is a limp line of halogens
hovering ghost-like between earth and sky.
a launch bobs bearing-less in the distance.
our lips ache for a confluence.
Kolkata holds us back despite herself.

©Mohana Das

in a heartbeat

the last word i tried teaching him was deconstructed on my tongue. my larynx fumbles as i watch his primrose mouth spill language i lesson-ed:

“let me. please.”

the first time he kissed me i thought i would volatilise. daylight suddenly velvet, pin pricks of nacre assailed my sight. the concrete, magma underneath my feet, i wanted to ask him to help me breathe. hours bent in between us, the space folding itself into particle. then dust. my breasts were proud magnolias.

his heartbeats thunder across the boron-breasted sky. i laugh and the bombs in my alveoli do not explode. today, it is him teaching me to spell h-o-m-e.

i watch myself blooming in the aftermath as Anatolia chisels the way to her on my palms.

“get more piercings,” i reminisce. his scent sheathes me like a favorite song. i have tasted his smile, his butterfly frivolity. i have tasted the ache turning gangrenous in his heart, i have tasted his fidelity. the amber of his silence pools in the hollow of my neck.

breathless, i tattoo his ode on my flesh, gravitate towards light. the sinking something at the bottom of my chest has dehisced. on most days i hate love him.

our tiny star shuts her eyes as i moan. everything is on fire.

©Mohana Das

This is the third of a series of poems. Read the other two here:

Part I: from the corner of my eye
Part II: on this side of the phone

Bird's eye view of Gangtok

A December Weekend in Gangtok

The capital of this erstwhile Himalayan kingdom is spic, span, spotless & impeccably stylish! As we sit sipping a cup of Temi organic tea on MG Marg with the December cold trumpeting welcome notes upon our face, we cannot help but wonder how these rose-cheeked women negotiate the uneven gradient on such high heels! Dresses teamed with fishnets, knee-high boots worn over skinny jeans, quilted jackets, pullovers and trench coats in the cutest of pastels, bright lips, quirky piercings and an occasional pop of neon blue and fuchsia rule the roost. Women in traditional Bhutanese Kira with a fitted blazer and printed scarf thrown in look impossibly poised. The men aren’t far behind in this fashion race either – gelled mohawks, ear studs, biker jackets, plaid blazers, converse, high boots all come together to give you the complex of being the most ill-dressed person in the entire town. Schoolgirls in crisp white shirts and pleated blue skirts with blue stockings descend in small bunches, giggling and gossiping. As the hours darken, orange Chinese lamps light up the glass facades of the many boutiques and restaurants that line the stretch, shops with aisles weighed down by the prettiest winter collection open their doors, and the air is suddenly rife with an overwhelming crescendo of momos, meat and music. Continue reading

#108

little heart, will you ever learn to sing?

the twang of metal turned sour on my tongue, i fidget late nights, pulling long strings of bird-blue notes- outside the pond is tumescent.

if i write you a letter, will you write me one?

tell me a lie but tell me you will. years condense on my window like rain. along the rim, there is the fire of bougainvillea in spring. then there is summer when afternoons robed like brides jump at me from the shadows. startled, i sink in amniotic hope.

i heal.

i break.

tell me your favorite poem. tell me why it breaks your heart.

©Mohana Das

#together after a long long time

March 1, 2015: The most memorable day in a long long time. #together

Aranya, one of my best friends was home after years. And that was reason enough to celebrate.

I’ve had few, very few friends always. So after school ended, I was suddenly left all alone in the heart of an empty cornfield. Evening seemed to close in rapidly and I was frightened. Every night after returning home from college, I rang up Barsha, Ankita & Aranya and after they had reassured me and my nerves felt less taut, tiredness would overtake and I plunged into cold sleep. It wasn’t that I didn’t make new friends but my new friends were, well, new and between us were miles and miles of unexplored stretches.

I missed school. Continue reading

#107

Winter is half-way across the sea. There are butterflies on every bough. Each day, they unfold another water-colored wing. Crap. Those are leaves and this is pretentious spring.

The scent of hope between our lips. I want to ask if this was your idea of fun. I stay shut. Ask me why when fraternizing exhausts you. Days blow like cotton candy. This diaspora of virtues. I could shoot you point blank. Tell me you care.

Stain my mouth with yet another sulphur-lie. Teach me shades of pink.

But first, come here. Spell singularity.

Because if this that we drew is a map, then you darling, are an insincere home and I am just another name in your book of names. Nothing less.

Nothing more.

©Mohana Das