Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Six May Day stories

What is more important?
A sturdy nylon umbrella
On a rainy day in Cherapunji
That can poke at blood-sucking leeches
Or a sitar 
(Made by none other than Mainuddin Gulabsahed Sitarmaker of Miraj)
That plays Raga Malhar of its own accord

The jewel shops near Chinchpokli
Aren’t a sign of prosperity
They exist to pawn family heirloom

All through the Monday night
They walk bare-feet through halogen-lit streets.
Past well-patrolled naaka-bandis
In Charkop and Oshiwara
In order to reach their god
They know not that
Cabs crawl by
With cheap whores (mogra in hair)
Who pray to their god
For a moment of hormonal distraction
Before the Tuesday morning prasadam

He called the TV station:
Look out of your window
The sun hasn’t emerged, today

In Amritsar
I sat on Papaji’s shoulder
Have gola-sherbet
In tri-colour
When I shut my eyes.
I see Lahore, a few kilometres away
It’s 1929
Nehru on a white stallion
Saying Poorna Swaraj to all and sundry
That's when
Papaji plonks me back on Grand Trunk Road
Wake up
Don’t let thoughts
Of the dead
Be smuggled across the border

I was almost murdered
On day one of May
Said he to me
Digging the ditch, deeper
What happened, I asked?

I decided to stop working, he said
So what, I asked?
He wheezed through his mouth
Life, almost killed me for that

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