Tea leaves

a monsoon morning, a creaky fan,
an auto rickshaw purrs
splashing water on crisp white uniforms
The mesh window above my bed
the ajar veranda door
and the soggy newspaper on the floor
my father’s old rugged hands,
gush to dust some morning on me
unfurling my purple curtains
the radio in the hall is playing ‘mere saamne waali khidki mein’
and I can hear my mother’s anklet
strutting to my room with her

ilachai chai

which she puts on my bedside table
in a big blue porcelain cup
and I wake up to its scent warming my toes
I gulp it down even while it’s hot

To read today’s tea leaves below

Home.

I waited amid the untimely winter and watched the leaves wither away. I watched them plummet to the ground, and adorn silent corners like the rhinestones on my gown.

Empty trees flanked the streets. And I sat with them waiting for you.

“They’ll be back”, the tree whispered to me.

 

 

Come Fall.

When I wake up tomorrow

A rusty carpet of red leaves

Unstiched and unfastened

Will gush through my doors

And sit on my calendar

Next to October

 

I’ll take down the dusty jar

Of  pumpkin spice and dried ginger,

From the creaky upper shelf

And taste the looming autumn

In my morning tea

 

Of Cities I Remember.

I’ve changed cities more times than the number of days in a year.

Soon I lost my liking for constancy and homeliness. I painted the walls of my house a different colour each time- something to remember that city by.

I misplaced fragments of my memory and more often than not, I started remembering places, not by their names but by the curves of its buildings and the scent of its corners.

Every place looks the same but feels differently than before, every language like a first kiss.

It’s been too long for me to tell one city from another- I fly across the world without borders. I wake up to the same shadows of the sun, clinging over one another.

A roadside café, a tower, and a man, I have written and forgotten about.

But sometimes when you’re all alone in this new city, remember, that wherever you go, love from different corners of the world follows your footsteps.

Runaway.

“One ticket, please”

“Where to?”

“Farthest”, I say

 

I quietly take the corner seat of the aisle

My burgundy suitcase between my legs

Heavy with shreds of my wavering strength

And an old scotch bottle in my hands

I’m dressed head to toe

In my pearly blue turtleneck

Hiding all the testaments of your sour kisses

 

There’s a long dark tunnel

And 1200 miles to go

As I pass every milestone

Crossing borders and bridges

I can feel my fingers warm up again

Distant from your cold touch

I feel a step closer to life

 

 

The Time Traveler

I toss and turn in my bed, pull of the sheets. It’s hot. It is midnight.

Funnily enough, it’s December and the cold has painted the city snowy white, yet I sweat, unable to sleep.

“Hello? Hello?” I say nothing and hang up. I record our 5 second long conversation with  your two sleepy, fainted hellos and play it on repeat. It’s like travelling back in time.

Your voice puts me to sleep, crawls through my body, and brushes against my feet. It trickles down my spine; taking me back in time.

Your ghost whispers sweet nothings in my ear; it dances around my house at midnight.

Unable to sleep, I walk around the house, trying to find a spot bereft of your scent. I pull out your old teak box from under the rusty cupboard in the store room. I suddenly feel a chill. I finally feel the December cold. Filled with your obsessive compulsion to collect dainty jewellery and little trinkets, this box haunts me. It chimes when your anklet moves through it.

So, I put it in a carton, and tape it as tightly as I could.  So that none of your memories spill out of it and find corners in my home. I post it to you.

It is 5 am and I need to go to bed. I haven’t slept in a long while.

I’m no more looking for our lost shred of time.

 

A Stranger’s Song

   Let me draw you a picture,

A river, a sea,

       Let me kiss your necklace in your sleep,

Let me tie us into a knot,

 With twigs and twines.

                                                          Let me whisper you tales,                                                           Of Adam and Eve.

If you let me in,

   Honey, I’ll waltz you to your dreams.