One leaf.

One leaf. One leaf falling from bough to mud. So many
considerations. Height. Gravity. Size. The side the wind

woke up this morning. One leaf. Not in the sky. Not on
earth. Both still and moving. Both alive and dead. Both

watcher and watched. Both character and story. Life, at
best, is only this bleeding wound: falling, is a necessary

ritual. You only have to ask the rain. On a night like this,
when the heart is stubborn, when skin aches for skin,

when night itself is only a silhouette cast upon a distant
moon – on a night like this, you only have to ask love.

Curfew: Day 54

Lockdown notes:

1. 54 days is a variable that depends
on where you were when it began

2. 54 days is a language with no
alphabet or sound

3. Mute sorrow has the same
genome as cold outrage

4. The chasm without a bridge
is a chronic wound

5. This death knell moonlights
as a wind chime

6. Randomness is as much a choice
as choice is random

7. Fairness, like the moon, is a deviant,
yet it enchants poets and lovers

8. A god is more consequential by
absence

9. People who hugged strangers before
will do so again

10. Flowers don’t make you happy. When
you’re happy you see the flowers

11. In this hush, even poetry is a privilege
that must end

but we have come this far
and are still exactly
where we started

Lockdown #3 ends today – 54 days since it began on March 25th. This series of daily lockdown posts ends here. Life, or some version of it, will go on. For the generations that did not witness war or partition, the relentless visuals of human suffering will be a mirror and hopefully, change us forever.

 

Also read:
Curfew: Day 53

Curfew: Day 53

24 migrant workers (travelling on top of a loaded truck,
were killed in an accident, on a highway far from home)

no eternal flame/ no memorial/ no statues/ no
flower lined graves / not even a bunch of poppies/ not
even names scratched on a crumbling wall/ though this
is still a war/ though there are still dead people/ people that
nobody knew/ whose stories will never be told/ just a
swollen statistic contains all that they will never be/ I ask
in whose name does the Ganga still flow/ in whose name do
the mountains still stand/ in whose name do we carry
on because lunch is still at 12.30 and dinner at 07.00/ and
sometime before dawn/ many people will be born and many
people will die/ that’s for the moon to make sense of/ what
do we owe dreams that are waiting at home/ for the sleepless
to arrive/ what do we owe roads that never reach/ what
does it matter because this is what was meant to be/ all that
is unfair will be washed away in another forgettable rain/

dear universe
if you can’t be just –
then just be kind today

For the millions of migrant workers making their way back to villages and towns in the hinterland, thousands on foot, walking hundreds of kilometres, as livelihoods are destroyed during the lockdown and hunger becomes a greater threat than disease.

 

Also read:
Curfew: Day 52

 

Curfew: Day 52

1 migrant worker (and the baby she had during
her long walk home)

Hope too is curfewed, hovering 1.8 metres away,
masked and gloved. Everything points to the

appearance of a god, let’s say goddess (but what
are the odds?), to take matters in her own hands

which of course makes the causality problematic,
but faith doesn’t necessarily have to rhyme with

reason. There must be a vanquishing, a triumph,
a reseeding of goodness and the inevitable miracle.

Or two. This is the time, isn’t it? What else could it
mean when the broken are still falling and the fallen

are still breaking , when you hear a million palms
join together, a million knees touch the ground, when

life wants to live longer and death needs to die sooner –
do we know the consequences of so much prayer?

how many dawns
will it take
to erase this endless night

For the millions of migrant workers making their way back to villages and towns in the hinterland, thousands on foot,walking hundreds of kilometres, as livelihoods are destroyed during the lockdown and hunger becomes a greater threat than disease.

Also read:
Curfew: Day 51

Curfew: Day 51

Six migrant workers (were run over by a speeding
bus while on a 1000 km journey home, on foot)

This poem knows nothing of your suffering.
All it can be is a poor witness. A public record

book is more of a poem, it has your name,
your story, even the colour of your eyes before

the dreams were stolen from them. A poem is
just so a poet can breathe. Just a low portal

through which a caravan of gloom has passed
without stopping. This poem is the view through

a window pane while the inferno rages out of
sight. But the poet is so safe inside, so distanced

from the flames that he cannot even smell the
smoke. Yet, this poem wants to talk about the burns

on your skin and the scars on your being. Just so
a poet can still remember what it was like to feel.

we have walked together
for so long – reached different places
for so long

For the millions of migrant workers making their way back to villages and towns in the hinterland, thousands on foot,walking hundreds of kilometres, as livelihoods are destroyed during the lockdown and hunger becomes a greater threat than disease.

 

Also read:
Curfew: Day 50

Curfew: Day 50

Trapped inside walls, death on the loose, outside,
where once days mattered — you say we are safe in

our primal cave, while out in the jungle, tigers wander —
this night must somehow end in an admission of love

or in lovemaking. Maybe it is an ice cave, you suggest,
seeking warmth, and I wonder if sanctuaries can

be so misplaced, imagined so wrong — but we
follow the rule of skin and word: some skin, some

words are more susceptible than others. We hide in
one darkness, outside another lingers, we make skin

speak, make words touch, this night sheds so many
layers. We hold its head and feel its breath, not seeing

is more sacred than love or lovemaking, till outside,
a broken sky bleeds, confesses its sin of first light.

is it not spring –
even if the flowers
refuse to bloom

Also read:
Curfew: Day 49

Curfew: Day 49

Isn’t this the womb that should birth great change? The
momentous correction that will resurrect time? So all

that is askew, adrift, alone will find a home? Then why
does opportunity contort its neck and retreat into its

shell? Where it is safe, where it is in control, where
it is the way it was before? Yet, need is no stranger to

waiting in the cold. That was the arrangement. Even
for days like this, when the end, out of sight, looks

exactly like the beginning, when the window is closed
and rain accounts, in straight lines, for asymmetrical loss.

between us
a word, a world,
between us

Also read:
Curfew: Day 48

This is the 50th lockdown post in as many days. And we’re somewhere – at an end or a beginning- or both.

Curfew: Day 48

Five migrant workers (travelling home in a truck 
loaded with mangoes, killed in a road accident)

This summer of the sun that is and the light that
isn’t. This summer of waiting in queues – the

line of the poor, the line of the poorly, the line
that cannot go all the way home. This summer

of mangoes, red with blood, scattered on a
highway. This summer of overturned empathy.

This summer of counting – minutes and dead
and the number of meanings for ‘distance’ – as

noun, as verb, as antonym for living. This summer
that is the Trojan horse dragged into the city centre,

silence stuffed inside its distended belly. How will
the looming monsoon ever wash this summer away?

 

all things kneel
before the new normal –
even us, even memories

For the millions of migrant workers making their way back to villages and towns in the hinterland, thousands on foot,walking hundreds of kilometres, as livelihoods are destroyed during the lockdown and hunger becomes a greater threat than disease.

Also read:
Curfew: Day 47

Curfew: Day 47

Sixteen migrant workers (were run over by a freight train
as they tried to make their way home)

No matter which way our world falls, only
one side is soiled, only one side is wounded,

only one side bleeds. This inequity is favoured
by a sky that cannot tell day from night. The

illusion of a silver moon is only in eyes forced
to look up. Hands that built our cities, walk

away from them, empty handed. But death is neither
random nor foretold. We formulate methods that

compute the value of lives. Zero or one. From that
we derive the rate at which they will be forgotten.

to know darkness –
the sun must first
understand its light

For the millions of migrant workers making their way back to villages and towns in the hinterland, thousands on foot,walking hundreds of kilometres, as livelihoods are destroyed during the lockdown and hunger becomes a greater threat than disease.

 

 

Also read:
Curfew: Day 46

Curfew: Day 46

Lockdown writing: ten things about The Poem.

3/3

7. Teach The Poem to run its fingers over sharp edges.
To cry in an unknown language. To bleed until living

and dying are equal options. 8. If you already know what
you’re going to say, don’t say it. The Poem is not your

lover. No part of its body should be so familiar. The Poem
and you are always in your first meeting. 9. You are the

only reader to whom The Poem must make sense. To
everyone else, it is the magic mirror in which their

wounds fill, their scars fade, in which they look more
beautiful. The Poem is their illicit paramour. 10. You

are not the mother who birthed The Poem. You are the
god that created it. It is the being that will forever

ruin your garden of eden, then kneel before you and beg,
as if you alone have the power to forgive the desecration.

The Poem
is waiting for the poet
who is waiting for it

Also Read:
Curfew: Day 45 (Ten things about The Poem 2/3)
Curfew: Day 44 (Ten things about The Poem 1/3)