Swadesh Deepak*, sir
by Samartha Vashishtha
I know you, sir
wanting the end of the world
to be the launching pad
for your last somersault.
I know you on days I find you home
sitting on your couch reading
maybe a book on literary art
with matchsticks for marking pages
and the chapter on Mayakovsky
skipped at first glance itself.
And on days I miss you by minutes
when you go out for your evening stroll –
a cup of tea from the roadside stall
with labourers gathering breath
and the leaky stove reminding
you / of Sylvia Plath’s stone eyes.
I know your screechy telephone set
waiting for minutes before you answer a call –
the routine drowsy hours of day
the nuero-drugs take their toll
Or a voice that rings in the ear
smooth as buttermilk
yet so harsh that you can
fall in love with it.
And I know the sin of calling out for you
when you walk down a cobbled dirty street
watching the one in the middle of the three
riding a bike - looking through the earring of his pal
at a girl feeling her purse for a pretty silver watch
Or the redemption in your greying hairline
receding to a glorious sheen of scalp
from wearing a peach coloured shirt
to a step grandmother’s funeral procession.
I know you and I know your smoke
filling the room and my lungs –
a rally of slender charminars
conspiring against God –
or the ice in your fiery eyes
that only knowing death can give.
I know you, sir
with your metaphors run amok
your wrist without a watch
walls sans a clock
though I know
one can’t know a man
till one knows how he tickles
little children’s cheeks
or paces his orgasms
panting in cold bedsheets
Like only a woman can know a man.
Note: Charminar is a brand of unfiltered Indian cigarette
* Swadesh Deepak is a celebrated Hindi writer, who lived in Ambala. He lost seven years of his life to a frightening journey to the ‘darkroom’ of his mind that almost had him dead. His touching memoirs of those fateful years were published a couple of years back as the book Maine Maandu Nahin Dekha, which won tremendous critical. On June 2, 2006, Deepak left home for his routine morning walk, and went missing. All efforts to trace him have shown no results. This poem was written in 2004, and anthologized in Shadows Don't Live in Walls.
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