We are in a different light today ,a night made up by trains blaring, tall coconuts swaying to rain music and short walks on a patch of moss-black on a terrace roof dried with rain marks. The coconuts hang heavily on the parapet,their older ones waiting to drop on unsuspecting heads below. The guavas ,ripe and yellow, have disappeared in the parrots’ stomachs but their hollowed telltale shells are still there on the earth.
The hundred gold coins flowers are conspicuous by their absence but their fragrance can be imagined on their heavy branches near the compound wall.The cobbler is mending passers-by in their sandals under an umbrella ,with a stone slab polished smooth for the cutting edge of the leather.The dog in the second floor is hiding behind its loud barks but not much hostility is expected today ,on a cool evening like this
This day , four years ago, in Bhopal, we had stood in rows after rows of lamps around God’s pillar, looking for mirrors of lights in people’s eyes. We saw the pipal tree, up above, lighting with new found love for white birds that fluttered in half-sleep. High above the pipal shone a soft full moon overseeing a thousand lights. The moon stood on the brass pillar like a bright lamp that drove away our darkness, inside our minds.
Women took the lamps one by one, neatly arranging them at the base of the pillar. The flames licked the dark air of the night , lighting it with their fragrance.
This day ,here in Hyderabad, we saw the lamps cowering behind cardboard walls erected in the temple. The flames were bright and soft as they had been in Bhopal but there was no pipal tree through which the moon supervised the lamps.
At the end of the room was my uncle who seemed as if in a trance. He had made it to this place for a land sale, after doing a train journey of 500 k.m.s. on eighty year old knees.
He who had always spoken now listened. His unspoken words would echo in the hall ,side by side with inane small talk between us. The words were stuck in his puffed up cheeks. And the eyes were unable to say them, bogged down in the pathos of a realization that all this did not matter.
He has surrendered his right to lead conversation. He has surrendered.
By the green hedge of leaves we see the women, in a chain, their mouths turned up towards an invisible God.
Between mausoleums lie several songs that rise up as Sunday smoke swirls to join general vagueness of the sky.
Women are upwards with their faces and in their souls , a fine breath of air filling old bodies,on way to their God.
Their God eats butter and plays his flute on the river bank to several girls on a moonlight receiving songs from women chains.
This morning new leaves sprouted in light green on the tamala trees .Actually I have just noticed them.All tamala trees went light and green in unison across the street. Not counting the round dark green leaves of another tree in between. A light green parrot cried from an arboreal presence not seen, not felt. The cuckoo is frantically jabbing its needle in a summer morning’s silence but no luck. There is not even a shred of a cloud in the sky. Its rain calls went nowhere. The crow has renewed its call to our relatives from the parapet wall of our balcony as its tail went up and down. The red fruit on the tall tree that stank to the heavens are nowhere now and their smells are gone.
But there is hope.I have found out tiny mangoes already formed from powdery flowers.I even found a kidney-shaped mango on the road.
The days have to be hot from now on. How else will mangoes mature and turn succulent fruit by May?
What if I am a transient creature, a bird of passage ? So is everybody else, everything else.
After Rilke, you keep looking under the stars and beyond or under the old man’s bed. Eyelashes have hid women. Gently raise them to stars of a night by a pale moon.
Some are jasmines to bud on the blouse back’s night, with its stars flowering yet. Old jasmines are a history of washer-man’s laundry. Smell a washed out pocket.
Chase after old man Rilke .Keep looking a star beyond or under the old man’s bed.
In the evening there was some exquisite music that flowed smoothly on a silk-soft winter breeze with a burning torch ahead, duly abetted by oil.
As God went out with his wives on the palanquin, a bamboo stick went musical in its circular holes and a goatskin went into fever long after its death.
The pig-tailed men carried their God on shoulders.The torch burnt the night till it smelled like flowers.