The lights out on the horizon
Don’t look like those of fishing boats;
They’re stretched like a city
But strung in line with sight’s margin
Like a hometown
beckoning back a train straying into the darkness
Spangling the frayed edges of the steel grey
sea-sheet of heaving wrinkles
Hundreds of nights of sacs
stacked beneath the eye.
There are many people here, though it’s a Monday.
A toy-seller improvises:
a Colosseum of multi-coloured lights
Children’s shouts of joy,
A blue helicopter is launched skywards,
An Icarus reaching for his crescent moon.
Flagpoles – some standing, some flat,
Unpennanted records of a political meeting.
The tide rumbles more insistently
But the mind clings to memories of hills;
The sea breeze wafts me back in time.
I fear the future,
the verge of the Deep.
I’m the sand on the beach,
beaten and spent by the backwash;
A pathetic 21st century excuse for a Sophocles on the Aegean’s Brink.
There is a dargah
Of Sufi saint Shahul Hameed Quadri.
The saint had come with a team of followers;
The local king had a severe body pain
Physicians had tried driving the pain out
To no avail:
“Something in the precincts of this palace
is in such pain, Majesty!”
A search was ordered,
A pigeon was found,
Needles stuck all over
The Shibi Chakravarthi tale gone awry.
Hazrath Quadri (Allah rest his soul!)
Removed the needles,
Dressed the bird of peace with oils and poultices.
And lo! Out went His Majesty’s pain!
The saint made his home at Nagore.
Today at Nagore,
Pigeons are caged
To be sold to pilgrims desiring to play Saint;
Other pilgrims come to importune the saint
To find and unpin their pigeons;
Families with children who feel every pain but set it free soon enough,
Brides seeking grooms,
Those with needles stuck in their souls,
All have their poultice.
The blanket of heady incense
The swish of the broom on head and shoulder
The balm of Al-Fatiha
The holy hoop of Aayat-ul-Kursi
The shield of An-Naas
The sticky-sweet comfort of halwas and khoaas
The threads of fortune.
Poem for Amma
The last time I came here
A year and a half ago
My mother was dying in slow motion.
It was summer then.
It is monsoon now.
And now it is kind of weird
To think that
Some molecules of her ashes
And bits of charred bone
(Not that there was much left to char, for the fire to eat)
Floated down the Nila –
Mined down to bare rock and gravel in real life
But persistent in the Malayalam High Canon –
And got into the Arabian Sea.
And the waves I see leaping and frothing noisily in front of me
Giving the noises of the mela a run for their moneys
Could actually be carrying a bit of Amma
(Not that there is much to carry, for salt water to drink)
Heavier than me with my mere thoughts
and memories and genetic quirks,
But lighter still . . .
First I want to rape those nurses
Who tended on my mother
Unmindful of their watches.
Then the night-duty ICU doctor
Who stayed up to save me
From malarial death.
Then my sister with her icepacks
To bring my viral fever down.
Then night duty policewomen;
Then all those married women
Who go to first and second shows
Without kumkum on their foreheads
Or toe-rings on their toes.
Then all those women
Whose men are out of town
Travelling on work.
Then women who belong to other creeds;
What’s my manhood worth
Without ripping off a burkha
Or peeling off some jeans.
Lastly the men who blame rape on women
Being gay, that would be
My cherry on the cake
But lest the High and Supreme wisdom
Of regurgitated Macaulay
Catches up with me.
Or my Brahmin prong gets fouled
I want to do the last
With red-hot iron rods
Keeping with Nature’s orders
Born in 1976, Parasuraman did his MA and PhD at the University of Hyderabad. From 2005 to 2013 he was teaching in various government colleges in rural Kerala. Since June 2013, he has been teaching at the Government College for Women Thiruvananthapuram. His areas of interest include Canon Studies, Abridgement Studies, Queer Studies, ELT and literature and art that come out of zones of cultural cross-breeding and the resistance to such cross-breeding. His poetry is an occasional thing. He has been influenced by the Romantics and the Imagists more than anybody else.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘Gorkhaland’, edited by Dr. Rajendra Prasad Dhakal, Principal, Kalimpong College, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, WB, India.