The Himalayan foothills dwarf the bridge at Karcham,
summer reveals the sculpted mountains,
I cross the roaring river
take the precipitous road to Kinnaur,
the town of Rampur Bushair
morphs into a seemingly bottomless gorge
carved by the angry Sutlej
that grinds through the deep gloom
like a fearsome demon,
rampaging along the edge of the mountain
guarded by the overhanging cliffs,
the bridle path, follows the contours of hills
which fade into a forest of tall pines cloaked in night,
they stand meditating
like the followers of an ancient cult
on some forgotten God,
the only sound comes from the blue-green Baspa,
the trees drip icy green over its wintry cloud banks,
In the hilly air I tremble for a familiar warmth
your memory lifts me to the moon-swept hills
that fall into the snow-haunted valleys,
the silhouetted trees whisper the language of the wind,
lonesome roads disappear in mist and rain,
puddles on the white roads stare up like stranded mirrors,
the waylaid night snuggles into the bed of morning
wakes up ash-faced in a deserted alley
of a city that has forgotten how to love or live.
I open my eyes, light a cigarette,
somewhere time died in misty solitude
and the river between us froze.
The German Bakery – Bhagsunag
On this summer night,
the cinnamon scented air,
laced with Old Monk,
lured me to the same German Bakery
where I once wrote poems long forgotten.
Towering conifers hold the star studded sky
on their shoulders, apart from a few fluffy
mountain dogs the streets are deserted.
I marvel at how, just a few hours ago,
the verdant hills were awash with radiance,
they arise now against an ebony sky –
like somnolent shadows.
Like a flaneur,
I amble through the time
abandoned on the village pathway,
remembering the days
when life could be measured
by faded blue jeans, chillam drags,
guitar strings, dark rum –
It was before we became lovers.
Inside the bakery, the chessboard
is still on our favourite corner table,
the chessmen are still waiting.
A group of foreign tourists
sits wedged against shadows
warmed by the kitchen fire.
In a tree across the road
a fledgling screams,
startling the roosting birds,
its cry swells and sinks in the dark valley,
the moth-eaten moon watches silently,
the stars remain distant,
the night again becomes still.
I finish the dark rum I ordered,
the fiery liquid soothes my dry,
Then I shake my heart free of your dust
and walk to yet more familiar places—
places with the scents of other memories.
Tikuli is a blogger and author from Delhi. Her short stories and poems have appeared in print and in online literary magazines including Le Zaparougue, MiCROW 8, The Smoking Book (Poets Wear Prada Press, US), Life And legends, Levure Littéraire 10, The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Open Road Review, Cafe Dissensus, Mnemosyne Literary Journal, Women’s Web, Readomania and Troubadour21. Tikuli’s print publications include poems in Guntur National Poetry Festival Anthology, Melange – a Potpourri of thoughts and the much acclaimed Chicken Soup For The Indian Romantic Soul (Westland). Her debut poetry book, Collection Of Chaos, was published in 2014 by Leaky Boot Press.. She blogs at tikulicious.wordpress.com.
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 ‘Jewish-Muslim Relations in South Asia’, edited by Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi, Assistant Professor, Gautam Buddha University, Greater NOIDA, India.