I am rich in my losses. I lost my
home, river, lanes, neighbors,
boats, temples, pilgrims, conch shells,
the sun, the moon and ursa major
pyres, umbrellas, benches, stone steps,
people playing chess, carrom or cricket,
my walks along the riverfront
my mornings and evenings,
the pushing mad crowd,
vendors of fruits, of vegetables, of sweets, even barbers
small shops and big in the market near my river,
empty lanes and full, bicycle bells, horns of autos and bikes,
I lost them all when I left.
I see them stand, chat, smile, live; I can't.
Like me they live in a city they were not born in,
yet call it their own.
Does their city not call them?
Does it not come in their dreams?
Mine comes rarely nowadays.
All I want to do today is to lie down
and slowly breathe my last breath, like Shelley did
in dejection near Naples. No, I've no past remembrance
of suicidal drifts. No, people don't see such tendencies in me.
In fact, I hate death, my mortal enemy,
and every day of my life have been happily shrinking
away from its touch. There are times I forget my city.
Like when I drive like a maniac, which I always do.
When at the steering wheel, there's only the man-machine,
no man, no machine, that races against time
and anyone else who dares to come on his way.
Only then, when all else is erased, and eternity fits in a moment,
I forget my loss, my 'self' and city.
For a moment or two, my two daughters lend me
the salve of oblivion too. While I write, I faintly forget my pain,
my loss, even the city I write about,
because I live at the tip of my finger then,
from where stream my thoughts on the page.
Writing heals, or, at least helps forget for a time,
while I make patterns that suck me in and siphon
all concerns away from the system.
My richness of loss has filled me a lot.
It has filled me with a vacuum.
I don't know how I'll live whole again,
for fate and time don't favor the kind
of coward-victim-exile I am.