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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

09 February, 2005

Desolation Dusk

in the shadow of the arched mughal gateway
in the desolate dark overgrown with weeds.
I heard someone call me from behind,
"do you recognize me?"
I looked at her. "of course . . . "
I said, not daring to utter her name.
she said - "those days of longing,
that tearstained July. . .
it seems such a long time ago."

there was a glimpse of moisture in the corner of her eyes,
striated like the moon's reflection on a mountain lake.

I asked -- "Then you were dark like a tumbling raincloud.
today you are burnished gold
like this Jamuna sunset. . .
all our tears from those months --
were they in vain?"
she just smiled - a wan smile.
I realized all our tears were dissolved in that smile --
the rain clouds' black had faded into sunset gold.

I said -- "I have still kept with me
those days of our togetherness."
she said nothing. I said, "like on our first night
I can still see your hair
radiating black beneath me in my dreams . . . "
she looked at me. time had stopped
under that Mughal tomb
bearing the burden of centuries. at last
I asked - "what have you kept with you?"
she looked at me, her eyebrows arched like a soaring wing.
in her eyes I saw
all our agony, layered into tranquility.

I said, "the fire of my desire has now burnt itself
to embers. from the ashes I have made my mask."
slowly, gently,
she touched my face with her fingers.

she said, "Yes, I know this fire.
I had wanted to keep all of you,
but your endless desire
burnt everything to cinders. . ."

framed in the doorway,
I looked at the sunset halo of her hair.
she said, "so I left from your doorstep,
never entering your home. I have been waiting since then,
in this desolation, to return that little bit to you."
and then, in the silence
under the creepers growing between the bricks
she lifted the mask from her face.
"we were never meant to exchange garlands," she said.
"let us then exchange masks."
"but I don't even know how to take off my mask", I said.

"do you remember," she said, "how you had said you would
keep my footsteps enshrined on your doorstep?"
I said, "yes . . . of course I remember. . . ",
and then a bit shamefacedly, "I have not tended it,
but the depression of your footprint --
still remains."

and in that dull sunset moment,
I looked at her, and I prised open my ashen mask
but then I threw it away.
lifting her hand into mine, I said,
"you need no mask from me.
how beautiful you look --
what was once sorrow, has molted into peace."

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1 Comments:

Blogger manisha lakhe said...

you weave a wonderful tale here...

09 February, 2005 17:57  

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