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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

03 May, 2005

I'm leaving

I'm leaving.
I'm leaving,
and, in a just-by-the-way sort of way, I'm wondering -
what is there to leave?

There wasn't much
to begin with

That chaabi-wale Sardarji
Pannalal, putaayi-wale,
Slim Neha, the tailor-ess
One-eyed Sudha, the sweeper-ess
Babu, the chai-wala
Shama, the Dhaba
Tokas, the drunk landlord,
Ramesh, landlord's flunkey -
what is there to leave,
but these

And the Gurudwara I always meant to enter,
to touch my forehead to the floor,
and wish the things I've wished for, before -
except that I always wished,
too far into the night,
when all gates were locked to my wishing.

And the vegetable-stall
(the lonely one, with damp sack-cloths for roof and walls and floor and table-cloth and basket-lining)
with its rows of exotic broccoli... woven baskets bearing purple lettuce and even, lemongrass
that I wanted to buy (but didn't know what to do with).

And the juice-wala who covers his tall mugs
with a carefully hygeinic silver foil, but
recycles the drinking straws,
but whom I patronized anyway,
because he said 'yes, ma'am?'
so politely.

What is there to leave, except :
Very white walls
and very grey floors
and very cold baths?

Or windows that wouldn't close all the way and virgins who wouldn't go all the way?

What's there to leave
except a leaking bathroom roof?
except a sink that wasn't?
and a black spot on marble, a greasy reminder of that first disastrous attempt to cook halwaa in a steel pot?

Except for the cobwebs
that I didn't like to touch,
because of the guilt of watching a spider, stamping
(all eight feet!)
in a futile rage, but already gathering up a broken strand,
furiously weaving up a home, again...

I'm leaving;
I don't have the heart to sweep away a home,
two times in a row

and except for a broken-built-broken web,
what, really, is there to leave

(C) Annie Zaidi, May 2005



Blogger jaygee said...

very nice dear... i could oh so totally remember the sabzi walla who insisted we learn to cook.. since after all it was to be our stock in trade..

06 May, 2005 12:26  
Blogger John said...

Annie, didn't I tell you I am a fan, a "Pankaah?" The sheer beauty, the vivid imagery, astounding. You elevate street-life, monotonous windows that do not close fully into a wholly new state of poetic awareness.


06 May, 2005 18:03  

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