"The Last Tenants"
(to Rishabh Dada, Abhijeet,
Munnu & Ayush,
the historians of my childhood
. . . and then it heavily rained, flooding the halls,
Dada's back my dominion of lethargy and rage,
our conflicting paper boats sung to the ripples
while two more, armed with ornamentation of
a higher degree, joined the race. Ammi bellowed
from within the rusted grills of the kitchen,
where spiders hide, mice play, ants collide...
and then when light sneaked in to gallop away
the smell of fresh mud, the breath of spring,
Abhijeet hid behind a staircase that
was never connected to the doors of heaven,
where our gods gamble, poisoned fountains,
and yet he moved to darkness, to
places we could never see, untouched...
and then when Monday kissed the
morning sun, vans halted outside ailing
pavements, a forced incarceration, I must tell...
and where recesses broke loose wars,
women laughed away their husband's absence,
danced on broken verses unabashedly,
smirked at in-laws, mocked at their absurdism,
even cursed out parents for early betrothals...
and then when the leaves failed to smile,
Ishan plagiared the cities on wondrous maps,
the Equator untraced, the hemispheres unmet;
I heard Dada being reprimanded, his father
scowling away in-house workers, I heard wonders;
and somewhere, a turn away from our front,
he, with a capital T, lied about grades,
failed in his passions, that concerned
his mother, and I saw the migration of
short-hand notes, unwanted stationary...
and when the 'thens' turned, values broke,
joysticks replaced mud-balls,
unknown, unnamed kids hid in their own
cloistered selves, behind gorilla screens,
nominal glances replaced timeless gossips...
the terrace no longer cries of undeterred laughter,
amidst abandoned metal rods and tables,
jutes of consummated tools and paper bags...
and against a half-burned wall, covers
of enormous machines rest in peace...
I see it now, our terrace of lived happiness,
that shared our mothers' tears, their
conditioned agonies and rebuffs,
the wrinkled peels of connived oranges,
and sweat of labor and fruit...
the terrace of cawing crows and TV satellites.
and the army retired away into different homes,
I celebrate festivals of monotony and despair,
of insensitivity and unheard sobbings
and I miss Abhijeet's calculated bombings,
Dada's mixed anxieties, Ishan's flanked attitude...
precocious kids don't play with fire,
and if they do, time droops down their laughter;
our colors fade away, and we no longer wait...
and when the moon hits down at the end,
we know, we are alone, the last tenants.
"The Forged Fire"
(for Subhi Aliya,
the priceless one)
and she is silent to our cracks and boots,
listening to abuses that take the form of hymns,
and she is silent to the bruises we give,
to the forgery of vandalised emotions.
And our false promises, and his, break her,
yet we never see a corner pregnant with tears,
her screams, the tempests of turmoil,
she smiles it all away, wonder-struck us.
And the darkest calls of a masked youth
threaten her, coil her to Medusa's fire;
she never kills Medusa, her snakes hers-
the purdah shunned, she begins to speak.
And ageless her purdah, her jocund glow,
on streets she twerks, dances with clowns,
tells us that we are yet to be born, for her
scars are alive, her wars ethereal... endless.
Ashish Dwivedi is an Indian student at Swansea University, pursuing an M.Phil. programme in English Literature. He calls himself a customized poet and critic: traversed writing. Apart from poetry, he takes special delight in theatre, swimming, travelling, and herpetology. He is new to the publishing field, with his works having recently appeared in Literary Heist, Waterfront Newspaper (a student-led publication at Swansea University), and Oddball Magazine.