Tikuli

Purple  Rain 

There was a time when the wide avenues

of Lutyen’s Delhi exploded with purple prose.

Walking from Ashoka Road, traversing

India gate and going to Rajpath

on languid, monsoon afternoons,

one could watch the sweet, earthy notes

coloring the city’s tongue violet,

chasing the thieving parakeets,

children foraged for the dark cousin of grapes.

The explosion of flavours left their mouths puckered,

–a bit of Indian summer right there.

As I walk along the strewn purple memory lane,

a little head pops out from under an umbrella

tilted on the sidewalk, “Jamun?” its voice asks.

A palm, stained like an artist’s palette offers

a few glistening fruits, tempted, I bite into one,

bitter–sweet and astringent all at once,

your memory explodes in my mouth.

inked by the only city I know I walk down the leafy

avenue drenched in purple rain,

one of many rains I  try to catch on my tongue.

 

 

Medical Migrants

The road outside Delhi’s one hundred acre

‘premier’ hospital complex

perpetually struggles to breathe,

so does the man under a polythene sheet

outside the hospital gates,

his wife and children

huddle over a makeshift stove for warmth,

nearby, beneath a tattered blanket a woman moans,

she is only half awake, tarmac burns her eyes.

Oblivious to the dust and fumes

hoards of poor  medical migrants

bid their time under the harsh sky.

 

Sometimes for months or even years,

Clutching their belongings and medical files

they spill over the surrounding lanes,

bus stands and the Metro Station.

 

A flourishing parallel economy thrives

within a five kilometer radius of the hospital,

it caters to the needs of those who wait,

food stalls, pharmacists, path-labs,

photocopiers and a temple.

 

Just ahead in the parking lot,

among the parked vehicles stands a dusty black car,

conspicuous by the shimmering golden streamers

In this city everyone benefits

from the business of life and death.

 

 

 Scent Of A Season

Sitting on the verandah at dusk

I count the curling crisp brown leaves on a tree

and feel the autumn trailing in my bones,

a lemon scented breeze stirs my memories…

clusters of saptparni blooms crumbling in my hands,

their scent rising from the white carpeted pavements ,

intoxicating the night above them,

a smell of winter – nostalgia – childhood, love,

adolescence, youth, late night cigarette sessions

around makeshift fires on the terrace,

old monk, spliffs, long drives,

and your breath against mine.

There is more to it that lingers on in Lutyen’s Delhi

memories of a time I can’t forget.

 

 

 Dargah – Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia

Love and faith light up the dense tangle of streets

that lead to the dargah of mehboob –e – ilahi,

and the tomb of his beloved disciple Khusro,

garbed in rose petals, attars, offerings

and a heady whiff of spiced kebabs,

lost words float across the treetops,

arches, patios and tombs, sometimes,

quietly they nestle in an empty nest

or whirl down onto the marbled floor

in an aerial dance—like dervishes,

caught in a mystical ecstasy, their souls

electrified by the rising crescendo of qawaals.

Possessed in a feverish frenzy of longing

and sensuousness, body-edges dissolve

into each other and in turn into

the saint and the poet, love rises

as smoke at the end of the lit incense

and floats through the prayers

tied to the marble lattice

I sit in a corner, eyes closed – entranced,

the poet in me loses herself to the scents,

the sounds, the sights, the dust, the birds,

the trees, the sky, the marble, the songs,

and then dips herself in holy water

as green as the greenest emerald.

The sun seeks its path among

the silhouettes frozen in time.

I lean against the afternoon draped pillars

and feel my inner darkness melt

with their lengthening shadows,

the senescent walls soak up the pain

as I trace my fingers over them.

Across the courtyard, time, like a poem,

burns in the dua-e–roshni as the day

meets the loban perfumed night.

Two lovers completing each other

like two halves of a sphere.

It is in this cosmos

that the inexpressible exists,

visible to those eyes which can see.

 

Tikuli is a blogger &  author from Delhi. Her short stories and poems

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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’sWeb, Readomania and Troubadour21, The Criterion, Knot Magazine, The Peregrine muse etc.Her 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