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.
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
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