Three men sit on a tree stub,
wait for the bus
where earlier all the men in the village
gathered around the tree
dipped sunsets in cups of
chai paid for in bulk of months,
the chaiwala kept impeccable accounts.
The men of the village
were agarbattis around the shrine of tree,
they smoked bidis, global citizens,
they debated economies and
fashions of women,
their fingers always smelled of newspaper ink.
The men of the village,
they planted hierarchies
deep around the chauthara of the tree,
baboons, they scratched
each others backs in an unchanging line.
The men in the village, they were bullies,
they were bullied,
they wed their children in holy bonds of fuckage,
the children who ruled
the kingdom of tree in the day
when the men of the village
toiled in their fields, in their shops,
in the village next door,
earned their places for the evening,
their slice of shade
buttered in gossip,
dipped in tea,
ignited by maachis.
That was then,
Now, three men sit on the stub of the tree,
wait for the 21st century to arrive on diesel fumes.
The stub is still fresh wound,
no fingers reach the sun
that has drowned the
village highway in a forever noon.
Children do not play around bleeding flesh,
they don’t hug phantom trees,
squirrels don’t run up and down bus-stops.
The bus rankles to a stop,
drags along a cloud of progress.
The country is desperate to step into the future.
Like an urchin, it flings itself into the race,
crawls in from a gap under the fence,
steps into a cake of shit on the other side.
(chauthara – raised platform)
LET’S TALK SEX TALK
Father brings food to the house,
Mother brings it to the table.
He brings blankets,
She brings warmth,
pulls up beams, draws a roof, conjures a sofa, bedroom, table,
She conjures a platform
and becomes shrine,
centers the house,
fierce keeper of the threshold,
her power thrums with our loyalty towards ourselves.
Now who cares if the He has a vagina
and the She has a dick?
Keepers of morals
should keep morals.
Keepers of morals
should not keep thinking of hanging bits all the time.
In case we haven’t noticed,
this is mind porn.
And it has well established its hegemony
in everyday discourse.
Like the hegemony of light complexioned models
on covers of Indian women’s magazines.
Thinking about what genitals are slapping around what other genitals
and whether they should be
and which combination is better,
is not my deal,
so stop forcing this conversation on me
and anyone else,
including those whose genitalia combinations
you might not approve of.
Let me allow you to keep living
in other people’s chaddis.
Allow me to live
in my own,
stop broadcasting your obsessions
to the world, you filthy sex freaks.
feel free to be filthy sex freaks
I really don’t care what you do there.
There is a lot to be said about the private space.
Maybe you will find peace in your own.
At least give it a try.
Sit with your eyes closed.
If you can’t find peace, try an exorcism.
Difficult doesn’t mean impossible.
Have some patience.
Be kind to yourself.
And if you cannot help but see hanging bits everywhere,
it is ok.
Every child is special.
I do not hate you for that.
Just stop talking to me about it.
we welcome you with brave arms!
March your infidel-branding armies, you incessant godmen;
we, are not afraid of you;
we do not even understand the things you say.
What is the meaning of this one god and one father
and this punishment and retribution and
sin, sin, and so much sin, even these bounties
that you speak of?
You come to deny, maim, kill, bribe, corrupt, erase
in the name of your blue eyed version of a desert god
who will grant us divine pleasure through this
multi-level marketing scheme of granting his
benevolent wrath on the misguided?
Let me welcome you to India my friend;
India, the Bharat, the Sindu-sthan, the Indu-sthan, the Hind, the Hindustan.
You are welcome to impel, wound, slight.
Come, kill a generation or two,
loot some metal while you are at it.
Grab some land, build your temples of indoctrination,
demand some concessions.
But then go away quickly, my friend.
Otherwise, this place will devour you.
You will no longer seek your enslaved virgins,
or your Prepaid Heavenly Contentment Combos.
You will forget about your strictures and your psalms.
Your god will become one of many;
their mothers will become Aais and Maatas,
and while the demographics of your gods swell,
the god himself will become ours.
You convert, you snatch, you own.
Bharat simply assimilates, absorbs, accepts.
March your largest armies,
inflict your fiercest evangelists;
this land is older than your gods
and you will have no escape from her tolerant languor.
Ask me for whom she is a mother,
not a mistress
for I love her far different
than as the double spread
they letch at every night.
They stroke their hunger,
they stroke their ambition,
ejaculate fantasies of
she will shine upon them tomorrow.
Ask me for whom she is a mother,
not a mistress
for when I lie with her
I listen to her heart beat
and it doesn’t quicken my own.
Gropes don’t descend from my desires
all over her giving self.
The streetlamp outside my window is her gift to me,
our private moon, flawful and radiant.
It brings to us the orange flame of the gulmohar
from the edge of the footpath and lays it insistently
at the edge of our sleep.
I lie with her
and I listen to her heart beat.
I gaze up at her from within her bosom,
down from an empty terrace,
outside a lone car.
Her breathing is laboured
like a truck that needed servicing miles ago.
I know she will outlive me,
but the rich cholesterol of real estate
that clogs her arteries is enough
to worry me, to make me wonder,
what will they do next?
They keep cutting the hem of her mangrove skirt
They build flyovers across her armpits,
they don’t want to deal with her discharges.
They have dug tunnels, lain tracks
for their long fingers to worm under her flesh
even if they call it an emergency bypass.
But this is a ticketed ride, my Mumbai
Stand in line at the toll-naka
with an offering of your self esteem
each time you glide over craters
they carve into her skin
to mine contracts of incessant gold.
She clamours, runs, always in a frenzy,
she is a goddess of multiple arms,
she doesn’t please all,
but she pleases some a lot!
And she gasps at times,
her breath collapses on itself
because of so much running around,
because of the rising cost of onions,
because a filmy hero got sent to jail,
because some bombs betrayed a son.
She gasps, wheezes, collapses on herself…
And then she shakes herself out of her agony!
Her affairs with disasters are always only one night stands.
Sometimes, very rarely, she gets to sleep.
The music of a cloudburst is her lullaby,
the sea bathes her as rain in an embrace
that has all the comfort of a companion
that never leaves her side.
Sometimes, very rarely, she gets to sleep,
I like to watch her sleep.
But Mumbai, my mother, they only allow her to rest
when she is drenched, cold, and shivering.
(bhadwa/s – pimp/s)
Anish Vyavahare is a recent poet but an old hand at running poetry properties that are spread over Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru. He is the founder of Poetry College, a one of its kind long term poetry course in Mumbai. He likes to write about things that are hard to spot and he likes to write about life in Mumbai. He thinks poetry is like a spell that has to be crafted from nebulous magic that swirls in all our minds.