In the swelter of barsha kal, the

rains which patter steady streams,

 

taps and clicks, against tin roofs

signal a respite to window people,

 

who, with their muddy soles and

Cheshire grins fill their pots to a brim.

 

Like the sun’s twin of the night,

handfuls of rice trickle along palms, veins

 

sinewy and protruding, snaking

blood to gated hearts (much like their gated

 

enclosures). Dripping into the dekchi

and following, a barrage of daal flakes:

 

orange, uncooked, sinking gracefully

unlike greedy lotuses on murky ponds.

 

The deluge persists and clouds drain

themselves of window tears, for,

 

there are enough to flood a city. For,

there is a city of cardamom. A bay of leaves.

 

Cumin dust and seeds of chilies,

a ladle full of ghee, pooling in

 

crevices along concrete walls and

potholes on shit-streaked highways.

 

Buttering up moneylenders whilst

swiping oil from the candles of

 

cardboard Hooverville houses.

Their occupants meander between

 

honking taxicabs with boxes

filled with sooty lollipops, fruity

 

plastic juices, waiting for a stream

(or a trickle, or a whisper) of rice

 

to run through their babies’ veins,

who stand against flat paper walls

 

gawking at flat-screen TVs holding

protruding bellies with railing arms.

 

Simmering for hours, people at their

windows – soaking in the sight

 

of the monsoon – remove the pot.

Steaming wildly, dancing hot

 

Staples mingle together, the vestiges

of their separate parts coalescing

 

amalgamating into a savory, crunchy,

over-burned, overcooked mass.

 

Sticking to the edges like moans at

night in shadowed alleyways with

 

tomcats and the like. Steaming

and viscous, poured out onto steel

 

thalas, a trickle of fat and a burst

of acidity – this is to cure you

 

and calm you. To heal you. Here

is to stopping the rain. Here is to

 

burning your tongue, swallowing

in tears, and to people in hollow

 

windows scraping away the edges

of their plates, breaking free the

 

atrophic pieces perhaps of your

desh, but really, of life collated.

 

– Khichuri (Marginalia 2016)

 

 

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