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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