the last sin
  pale ashen sky
a bleary eye
clouds of recurring screams...
i am a zoo
  an octopus leviathan
tentacles into an ocean
of unformed emotions...
syphilis and love  
  syphilitic pall
stifles the clear blue
i contort...
shell and pearl
  amidst highs and lows
in life's ocean flows
a shell peony-mouthed...
i am an unmarried mother
  fed on stings
of barbed milk morality
my child-plankton...
the lovers
  cell upon cell
bridge of their union
hung on the pillars...
  ogre of age
and time cavil
at a warm picture...
the young today
  innocence thaws
at the altar
of ambition...

ruminations at Kodaikanal

a car moves on the hillock
and its light creates iridescent pictures
on the placid waters of the lake
the waters are not still
the strong wind makes them move
the practical tube light
leaves a fuzzy hairbrush shadow
on its bristling terrain
frogs croak
aged eucalyptuses spring imperially
from green carpeted ground

it pains me to see people obsequious
we stay at a five star hotel
and command the pleasures of life
but we are no worse
than voyeuristic tourists
why must residents be so beholden to us

it saddens me to see them servile
i like people to be proud
but life these days is strange
and the north has so little
understanding of the south
its people are gentle
i buy books from
The Kodai Book Shop
its owner proud and gentle yet broken
by the lack of interest in books
we buy four books
i ask him: do you give discounts?
he says: ‘no sir, i pay rs. 5000
as rent for this place’

we thank him
he gets up from his seat
and says ‘welcome’
afterwards i call my colleague
in the capital on his cell phone
and discuss politics at work
life as usual

i think of Yann Martel’s vision
of being at a hill station
and working on his novel
with steaming cups of tea
Life of Pi
Piscine Moliter Patel
at once HinduMuslimChristian
i think of zootown
and its inhabitants and wonder
aren’t we all like big cats
territorial in our habits?

( June 2003 )