For Anandi.

Fairy lights on Bombay nights.
Darkness lit to hide that which lurks in the inbetweens, beneath the seams,
Where black cats ride with heads slung low,
Tails cut to stumps by the sharp edges of a town known by a sum of its parts,
In a country known to none.
I am one.
Amid the dust and drain which soaks and stains white linens in pale hues,
That dries and tires skins,
Shone bright from time to time by laneway fires,
Burning rubbish in the gutters,
Catching fallen tree leaves that escape the nets,
So that their bodies too die, in the ash and smoke,
Turning to fine residues that stick thin,
On faces and arms and upturned brows,
Lest they look below,
And see what lies beneath,
In the darkness,
Between the strings of twinkled light,
Strung slack between the faces of this Bombay night.

Absolute planes.

Find me something absolute,
Find me something with solid edges and clear planes.
Show me, if you can,
Something that fits in measure glasses,
Or compacts into mortar, and holds whole bricks up to cast shadows against light.
Find me this, solid and whole.
But find it for me most,
Absolute.

Immovable. Irrefutable. Untaintably,
real. So sure of its existence,
So certain of it’s truth that I can rest my elbow upon it,
In yards, or metres or milli-inches, that I too,
Can show myself against it,
Can realize these bones I hear,
And know myself,
Immovable. Irrefutable. Untaintably
Whole.
An absolution.

Let me not linger in the maybe,
Of the fate of existing.
Forgive me from hovering in the atomic questions of faith and being.
Save me from the limbo of disappearing when I close my eyes.
From being unsure,
If I am yours,
If I am here and real at all,
If I can be held as one and a mass beyond illusion and dream.
If I have surface and width and planes that exist,

As absolute.
As salvation from becoming, and going,
And alls and nothings.
I ask you,
Make me whole.
Show me just one thing.
And let me weigh myself upon it.
So I can cease from this maybe of being.
And know once and for all.
If I am here.
If I really exist.

Fading window.

City lights are not bright in all places.
In some places they whimper and beg for the dawn.
In some places they sulk into the night, sputtering in their own banal inflections.
And in some places still, they wish for peace. For silence. For darkness.

For what use is bringing light to all the ghastly places that we visit?
Why would one want the neons to reflect upon their creasing faces?
Once woe was quiet, and did not need light to cast shadows upon its blackness.

The buildings seem grey in the night, standing tall like cement towers with their glowing window boxes. Not all have the luxury of tungsten; many must make do with the merciless glare of white lights from tubes, shuddering at such a pace that your eyes may not notice, but your skin somehow does. And like the sun that embeds spots into vulnerable skins, this light pierces places in us that we know not how to move from. It digs into our stillness, bringing to the surface so many things that we would rather not see.

Perhaps we can dim the mood. Perhaps a candle flame to soften the shadows, to start from the small and delicate places rather than the large and unbearable.

All this light and somehow we still lose ourselves. There is some sort of magic in that. Caught in the shapes of our surroundings, of our bodies in space, of the landscapes of time passing through the observation of strewn papers and stained cups, or the colour of mid-afternoon sun on floors. Captivated so by the things we touch and how we feel them from our sight, forgetting the darkness behind all the light, the emptiness behind the solid.

Is it darkness that we seek when we close our eyes? The blackest black ink of the void. For it so tiresome to always need to see; to be witness to so many things that hurt or enthrall, or do nothing at all. It makes one weary, the colours on the streets, and the cracks and jaunts and curses. Observation is not without its burdens. Held in the lightbox of our minds, whether passing or paused, how can there be enough space for it all?

I want the achings of streetlights to cease in my limbs, respite from the stone fixes of red LCDs. I wish the street were more quiet in moving. Perhaps a candelabra by a traffic sign would help. Or the floodlit billboards turned down a hue, or retired for a night or two.  We know what they say as they tell us every day. But just once, not so loud on my temples please.

A touch-lamp for apartment 45, so that the person who lives there can decide, whether his sweater should be lit to its pores, or just kissed softly with a hushed glow. And no more moving banners, screens teetering high upon the city’s drawl, asking for moments of weakness and sight to be filled with inanity posing as delight. Do not torture us so. Perhaps instead we might find the light cast by the sun on shorelines, and let the city dwellers drift in the warm palms of the dancing tides.

I am tired from the glint of smacked teeth and raised windows, of closed reflections and harsh sun on street-bred backs; exhausted from yearning for rays that beckon you outside only to swim in a malaise of comings and goings and growings and growlings of a city that has not enough candles inside. That spends all its light on churning busy-bodies until you are confused, a moth not to its flame where it may die in peace, but rather chasing distorted reflections of so many moons.

Alas, let me sleep.