senses: taste

Roasted words on my tongue taste of

Pepper, salt, chili

You

I cook them up in agony and blend it

Under my tongue, mixed with the saliva

Leaving specks of cubes stuck in my teeth

The same way I can’t rid myself

Of you

And the chai that I sip through after

Weeping in startled dreams all night long

To rise to the monsoon droplets on the window

Burns through the tongue

As my tongue burnt yours that night

When I spoke.

Now, I cook. I cook

I imitate recipes from all over the internet

My fingers cut from the sharp knifes

I mix in spices and herbs and cheeses

Cook meat over hot grills

But most often I find myself

Remembering the taste of you

And trying to plate it

I would eat with messy hands

What comes instead is the bitterness

The char of my words seared with blackness.

Your taste, I can’t recreate

My tongue refuses to recognise any other.

.

[Side note – I started a food blog: khanapalette.wordpress.com.]

A little too familiar with death

I’m a little too familiar with death

No, not the pain

Not the tremor of turning into ash

But ive always believed

When a person dies, they’ve gone

To no longer realize that they are dead

But the ones who see a corpse turn white

Those are the ones who know

What death does

No, not what it means

What it does

When I turned eleven my parents were away

Maa slept next to me

Woke me up wishing me birthday

When I was fifteen I cried

I was in an alien place and I

Needed a touch that loved

But my mother wouldn’t come to me

No, she stayed with my maa

And I was so angry

I refused to speak with her

For weeks

The summer after when I went home

The clouds slipped from above

A car took me to the hospital

And my grandma was there

Because cancer sucks

A few months later

A night kept me up

I studied for my exam

Memorising bits and pieces

The other hand stroking maa’s head

And in a stupendous faze

That morning before school

I told her: I’m ready to let you go

Her fight had exhausted her

I didn’t know she would hear me

So when I came with a good grade

In a traffic that subdued the joy in my step

I saw maa lying there

She let go.

The little that remained I kept

Next to my heart, in my ribcage

Two years later

I let it go

She rose from the ground

Of my old house

In all her serenity

A good fight

No, a strong fight

And now, the whisk of it

Is coming back again

As nani lies on the bed

Of stagnant artificial oxygen

Exhaling empty medicine bottles

Her arms and legs I cant make out

Just yesterday she would cook me

The food that won her titles

And now recognition skips her

No, expression does

A reaction does

Something I’m craving

Ive seen it before

And I don’t want to again

The familiarity of death

Has struck me once

A punch gloved with nostalgia

Right on my left cheek

I can’t stop crying

I don’t want to let go

How selfish am I

I can’t stop crying

Twenty four hours worth of damage

I slept through the past twenty four hours
No foul play involved, no drugs, no alcohol
Sole drudgery at the end of my lips slightly parted
and weakness in the hair unwashed discarded
Here’s what I missed:
My parents’ distress, wondering if I’d begotten depression
They’ve witnessed a past in me not too reluctantly
My mother spoke her anguished cries to anyone who would give her
A cane to build on few lines of help for me
My father soothed her but sat by my stomach
And looked at me speculating where he went so wrong
That his daughter grew up in a lone world of thoughts
And chewed down her finger tips to battle with a weakened heart
My brother went out for a game not much worry accounted for
He knew of my sleeping habits, not of my piling thoughts
Beyond my family was the curiosity of the neighbour
They didn’t give a fuck, just unnecessary judgment harboured

The real cognitions dug in a stone grave
Only the one person in my life had access to
I slept through twenty four hours
And my husband fought my battles unarmed
Two seventy two minutes he spent in agony
No sleep he besought no comfort he partook
No business he could attend to, he jumped on loose hooks
The bus took a ticket to its destination, his did not match
He went searching for home, but his was she a bed did snatch
What came next was a blur in hopes of escape
All he wanted was an out, to smoke he raised
It tore open his health through his breath
His exhale screamed apologies and wreckages glazed
The most devastated passed by a doctor’s diagnosis
The gray cells reinforced ‘you monster‘ only the one who slept could repress
Hatred – his illusion owned – brimmed up to his chest
Left all caress out only shackled duress
When seventeen hours had crossed the third pill was down his throat
He waited to set all correct, the path I’d bethrown
His eyes moaned in turmoil and his hands shook to motion
An undoing was all he wanted, a ruckus after all love
All he did was be our pride, our strength, our success, our soul
Anger claimed his effort by the neck and pulled strings through the hole
Twenty two hours I blamed him from my asleep silence
He called and called, should’ve penned my acid timeless
I slept through damages a day could commit but most I recovered by my own
The hurt I passed to my husband was cruel, only I who discharged
Twenty four hours’ worth of pain I wrung on a soul, pure, enlarged

The unforgiven dying

What if I didn’t tell you I was sick?
What if I slipped on headaches and migraines
And turned my stomach over with vomit
But just enveloped these tiny things in
Little papers of dustless wind

What if I didn’t tell you I was sick?
What if we went up the stairs to the rooftop
Instead of taking the lift
And my hazed breath wasnt just the lack of it
The spine no longer needed by ragged picks

What if I didn’t tell you I was sick?
What if the kiss you surrendered became
My cry of help
Walls spoke black instead of sunlight
When it was just a wish unfulfilled
An errand I ran to
In the deepest of the pits

What if I didn’t tell you I was sick?
What if your repulsion I cooked out of a stomach bug
A body shrivelled, a heart unplugged
Simple fevers, minor concussions
Pulse paused at youngest to faint

What if I didn’t tell you I was sick?
What if my fear paved routes not a leg astray
Facing an end of an era never knowing
If this legend is designed like one in your head
Would you miss me? Would
The blanket cover both your legs, not one
Eyes open to my face on a screen
Would your hand reach out
Your thumb on my cheek
Your heart with my beat
Dead, yet?

What if I didn’t tell you I was sick?
Would you forgive me?
I wouldn’t.

senses: voice

I called your name out loud so many times
I called your mobile, your landline, even your grandmother’s, such was my plight
A name I’d found a home in – a big bed, two toothbrushes, some macaroons, two hearts
I’d screwed up, big time; I am stupid, so stupid
To hurt you, to make you cry – hell, you cared so much to have cried at my sins

I called your name when I saw you at the metro station
To say a quick hello, slow goodbye
You recognised my voice, my heart, and you ignored it: why wouldn’t you
I’d hurt you, and I’m so sorry
The next time, I waited for you outside your class for two long hours
I called your name with every shred of hope in me left after the barren sun’s caprice, the guard’s malice, the street callous
You saw me, and I swear I saw surprise in your eyes
But you walked ahead, talking of neurotic tendencies
Intended brushes, here and there, to get you to understand
The depth behind my apology
The maple syrup and honesty in my voice as I spoke your name
The night I first met you, I rehearsed that very name, a wide smile gracing my uncouth face every time I would whisper it
And you told me later, ‘no rehearsal, you perfect it’
If i wasnt lying, I’d tell you right now
Your name sings on my tongue like it never has before, like it never will again, and with it, now,
Is attached
I am sorry, I am so sorry
I waited in front of your class, day after day, and stood in front of that very guard,
Communicating with the piercing sun
All I did was ask for forgiveness
I called your name as you laughed at the festival
I called your name while you drank with your friends
I called your name as you collected your tea
I called your name as you bit on your dessert
I called your name as you read your poetry
I called your name as you hummed Linkin Park
I called your name all the time
I made a mistake, but seeking your eyes, every time I call your name
Drenches me
Livens me
And yesterday
You reacted: an year of stopping you, you paused for me
And you beheld, ‘stop,’
And your eyes beheld, ‘please,’
And your hands beheld, ‘this hurts,’
And i called your name
But it died on my tongue.

Relapse

To think I’m doing nothing but disintegrating, at this point, over something that has muscled me up, is capricious in the most futile sense. Shit happens, and nothing is ever going to stop it from adding anxiety in that repetitive restlessness under my blanket, and I accept that more truly than my own capabilities, but to be writhing like this makes me feel weak.

Hitherto, like the sun that burns the eyes after having strained those very agents the entire night brazen, all I want is to shut down. I have my support, I have my will power, and I have a brain that has to go on a self abort mission every time I pretend to grow myself.

Moisture begotten, I relapse

Once, twice, ninety eight times a day

Boiling tea helps not the senses consuming it

Currents paralyse those very hands

And the tea cup falls to aftershock

After all, it’s nothing but demise

Etched on every coin I’ve earned

I put bullocks behind turning it over

To witness a curiosity on my drug enticing me to

Blink twice at the newspaper thrown in the balcony

At six without fail

Because the usuals seem abrupt

Screaming galaxies drawn of charcoal

Light shown twenty minutes back, but I withhold now

And there’s hair fallen around my legs

A small frustration scarred above my right eyebrow

Volcanoes erupting in narrowed eyes

And i relapse six storeys below.

Ash burn

Two:thirty five on a tuesday noon sounds harmless

Breathes more drowsy, perturbed

And twenty nine seconds later the iced tea

shakes from a breathless grasp

Eyes open to dream in a shock

Which haunts day by day, night by night

I sit with a dread, fire erupting everywhere

I call you – unreachable – unattainable

But aren’t you always? I’ve learnt it

‘Fucking run, run afar’ the walls tell me

Beneath my finger nail is ash, cold, from the flicker

I keep it stored in a jar now, right next to my toothbrush

The slap comes harder at night when I think of it

The cigarette that slipped down the emergency exit

Went nowhere as far as she did

Throbbing it over me, first, as a sign of hallelujah

She sings, ‘Hallelujah’, she sings

I kept her in the covers of a bundle, a friend basking warmth

She cut it dry with the side of her teeth

And tore through me, if only I am willing to submit the power

But I have walls of lie to cement

And so I sing, ‘Hallelujah’, I sing