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

senses: smell

She sells antipathy in every joint she rolls
When she walked over to the end of the street and entered the little store
Eyes raking for some barbeque sauce but the nose
Detected the marijuana
At the tip of her fingers was wrapped a wad of cash
(Earned by explosion)
Just happened to slip by to hold onto something much more rejuvenating
To her
To her senses
To her repugnance
The stale hot air resonated a shrillness coming from her heart
Repititiveness brought not the hair on the nape
To lay still
As she got to that which she was hooked
A conscious decision, a cruel nook
Back home she threw the plastic of jewels
So careless in her stride
Her home – a dump of invaluables
Herself being one voiced her pride
There was a stench of misery and hatred underlying what poverty cost
Her anger was directed to a calm that bust
She brought out the necessities the room had witnessed
Haphazard ingredients cooked to set alight
The fire inside her
Surrounding her
A miasma so pungent and distant
From what happiness smells of
The scrunched weed reached inside the nails of a hand she commanded
And the first puff she took exhaled destruction in the air
Screaming, you motherfucker
An idea it was so ludicrous to believe
That enmity had begotten even more from her
That smoke emitted charges
Desperate in the face of hope
But she continued living on the very smoke
That made her nose numb to all
But marijuana
And him
Her escape was not addiction but freedom from the stench
Of the air the greens spread
Right outside the window that won’t budge, jammed in
So maybe, life was a blunder
She chose to smoke with
Cursing without chagrin

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.

senses: touch

When I left the boy who liked me, I put behind the feeling like the universe was jealous
Of your eyes on me
The man who got inside of me next did not hold me
He did not kiss me softly to begin with, and look in my eyes
For what current the kiss brought over
He did not curl his hand, tilted, round my collarbone – gentle, possessive, passionate
His hands did not roam around my stomach in a soft tease before they settled
Where he wanted them planted
His lips travelled from down my neck to my breasts but could not
Trail it to my soul
There was no tickle as he breathed above my lower lip, biting it softly
The hair on the back of my neck did not rise as he whispered in my earlobe
His fingers did not deem the tiny black dot beneath my right breast as beautiful
Nor was the one close to my clit
When his fingers touched the inside of my leg, I did not feel
The hot mess you’d seen
I did not feel
Special
Uncontrollable
Loved
When he put himself inside me, there were so many things amiss
His eyes were not in mine but rolled upwards as he moaned, riddling out ecstacies
There was no free hand placed on the curve of my hip holding me up
All there was, was his ecstacy
And my epiphany
You told me I was beautiful – before, after, every time – just by looking into my eyes
He exclaimed, ‘fuck, that was hot’ and stabled his breathing
His breathing, oh his breathing, did not come close to the hitch in yours
Every time you held my hair a little tighter while you would cum
Every time you would touch me down and feel the pleasure as
Your name I sung out like poetry
Every time you wrapped your hand round my waist when I was asleep but restless
No, there was no hitch that shook my world with exuberance
All there was was lust and his fingers and my neck
and i realised
Never did i touch him the way I touched you
Never did i stroll my hands across his back, his shoulders, his muscles,
Committing the skin to memory
Never did i pull his hair back, teasing a little every time he was to kiss me
And then kiss him hard
Never did i stroke him with the gentle spin you loved
Never did i kiss him everywhere, singing just how perfect he was
Never did i make him feel special
The galaxy down to my knees when I was with you, and only a bed shriek every time afterwards
Is what it took to make me understand
Sex was nothing if not noticed, cared for, touched, yearned, felt
The passion that burst out of me, with you, never did with anyone
Replacement was far off the list, you you you
You were the touch I craved, you became the love i sheltered
And with you I felt ethereal
When I looked at you, I realised how delicate care is
All the purity I see now is you.