The Invaders

Feasts and hallowed days spin on orbits
seldom grazing mine, till your voice swings
past meridians and meteorites
(Insat 2-B and Mobistar abetting)
this Saturday noon to hum Happy Holi
into the unwary whorls of a left eardrum.

I could weigh the vernal sunbeams
in those notes, bronzed on a bonfire
where good blooms in twice-born glee;
count the koel warming up behind –
the first chamber music concert this year
on a fourth-floor South Delhi balcony;
nearly touch flecks of gulaal tinting you
into a metonym for tropical spring.

 The call ends, like other things.
But echoes of a koelled clarinet,
of your voice and its joyful salute,
snag on the woven blue rose stems
shading my kitchen window, perch on high
pelmets, recoil, reproduce and let
loose dissident whims:

 To sift ochre, emerald, indigo
from the festive phonemes and smear
an ashen, unshaven sky above;

 find water-balloons to hurl at chimney-potted
rooftops, a mass christening in cerise;

 teach thumri to ungainly pigeons lumbering
on the girders outside – for a mehfil in mid-air….

 I switch off the cell, and reheat tagliatelle
instead, adding paprika, pesto,
carrots and capsicum for a whisper
of insane flavour – it’s Holi, after all.

‘From Bearings (HarperCollins India, 2009)’

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