dear friend Nafisa
garbed in Burka, like wet bird
took flight when it rained
The golden flour landslides on my fingers. I caress
fresh with memory of the previous night, lumps
encrust on nails as I slough away the locusts in the air:
morning thick with hurt, pain. A lifetime of rolling rotis,
hundreds of them that puff like my child’s cheek
purple with sun on the face. Knead
knead till the dough is soft like my breast,
dimpled with touch, a tremble that only he can see.
I pinch a small ball, roll my patience flat,
trim the edges, throw the shred into the sink
to watch it bloat with moisture.
I looked around –
glasses, bowls, cups and mugs,
large pans stacked one above the other.
They held her breath,
the onion fumes still swirled years later
from her locked up kitchen.
I chose the plate I ate from
the kettle cracked at the spout
the pan where oil grime sat stubborn
the coasters with tea stains that she left
and all that she had put away of her mother’s.
I arranged these in a carton,
brought them to my kitchen.
You are ready to leave,
time trickles through the windpipe,
heart bleeds with memories that the mind can’t hold,
skin burns, breast a dried peach,
girdle of pain wraps where the silk draped once.
The sparrow flies from the attic, abandons the nest it built
among the old photo albums I had stacked away;
the crow sits at the window cocking its head,
its feathers reflect the pale moon;
the old sandal tree in the garden rots at its roots.
I sit at the porch with Garuda Puranam,
watch the glow in the eastern sky after a night’s vigil.
A white mist hangs over my house,
the exit of a soul is no mean task and
I am earmarked to witness the spectacle.