Once when I was eight
and my sister seven, tensions boiled over
in a game of hide & seek
& I slapped her. Thwack.
Her head shook while streams on her cheek
loamed into deepening red.
She didn’t talk to me for a week.
No chocolates, no sorry, no nothing.
I even did her homework for a day. Still nothing.
She finally spoke when she found me
crying in a corner after India had lost a cricket match.
Today, years later she isn’t picking up my calls
& I’m here wondering if she’s busy
or simply pissed with me.
I haven’t seen her in long & in this hour of prolonged dusk,
I’m trying to summon facts on her.
But as I pace on my balcony, phone in hand,
watched by a sun rasping blood across a browning sky
all I gather is the colour of her slapped cheek.
And how on reconciliation after a week, she had said
I just wanted to see you cry.
Sambar on my shoes
I spot you in the cafeteria sitting with a faceless stranger
while I await my dosa at the desolate counter
you sip what seems like watermelon juice although
I’m sure my blood is just as gruesome and thick
that must be how your cheeks are so red and faint
like blushes of sky at dawn attracting birds of fury
and strangeness unknown I see some wrens beak you playfully
the crimson spreads through your neck like a field of clover
the stranger inundated with anticipation he crosses his legs
underneath the table when you let out a laugh
I head back to work my appetite punctured my spirit flensed
my dosa tray trembles in the tremors of discovery
buried fears don’t nibble they swallow
I try to tell myself it was probably someone else
but I find incriminating evidence when my colleague points out
continents of sambar on my white converse shoes