The Winter Child’s Song

I put the star up on the tree and look around to see the glitter, golden and silver, clinging on to the black and white woollen geometric patterns on my sweater. Every year, some of the glitter falls off, and every year, I put some more on. I crouch against the back of the sofa and wriggle my fingers into the handle of my mug, curling them up against the warmth. The smell of coffee mixed with the cold and dry leaves – this is winter, the smell I want to trap in a jar and save up forever. Instead I have to make do with simple remembrance.

It is that time of the year, the one I wait for every remaining day. It is the time I feel the most hopeful, when naïve faith beats any tiny bit of cynicism I might have built up. All the days of locking myself up, heart breaking and making, all the shaking catches up with me, but for once, everything is okay. If only for a day. If only for a moment. It is okay.

And I know this is a skinny love, it ends too soon. So I remember it all – the tinsel on my shoulder, the bokeh lights on the ceiling and that smell, that smell that I am not allowed to keep to myself – and I remember them dearly, just to last another year.

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Unsullied

There is a book that lies on one of my bookshelves that I will never open again.
The yellow cover will only become yellower.
Dust will settle on the edges of the paper and stay there.
This is the only change it will see.
Soon it will smell differently,
Older.
But I will never know this,
Because I will never smell it again.
There is a book that lies on one of my bookshelves that I will never open again.
Its spine will never see a crease.

I never finished reading it to you.

The Motherlode

The little girl looked into his crinkled eyes as he took her to a time when he was young – a land he had never seen before, the lives he would inevitably change because that is who he always was. He was a tale of love lost and love embraced, the world conquered in a way only he knew how. He wouldn’t tell, until years later to that little girl, that he was a little scared too.

And he had those eyes, dark, yet not so much as to not be able to decipher the warmth of brown; a storyteller’s eyes from another century. He didn’t know then but his stories would save a little girl he loved dearly. And yet, his eyes kept just one secret from her – that they were saved for someone.

She walked across a land she had never seen before, past the lives she wanted to change someday. She wasn’t so little anymore; cigarette burns marked her heart in patterns so intricate that somehow it looked beautiful. She would have been a lone soul if not for those crinkly eyes whose last words to her were, “You’re my favourite girl”. So she mouthed her letters to the wind and the rivers, knowing that they would reach him; it was, after all, her turn to be the storyteller.

She didn’t know yet. She had his eyes.

~A

Hiraeth

 

Dadu,

Someone told me that through restlessness is born creation.
I have a restless heart and soul. (You knew that. You saw that.)
I’ve always had, and the only way I can make sense of this world is through words.
We’re all waiting to be heard. Open mics, a breezy veranda, echoing classrooms.
But you,
You listened.

Our poetry was different. It was quiet. It was brimming with dreams. Our dreams.

With you, everything made sense.
You’re the only word I’ve ever needed.

There is now a permanency in the absence of that word,
And I try not to cave in, but I know I will sometimes.
I’m doing my best.
I’ll see you soon.

Your loving granddaughter

The strangers in this city

Today, while my friends and I were walking down the streets of Calcutta, I saw a woman with her son walking on the pavement. The little boy was holding a raw coconut, bigger than both his palms could properly carry, with more care than he would give to even a Hotwheels truck. They walked up to a lady in tattered rags sitting at the end of the pavement and the woman looked at her son and said, “Go on”. He held it out to the lady. I saw the look on her face as she exclaimed. And I saw the look on the little boy’s face as well. And I can’t get it out of my memory.

We don’t do this enough.

The playgroup in my street