Monday, March 03, 2008

Secularism in India

He swats a fly,
belches, looks up
to her burqa-clad smile.
"Do you have underwears?"
"Men or Ladiez?"
"Do I look men to you?"
"Sorry! Babban Ladiez...
Ah! What size?"
"Ninety-five! Ummm...what colours do you have?"
"Blue, green, and brown!"
"All men's colours!" she frowns.
"What colour do you want?"
"Babban! Nintey-five, ladiez, pink!"
"Do you think it will fit me?"
The baniya flashes a toothless grin,
"How can I say that...I mean..."
"Badtameez! Look at the way you're spilling!"
She slams the counter, stamps a roach,
storms out of the shop.
The Baniya nevertheless wise calls out,
"Madam! Please do stop again at my shop!"

This poem is for Mahmood Farooqui. It is inspired by an anecdote he told me. :-)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Closely Observed Trains

Would you believe it
that "Closely Observed Trains"
was a film's name
in Nineteen Sixty-eight?
It was critically acclaimed,
an Academy Award winner,
even before I was conceived
one early winter.

But four decades later
I am changing slowly.
There are white streaks
in my sideburns,
a morbid fear creeps up
when I meet loved ones
as if one of us will pop off
before next such loved moment.

I recently discovered
my body speaks too.
I am distinct from it,
I am not what it is.
And now I sleep nursing dreams
of six-pack abs, youthful hair,
of rising early, jogging anywhere...

But strangely when I drive on the stretch
saddled between Nizamuddin and Yamuna's stench
I closely observe trains that I do not intend to catch.

© February 18, 2008 Dan Husain