My dress is made of rain
my heart a hooting pair of owlets
perched atop a banyan’s hat
Dusk has dropped a curtain,
a mask has slipped.
Come morning you don dappled joy
in polka dots and sunshine print.
A faded pair of Levi jeans, stilts for legs,
or a climbing pair of eucalyptuses -
slender marbled limbs,
You strut besides the lion’s enclave
The garden hangs its monsoon frocks –
trees, climbers, flowers, frog -
a score of puddles and sky-falls raise,
with ordinary worm and amoeba,
With mongrels you cross the road
and enter the Arts campus at four.
It raises its dome and wags a tail.
Floral grill gates patterned to protect -
Systems ancient – keep the Faculty intact.
Free as rows of seasonal rice –
tulips and a tank of water lilies design
garlands of restless choice.
Fluttering indecisions -
pigeons pendulum from bajra to tub.
Their friends in green frocks
are content however,
to peck the soil at Shiva’s shrine.
Praised be the elephant headed God,
Ganesha gambols through Vadodara’s veins,
flaunting with fetish, his feet to Bolly beats,
On truck backs and tempos he rides
off for an annual dive -
his ritual fun with frogs and fish and more.
The city arteries are agog,
O elephant-headed god O!
Through narrow streets, rain-washed,
moves His cake-and-carnival walk.
Brown men in wet skin and girls in skirts that cling and cling,
they frisk and flounder, they jump they joust.
The river of joy’s a-brim!
And burst the hunger of hope.
O Vighana-harataa*, O G’pati!
Sweeper of pain and paucity!
Off with the dregs and dogs of streets,
off with beggars, the teachers,
off with paper and plastic…
and all that titters with the litter, let sink.
Learn well your lessons,
fashion yourself in buffalo-hide,
gulp down with pepsi or diet coke,
coins of complaint and ego.
Your soiled Ganapati-soul,
you hold in a bowl at city crossings.
Sometimes you curl up at railway stations,
or eat bananas on uneven sidewalks.
There are days when you even become a girl
selling lemons and gulab* and marigold.
Immersed at last
in his liquid tomb, the Ganapati
and a host of aquatic kin.
In the shadows of the king that rides a dark horse,
the drenched city laughs,
it burps and releases a foul smelling fart.
Drums roll back upon tide-tongues,
we dunk him so we may live.
Visarjan is our insurance to wellbeing.
*Visarjan – ceremonial immersion of the idol of Lord Ganesha / Ganapati.
*Vighana-harata – slayer of vighana i.e. slayer of hurdles and difficulties.
*Gulab – a rose.