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  Bedside  

  Family
  Vol III : issue 1

  Patricia M. Logue
  Bhishm Sahni
  Kamala Das
  K. Ramakrishnan
  
Jerry Pinto
  Only in Print

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Jerry Pinto

Earth colours on paper by CHANDANA HORE

I watch your face hanging open

Your warm wet mouth, your tongue flickering

Your spectacles grimy, your hair alive

Your forehead broad and wasted

Your cheeks alternately limp and bulging.

I do not need to watch your body

I have tended it often

Eased its pains with capsicum plasters

And prayed I was easing your mind too

With my litany fresh off the shelf:

Tegretol, Anxol, Espazine, Hexidol

Neurobion, Arrovit, Shelcal, Diazepam.

I cross your palm with powder

And pray, entire rosaries and masses,

satsangs and majlises, that you should not

Tell my future.

When I last lifted you off the floor

You were sitting close to my bed.

You did not expect to fall

Not under the knowing eyes of

Mother of Perpetual Succour.

I direct your gaze to the falling slipper

Of the child in her arms.

It falls, you told me some lives ago

Out of fear of the foretold future

I understand that slippage

But you? You live it.

Some nights you let me sleep in patches

I have grown used to it, relying on my

Ability to turn you off, and your pain.

I have survived to write these lines

To turn you, baste you and marinate

Our twinned lives into a poem.

But I wish I could keep

My heart unguilty, my love fresh

My thoughts wide-ranging, my eyes new

and that wound — inflicted on days of empathy —

raw and open.

What happened to the in-betweens?

The Erle Stanley Gardners and the Agathas?

The monotonous card games and the inedible food?

The forced Vicks-ings and the rage of Tiger balm?

Did we take them away

With our conscientious powder formulae?

There are many options I know

The glaze of stillness and the panacea of

forgetfulness

Or the black snot that stained granny’s kerchief

A trust in the occult, born of grief.

A faith in God, born of habit.

So many options and I, on auto-pilot

Cross your palm with powder.

Outside, I turn my face to the sun

Laugh, play, pun, work, entertain, function.

I know from a few grim examples

And one bright shining one

How the world fetes facades.

I have grown used to seeing the one I devised

Reflected in your laughter-silted eyes.

Inside, I shrink from metaphor and magic

I have no beliefs here, only a watchfulness.

My world condenses into an ink-stain

As your voice trails after me from room to room.

I made promises for you, standing in the toilet

By the skull of the Cyclops that drank my piss

I broke those promises, one by one

And know that is why I cannot love.

Mummy, find it in you to forgive me

And I will try to be bigger than my guilt

And forgive myself.

 

 
Jerry Pinto is a media professional and writer. He lives in Bombay