Art by Philip Pearlstein
Silence is a settled leaf. In the soft hum of the evening breeze, the tree discards a dead past, unnoticed by the storming world. And the pale yellow leaf, lifeless on its own, encircles, twists, sways and tumbles down on the concrete pavement. It is still and silence is stillness. But the problem is, I am unable to cope with this new unwanted harmony. The centre of my body feels hollow like a perfect circle with the right diameter has been taken out and oddly, instead of feeling light, I feel heavy as a corpse. Like my chest has to carry the weight of someone’s expectation to love in return.
Your undeclared absence created that hollowness I have been pointing at. So I use the same old trick, after every heartbreak, of shutting my eyes and reliving the best moments, again and again, till it fades in the sunset.
You were a collective of things
Old LP records, photographs, books,
The first tin advertisement on display,
Typewriters, black dial telephone
The big poster of Begum Akhtar with her tambura
[I can almost listen to her ghazal blending with the
Weed filled air in your bedroom, the aroma of her attar
And even her pan stained lips]
The avocado tree still peeping at our entangled bodies
Warm under the dark blue quilt
The antique ashtray with a bird to fetch a fresh cigarette
The old tiffin carrier
Match box covers, suitcase LP player
And what not!
Your clutter consumed me in inches and meters. What I treated initially as an unwanted mess became a kaleidoscope of stories. The house was a breathing poem. That 1500 sq ft of concrete carried a world bereft of mundanity, the scent of fallen rajnigandhas in the corner, a pulse away from the routine and a guffaw caught between the smileys. Everything that you bought had history, so carefully preserved for someone who could just listen and live an era in a fleeting moment. So, I visited you more in the pretext of love and you offered me to teach the language of antiquity.
This poem was first published in Poornima's poetry collection Strings Attached. You can follow her writing here.