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Day 117 by Annika Taneja

Art by Pieter de Hooch

Day 117

I must confess:

I’ve begun to miss the dirt.

The fine, loose brown dust of my patch of earth.

The gentle waft that can only come from a stranger’s armpit.

The gurgling phlegm that claws its way up an uncle’s throat.

The red stained spit that soars in a long, graceful arc.

The musk of a thousand people that gets bottled in a cramped metal tube.

The stickiness of public floors that comes without warning or explanation.

The staid and steady sewers that simmer silently below the surface.

The leaf that has found itself in the most unnatural of places.

The half tattered plastic chair that embraces a dozen sweaty backs daily with nothing but love.

The packet of chips that threw itself out of a moving car.

The fly that gleefully warms its hands over a piping hot kachori.

The fine and gentle mist that a stranger’s sneeze sends across my bare, fearless face.

The feeling, that feeling, of really having been

outside, out in the world.

Of coming home damp and dirty and sweaty,

and watching a whole city spiral down the drain

at the end of a long day.

I must confess:

Even the dirt is precious when taken away.

Annika Taneja is a freelance writer, editor and translator of poetry based out of New Delhi. 

Instagram: @annikataneja


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