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Poetry Month: FRAGRANT


you hear the word fragrant

and you think of floral remains

on temple premises

and bottles of perfume

and the words

fray - frazzle - ruffle / grunt - groan - tone / vagrant - flagrant - in flagrante delicto

and how you have now

been caught red-handed

trying to pluck out a poem

that is simply unwilling

to bloom tonight



Grandmother always smelled

of fresh sandalwood paste,

grandfather, too much sweat

Father came reeking cigarettes

And mother, she smelled like

Sambhar powder and Ginger.


Men in this house tell us

that they try their best,

women pray a lot.

Me and this city, we are in

a perpetual state of summer

craving for childhood pieces,

coral jasmines,

and winter mornings.


They say history repeats,

I never agreed

but I have started to smell

like Sambhar powder and fresh Ginger.


First rain

Crushed cardamoms

A rope of mullapoo on her hair


Orange peel

The raat rani in the nocturnal air.


A baby’s head

Chopped basil

Melted chocolate

Freshly laundered sheets on the bed.


Sautéed garlic

Roasted corn on a chulla


Smouldering looks

A crate of haapus slowly ripening inside a room.

freshly minted money,

a room full of books

A room full of books.


When I feel particularly low

I think of you

And, immediately, I am enveloped by smells that take me back to a different time

Smelly socks, long cues and large bags of garbage

Pretzels, banana pudding and chicken-over-rice from the Halal cart on W 53rd

Clear blue skies, Bethesda fountain and the carousel at Bryant Park

I think of the fragrant flowers on a summer morning at Central Park

And that smell of freshly roasted coffee at my favourite Brooklyn cafe

And the first snows that covered the subway tracks (how can I ever forget that?)

When I feel particularly low

I think of you, New York City

And am transported home with a bundle of fragrances


Out in the garden,

Back home

We had a beautiful tree

Of curry leaves

Whose smell spread all over.

The leaves were used,

In our kitchen often

In many dishes;

Poha for breakfast,

Dal for lunch

And lemon rice for dinner.

The curry leaves, and that tree

Were an integral part.

We left that house,

Moved to a new place

And the tree was also left behind.

But the leaves, their aroma

And taste,

They stayed.

To this day,

Whenever its used in cooking

The house is fragrant


With same old smell.

And suddenly I’m standing

In our old garden,

Under the same old tree,

With the same old fragrance!


i once told you

how i loved the smell of books

so you took me to a library

to whisper your way

into my heart


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