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Winter Knuckles, Summer Legacies by Shayoni Thakkar

Art by Atreyee Basu

January crashes his car again tonight

And our neighbourhood cat

Slinks underneath a parked car.

Sparrows chirp, misty dawns.

Electronic devices chime, updated relationship statuses.

As if we are running out of time in the cold,

When the days begin taking their dying breaths.

Crumbling Mumbai chawls juxtaposed

To glass buildings reaching to scrape

The bottom of the blazing sky.

The sun skinny dips into the horizon

Like a biscuit half-dipped in a cup of chai.

Nani-ma says I drink tea like her Nani-ma:

“You finish the tea but leave the empty cup warm.”

And there is a lesson in warmth hidden here, somewhere.

But what do I know?

All I know is the primal need to touch.

The rim of teacups, the edge of a pair of lips.

Quivering lips, soft flesh.

Awkward fingers around the warm empty cups, intimate jaws. Knuckles of two hands belonging

To two separate bodies sitting

Hesitantly on opposite ends of cold table-tops.

Distances between stranger knuckles dying

Like the days in winter.

Pulling towards each other

Like bodies seeking summer warmth.

Fitting each other

Like jigsaw pieces in the grand scheme of things.

What are we but just our knuckles?

Looking for a stranger’s knuckles to fit into ours?

January crashes his car again tonight,

His knuckles white, looking

For someone to fill hollow spaces.

And our neighbourhood cat

Wraps herself around his ankles.

I sip chai from a cup that never goes cold, A legacy my great-great grandmother Left behind for me,

Be warm. Keep warm. Love warm.

Perhaps, this is the legacy I leave behind Loving the world and its knuckles warm In sweet summers, in bitter winters.

About the poet:

Shayoni is always stressed out, a cat mom, coffee-lover, and a “real” writer (for the most part)in no particular order. She is fond of the em dash (clearly), reading fiction, reading non-fiction to feel intellectual, and spends her time watching movies or web series to passionately discuss and dissect their characters and plot lines over text messages at 2:00 AM. An aspiring author, she generally writes about what she knowswomanhood, hope, warmth, love and all the stuff that makes us human. You can find her on Instagram @stressedmeowt

About the artist:

My name is Atreyee and I am a self taught illustrator and a teacher. I started doing watercolour illustrations during the first lockdown. It was a way to connect with my inner child,I acknowledge feelings, emotions, thoughts and needs of my child self through art.Most of what i draw is mundane memories of my childhood, like waking up early, getting a cup of tea like the adults in the house and seeing birds chirping outside or looking at bugs in our garden, discovering a grasshopper as big as your hand or napping in a cozy armchair.In the 90’s there were a lot of children’s books from Russia and China translated in Bengali filled with illustrations done by amazing artists,a Bengali bi monthly magazine called Anondomela and hand drawn animations on tv. They all have influenced my art style. You can find me on IG @_eeyerta

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