Published in Spinning Jenny, 2010.
What are your intentions regarding the ginger cat sitting on the wall,
the clock ticking carefully away, the solitude
of my ripped skin? How do you intend to deal with
silence, familiar walls guarding an echoing space, unheeding strangers
walking through streets that were mine?
Do they haunt you: the fetid air of Farmgate with its worn footpaths,
its insane monkey crowds, the tree-lined walkways
at Dhaka University, the crows that take flight
in the green calm of Public Library evenings, the sky-high diamond
kites of the Old Town, dirt on my feet
as we traverse these stepping stones to desire?
Can you see him: the dreadlocked, bearded, mad old man
(his followers carrying bundles of bread
and bananas) as he walks and walks barefoot along the broad avenues so
car-choked that traffic is synonymous with standstill?
Through your feet I’ve discovered another city hidden within mine.
the orange-yellow crowds at Boi Mela on the first day of spring
are not yours, as aren’t the lakeside vultures eyeing taut young flesh,
lemon-tea and poetry at TSC, the Nilkhet cubbyhole stores
peddling worlds of willing blue flesh, unbridled
hope, the young couples in hooded rickshaws all tongues and hands
All these are mine and mine alone: the coinage of
my distant grief.
Fool that I am,
I will seek the broad avenues of this city
hoping to see it in a different light –
when the sudden storms of Boishakh bang shut the windows,
when the waterlogged city streets make Dhaka impassable
when the clear Sharat sky sings it’s song of impossible days
when city smog turns into the dawn fog of winter.
And when the discordant calls to prayer bellow
across the evening sun
and your voice no more echoes in my mind
to what shall this city of mine be rendered in darkness and design,
What can it all mean when you no longer know the way to
the blocked alleyway of my heart?