The world is a cruel place.
For him,
it was a matter of time
before his flight from
the godown
gave him freedom
at land’s end.
Half-grown grass,
clouds of foam on the river,
fireflies in suspended motion
telling him he could live here,
just live
but had to scavenge
among these litters
or eat raw fish
caught straight from the water.

He could cook them,
only if he
found enough fire
to last through tentative,
sundry nights.

This was a less cruel
part of  coming of age
and the scenery of the old,
storied school
was History and Time
in a nutshell for him.
It was open land
where five men came
to clean the river,
bathing, sleeping, washing
their marks of the day.
They lived here till sunset
allowed them to embrace
their damp skins,
soap each others’ bodies
and walk upland among
low-lying trees
and bushes
to scan this horizon
as if for an unconscious vigil
before night entered
with the blue-painted
cargo trains on the sturdy bridge
and silence fell upon this piece
of rough and tumble land
like organs piping before Mass.


keeps his distance,
knowing wolves in the shape
of men
looking for young boys like him
at barren spots like these.
He hides
within the thin cluster of trees
that make a mini-forest
beyond these municipal limits.
It is the city still
and yet
so far from
man-made impositions.

Land’s end is a little like him.
Naturally beautiful
and safe from crowds.


is lucky
to have darkness
as an enigma
as he moves about free,
over shingles,
minor elevations
and goes into the river
to know what water
does to unburden
melancholy in those stark hours
where the body becomes
a resting place,
a parchment without words or thoughts.
takes these occasions
to lay on an elevated part
by the same river,
face down
as the moon glides like soft fingertips
over a body without a home
or burden,
a body without fear of immodesty
or exposure to the elements.


there’s a rustle now
behind the bushes,
a medium form spying you
and your beautiful body.

His two fingers
are making shapes in the air
or is he
attempting furtive contact?
There’s just two of you
clothed by night chimes
and batters of desire
to know each other,
not too hard to discern.
These rocks have both your spots,
in this trough for contented loners,
in the middle of nowhere.

He is not a ghost’s form
because he is approaching you,
lucid and discernible,
not coming out of prolonged
or a fog of hallucinatory
midnight dreaming,
in these intervening hours.

He stands now,
facing you
yet you don’t move
an inch.
You stay resting on your spot
by the river,
intent on not stirring
until this human contact
jumps out of its
to become real.

Is his form
that of an intruding stranger?
Is he
or horror’s figments
amassing its own body?
Is he a harbinger
of affection, love
even friendship
or a desire
kept half-lit,
in isolation
where men can hold
each other,
either to smother affection’s
true rite of passage
or give in,
without violence and harm,
to something
approaching a recognised
common ground,
for laying next to each other
in peace and silence?


Don’t resist
Don’t revolt
when the body
moves in the direction
of water,
water that absolves.
Sleep side by side,
touch each others’ fingertips
and go face down
in the simplest gesture of repose
on the grass-covered mound
just above these smaller shingles.
Sleep like two
long-lost spirits
now finding their spot here,
without violence and harm,
back to approaching
a recognised common ground.

Then move about
one after the other
or alone
over the cushioned grassland
when monsoons
take subdued charge
and the river’s foaming clouds
overflow beyond irrigation tunnels,
leaving behind a water body
where you see your faces
for the first time
in an image away
from mere suffering.

Become nature
till the green
colours this unity
among only two.

Let them see you both
as cowherds,
or naked walker-wanderers.

I see you both
as a world away
from ghosts
that line
abandoned solitary tracts
beyond these municipal limits.

That should suffice,
for now.


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