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Those Small Hours

MUMMY, she screams,
Her voice loud, stricken, immediate,
drilling, like a trepan,
into your just begun nightmare;
stirred and shaken, you imagine
her fall down, from the bunk bed,
having hiked up sleep-walking;
an earthworm wriggle, in the folds of her blanket,
having crawled slowly from the bathroom;
her forehead, cut open and bloodied,
having struck the wall as she roiled in her nightmare;
but while your brain weighs up
the many unlikely possibilities,
her mother

is already by her side,
having navigated, in perfect certainty,
the fraught path across the living room,
it is as if her daughter’s scream gathered
the chairs, crayons and toys together,
frightening them into a heap to a side;
soon you hear a nose blow
once, twice, thrice, break, repeat;
utensils rattle in the kitchen; a toilet flush;
a reassuring conversation in the dark;
all seems well; you close your eyes,
and before you know it, nod off again
to find yourself

in a room
with Leonardo Di Caprio, watching his totem
spin, wondering if it stopped or if it didn’t,
when a space craft lands close by,
inside, Matthew McConaughey rages
at a fragile Anne Hathaway,
his friend having aged twenty one years
in the five minutes it took
your wife

to return to bed and awaken you
with a ‘kick’
“I am not sending her to school today”,
which you know, after nine long years,
is a question pretending to be statement,
so you finally do wake up,
and proceed to gently talk
her out of her perpetual worries.

When the Brahman stayed a while

A wise and ancient Brahman
Traveling on his time machine
Chanced on my digital footprint
In row 911 of his eternal database
And humbly asked me to teach
Him the secret of friendship;
But I am nobody, I told him,
Showed him a few others instead,
Stunned by all that he saw, he
Marvelled at our amicable age,
Where any which way he turned,
He found himself surrounded
By so many likeable people,
Sharing and chirping gloriously
All their favourite moments
Seemingly in endless supply;
“Ah, the age of enlightenment
Is finally here”, he announced,
Deciding to settle amongst us
He began to create with gusto
An assortment of new avatars
To rebuild the primal connection
He suddenly felt with this land
That he had for long renounced.

I messaged him a few weeks later
And he sent me a cute little hug
followed by a quote in Book Antiqua
“My friend, I finally know Maya,
and I much prefer it to a troll”.

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Rahul Gandhi poetry yojana

In my town, they build
the metro rail for a decade
or two, drainage pipes
half a kilometer long
for five years, maybe
six, flyovers that solve
all our traffic woes, in case
you haven’t noticed, and
in those years – two
prime ministers, three
chief ministers and four
councillors impressed
upon me a long list
of grand achievements
named after several Gandhis,
contributions so magnificent
I have come to believe
their spirits arrive
when I am fast asleep, to perform
herculean welding operations
on cold metal and hard steel, for
only that can explain
the speed at which we
are leaving Singapore behind.