RAC To Banaras



I’m not much of a storyteller you know

rather I can tell you a tale in tidbits

of sweat dripping off behind the neck into the cold bleak night

of the feet that wrestle against the cushion in sleep

or hands that hang out sleepless writhing for some more sleep

of advances and random stops of the train

like passions running both hot and stale

of the full bright orange moon dancing all along the train

of children crying, of men sleepless, staring, shifting into each other

wrapped up in warm blankets rugged and rare

or lying on thin newspapers like on left over cold hay


I’m also not much of a smooth talker at will

but I can listen, long, conversations so brazenly bare

of whispers lying lay in cold misty mid air

i can make out the change in accents so accentuated with care

hear the loud uncle announcing at every station how late the train is today

or hear for instance the cold wind seeping in through closed windows

forcing its way through any naked part of the body

to the noses whose bleeding also i can hear


I’m not much of a binger of food on trains i must say

but I can smell the salt from the pickle before i taste

i can smell the moongphali burning in coal with rage

at Allahabad at 5:09 i can already smell the cold morning breezy haze

in the toilet i can smell the urine that was stepped on barefoot in haste

by the old aunty who lost her way back to her relatives so dear

i can smell the bidis burning in my nostrils furiously from far

I can smell the socks too close, worn too many nights in a row

but i can smell warmth too off gestures smiling my way


it is just that i am disposed to a mizaaj-e-takalluf  if I call it may

good company is but always a pleasure and i’m hoping is here to stay