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Nupur Chowdhury Sep 2018
I log into the network of my self-esteem,
To see the hearts and the wows and the laughs flooding in.
A simple 'like' wouldn’t cut it anymore
‘Likes’ were so 2010, even 2010 was bored.

‘Cause that’s the zeitgeist of the age, you see,
A tendency to wear hearts on sleeves.
Loves and kisses are a dime a dozen,
With a million friends and followers double.

National debates and social justice petitions,
Real crises, distorted renditions.
High definition photos of disaster zones
Flash up against cat videos on every smart phone.

Snapchat filters do not lie,
Just tell a story of hours gone by;
Selecting the perfect background, the ideal shade
To express love on the dozen’th date.

But that’s the zeitgeist of the century,
A tendency to wear hearts on sleeves.
To document in minute detail, with extensive pictorial evidence
Clockwork days of humdrum nonchalance.

And perhaps the generation that came before
Would call it vanity, vainglory, or something more.
But it ain’t like they were without their sins,
We didn’t invent tabloid columnists.

And now that we are at the end,
Let me sign off with this request:
Like, comment, and share your love
Let your heart fall out of your shirt cuff.
Nupur Chowdhury Sep 2018
Starry-eyed, I peeked at you through the shop window
The salesman’s toothy smile was nothing to your new-polished glow.
Your fake leather belts and stiff rubber soles
Made me dream of journeys sans mud, debris, and potholes.

The salesman whispered the ‘discounted rate’ delicately into my ears,
I glanced down at my slender wallet and blinked back my tears.
My feet slid into your gentle folds, a warrior coming home,
I was fifty short but in your embrace, the world I wished to roam.

Your beauty was unsurpassed, though the insoles did itch,
And your buckles gleamed like fairy dust, when the toe-cap pulled a stitch.
You helped me traverse wet sand heaps on under-construction roads
You stood with me on the roller-coaster of rush-hour public transport.

You were with me through the muddy puddles, of early monsoon
Caked with dirt, you stayed alert, through alleys litter-strewn.
You held me in your hard embrace on broken footpaths
Helped me slink through curfew gates not even the cat could surpass.

And I should have known, you were too good for this town
My fake leather sandals with the rubber soles of brown.
As I hung off the bottom step of the spasmodic minibus
Beneath me the buckles ripped, the outsoles gave up.

And I know that over the months, we’ve had our fights
And I’ve said more than once that you were overpriced.
Though it’s true that I think you could have done with a discount
Never let them tell you, our bond wasn’t profound.

All my neighbors know of your tales of valor
What you lacked in durability, you made up for in glamor.
So what if the heels were rickety and the insoles tickled?
The road to affordable beauty with potholes is riddled!
Nupur Chowdhury Sep 2018
Collided with you on my way to work,
No, it wasn’t a sign, wasn’t destiny’s quirk.
A swollen temple and a bruised nose
Do not herald a date, a wedding, or even a rose.

Dropped my books on my way to class,
Our fingers brushed when you knelt on the grass
Music blasting from the dorm on the second floor
I nodded my thanks and walked through the door.

I know they say it’s divine intervention,
But it’s more just my lack of hand-eye coordination.
I know you believe we were meant to be
But I need spectacles more than a relationship.

Now my scarf’s stuck to your wrist watch,
My hem’s ripped, your buckle’s botched.
I knew I shouldn’t have bought the lace
Oh ****! Did you think this was decreed by fate?

Spilled my coffee on your shirt front
****! Was it Ralph Lauren? Peter England?
Here’s a coupon for a dry-cleaning discount
Just tell me you don’t think this counts.

Look, I’m not saying you’re reading too much into this,
Though that might be an accurate analysis.
All I’m saying is our future looks accident prone
So maybe invest in an insurance plan before a wedding loan.
Nupur Chowdhury Sep 2018
Dust motes and sweat stains
Faded graffiti over rusted steel plates
Advertising everything, from politicians to a massage parlor,
The engine roars disgruntled, in smoky rancor.

I stepped on your feet, said I was sorry
Tell me mister, could you tell I was lying?
Pushing through the rush-hour crowd
I finally found my footing and was proud.

Well, there’s something to be said for low expectations
A word of praise for cranky co-passengers.
Not that the polite ones aren’t fun,
When they smile and roll their eyes like they’re so done.

And it’s not that I’d ever expect sincerity,
At 10 on a rainy Tuesday morning
I’m not a nihilist, or even much of a cynic by default
But at 10am, I take nice with a bucket of salt.  

I put on my headphones, crank the volume up to max,
Sway to the shrill screeching of pirated tracks
I’m sorry, did you say something? I can’t really tell.
It’s not you’re uninteresting, it’s just that this song is swell.

And maybe I could’ve made more of an effort
Gotten to know your name, exchanged toffees and emotional support
Maybe you’d have told me your story, if my ears were free
Maybe we could’ve found something worth a keep.

But you see, mister, it’s not you it’s me
At 10 on a Tuesday morning, I’m not the best company.
I hope, tomorrow, you’ll find a co-passenger worth your time,
As for me, facelessness suits me just fine.
Nupur Chowdhury Sep 2018
It’s good, but not what we’re looking for right now.
Oh, but it stings. And how!
The position’s closed, better luck next time
Your lips are bruised purple from that smile.

We loved it, but it doesn’t fit with our current line-up
You take a bitter sip of the salty tea-cup.
It’s good, dear, just not for me
You nod, you understand, ‘cause it ever is.

Your throat stings from not screaming loud enough,
Frustration the itch of a swallowed cough.
You’ve heard it a hundred times, and yet the hundred-and-first
Burns like every regret thrice reimbursed.

But while they wound, they aren’t nearly as bad,
As the radio silence of indifference ironclad.
Refreshed inboxes and double-checked call logs tell
The sordid tale of a dream drowning in the wishing well.

Vacancies disappear and resumes languish
Receptionists pout in parodied anguish.
It’s never you, it’s always them,
It’s never you’re-not-good-enough, it’s always not-the-right-fit.

It’s all the same, yet unique every time
Nobody’s got a minute, but asking’s not a crime.
It’s self-flagellation with a calling card
We don’t give a ****, best regards.

Your name’s not on this list, or the next one
And yet you walk, ‘cause you can’t outrun
The ghost of a dream, of a hope long gone
Of finding the happily-ever-after in life’s lexicon.

— The End —