The key turns and the door is slammed open.
It’s been a long time and I
Don’t romanticize the cobwebs anymore.
The view of my childhood days
Has now vanished.
But the room remains the same.
I am reminded but vaguely
Of cold, saturnine nights and
His love letters.
The ones that I preserved for long
Until mum threw them away.
I monitor my steps too carefully,
I even take off my shoes.
The imprint of my feet over the dusty mosaic floor,
Like that of Goddess Saraswati
I was told, once.
The air smells of grandpa’s stories,
Freshly baked, right out of the oven.
The day he died, it was my turn to narrate.
The door to the balcony is locked.
I, sticking my nose out through the railings,
As a lonely ice cream seller,
Wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand.
The right side is no different from the left.
A curious void of vacancy,
My half-formed thoughts troubling me.
That year when books were my only friends
And I cut my hair,
To mourn my own death.
That mono-syllabic laugh at the back of my head,
A familiar sound.
The lips spreading wide and the eyes contracting,
Just a little bit.
The most beautiful smile I had ever seen.
I count my steps. Twenty-two to my room.
That unfinished bottle of grandma’s lemon pickle,
Most faithful companion to our afternoon dal and rice.
I pick it up and stare at the circle bereft of dust
Protected by the bottle’s lower rim.
I place it back, after a while.
Keeping in mind the limpid outlines.