SNATCH OF SCHOOLDAYS
A three-tonner transported us shaking its way through
crosscuts and corridors of the cantonment. It was an
honorable way to hightail. As with all things army,
punctuality was the praxis. Kids weren’t keyed into it.
On erring the local bus was my burrow. From my
headset these were expeditions. I snaked my way
contiguous to the leadfoot, locus of the exit. There
were other straphangers. All rooted for him, laughed
at one-liners, supported his silliness. Influence of
being in the driver’s seat came early.
Flinders have smart ways of spotting you.
These many years? You stick like succus.
There isn’t gradation in grief while sorrow
has shades. Wisdom is to monitor oneself,
sense what one will never be able to snag.
Skill is not to let skin of bluster constringe
in the zipper of braggadocio. Pain reminds
me, in this theory of regret I must find my
math. This is another me: paying the price
of other births.
I try enlarging my maid’s weltanschauung.
In the previous sesh I had differentiated
between various states and the nation. In
this huddle the topic veers to Bapu. I Google
the Mahatma. She knows of him: in a dhoti,
with a charkha. I sound more shocked than
I’m at her thumbnail sketch. In an attempt
to get across, Hamare rashtriya pita hai.
She looks quizzically, Itna sab hone ke
baad bhi kapre nahi. Bollojee?
In the comfort of my cabin
I coo to no one in particular.
Eft on the eaves engages
with me. In some ways our
lives link up: this wanderer
is a poet without a poem.
I jumped in glee on seeing
a gas balloon wave at me.
Others own the sky and sulk.
We beguile ourselves into believing
if we make fun of our flaws
they will vanish.
A stranger, “I’m a good person. I
never harm anyone.” I wonder how
the iniquitous introduce themselves.