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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Three Poems by Akhil Katyal

Three Poems by Akhil Katyal

For the First Few Days

since I know you'll be coming down the road;
since I've put away dinner 'til that time;
since there is grass under ground, waiting to grow.
—Kyla Pasha
For the first few days, everything
here had a thin film over it, as if I
saw them from the eyes of years
before, that film is almost shed now
and there is no distance any more
between me and this gamble that
is now laid down, between me and
the places here where I am now
hesitantly putting this hope – let me
cope, after all, how tough can it be,
there was love and now the next thing
will be that which comes after it,
a kind of (I find) modesty, an aftertaste,
a willingness but without the haste
and a new sort of ability to know
before it comes, that trough and
that crest, to know when it is time
to go, and to know the time to rest.

Khusro and Nizam
The real causes of the loss of the Mughal Empire were some mistakes committed by the elders of that king [Bahadur Shah], and the biggest of them all was that they had separated lover and beloved from each other, by burying Muhammad Shah between the graves of Hazrat Mahboob Elahi and Hazrat Amir Khusro.
—Ahmed Ali, Twilight in Delhi

They parted them in their graves,
for a Mughal to be buried in between.
Khusro and Nizam count the days,

how long before this city's razed?
Part not the lovers, the curse had been,
they parted them in their graves.

Now look from the ridge, all Delhi's ablaze,
'They exiled the king, what do you mean?'
Khusro and Nizam count the days,

till Bahadur Shah looks for a little place
to be buried in, far from home, unseen,
they parted them in their graves.

Setting up the marquee, a worker says,
'They're white as milk, the new king an' queen,'
Khusro and Nizam count the days,

till the time another Delhi pays
its ransom to the lovers that had been,
they parted them in their graves.
Khusro and Nizam count the days.

You push the bag under your seat,
sidle back, make space for more,
'This is the Piccadilly line service
to Heathrow terminal 4,' you see
attics pass by and vacant lots of
the city you are leaving make their
graffiti as if to say - a year later,
it is only yesterday, a year later,
it is only yesterday. And you think,
if you were given one more question
for her, you would ask, how long does
this year of separation last, how long
does it take for a shadow to fall
between what we love an' what we
fear; you are near, the tube halts, you
take a long step out so as not to miss
the ground beneath your feet, how bad
a joke departure is, to leave everyone
you meet. You board your plane, take
your seat again, an' by way of love, the
city tilts when you see it last, it begins to
melt as the plane turns around, you sigh,
for love, a bit like the seat-belt you tie,
guards you but always holds you down.

Author’s Bio: Akhil Katyal is a writer based in Delhi. He teaches literature at Delhi University and his poetry has been published in several international journals and anthologies.

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