Goodbye to Ballimaran

01 January, 2011

I’ve heard about riled up days that despised names of verses

they preferred riding set-jaw jeeps over the back of old town Dilli

earlier than the rooster, stopping for certain numbered doors

Possibly, those sweaty days turned swear words into Molotovs

charred down bamboo screens after summer’s whimsical rain

left a few blackened posts under roofs where couplets had lived

Possibly I imagined my footsteps would precede yours there

even now, waiting, a pastured horse munching tender rhymes

your leftover half-ghazals, their florid maktas, for this was love

Didn’t Ghalib live here? My rickshaw man pedaled and smiled:

He bought his quarter peg here every evening, walked from there!

No wonder, I imagined your beard hair on the banister, wind-tangled

If you still exhaled behind that cindered verandah I would not know

holding broken bangles, pieces of a departed love, post intermission—

Alvida, you must’ve said in a sad refrain, adding in English, “So long.”