• For Eunice and Vijay

    "Death is an art too, living is fiction."

    Nabina Das

    August 16, 2017

     

    Image Courtesy: The Hindu

     

    I.

    All this whining after the passing
    is like cigarette smoke. Coiling up.
    Eunice would puff away at it, askance;
    her questions tightly grabbing at shirt
    corners, a little determined to be sly.
    The neighbors are frying jalebi to eat
    with curdled cream. Bloody brown sahibs.
    Don't you know, we're good at pretense –
    we're also good at kissing sans love.
    Then all this lament about her not
    being there amid the thought of
    smart-ass jibes of oh look what she
    lived like and couldn't she be a lady more,
    in between sorting out credit card bills
    and skirting piss on back alley walls –
    such darn thoughts to lob on until
    a sudden realization. Call it epiphany:
    Death is an art too, living is fiction.

    II.

    Another day and another news –
    he lay on his side, as usual, dreaming
    of that Oomanchery female in black.
    Or is it grey she wore with a border
    the color of hay drying in the Coorg hills,
    distracted coffee smell wafting on his hide.
    The next door guy is thrashing opening TOI,
    morning news is black today. Your absence
    is like a railway station, the darn long wait
    is one nimbu-soda plus the station cat
    mating with the shitty grandfather clock.
    How lonely will poetry be if we all went?
    You'd be left cocking a thumb, careless:
    poetry doesn't need you, you'd smirk.
    That typical sparseness of spleen,
    a libation, where a journey is packaged
    safe – wallet, bag, brown case. Yet
    after six drinks, no, after one glance,
    death can reach out and so casually,
    in its shallow cup, drink you up.

     


     

    Further reading:

    “The newly dead is an unknown quantity”: Remembering Eunice de Souza

    "Without My Imaginings What Is?" Remembering Vijay Nambisan

     

    Born in Assam and currently based in Hyderabad, Nabina Das is a poet and writer, a 2016 Commonwealth Foundation correspondent, and an alumna of Charles Wallace fellowship, Sangam House, and Wesleyan Writers Conference.

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