Inside the Haveli
It was dusk when we heard that voice
and entered the Haveli. Then, there was only silence
between giggles and the rust
peeling from abstract tiles and the forgotten
arteries of ghosts were held by floating diyas and the soft light
pestered with insistence, fled and could not find its way back again.
‘Children are not allowed here at night’ again and again
Our ayya would insist, and that the light
seen with childlike amazement was to be forgotten,
tucked away in a solitary room to rust
like all of childhood before her. There was always to be,’ unadulterated silence’
locked in an anti-climactic battle in-between the contempt of her voice.
It was something not easily forgotten, her voice
which would reverberate like the melancholic croak of a frog somehow forgotten
by its army, yet, our disdain was marked by silence
upon decrypted walls and other innocent acts impervious to rust.
It was in these moments that the resounding ‘AGAIN?!’
would sound and we would cower away somewhere with no light.
Breakfast was meticulously served after the morning light
hit the corners of our eyes like ants under microscopes and again
the melody of the Azaan would float across and to besides the old divan, a rust
coloured tapestry, completely insensate to sense from where, a soft voice
would bring us, at least me, back to the forgotten
giddiness of the previous nights’ dream in silence.
It would do good now to forget that embracing silence,
make my way back to the courtyard and search for the voice
from so long ago. I do not know when I can again
find the ghosts hiding in the crevices of attics with such delight.
I will try to discover when ‘we’ became just ‘I’, that sporadic rust
that haunts the courtyard of our haveli, but not forgotten.
This is no place to be a forgotten
ghost, like the ones we used to catch till our ayya’s voice
drowned us away from those diyas reflecting the soft light
of the moon in glistening silence
and so we continue again
by repainting over the rust.
I have witnessed silence and the voice
we misconstrued for light and again,
it will not rust, nor be forgotten.
First published in Fresh from the Mountain (Black Fountain Press, 2018)