The cool wind enveloping me in its warm embrace,
I stare into the horizon, where the purple streaked sky
touches the red-bricked house with its fading black fingers.
Wisps of old man's hair aimlessly glide through the sky.
Her purple gold caftan swishing against her white ankles,
a girl glides across the terrace to softly wake her brother.
Rocking in his chair, the old man
taps his fingers to the overtures of Ram and Sita
wafting through the smoky air from the temple
sadly recollecting bygone days.
Training my ears, I hear a heavy scamper
and catch the flash of beady eyes
as a squirrel scampers across the fence.
Drawing her shawl across her dusky face,
encompassed by a sleepy smile, the house cook
slowly edges past me into the kitchen.
In the house swathed in depressing blue,
the plump descendant of a long line of tailors
walks swiftly out of her main door,
draping the tatters of a blue Adidas shirt over her silk sari.
Staring across the sea of houses and lamp posts,
I see my nodding acquaintance,
his dusky face melting in a beam of complacency,
as he sports his outrageously loud shirt,
bobbing with violent shades of brown and red.
The old man across the street disappears inside,
his shaking fingers spilling an indulgent amount,
of the sweet brown fluid that starts his day.
With a sigh, I take his cue and creep inside
to dwell unhappily on more worldly matters.
The fair fingers of dawn steal across the purple kohl-rimmed skies
as the harsh strife of the crows announces a new day in the dusty town.
In the moist darkness of 'Universal Hotel' the wavering bluish flame
entertains the circle of men sipping the hot, over-sweet tea,
specialty of this place.
I sit against the bent lamppost, submerged in the shadows that express me,
watching the joggers crossing the street in a steady trickle,
panting their views on the economy in various stages of confused attire.
Slowly the town comes alive,
the weathered oxen come to a halt at the crumbling green doors
with the pendulous grace of a slow-moving monarch,
resigned to the daily burden of carrying the new generation's breakfast.
The faint tinkle of a battered cycle announces the day's news.
People hurry past me with dispassionate glances,
granting me the power of invisibility.
I lie back, my feet tapping to the rumble of the distant traffic,
but I can find no tune to gauge my heart.
The day wears on, drenching my face in rivulets of sweat,
as I attempt to drive away my crown of drunkenly buzzing flies.
Slowly the sky is painted pink and red, etched with purple wrinkles.
The carpet of cars thins gradually, in the dying confusion of the streets.
The lantern's glow bathes me in a dull yellow light,
though I am still invisible to the brisk commuters,
excluded from their two worlds of office and home.
The road is filled with laughing couples
as the cicadas pick up the organs of the evening.
Strains of music flow from the community center.
My heart is still empty,
as empty as the canvas on which I paint my dreams,
as empty as the copper bowl at my feet.
The night's cloak tightens as the strains of Daler Mehndi fade away,
leaving me alone in the accusing silence.
Suddenly a bundle of fur throws itself at me.
Attempting to rise, I utter a glad cry as I stroke its soft ears,
and in the empty darkness, lightened by the heavy breathing at my feet,
my heart is filled.
Adreyo Sen resides in Kolkata, India. He is pursuing his MFA degree at Stony Brook, Southampton.