Planet Chitre


for David*


We did lose touch, didn't we?
Where were we? I do remember you
On the platform at Lochham station
Waving to Viju and me from a distance
Only now I understand that we
Looked like a pair of lost refugees

Your glass-and-wood house
Seemed magical in the
Daylight after the end of autumn
In Bavaria we felt like words
In someone else's text
If that's what refugees means

The wine, the lunch, the books and the small talk
Between survivors of separate disasters


Then Ashay choked to death in Pune
On November 29, 2003
It was early morning in Feldafing when the phone rang:
"Fire?Smoke?Oh God!No!How's he?"
Where's he?" I heard Viju and she knew
And I knew we'd lost our son---
Ashay, just 42, another survivor, now gone.

We told you, David, didn't we? Ashay was
A fan of all your fiction. It was part of the taste
He developed after inhaling poison in Bhopal
Thanks to Union Carbide. A taste for everything
That's black or bitter or colourless and tasteless,
For odours that emanate from one's own bones.
The bonfire of our beginning.


Our journey back was in slow motion:
It started with a freeze, slowly released,
But who am I telling this to? David, you've been there
Yourself. Almost dying, then back somehow,
Then dying again in another fashion
Visiting the other side of life; to return
Unlike Orpheus, forever informed.

Your e-mail helped. It dissolved one of my many blocks.
But I have no specific answer to it.
We've braved an entire year.
We've rearranged books, got the flat painted again,
We're still putting Ashay's room in order
and getting used to his paintings and photographs.


November 22, 2004

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