postcards from kochi
Picture courtesy Vinod M Venugopal
the dawn breaks at three-
not with the chirping birds
-to the sound of the amittu
from the nearby temple.
the stove is hot
newspapers have been delivered
the stereo cackles
kausalya supraja rama poorva sandhya pravarthathe;
the day begins thus
in a tongue undecipherable.
the smell of dosa wafts through
the remnants of last night’s thunderstorm
the frog is croaking the day’s news
in the audience are the mosquitoes and dragon flies;
when the curry leaves hit the burning oil
a cacophony breaks loose
the hum of an old lover’s voice
holding your heart precariously
as you remember the contours
of a now broken intimacy.
the sun is blazing down
at the ferries transporting
the madding crowd far from their workplaces;
gossip fills the air
gold prices, a celebrity wedding,
the new government, the metro,
vegetable prices, the neighbor’s new car,
these few minutes offer a respite
from the respise of humid palpability
covering our lives like a charade.
Venu swamy has come calling
with sealed lime pickle packets-
this is the secret to unravelling the mystery of the universe.
(this, and dosas).
the clouds roll in,
by the time tea is served
with piping hot parippu vadas,
they are gray-blue
like the color of your sorrows;
they surround the space you occupy
accompanied by panchavaadyam
suddenly there is a canopy of darkness
enveloping the shadow figures
you make on the wall to pass time.
the children return from school
under open umbrellas
with empty lunch boxes
and a bagful of homework-
the rain plays havoc
to the awaited game of cricket
resorting instead to making paperboats
with worn out newspaper sheets
hoping to set sail
in the nearest puddle.
peace has now descended
with the appearance of a mazhavillu
the lack of shadow figurines on walls
and the commencement of a game
(and the abrupt ending);
ferries have been rested
serials have been switched on
the day’s stories exchanged over
platefuls of food
washed down with a cup of chukkuvellam.
the phone calls commence
some in the privacy of a blanket
where some endearments are exchanged.
the night wanes
if the phone call went well- romantic
if the phone call didn’t go well- mellow
for every other mood-rock.
silence envelops the soul
of the queen of the arabian sea;
her heavy soul
where tourists have tread
and taken photographs
of her beauty,
tonight she will not pay heed,
not to her countless lovers
but to her own verisimilitude.
amittu– a kind of firework
kausalya supraja rama poorva sandhya pravarthathe– M.S Subbalakshmi’s Suprabhatham (a sanskrit verse played in the morning)
parippu vadas– fried lentil fritters
panchavaadyam– an orchestra of five instruments
chukkuvellam– water infused with dried ginger