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Ranu Uniyal

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Ranu Uniyal

Himalayan Bulbul, Kasauli. Photo by Nitoo Das


It is the naked eye of the storm
that sweeps through my room
and takes away all my vanity.

Once my only companion
in this land of sour seeds and tambourine.

Like a curse he sits on her breast
and watches her debacle
the tear slowly sifting down her thighs
sinks at last without a trace.

I can hear those voices
desperate to speak
muffled by the green of their youth.
Even the birds have gathered
all strength and become wild as boar.

Everywhere there is anguish.

This winter has been shamelessly cold
spanking all night
unrelenting shoots of buckwheat.

Everywhere there is anguish
only you sit possessed
and prefer not to speak.

For Persephone - She who destroys the light

Now is the time
for me to stretch my vision inwards
to stop gazing.

Yes he was right
that man called Sartre
"Hell is other people".

Devoid of smell
my mornings gape
at the knuckles brown.

Once strong flesh
now pickled with brambles
of undue proportion

stretch beyond recognition
the eyes in waiting
unaccustomed to light.

Across the divide
(for 65 salmon grove)

I know I am a foreigner in this country
Yet how swiftly I unlearnt Namaste and wheeled in Hi!
That cool ambience with which I ignore
Those I wish not to exchange words with
I just walk by with an indifferent air.
My long legs, in black-ribbed tights
Spread easily over cans of lager.
Fuck you and piss off! Two distinct jewels.
I wear them like silver rings on my toes.
Men are all bastards, Maria claims.
Adds Mary: Unless they prove otherwise.
How strange it is that her Sam prefers
The tangas and not the usual ones.
What a swine is the German; You know he ditched Val
After squeezing her dry for a term.

I sigh: Anything is possible in this country.

Each evening
We sit and paint our nails in different shades.
I speak of the three sisters from my old, lost town
Who burnt themselves to death
It is said the father could not afford their dowry
And husbands cost a packet. I speculate
In words and figures the amount my parents can afford
He would have to be a Garhwali Brahmin, not a Kayastha
Nor a Thakur. Certainly not a Gora or a Paki.
An arranged match. A fixed dowry.
A stove explosion. A suicide pact.
Horoscopes matter.

They sigh: Anything is possible in your country.

Medea, c'est moi

An enigma until I saw you. You chose to kill.
And I do understand why 'tis so. In corridors that had no lights
in rooms that had no love you schemed and planned
and such remorse. And with nothing to hold left for Athens.
It must have hurt killing them all your own flesh and blood
to sting her with the poison of your wedding-gift.
He was ambitious. You unforgiving. Easing off grief with unparalleled blaze they dropped down dead.
And when I sit beside you and think of you
My hands crave for some obscure lines on his face.
I have a heart of stone. And I can sing no more.
I bore him no sons. He shall not father them anymore.
Isolated, like never before, I understand you better
And I do sympathise why 'tis so.

(From Across the Divide 2006)


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