“Father, forgive me, for I have sinned.
This is my first confession.
I have been indulging, regularly, in scandalous acts of adultery.
I lust for the lover I have left behind.
I hunger for that secret aftertaste that would linger over my senses each time we made love and I yearn for everything that reminds me of our passion;
the enchanting sight of the sordid landscape rolling through the barred windows of a local train;
the swaggering palette of enormous colours of skin, handbags, books, earrings, chappals, shawls, anklets, bangles, saxophones, telescopes, hookahs, stones, gramophones, compasses, shells, bottles, perfumes and cigarettes all dangling on display in sync with the wavering sounds of a flute being played by a man with black, painted nails at Colaba Causeway;
the spectacular blue tarpaulin river that strides across the filthy streets of Dharavi or Koliwada, sprawling urban villages that reverberate with life, drama, energy, taste, music;
how the moon hung over the adulterated skyline, like a star attraction;
the soothing, rhythmic chugchuging of other similarly-obsessed bodies huddling to the tick-tocking of my unsleeping lover,
(my elegant lover strutting through beatific gulleys and squalid corridors in expensive shoes that go tick-tock, tick-tock)
the music that haunts the narrow bylanes of Mondegard, like the ghost of a past lover seeking nostalgia in alcohol-stained conversations;
the perennially confected aroma of freshly baked apple pie (with cinnamon and raisons) at the blue-coloured Yazdan bakery; the violating scent of garlic fried every morning at almost every railway station to be stuffed later into juicy vada pavs;
frankies at Linking Road, tickling sheikh pao at Premier Road Naka that costs only five rupees, pao bhaji at Khao Galli, ragda pattice at Elcos; other food that I have tasted only in wafting scents, like chicken tikka rolls at Carter Road or Jumbo vada pav at Marine Drive;
the soft salt that would speckle all over my black satin skin each time I was whispered to in persistent sea breezes.
This new lover abuses me, taunts me with its virulent impotence and assaults my body.
It casts stones at my femininity, tries to straighten my exquisite question mark body into an invalid full stop;
Sends its men to track my exposed feet, to watch over my concealed breasts, men who wait for my clothes to slip for a greedy sight of my womanly flesh.
One day it gnawed at the surface of my jeans with one of its many carelessly protruding nails as I shifted into a seat on a bus and it exposed an inch of my black thighs.
So I dashed across the streets with my torn jeans, refusing to surrender to such ambiguous violence. I decided to ride across the surface of its skin, inflict myself on its landscape. Then one day, I boarded a bus that barely even stopped for me and it bruised my left leg.
Once the men, they blocked my path and sent peevish groping hands to humiliate me.
Now tell me, Father,
Am I to repent for a most natural sin?
A sin of longing,
For a nostalgic space where my body was never picked by this pretentious, scouring vulture?
For a lover who carried, on drooping shoulders, the burden of my childhood and the anxiety of my adolescent being; who fostered my feet, my black wander-lusting feet with travelling desires?”
‘I am an adulterous resident; when I am in one city, I am dreaming of the other. I am an exile; citizen of the country of longing’