Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Meri Jaan

By Jane Bhandari

Bombay, My Mumbai

I posted a parcel from England.

Where is Mumbai?

Said the clerk at the post office.

It’s my home, I said, it’s Bombay.

Mumbai is Bombay.

Sounds fatter to me, he said,

Laughing, and I thought,

Well, second marriage,

They usually are fatter,

Shapely young Bombay

Become matronly Mumbai,

Sprawling on the beach

With her feet in the sea.

Building Hung with Sky

The building grew spikes

As the scaffolding crept up:

Then jute and spidery nets

Veiled it, webs on thorns.

First the skeleton,

Then the cocoon.

Suddenly, the building

Was a chrysalis.

The wind began to rip it apart,

Exposing the scaffolding;

Plucked and ripped,

Twisted and tore,

And one day the whole skin

Hung in tatters,

Flew prayer flags

Across the sky.

Reflected in the distorting mirrors

Of the next building’s windows:

It wavered, rents magnified,

Now the building stood bare,

Contained by the bones of scaffolding,

Boarded windows staring blindly

At the sky.

A mysterious change

Was taking place.

The building reappeared,

Glass-hung, reflecting sky and flying clouds,

And the next building’s renovations.

The jute cocoon

Became a fashion statement,

Repeated all over the city.

Locking Up

The collection of keys

To my official residence

Began innocuously

With a latchkey,

And a key for the padlock

And a key for each room

And a key to the padlock

On the terrace door,

All this in duplicate.

I made a spare set

For my daughter,

And another for my son.

Put all together,

They weighed quite a bit.

Then I added a lock

And a padlock

And another, fancier lock

To my security gate;

Keys made in quadruplicate:

One for me, one for my son,

One for my daughter, one spare.

To my personal bunch

Add keys to cupboards.

Say about six for the kitchen

And six for the study,

One for the big bookcase,

The drinks cupboard,

The sideboard,

The guestroom wardrobe,

Two bedside tables…

This time, in duplicate.

…Add to this the keys

Of various trunks and suitcases,

And a box of anonymous keys

Weighing almost three kilos…

Now that I am the proud owner

Of two residences,

I have started the process

All over again,

Beginning with the latchkeys

In quadruplicate.

The keys have begun to breed,

And my handbag

Has become

A formidable weapon.

No comments: