Creation and Criticism

ISSN: 2455-9687  

(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal

Devoted to English Language and Literature)

July-Oct 2019

Thank You and Other Poems — Rajiv Khandelwal


Rajiv Khandelwal (1957) has published three volumes of Poetry – ‘Conch Shells and Cowries’ (1998), ‘Love is a Lot of Work’ and ‘A Monument to Pigeons’ (2013). He has co-produced a documentary film titled ‘Visit India, Discover Agra.’ He resides at 223- Pandit Motilal Nehru Road, Agra - 282 004; and can also be contacted through email: rajivk92@gmail.com.


 

1. Thank You

 

No one from my house died

When the commercial capital bled

Either as hostage

Or spectator

Or part of the crack team

 

My thanks

Due not to God

But to the street dog

Who by constantly glancing

Towards our house

Imbibed in me the confidence

That sans political endorsement

I am

As yet

A valued surviving citizen

Who lines up routinely for the hit

By bomb or bullets

While going about our daily way

 

2. An Unplanned Visit

 

A shadow

And ‘her’ scent

Spiked with pheromones

Entered

As silently

As the stack of softbacks and scratchpads

Lying around the study

 

My first sniff

Startled

Surprised

 

Happiness

Arousal

Heightened 

 

And my face lit up

With a smile

 

I glance up

See her standing

Her back against the shut door

 

Her presence

Engulfs

Submerges

Like a avalanche

 

I gaze straight into her eyes

And as our eyes lock

The look is held   

 

Then my sight slowly slides lower

Stares

Beyond the legal

Acceptable

Time limit

With a come-here-look

 

She notices

The directed look

 

Her impish smile

Conveys: You have a dirty mind   

 

3. A Backward Glance

 

Suddenly

Without warning

We bumped into each other

After ages

In the Gurgaon mall

 

Shock, surprise was writ on our faces

Like that on the robber accosted by the police

 

I asked her: How’s the family?

She said: Fine

 

I asked: “Can we have coffee and catch up”

She said: “Sorry. Do not have the time”

 

I insisted

She relented

 

We talked

We listened

 

Then it was time for her to go

 

She got up

Looked towards me

With a hesitant, clouded look

As if she wanted to say something

Then her face cleared

And she

Put her palm on mine

Softly, asked: Had I loved her?    

 

The question

So unexpected

So untimed

Hit me like a heavy weight boxer’s punch below the belt

 

I could only gasp out:

“Still do”

 

She silently stared at me

For a moment

That instant froze, for me 

Like insect fossilized in amber

 

Then with a sad smile

Turned and left without a backward glance

 

And once more

After so many years

I was again left

Without a “backward glance”

 

Handling frozen time

Alone

 

4. Guilty

 

Though we believe

God exists in men, women and child

Yet we go to temples

 

Our Temple

Serves as a venue

To mark festivals

To celebrate marriages

To commemorate birth of children

To mark death of a loved one

To seek joy

Or Emotive pleasure

To ask for economic progression

Or to request for political success

 

Temples are the places

Where in their interiors

Fulfillment of all wants

Desires

Due-undue favors

Are shamelessly solicited

 

And shockingly

Outside temples sanctum sanctorum

A temple-goer

Who just gave a substantial sum

In homage to the deity

Refuses a tramp

Paltry charity

 

A thirsty child

On basis of caste

Is not allowed to drink water

 

Umpteen such diverse acts

Of denial of compassion

Of social apartheid 

Undisguised 

I see

In day to day life

 

But like most of my fellow travelers

On the path to God

I walk by 

With little or no thought

Unconcerned

Unaffected

Like most Indian pedestrians

Who stride past

Without even a tokenism of concern

When they see

A dead drunk dude

Curled on the paved path  

On a high speed street  

 

5. The Kick 

 

Musky

Fresh

Pleasant

“Earthy” smell

Combined with

The “green” scent of a just-mowed lawn

Permeated the air

 

The soothing sound

Of rain drops

Entertained

 

I dodged the small pool

But then

Whimsically

Mischievously

Slopping wet

I kicked the puddle

 

And that “kick”

Jogged my memory

To the freakish way -

You had said: “I do not miss you

For there are no issues

Unfinished or unresolved

 

And thus

Have booted you out of my dreams”

 

And I kick the puddle again

And again

For therapy 

 

The pothole

Took the kicks

Silently and with surrender

Just like the untouchables

Taking it

Since ages.