Contract on English

I heard the two magic words today. Wren. And Martin of course. I couldn’t catch the face that said it, but I have a good memory for voices, and it will not be long before I match it to the face. From which I will then proceed to pluck out the eyelashes one by one, and then make him eat it garnished over stale poha. This colonial hangover, the rules of which can be observed by both Mr. Wren and Mr. Martin only in the breach, needs to be given a decent bonfire, preferably with its supporters in it.

But though I peer at the conference-goers stuffing their faces with rice and gongura chutney, I am unable to make out the voice. But I reckon there are others who share my sentiments, so I can relax in peace that the assassination will happen soon.

in the closet
the violence triggered
by my violin

Raamesh Gowri Raghavan

Contract on English

Attention Span

He’d call me to his desk and show me cat stuff. Grumpy Cat memes. Cats playing pianos. Cat video ensembles. Cat GIFs. Boxing cats, ninja cats, bathing cats. Cats in funny clothes. Surprised cats. Then one day, he stopped.

Claymore field …
the narrow road between
mother and father

Raamesh Gowri Raghavan

Attention Span

Forgiveness

There are people who probably deserve no less than Pastor Oats’ double-headed battleaxe. At the least, a bastinado. Okay, a verbal ticking off. Fine, fine, I believe in ahimsa. I shall just be passive aggressive. No, that will not do? Yes, okay, I will smile and shake hands.

feathers fly
a nut
is casus belli

Raamesh Gowri Raghavan

Forgiveness

The Agent Of Doom

When the doorbell rang one afternoon I tied up the dog which was snarling and straining at the leash and opened the door. Just a crack.

“Hullo!” said a cheery voice through the gap. “Hullo, hullo, hullo!”

“Are you a salesman?” I asked. Bingo has a nose for salesman.

“Not at all, not at all!” said the alpine echo. “I bring glad tidings.”

On hearing these words I yanked open the door and almost laid out the red carpet for the spectral voice. The fact was I had bought a lottery ticket with a number ending in 3 as advised by the friendly neighbourhood numerologist. I was positive the ticket had been drawn and I was in for more money than you could compute on a pocket calculator.

billing time—
the computer salesman
counts on his pinkies

As the door opened the voice assumed a body with a bespectacled face attached at the top. This face wore a grin which almost matched my own. After all it isn’t every day one wins the lottery. The grinning apparition came in and plonked onto the most comfortable armchair without so much as a by your leave. But I didn’t care. I was too busy planning how to spend the swag.

With the briefest of pauses I dashed into the kitchen and dashed back with a steaming hot cup of tea and chocolate cream biscuits. I almost apologised to the man for not having chilled champagne handy. He ate the biscuits methodically, no doubt chewing each mouthful a hundred times a advocated by medics. Splendid fellows, medics. Having gone through the biscuits he paused only to smile beatifically at me before slurping the tea. He then put down the plate with the air of one about to spring a cheque on me. I waited with bated breath. At last he opened a briefcase and pulled out an envelope.

“Congratulations!” he said, beaming. “Your life insurance policy for ten thousand rupees has matured. We are sure you will want to renew the policy with us. We assure you of our best services at all times.”And with those words he slid the envelope between my numb fingers and vanished. Like a ghost at daybreak.

What could I say. I was glad I hadn’t invested in a bottle of Veuve Cliquot.

celebrations—
after the champagne party
we go for a drink

Gautam Nadkarni

The Agent Of Doom

Shooting from the Hippie

Dear Dad,

How are you and Mom? In between quarrelling and trading abuses I mean. You really must take care of your health. Nasty thing, hypertension. A pal of mine tells me his father got paralysed after biffing his mother on the head with a bottle of Scotch. It broke, you know. The bottle, not the head. More’s the pity. Scotch does not come cheap.

As for your diabetes I would strongly suggest you lay off the mangoes you are so fond of. I understand it is quite difficult to walk around throwing your weight with both legs amputated. Fancy going around with crutches. Or worse, a wheelchair. Reminds me, I was reading a comic novel the other day about a guy’s wheelchair rolling off a cliff. Not very pleasant, I was given to understand. Christmas is around the corner so I decided to spread a little goodwill and cheer with you folks.

By the way, old man, I am a bit stony these days. Inflation, they tell me. I am saving a lot on haircuts, of course, but pot doesn’t come free you know. Be a good chap and wire me a thousand bucks at the earliest.

With love, respect and all that rot,
Your son,
Blipp

 

the gleam in a barber’s eyes hippies

Gautam Nadkarni

Shooting from the Hippie

Moving On

prayer beads
falling apart—
henna designs

Sunset and sand. Near the well of Zam-Zam, outside the Kabba, dusty pilgrims end their sojourn.

We share a common humanity. As kings have reached out to grasp the Kaaba’s black stone, we too reach out, twirl like dervishes, or squat on prayer rugs, coiled up like spiders with our kabair (big sins) or saghair (little sins), not wanting, really, to throw stones, only enjoy the magic carpet ride.

Though arches hold up kalam (theology), skulking beneath gold domes, we feel so cold, dirty with petro-dollars, questioning Ali’s metempsychosis or what-not, wondering if we might, or might not, be blessed.

prayer call—
a camel shakes his head
and walks on

Anna Cates

Moving On

DIE GLOCKE (the Nazi bell)

Unseen fingers forged in the dark, in bottomless night mysterious doom, till the buzz whirled even the white noise black.

It hung above the long-grown grass, where the wolf came to sniff the gloom, stalk the shadows, gnaw futilely at metallic dusk, atomic sunrise.

The wolf snarled, My eyes gleam gold. I feast on hoarded magic, but my hunger grows. Frothy, I tread on, still warm from the hunt. I dread neither God nor man.

But violet Xerum 525 tears through bridle and bone. In the zone blood gels, flesh crystallizes— sparrows, rabbits, lilies die, and the golden eyes grow hollow, blind.

It did not hear the wolf’s howl. It did not fear the shadows. It sucked up all the magic, spinning like Mercury round the light. It tore free from its binds, testing gravity, time, leaving only scorch marks in the grass . . .

night wind
contemplating the death
of stars

Anna Cates

DIE GLOCKE (the Nazi bell)