THE ARABIAN SEA
by Debasis Tripathy
Yesterday, we got married by our own choice. Today we’re
doing OK as parents. I’ve managed to train my brain
to work in this new arrangement. You’ve also restrained.
We have a son, who is the “=” sign in our shaky equation,
balancing both the sides, keeping our egos in check.
Sleepless, we’ve refilled the feeding bottle, fitted
the baby into a fresh diaper, reluctantly dropped him
at the crèche and restlessly waited to pick him back.
We’ve paid the hefty admission fees into the big-school and
now when he turns into a tiger, we play the strict zookeeper.
We still do the others things, we did before he was born –
we keep silent, when we should talk and we fight
as before, sometimes even stupidly in front of him,
failing badly in our duties; repenting, yet repeating.
Thankfully, we do make up somehow and don’t give up.
We watch the proof of our partnership, grow in the sunshine
and in the sunless times and in the storms that can shake
the existence of our association. We keep nurturing it,
knowing one day we’d be free from our caretaking functions;
We toil tirelessly for the moment he will turn into a man.
And one day, we will wake up with cold enlightenment
we’re on our own again – the way it was always meant to be –
a solitariness that feels alien, after time has travelled.
But in the interim, we must keep changing and rearranging
the variables, keeping the equation of you with me in equipoise.
The Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea smells sugar;
from one syrupy wave to the next,
on to the sleepy shore
where we sit side by side, free and easy,
watching the sinking sun. Today
we sip ‘salt & sweet’ water
from the same shell with two straws
joined in our shared history,
and we talk, passing the time,
while the Casuarina grove sways
passively to the slow winds. The sky
is saffron, as far as you can see,
with the satisfaction of sticking
together through the day
and the sapience that comes
along with it.
In her nightie and bare feet,
she stands tiptoe, her fingers
touching my chest, thin needle,
at the tail a thinner thread
that matches my shirt, the button caught
tight between her thumb and forefinger,
using a very strategic skill
she possesses – sewing. Strategic
as the buttons do slip off,
unforeseeably at the wrong time.
She focuses hard on her job,
fire in her eyes, cold needle
goes back and forth and back
like fortune moving forward,
a sharp U-turn, again and again,
forging laboured loops of life
scoring a few strong stitches /
getting the holes sealed shut.
She ties me in one more knot
and bites the excess thread off.
Just as you start thinking your words are making some sense
and you are improving your expertise, people start praising.
Don’t. Seriously don’t let their honeyed words fool you,
because flattery for them is a customary performance intended
to tick the tiny boxes of social propriety and co-existence
and it’s hard to write after people start calling you a poet.
Their inflated flattery feels like flowers falling softly on your face
but over time as a vacuum cleaner does, it starts sucking in
the debris of unpolished words from your unguarded head
into their dustbags of insincerity, only for later disposal.
So perfect your ability to turn deaf and practice every day,
more inspired than yesterday, let the grains of dirt sprout
into pearls of words, closed inside the oyster of the mind.
About the Author:
Debasis Tripathy does a regular desk job for his living at an IT Company in Bangalore, India. Sometimes he writes – poems and short fiction. His work has been featured or is forthcoming in Turnpike, Peacock Journal, Kitaab, Punch Magazine, FormerCactus, Muse India, and Phenomenal Literature among others. He was a finalist for the Wordweavers Contest 2019, both for Poetry and Short story.