Bougainvillae

Nobuyoshi Araki 4

As it starts to rain, I draw the curtains
My world now covered in the saddest blue of Indian Railways
My body wrapped in a blanket that still smells of
Someone I used to love, then hate, and then love again

I have decided to stay, here, curled up in my berth
I feel safe now, from my comatose city
And although trains are no place to live
There are a place
With windows and soup
And people who sleep on time
And time that never sleeps
And lonely men with dying phones
Wanting to exchange seats
suffering from old parents, slip disks or young kids
And then in turn the wives offer
Questions I have no answers to
“Would you like a banana?”, “What are you doing?”
“Where is your home?”,  “Where are you going?”

I have a cigarette refusing to light
the darkness of a bathroom vent
And in this black I am surrounded by faces
Of people I’ve found and then lost,
Some to death, some to a beautiful fight
And through the cracks they left in my heart
I have supplied my own light
I’ve found my fire
Right next to the door
Where a man jumped to death
After he’d had too much soup
“But the soup’s allright”
I hear the bride in the side berth say
And order her third cup for the night
That ought to put a stop to this madness,
she whispers to her husband
who looks like he’s had too much for one life

“We ought to put a stop to this madness”,
I hear her voice message on my phone
From a long time ago
Memories come to me like a fever
Of women I used to make soup for
Hot and sour nostalgia
In my time machine heart
All I wanted then was to dream about
All the beds I spent this year’s nights on
With all those women, and all those cats (mostly cats)
But God is snoring in the first class compartment
And in his dreams I can hear my cats purring with ecstacy
And my women screaming his name
I’m going to avenge my god
By stealing his nicotine patches
And leaving him my poems

Now the bride in the side berth
Is singing a sad lullaby to no-one in particular
About a woman stuck in a train to nowhere
Her voice is low and raspy, like a lonely movie star
It reminds me of a place
Somewhere between Delhi and Calcutta
flooding with bougainvillea
I tried to think of something else, but
I came five minutes ago
Sucked in by melancholia
And now my berth smells of something
vaguely between soup and bougainvillea

Sometime around midnight I have
Mastered the art of killing time
As for lessons in forgetting
I’m done with the women (not my cats, yet)
How I wish time was a rabbit
Easy to crush, tender to taste
But it’s wild, growing on the edges of my seat
Dripping on my window sill, just outside my reach
And as dawn crushed the colours of an unknown station
It was still raining outside, but cold on my seat
And I was still between places
Between women, between cats
Between who I was,
And who I could be.
Between.

And while I was there, an answer came to me
Maybe Home was a time, not a place,
Filled with cats,
Flooding with bougainvillae.

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