Coffin Flowers - Prathiksha

Art: Ritusri Halambi


You have brought me flowers

like evening brings you home

(a boy and his bicycle

wouldn't leave your side

till you bought them;

30 for 4, 50 for 8).

On the bed, at night,

I spread the ebbing blue of the lilacs

between my temple and your back.

Three flowers short

of bridging the distance,

I fall asleep.

The way our silences have grown

into the walls of the house

reminds you of the year

when tufts of periwinkle

dug their obstinacy

all over the ungiving terrace,

consoling the summer heat.

And, it reminds me of how

I spent the first afternoon

of a summer vacation,

clutching a can to my ear,

waiting for a voice

to travel down the string

from the other end

(the limp end)

of my tin can telephone.


The boy parts his hair

towards the left now–

it makes him look older

(13 instead of 10).

On a cycle, he wades through

the sleepy indifference of his city,

scouring the cemeteries

for flowers people have left

on the graves for their dead.

On kinder days–

when the dead are remembered

and the living are loved–

he makes good money

selling the pilfered flowers

at the city bus stand.

He's a little distracted today

by an elusive whistle

he has been trying to perfect.

But, he does not lose his balance