The walls thicken under the weight
of the photographs, making
it impossible to ascertain
the words in the declarations outside.
You coveted a new word—
a palaver that would replace
the cacophony outside: the bus
conductors shouting out loud
the destinations, the seven-year old
walking after you, imploring –
didi, ekta dhupkathi ne na
the walking ensemble demanding
artefacts more than an intricately-carved
coffee-table. You demand nothing
that cannot be bought.
Between you and me is the silence
of a muezzin who announces the news
of a crackdown. The silence of the knowledge
that the messengers are always shot, locked up
in prisons made of bricks
other than their own petulance.
Forgive me, sister-poeta. In your
search for combativeness
in brushing the porcelain,
I find nothing other than a belated
irrelevance. The business of building
new words unfinished,
you hang yet another picture
on the wall – a daughter leaning
over in a one-sided embrace
with a father too stern to smile.