Wednesday 30 July, 2008

Hiding books on Karkhana Road

I have hidden No Onions Nor Garlic
amongst a flock of Ruskin Bonds,
on the bottom row of the second shelf
of Indian Writers,
in a bookstore
on Karkhana Road,
for me.

I have hidden TS Eliot
on the third row of the first shelf
of Literature,
behind a consumptive poet,
and below Tolstoy's famous wench
(I wonder if they talked about Michelangelo),
for a friend.

I cannot hide Jeet Thayil anywhere;
he is everywhere.

If you find them,
please leave them there for me.
I am waiting for enough money.

When I grow up,
I want to be rich enough to buy
HBs and PBs and dog-eared second-hand Bs
as I please.
I will keep them
in my floor-to-ceiling heavy oak bookshelves,
in my elaborate study,
where I will pull each book down
and read and smell and dust
and put each one back,
every second Sunday,
reserving my section marked Poets
for rainy days,
to remind me of today.

Perhaps I will not have to stop
at a kirana shop
to buy day-old bread,
wading through the sludge
on the bylanes of the newly-wet karkhana,
its get-rich-quick puddles,
its faux rivulets with their pompous frogs,
ribbiting in conference
with all the creatures of the rain,
celebrating the much-delayed monsoon.

Then again,
will I trade my purple umbrella
with the iffy handle,
my Bata floaters
way past the prime of their tread,
this lonely water-retentive apartment
bloated like a hyper-thyroidal spinster
dripping fat complaints of July,
on a thin floor-mattress?

Will I trade
my paper-thin walls,
my typewriter,
the annoying girl next door,
and all the kirana shops
on all the bylanes
of all thye submerged localities of Secunderabad,
for a life less extraordinary?