Tikapur, A Year On
The streets malinger beneath the tight-lipped sky.
Each stone draws like a weapon.
Each cooking fire is a funeral.
He would have preferred his son to be killed by the earthquake,
if he had to go. The simplicity of indiscriminate tragedy,
(gods, Brahmins, buffalo), not to mention the comfort in numbers.
The constitution is an “x” page document.
A prison sentence. Each word reads like a weapon.
Its victims are circled in ink.
It rallies militia in uniform, plans a god-shaped war.
He knows the man who shot his son.
He still works in Tikapur, at the road block,
checking licenses and selling Mary-Jane;
100Rs for the bribe,
100Rs for an eighth wrapped in a maize leaf.
The village is silent, of course, to balance things.
History does not repeat itself,
it has not gone and returned,
offered an era of respite.
History is in the bones of the Tharuhat.
As usual, nature takes sides.
There are no wreaths growing from the dead earth.
Summer has brought the kind of heat
that withers the maize plants
‘til the leaves are dried into blades
and the husks are empty cells.
The monsoon is a blanket that smothers the fires.
Tikapur is a temple;
a burned copy of the constitution
dirties the outstretched hands of a statue.
Tikapur is a ransacked museum
weighed down with history,
looted by politicians and gods.
Wind rattles the streets like a tin can.
Low-slung clouds bruise the empty spaces.
He is almost recalled in the everyday;
the flinch of a thunder clap,
raindrops that retreat down the spine
of a banana leaf,
a knock on the door after dark.
The surface of a puddle that puckers up
for a passing breeze.
The brink of his presence,
the shrill pain of the almost
unnerves the hollow streets.
The gods have recoiled
and compare wounds.
Unravelled like a thread across the void,
it’s as if he presses his face
against the torn fabric of the world.
Tikapur is no place to linger.
Villagers hack down banana trees
and retire to the muffled cocoons of their attics,
too tired to chase the storm from the porch,
too weary to even imagine him.