I touch their lives superficially
On a glossy, the latest on her shelf while I wait for a haircut at the local parlor.
“Ma’am please sit” she’d said making me feel divaesque
Pointing to a cane sofa while continuing to shape like rainbows;
A pair of thick, haphazard eyebrows. I look at her in the backdrop of page 3 trivia
A woman in mid-thirties; she smells of her breakfast menu, I noted
A fragrance familiar my sensitive nostrils catch, that which escaped the layers
of lotions and shampoos, leave-on serums and what not.
Does she ever flip through these pages? I wonder or they’re more
for the divas (in the making) on the cane sofa? I sit, wanting to belong
More to her world, and less to a world alien- the one in my hands.
And my turn comes, her fingers mess with my unruly hair
Leaving a faint trace of the gravy on random strands
The gravy, she would have ground for, say, her perfectly diced potato cubes.
She shreds little chunks of hair to her fancy, just like the coriander leaves
She would have garnished her gravy with. I leave her to it
I continue to turn the pages of the January glossy, it’s March now.
She would have got it for half its price and the other half
She would have spent on the crayons her kid had craved
Or so I think. Because there she was littering the floor, her five year old,
Amidst a sea of crayons, making paper balls out of discarded paper.
Sunflowers and kites, butterflies and balloons
Nothing seemed to resemble the pictures of her mind.
She is left to deal with her disappointment, her self-discovery.
My eyes shift to the glossy: a world beyond my perception
Yes, I touch their lives superficially
On the TV screen at dinner time and remember the parlor woman.
She would not be watching I like to think, jaws dropped, picking morsels
From a humble platter of rice and daal leaning against the wall
Legs stretched and crossed on the red oxide floor, drinking from her tumbler,
Buttermilk with mustard seasoning, choking on curry leaves.
And here on the celluloid they sip daintily. Strange hues
Work like ambrosia to the tired souls. The smiles on the lips don’t touch their eyes
And the words on their tongues don’t touch their hearts. They smile, they talk
incessantly like the world would end if they didn’t.
Poet’s Bio: Daya Bhat has published her poetry collection ‘A maiden of 29’ with the Writers Workshop (India). New Asian Writing has previously published her poem ‘Undercurrent’. Her short fiction has featured in the New Asian Writing 2014 anthology, The Bangalore Review and most recently in eFiction India. Her English translation of Ravindra Bhat’s Moorane kivi, is to be published soon. Her prior occupations are related to teaching and computer software. Her other interests are painting and blogging. She lives in Bangalore, India.
Illustration by Alan Van Every (Featured image on the front page)