Perhaps – The Last Aubade

{Through the tired eyes of a man of 80, at the oakwood hospital ~}

Morning creaks and I see the Sunrise through the hospital window.

Your silhouette blocks the brightness;

Only allowing the handpicked mellow sunrays to greet me.

Even while sleeping, you put yourself between me and the shards of the broken world.

Keeping me safe. Keeping me sane.

I stare at you until our heartbeats sync and I yearn to tell you that I want to love you,

But I’m drained of the capability to.

I want to love you so that even if rain might seep in our waterproof shed of love,

I’ll dance with you to the music of falling.

Of rain and further in love with you.

A tear betrays my eyes and I think of when I’d walk a similar path too often.

In a hurry and always with a motive.

Not thinking much of the road but of what I was getting out of it.

Maybe that’s why I failed.

Failed you and failed at you.

The warmth of the Sun made you shift in your sleep.

I look away.

When I look back, you were already staring at me.

Your eyes smiled before your lips could stretch.

It made my heart rate spike up so much that I worried about the monitoring machine beside my bed beeping.

Your smile falters;

giving me the push to carve a conversation out of my confessions

and I take a name I hadn’t taken in years – Farah

// I was 12 when she robbed me with the warm browns of her eyes from behind her hijab.

We kissed in the rain in the middle of the road because it smelled like love.

But the blood on my lip didn’t taste like it when her father found us.

It wasn’t her father but instead her cold & accusing stare that looted me of the courage to declare my love. //

I almost didn’t want to carry on.

But I knew there wasn’t time

So, I took another name – Maya didi

// My mother used to call her to get her feet oiled.

Her every visit ensured me a fistful of sweet berries tied in her pallu.

I despised those berries

For their sweetness sealed my lips from speaking of what she did to me in closed rooms.

Upon my pleas of discomfort, she used to feed me more of those wicked berries.

She did it for 2 years and I kept my silence forever.

She raided my innocence & snatched from me the comfort of trusting someone. //

This time I didn’t wait before continuing – Inaaya

// She gifted me the first edition collector’s copy of Wuthering Heights.

Not because she knew it was my favourite.

But because she could.

We practised dancing on jazz out of an old gramophone because she didn’t want me to embarrass her during her parent’s party.

She told me to slick my hair and polish my shoes.

She taught me how to clink glasses.

But still made fun of me in front of others when I didn’t know my soup spoon.

‘You’re such an embarrassment!’

Her words still make me go red.

She crumpled up my self-worth and threw me in a cauldron of ignominy

And I haven’t been able to climb up since. //

I could feel the heat rise to my ears as I hurried along – Aaheli

// Her fingers explored my skin

Planting packages of the sea on it to keep her close.

But one day, those pits burned.

They burned until my scorched skin dissolved onto my bones

And my bones spelt traitor.

She said the sea seemed to be beckoning her with all her secrets.

Maybe that’s why when she parted lips fed me lies of unkept promises,

Her eyes flashed me the image of her avid lover imprinted on them.

She broke me.

And my ability to forgive.

Maybe for good. //

I paused – Bela

// She was like the smell of filter coffee from that Indian coffee place near home.

It was our Sunday ritual to devour Masala Dosa and filter coffee after our morning run.

But she stayed there the entire day. Waiting.

And one day I found out for whom.


He left her at our usual table 7 years ago

But her wretched heart could never escape.

She and I were different shades of blue

And yet we were the same bundles tied down by hope waiting at love’s door to get rescued. //

I feared to take her name. My words stumbled upon her name – Tamanna

// She was like a poem ahead of its time.

She personified the smell of whiskey on a Friday night.

She handled me like I was made of porcelain

Gently, carefully but tight enough to mould me for her hands.

Stolen kisses in front of strangers &

Shared intimacy of souls with clothed bodies.

She was the right person at the wrong time.

She left a hollowness in me.

Maybe it was my stolen heart. //

This time the name I took made me smile – Amruta

// My Ammo.

At 35, father made me choose from 3 photographs.

I picked the most harmless one.

For who would want the dagger of love to slash your wounds again.

We didn’t share words but lives.

In the labyrinth of hopes & disappointments

There bloomed a love undiscovered.

Before I could tell her, she passed away.

Betraying me of our promise of togetherness.

And all I was left with was a bottle of her ittar and an empty teacup.

There is still a picture of her tucked in a tattered copy of poems by Neruda.

And sometimes, there still drips a drop of salt in my lone teacup. //

My lips quivered and I look up to meet her gaze.

“I’m sorry, I wish I had the time for you to break my heart”, I told her with tears in my eyes.

I felt it when my life started to fragment into the abyss.

My tired eyes searched for hers in the crowd of sinners against my love.

I heaved my last breath.

“Perhaps, in another life.”

Swadha Sharma from University School of Law and Legal Studies, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi

“Elasticity, Equilibrium and Elvis, how about that?”

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