Of What I Do Not Write

I write of desires and flesh,
Flames flickering black and red,
Touches as light as summer rain.
I write of marks and letters,
Ink that displays itself,
Silent pauses in between.
I write of sunlight and flowers,
Gossamer threads of a spider’s web,
Dried leaves twirling in the wind.
I write of spices and spaces,
Aromas that waft in through the cracks,
Amber liquids swirling, half-stubs burning.

Notice of what I do not write.

I write not of silences and screams,

Nor of the blood that drips onto the streets,
No rape mars my verse, no riot erupts,
No prostitute sells wares,
No lives, money, blood and flesh traded.
I draw the veil over their existence as others have before;
I join the ranks of history,
And judge myself guilty.

Last Night

I thought of you as an incomparable portrait; all framed in gold.
You were Dorian Gray last night.

My dream of paradise left incomplete, I suddenly woke up.
I ate an apple last night.

Everyone knew the truth about you and me.
I spread a rumour last night.
I remembered our ink-stained hands; the prose we used to write.
I typed a sonnet last night.

You instructed me about the rules of languages – yours and mine.
I read Shahid Ali last night.

Your love had something in it unbearable – a mother.
It was the night of the scorpion last night.

You had made my mind your house; my body your room.
I tripled the rent last night.

You were the muse of my story; of my first novel.
I wrote the epilogue last night.

And I, Akhil, knew well that God died yesterday; his was the other pyre.
The ashes ceased to smoulder last night.

For Her, and For Her

This is one version of the story of my survival, in 4 parts.

The first time, I didn’t really get to meet her.
She was gone before I knew it.
I knew she was smart, because.
She Escaped.
A man.
Who told me that if I said anything to anyone, he would hurt my sister.
I thought if I said a word,
he would never stop coming in at night to watch me sleep.
Perhaps if I kept really quiet, he would stop coming in when I was about to take a bath.

I felt dirty For Years.
Every year, for four years, it was the same.
But the year that She Escaped, that’s when
I Understood.

I refused to go back there.
My grandfather died a few months after The Escape.
My grandmother died a year later.
After that,
The Girl Who Escaped,
She came to me and said,
“Now, It’s time to speak.”

My mother was on her knees, grasping my leg, begging for forgiveness.
I could not predict my survival from day to day.
My father decided to travel there.
I think The Girl Who Escaped, I think she went with him.
When my father returned Home, we were his only family left. He let all of them go, when they refused to stand with him. He has been isolated from them ever since.

I still think sometimes, “Can I forgive myself, for doing this to my father?”

But The Girl Who Escaped,
She reminds me,
My father chose Me.

The day I met another survivor.
She was a 72 year old black woman who lived in Albermarle County, Va.
Over a glass of sweet tea, she told me the story of her survival, in one part.
It took her three minutes.

I poured myself another glass.
With each sip, I received a blessing.
I told her the story of my survival.
It took me
thirteen hours.

More recently, I met Her.
When she came, I wasn’t scared.
No pain.
No anger, not even a little bit of rage.
Not even a drop of guilt.

When she came, I was happy.
From indiscretion, from deviant behavior.
From joy.
From the very core of my sexual being.

This time,
No family.
Only Faith.
Amidst my conversations with God,
In a matter of days
She left before I knew her.

But now I know her.
She is The Girl
Who Gave Me Choice.