His room overlooked the main street. Every day,
The window was a silent witness to an endless stream
Of traffic that flowed en masse; characterless, rudderless,
Though discernibly moving on a seemingly straight road.
The vehicles, though ignorant of his room and the associated sorrow,
Did leave their mark on the window, in the form of dust,
That quickly materialised into a thin, surreal film, making
It difficult for the sunlight to enter his room. Instead,
The rays chose to make brilliant patterns on the floor.
Kaleidoscopic; alternating, oddly, between ululation and pathos.
It was a simple room. A small bed with a broken leg,
And torn bedsheets, the holes grinning cheekily and
Sheepishly at nothing in particular. A bookshelf with rat-eaten
Tomes and slim volumes in a horribly molested state of disrepair.
The overall contraption had a forlorn, morose look about it, like
That of an aged, forgotten, misunderstood poet, or, funnily enough,
A grumpy, disgruntled musician, spending his last days in obscure poverty.
With only the torchlight of memory to guide him towards Death’s door.
Next to the bathroom, with its idiosyncratic, familiarly nauseating smell,
Was his study table. Piled high to one side, a bedraggled, confused heap
Of his unpublished stories and poems. Each a living testament to an artist’s mortality.
A repository of dirt, chagrin and pain. Each yellowing page a rusty nail on his coffin.
There was not a publishing house in the city he had not visited.
Nor were left any chubby-cheeked publishers at whose face his
Imagination had not flung his threadbare chappals. Each time
They’d take his crumpled, lovingly typewritten manuscript,
On whose pages lay agony’s handiwork, and would
Busily tuck it into an enormous pile of files and correspondence,
Where it would disappear, dissolve, losing its identity among the
Uncaring masses; a dreamy poet among promotion-hungry government officials.
Then, with a terse, cursory flick of two fingers swollen with fat,
They would dismiss him, asking him to come at a particular time
In the near future. Yet already, the whirring blades of the ceiling fan,
Would have managed to send his unexceptional face into the
Dark labyrinths of forgetfulness; hence, every time he would return,
The guard at the door would grin in mockery, savouring the lad’s plight,
And shake his head in a mixture of mock sorrow and sadistic pleasure.
The rays of the setting sun, during their tortuous journey around the room,
Inevitably and invariably missed a tiny corner, where lay, carelessly relegated,
A small table, knee high, its height and prominence complementing each other.
On it lay a framed photograph of our poet. Apart from a layer of dust that
Covered this slice of a sepia past, a fine cobweb hung around his neck, like
A garland that is hung around the dead. An occasional spider skids past, and
It is only the birds, perched at the window, who get a glimpse of this relic.