Come girl, let’s kick up a row

Mrudula Bhavani

Tell me, did you have a dad who ate
Your head the whole day till
You loathed him?
Do you have a mom erupting into
Tears like a burst dam
Howling and laughing by turns?
The yellowed silence between them?

Have you been thrashed for
Misplacing a pair of scissors?
Do you have a copy of Pinocchio
Smeared with your mom’s blood from a cut?
Do you have a beloved mirror that
Crashed down on your mom’s skull?

Then, how can you reproduce my feelings
With the same emphasis?
Then, how can you plagiarize my drawings
With such skill?
Then, how did you learn to
Love yourself even as you observed?

I want to place my head
On your lap
Near your unfinished drawing
And sleep till the dawn.
I need nothing.
Not even a kiss.
I want to talk.
Then, we should draw pictures
On the cool floor.
With paint, with wax,
With charcoal.
Beginning with the floor,
Then on the walls, then the roof,
Then the outer wall,
Then the trees in your courtyard,
On the leaves,
Compound walls,
The walls of the public toilets,
Shop walls, verandahs smelling of
Beedi and peanut candy,
Benches grimy with
People sitting for ages,
Gray beards,
We can paint all.
We can squabble with the moralists,
Breaking the Q buying liquor from the shops.
Then, we can walk till we are satisfied.

Around us are
Interrupted rivers
Severed legs
Unsold ice cream
Garbage heaps
Ravens that crow in a high pitch
Kids who do not know the name of their country
Though hungry
Though unschooled
Kids who grow up in the raw.

People who hone the edges of the
Broken maps to polish them.
Men who measure up our bodies
And delight in the sight.
Men who hum all around us
Like mosquitoes.
When I know that their target
Is your breast
I try to shield it.
Those who are both.
Then, us.

If we go by Dubey colony
Near the railway line on which tiny trains run,
I will show you a place where
Cattle and the lake become one.
In the evenings
Kids will fly kites
From the top of the septic tank.
They will crash land
On the rugged ashen rocks
On the brown and green hill just beyond.

Kids will go up the hill
To thread new strings to the broken kites.
You and me will watch it.

I will, then, lift my left arm and
Draw a line without keeping you in mind. 
I will be frustrated finding that
Whatever else I draw becomes you.
You will stretch your head
To have a look with your panda eyes.
I will turn your jaw towards the sun
About to set to the right.
I will snap a picture
With the sun hooked to your jaw.

It will be a selfie which
Even you can’t click!
We can have tea on the way back.
In a glass tumbler of olden days
Corrugated below.
Then, I will tell you the tale
Of the kid that was me
Who sipped the shadow of a bulb’s filament.

My head is a deciduous tree.
So, touch my head as you leave.

When fed up,
May I return to you and
You to me.
Set your panda eyes aglow with kohl.
That’s it.

translated from the Malayalam by Ra Sh