Poetry | ‘Home’ & ‘That Face’ by Ameya Bondre | Issue 36 (Nov, 2020)


I was running bare feet,
as we did in those little days,
on an empty street,
next to a railway track,
in black shorts,
and a creased white T-shirt,
with my friend,
always ahead of me.
It was the time of the day,
when the sun was at its peak,
the birds had slept,
the leaves didn’t move,
on the few coconut trees
that watched over us,
and only the blaring engine
of a passing train,
could stop our sprint.
I saw a red Maruti 800,
racing towards me, and…
I fell on my face.
He stopped a few meters ahead.
My nose bled.
He rushed towards me,
pinched it hard,
and asked me to look up.
My hands and legs got stiff.
I got pale.
I said I cannot.
He let off his fingers and,
saw a dark red track of liquid
trickle down the side of his thumb.
He said, we will go home,
to my home,
that I needed to,
that he’ll take me home.
And, I, could only want more,
of that fall,
of that pinching,
that holding,
that presence,
even, that beading of sweat on his temple
and the rushed breathing,
letting me know that,
he was there,
I didn’t want to hear the word,


That Face’

I looked through the blinds, fixing my eyes,
and saw them on the bed.
He on top, kissing her neck, she breathing through her mouth.
His huge bulky frame, pressing her against the bed,
the tickle of his thick moustache on her slender neck,
making her smile.
Unaware of the smell of fish, that may come from his hands, holding her shoulders
or the sweat of his armpits, from a long day working in the kitchen.
The armpits inching closer to her mouth.
My child, held like that, by a man, a servant.
My daughter, wanting him more,
even with his shabby shirt on,
her fingers from either side sliding on his broad back,
spreading wide, trying to meet.
Why am I seeing this?
Why do I get to see, this?
Why did I not see this coming?
Why did they assume we would sleep and be fooled after a heavy seafood Sunday lunch?
Where did I fall short?
Why would she do this?
Didn’t she think of her mom?
Didn’t she think of me?
I picked up a cricket bat lying by the edge of the wall,
and banged it on the locked door.
The bang woke them up.
I heard muffled cries from inside,
loud whispers I could not follow.
Two people, thieves as if,
figuring out an escape.
My bat didn’t stop hitting the door,
cracking its centre,
chipping off the wood.
I didn’t say a word,
I kept hitting,
I didn’t stop.
I thought I would kill him
I thought if I could
I wished this was unreal
I wished he would vanish,
after the door broke.
I didn’t deserve it.
I didn’t want to see
that Face,
that body,
and those clothes
over my daughter.

Ameya is a physician, public health researcher, and a writer, based in Mumbai, India. He penned short stories on relationships, conflict, hope and acceptance in the winter of 2017, to put them into ‘Afsaane’, his first book. ‘Afsaane’ has been featured in the Delhi WireMumbai LiveCafé Dissensus (New York City), Inkspire (Issue-5)the Bookish ElfPune Mirror, and the Oxford Bookstore (Delhi), and it has received a narration via BookMyShow.

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