He runs into the kitchen squealing,
towel clung round shoulders
in cape. He stops at the chula,
drops his clutch, billows body
to the fire like a sail.
Flames dance cross his
pecan belly, steam rises from his
devil-slick hair. His grin lost to the blue
of flame, eyes glazed in
We were sitting eating parathas.
With chillies, Ma anaesthetised
her tongue. Her lips burnt scarlet
with the stinging; through an O
of tongue she blew hot air.
She is never quite ready for her son who,
naked and steaming as a nut,
squeezes into the cradle of her
lap, the orb from which he feels safe.
He squawks out phrases in parrot;
fails to corner our love.
One girl, childless, touches
cold palm to his soft and shining cheek.
He squeals, and ducks into the crook
of Ma’s elbow, toppled,
for a moment, from his throne.
The life he lives,
is a tightrope he hasn’t
learnt how to tread.
Eloise Stevens is a Brit washed up on the shores of Bombay. She enjoys writing and walking and the resounding dissonance that inspires her to live so far from her birthplace. These two poems are from ‘Excerpts from The Shatabdi Diaries’.