Our Burning Lady

Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor watched the cathedral burning. The Crown of Thorns had turned into ashes, and the old relics were gone.

The brave Emperor thought what more could be done now? As his horse, his vassals and he himself were legless- a bronze piece of fiction.

While the wind around him gushed terribly, thick with smoke and embers, stiflingly warm.

The old Emperor grunted, turned around in disgust, and asked a horrified tourist to carry him to the Rue de la Bûcherie.

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2025

A man who had known me for a long time said encouragingly once, “At fifty, if you keep fit, a few women will surely be attracted to you.”

He was driving. I don’t drive. I waited, uncomfortably, beside him, pretending glee. While my eyes were on the windscreen watching a cow licking a wounded bull on the road. Who knew who she belonged to.

The man shifted the soliloquy to self-driving cars. Two thousand twenty five was not so far away. Robots would take our jobs. AI would write our poems. Money would be hummed out of a million servers.

Feminists would destroy our families. The sisters would take our children away and make them eat kale breakfast, why? Because, they can! Men would not know their place. Love would be disastrous for personal ego, et cetera.

Only cows, he said,

Only cows, if free, if they so would desire, would unflinchingly adore the bulls in the small hum of sweltering asphalt roads. And that would be a sight of hope.


Happiness Girls

Happiness girls are standing on the tarmac of a red plane- bare teeth, pulsing; their breasts are proud like upper class- their leggings plump boast like hope.

In the dream of a dream of the edgy runway lights. The turn from here is a stroll. A norm-bound, debt-bound a port that devours and despises a man who’s drunk one too many on the flight, cheap and on the red eye. Now leering.

There.

From the nose to the tail of the plane- fluttering and fleet like flames- ebullient nymphs, women who know no bitterness. A sea of plain and contrite men who have lusted but not made a claim- burlesque!- the girls are giggling and raising my hope.

Not to stop now, not to stray from the path, and not to forget the rules of a monogamous love; and to go on without the hope of a lay with the happiness girls is for the best, I know.

But, heavens, I am so sad.


Again A Great Man Dying

While reading a biography- a new book- life of Michelangelo or Kemal Pasha; invariably I will ask on some grand pages, “Did he know?”

“Did he know what?”

“Did he know how would it end, how would he himself die?”

“No one could possibly know that. Don’t be silly!” I will chide myself.

But as soon as the conversation is over- me naive being silenced by me reasonable- there will be a self-assurance of a fortune teller and an anxiety of a disciple, in me, while looking at the prospect of a great man.


The Toilet Sweepers of Bangalore Malls

The toilet sweepers of the Bangalore malls are the cleaners of the mess that I am leaving behind. Wiping the arrogance of a man who carries a stack of cash and cards; so that the diligent SOBs can marry well; their sons may someday come to the malls in a car.

I will tell my sons not to trust them.

By then, my boys will grow up to be the savers of whales, the empathizers, the artists, the angels of the world. And money will be mute.

The sweepers’ sons will get down to see the servant bots have come forward with marigold garlands to greet, and to clean after them. The glistening light reflecting against their translucent blue armors will blind the sons so bright that they will forget that the bots are wearing now their fathers’ all wither skin.