Delhi's Bandaged Heart - Jonaki Ray's Rain Poem, Chirag Enclave

Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Jonaki Ray’s Rain Poem, Chirag Enclave

Delhi's Bandaged Heart - Jonaki Ray's Rain Poem, Chirag Enclave

Poetry in the city.

[By Mayank Austen Soofi]

It was raining heavily on Sunday afternoon. That didn’t stop Jonaki Ray from carrying on with her business, which is poetry. Ensconced under an Amrita Shergil (“Three Girls”), in her Chirag Enclave flat, she was finishing her newest poem—on Delhi rains. Jonaki returned a week ago from a literary conference in Lisbon, where she launched her first poetry book (Firefly Memories). She agrees to share her poem, written in the ghazal style, with us.

That, which escapes me

There had been no warnings, only our ‘let’s escape now’ plan. And then the dust palling, the swooping of locusts’ swarms-like clouds, the striking of lightning at places; but where exactly, escapes me, now.

We had stumbled out of the museums, sated with paintings and statues and sculptures, walked the roundabouts of roads, Copernicus, perhaps, the exact locations of which escapes me, now.

A peculiar hunger. A tapri chai, split into two plastic cups, a plate of steamed momos with their sindoori sauces, a bread omelette, and crisp jalebis on fingers, the exact stickiness of which escapes me, now.

Joining the cycles, scooters, autowallahs, and bhutta sellers, whose still-embering stoves hissed in rhythm to the raindrops, we jostled under arching flyovers, the exact names of which escapes me, now.

Finally, an autowallah pitying our mud-dyed clothes and squelching slippers, dropped us—on the wrong side of INA, and then we stopped a bus, 534 or 481, perhaps, the exact number of which escapes me, now.

The forts and flats, crumbled and scaffolded the sections of Delhi—Chirag Delhi, Hauz Khas, BRT, Shahpur Jat, the names synchronizing into an exotic raga, the notes of which escapes me, now.

The lights of the buses and cars on the peacock-necked roads below glimmered like fireflies, while the students and workers returning from their shifts grinned, in half-sympathy, the exact emotion something which escapes me, now.

The fine mist enveloped us like an old, much-washed dupatta, turning the squatters and landfills around us into simulated world-model games, a skill that I need again today, but somehow escapes me, now.

We returned, weighed down with Amrita Shergill and Jamini Roy prints, and a rectangular lamp that lit up to display the jaali work of monuments, symbolizing love or something else, an inexact memory which escapes me, now.

The birds silenced a few minutes ago, fluttered around like agitated wasps, while we tried
searching for ways to a place we called home, the meaning of which escapes Jonaki, now.