No Numbers in Forevers

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Maa doesn’t talk about numbers

She says I’m 17 monsoons old

She hands me Shakespeare’s ironies when I ask her to teach me arithmetic

She has always made me learn histories and never heard me reciting tables

She says my notebook covered with multiplications and subtractions reminds her of Mihir,

Mihir who lived three lanes away

Mihir, whose home had a mango tree in its backyard

And Mihir who killed himself just before his marriage

 

Maa doesn’t know the meaning of my name

She says she named me the day baba left us

My name reminds her of baba’s breathy voice telling her he’s never wanted a girl child

and sweater smelling of salt and dahlias

Maa tells me about Noctifer the evening star and tells me it’s millions of summers away

And I drown in constellations in my mind

 

Maa says she would never let me marry someone like baba

While I hide my first poem in the plaits of my skirt

Maa hates numbers

I know

 

I’m in a world that doesn’t make sense maa

And I don’t know where to go when I can’t calculate the amount of guilt and sorrow I will endure

I love her maa and she’s not like baba,

They say Fall in love so you can live

But now when I am in love

They are planting thorns  outside my window

They are waylaying with swords hidden under their sleeves

We used to venture amidst stars

Now we just sleep in dirt worrying we won’t get peace in the roads we turned towards our destruction

While looking for a place to stay we cave across melting rocks

 

Maa,

I am scared and I don’t need numbers maa

Just save me

Tell them you are by my side and I don’t need to worry

Tell them you love me and her equally, Maa

You taught me to write about star crossed lovers

But I love her you see,

I lover her Maa and she’s not like baba

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