Five Poems by Sandeep Rawat
Labour of the heart
Sometimes I think about
the time before
I hadn’t met you
I’d not be the way I am
If feelings were ever logical
I’d be blatantly honest with you
And not steal glances
But goddamn your innocent eyes
and how that tender smile settles on your lips
and if this labour of my heart between
could be drawn to a close
I would come out of the
cocoon like a silkworm
waiting for its moment to arrive
but these thoughts continue to flock my mind so here I am
working on this metrical composition
maintaining fluency in my silence
while still adventuring this pull towards you.
If I were you and you were me
If I were you and you were me,
perhaps you’d learn how
I am only accustomed
to a certain kind of familiar touch,
I give you a sudden-jerk-reaction
to your tight grip
and you call me hypersensitive
‘you will be fine’
I wish I could confront you and say my heart out
I choose to stay mum
and go to the theatre with you and your best friends
but it’s so fucking annoying to repeat I hate watching movies in 4D, and I don’t disturb you
I wait for the chair motion to stop but compensatory mist keeps me sane
I wait for the flickering of fluorescent lights to stop but yet again I tussle with the brain fog that these bright blue lights produce.
‘focus on the film’, you ask me to navigate through these mood fluctuations.
Next day, I teach my classes and I enjoy harnessing my hyper focus,
Though my students notice me making irritating faces at their fidgeting and swinging their legs.
I research the new GenZ lingo, Devil Wears Prada dialogues and somehow I can’t be very sure of my feeling if the time is passing too quickly or too slowly in taking interest in their interests ‘sir, you are so creative’
My colleagues in the staff room laud me for my acting skills as they chuckle at my slapstick humour but I can’t do the same repetitive things everyday and as soon as I finish marking the forgotten attendance on the register I feel guilty of going overboard with the timings.
I call you to tell you what an exhausting affair my day at work was and it’s sort of comical how you always shrug it off ‘take one day at a time’
You take me out to to your favourite eatery
‘what would you like to eat’ as I battle indecisiveness, I choose what you like the most
I’m getting restless in the queue as I order your preferred food,
At the table, you start lecturing me on
controlling my impulses while I feel like shutting my ears for I’ve failed miserably for not tolerating those slurpy and chewy sounds.
If I were you and you were me,
the impossible would happen,
I’d declare love-war for you and never return to this emptiness every night
But it’s your absence that ties me even more to you as I’m slowly beginning to get accustomed to it now.
Kitchen and its privilege
The collars of kitchen containers are balmed with the blame of privilege
The roof-touching den has the most expensive items that are only meant to be served to guests
Maybe they lie impaired there
Coriander leaves are limping on egg-trays
The canister rusts with horse grams
Social anxiety disorder may have been developed in crowded chickpeas and kidney beans
legumes and lentils face the wrath of being the chosen ones
Cinnamon, cardamom and cassia carefully curates a castle
And clover rolls down the slope
Biryani and pulaav jinx at each other while
While bayleaf casts an evil eye on them
All the kitchen utensils declare a hunger war
When the bangles stop clinking at the stove.
On self-diagnosing ADHD
I don’t know where am I but I am in one of the metro coaches. If I am in my senses, it looks like I am in the second coach and I am sitting on a senior citizen’s seat. I think for some reason, I have always wanted to sit towards the corner, somewhere where I can hide and make myself look unnoticed. Somewhere, where so that I can be touched with the extremes - cold walls on the right and by the skin warmth of a stranger on the left. Maybe I’m not the best person who knows concepts like balance, steadiness and stability.
In sometime I’d most probably get up if someone requests or if I see someone elderly looking at me with hope. I wish no one approaches me. It has started to become a tedious ride. I am looking at the LED screen that displays the route information and all I see is red. As the train approaches another station, I advance into another thought. It’s becoming too much. I’m waiting for the metro to stop. I decide to deboard at the immediate next station.
I’m at the station now. I see the colour of caution. It reads ‘WET FLOOR’. I twitch back. I start wobbling from side to side. I regret coming out. I regret getting up from the seat. At least I was in a better situation than this a couple of moments ago. I decide to take a reverse journey. I wait for the next metro but it shows X minutes and I don’t have the patience to stand still.
I progress towards the lift twiddling my thumbs. I wait until there’s nobody who wants to take the same lift. I am waiting and waiting. I wait until I forget why I was waiting. I am becoming restless. I try my best to recall but what I remember is my forgetfulness.
'And it happens everywhen that I think about things that don’t last forever’
These days I can’t register the present
so I almost fall into a dwam
about us in some parallel world where
the moon swims in the buttery clouds
while my garden terrain gets carpeted with bougainvillaea,
you send me hydrangea snaps
and how you never correct for messing up the flower’s name.
Another daydream is about you dropping me off the street that’s across my house,
you take off your helmet to kiss me a goodbye and just when I finally start walking alongside the road, you clutch my wrist so tight that I almost grant you its possession
And in the brief capture of composing an eye-contact with you, I unearth your soft eyes.
I walk in giddiness till my doormat whilst
you ask me if we should meet yet another time with a pounding heart
and it shows typing on my WhatsApp for 7 seconds which lasts longer than 7 rebirths.
And the final fainted field of vision
is regarding my inhibitions
of you leaving me like some leftover bread crusts at the breakfast table
Maybe because you have only liked me in two-and-a-half out of five moments
My body scent groans on your sheets and how you are only replying to my texts these days.
In my head-trip, I am half-asleep in your arms with the yellow chrysanthemum
And I ask you if-this-what-you-want
And you respond it’s-more-than-enough
The next morning, you offer me your favourite snack briefing me on how you can’t have it as you are becoming this fitness aficionado,
I quickly devour it and you savour my lips
as if mouth was made of milky-sweet cosmos.
All of a sudden, you are feeling overwhelmed
And I’m not going to come to you anywhen
Perhaps, it’s in my interest to keep things to myself because the last time I sent you my poem,
you responded with the dense fog of silence
And I’m not sure what should I do when I can
still see you dawdling between your duff hot and cold acting.
About the Poet:
Sandeep Rawat is a modern-day educator with an old-school soul. In his words: "Just like my inclusive classrooms, I wish the world could also move a poem closer to being sensitive. I write when I am choking on words and my throat feels heavy; it’s so difficult to speak and confront people, so I scatter my words on paper."