'Kasauli' ( originally 'Kausali, 22nd May) was published in Six Seasons Review, November 2017 issue.
There are things that we cannot believe
even when they happen. When wild
and crazy whims turn to fruition
we are stunned into disbelief. I have often dreamt
of going to Kasauli like you—my mind says with you
but you will excuse the Freudian slip—
but I never dreamt of doing it like this—all alone
and on your birthday.—I wandered over the hills
collecting pine cones and branches of deodars
paying little heed to stares of amazement and disbelief.
I imagined you walking over all those paths
that I walked on. I saw some birds too,
though I could not click them—having an erratic
and moody phone camera—I met
a bird photographer too but that was yesterday—
I saw two greenish birds and a tiny little one
with a red tail. I saw another tiny one
taking short flights of fancy, perhaps
longer flights of fantasy. I saw sparrows too
which are mostly extinct now. I clicked lots
of pictures but perhaps destiny did not want me
to click the birds—although I do not
believe in destiny but perhaps in signs—
The poem—and my mind—wanders
And digresses as much as I did.
It is such a quaint little town
with its pretty churches, “narrow streets of cobblestone”,
and fascinating wooden and wrought iron toys.
Though the Indian army posters
do not make it any prettier—but perhaps
they are a necessary evil.—I had beer
and apple stew for lunch. And I missed
the last bus back because I sat watching
the sunset too long. I imagined you in buses,
with cameras and birds and people close to you.
I celebrated the day in countless tiny little ways
as I always do—but I have embarrassed you
too much already—the poem
is devoid of artifice because it is too intense
with emotion. Writing the poem, like watching
the sunset is only a way of making myself believe
that this most beautiful day is real
and so are you. I want it to stay,
but this most beautiful day, like you and the birds, is slipping away.