A rain-soaked afternoon in late September
Brought back memories galore,
Drenched to the skin, every wet pore
Exasperates, enervates, suffusing
A heightened sense of liquid agitation to my core.
The tumultuous wind gnawing and ravishing
The rabid landscape like a vile torpedo.
I walked back home,
Walking down the very same road
Past the blanched awnings and ragged balustrades,
Numberless, listless houses and shopfronts
Sizing me up with a steady, concupiscent gaze.
I walked past the forbidden hole – that small
Crater in the ground, to the right of the road,
Which had intrigued me endlessly
Through the half-remembered, half-forgotten
Monsoons in the days of yore.
The responsible elders had advised me
To stay clear of that dubious, dangerous
Semi-crater, which sat perched atop the
Cracked, corrugated surface, scarred by
The Natural whims of millennia or more.
I continued my quotidian walk towards home
Diligently avoiding that dark hole,
Peering curiously at me;
I had unconsciously internalized those
Vatic instructions into my whole being.
They had sanctimoniously warned me, when
I was nine or ten, that there were insects
Inside it, or worse still, they said,
“Even a snake could rear its ugly, sable
Head from inside it, especially during
The filthy, pestilential monsoons.”
An accurate optical replica of my
Baffled ten year old self sprung up
Before my eyes, unprovoked;
A little girl, clad in a canary yellow raincoat,
Appeared visibly startled and afraid,
Her naïve inquisitiveness momentarily silenced
By this piece of unsavoury explanation.
I saw briefly that little, shaky, shuddering girl,
Told to meticulously avoid puddles and holes;
And too many candies, marshmellows
And flavoured ice-creams in winter
And to always stick to the correct side of the road.
For a moment or two, these verbal strictures
Rang stanchlessly like recurring
Ariettes of incessant dogma
In my ears.
The rain had abated mildly.
The wind had reined itself in
For the moment; though
Truculent surges blew intermittently.
I continued my walk home
Casting a sheepish half-glance backwards,
Towards that unholy crater
That you were always forbidden to dip your
Feet into during the monsoons,
For fear of scorpions and snakes
And other assorted insects
It lay as inconspicuously as before,
As nonchalantly as twenty monsoons ago,
As dull, complacent, self-assured, blithe
And morbidly grandiose as
Perceived by that little shivering girl
In the sunshine raincoat
Over a decade ago.
And I allowed my misty eyes
To rest on it, to regard the
Swarthy aureole around its ancient head
For a brief moment or two,
Half-convinced that if I peeped in
I would catch a glimpse of that
Radiant, carefree smile, circumscribed
By the yellow hood of the sunshine raincoat.
That haunted hole by the side of the road,
That was once the cynosure of many a
Childhood nightmare (brought on by the
Mendacious accounts of sapient adults),
That haunted hole – that lay nestled
Surreptitiously in the coves of
Many a feverish dream.
Into that forbidden hole
I silently watched the warped
Fragments of my childhood
Assimilate and dissolve,
Not to be raked up anymore.