Bottles

Night is when I do most of my catching up,
when I talk to my mother,
who picks us up single handedly,
and places us on empty tins and canvases,
picks up empty beer bottles lying in the hall
and draws what looks like a kaleidoscope on them,
when I look at it with non-squinted
eyes.

 
In the room across the hall,
next to where the curves of
my nani’s printed sofa touch the walls,
I lie under the blanket, counting the nights
when I’ve forgotten to do the catching up, and
for each forgotten night, I draw remembered bottles,
over the softness of the cloth
that my blanket is made of
And in those bottles, I see a chipped tooth,
a scratch across my arm,
from the half broken nail that I bit into,
in the anticipatory moments,
when my lover performed his last poem
and drew his first bottle under his blanket.

 
On the night when I tripped
from the noise that my slippers made,
before they went into the racks,
now half tilting, from all the walking that they did
on Saturday afternoons,
I looked at my mother’s heart
no longer empty,
unlike my mother’s heart
a little before my tenth birthday,
when my father died,
when there were no cookies left in the cookie jar
and the paints in her palette had dried up,
and turned white,
when there were no hospital visits,
no tangy medicines left in the house,
no Annie’s song on the little keyboard in her room,
my mother’s heart was then as empty as a night sky,
in a city with too much human existence.

 
In the next few years, my mother changed palettes,
bought a new cookie jar,
filled her bed with salt that smelled,
of bitter nights, and chipped souls,
of hunted babies, and nightmarish phones.
My mother drew on the neck of my bottle,
when I stood on the rooftop,
holding the night for too long,
looking at the terrible height,
from where I was about to lose that part of my heart
which held in it the weakest people,
who strung my heart with theirs, and
remembered to slit it.

 
That night, I went back to my room,
lay under my blanket and drew a bottle,
this time the one that my mother had already found,
and drawn on.
Bottles didn’t change colour every night,
but my mother had been drawing kaleidoscopes on them,
for me to see, what I could also look like.
 

WP_20151221_002 Bottles

 

 

by Nandini Varma

 

Art – Mavni

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