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“Will you do this for me?”

“Yes.”

The first evening, the first book. The cracking steps of a dusty campus building, weighed down by the stifling Sun. One voice reciting, in smoothly flowing Tamil, and echoing in English, the story of a crooked sage who dreamed of writing of a war that ended everything. The other silent, listening raptly.

The next, on a rainy morning, the second book. The iron-wrought balcony, and two black coffee mugs, steam spiralling into the nothingness. Through the muting sound of rain on everything, the first voice speaking of the dejected princess, her longing for revenge, and the beginning of the end. The second, listening, enthralled.

Then, the third book, as they sat beneath the sprawling banyan, as the mela existed in constant motion of color around them. In between bites of chaat and sips of buttermilk, the first voice, describing the tale of an unfortunate brethren, turned against each other by the deeds of their fathers. The second, listening.

The fourth book, on a summer afternoon. The sunlit grassy courtyard of a stark white colonial building, remnant of a chained and enslaved history, under the free open cloudless sky. A platter of mangoes between them. The first voice reading out some familiar age-old love story that was destined to end in sombre seperation. The other listening to the first, looking, but not seeing, the sky above, feeling a strange pleasant unease.

The saga does not end there, but the distance does.

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Seek

I have seen him;
In an old faded photograph,
his laughing face amidst a sea of laughs
looking back through sparkling eyes;
I have seen him.
I have heard his voice;
Through the crackling speakers
Of a decrepit black telephone,
Hidden in a dusty corner of my-our-his room,
Uttering flawless Urdu verses,
Mesmerising, like the sunlight
that caroms off each ripple of the endless river;
I have heard his voice.
I have known him;
In a sketchbook that ended without ending,
Through the eyes of every stranger
who is his friend,
Who speaks incessantly
Of his wild untameable life,
Of how he only knows happiness
In its truest form- as freedom;
I have known him.
I see him now,
In front of me,
As we stand among an overwhelmed rout,
And our eyes meet for the first time,
The Seeker and the Seeked,
But know this,
I have seen him,
I have heard his voice,
I have known him for eons.

Reunion

She kisses me,

At the warm junction of my neck and shoulder.

There, she buries her face,

Hiding it from the world.

I feel her scalding tears,

Falling, tangling in her hair,

Burning a trail on my skin.

Hands come up frantically,

Grasping me,

Grasping at straws.

In that one embrace,

Lay every sunny afternoon,

Every coffee-laced kiss,

Every impromptu wandering,

Everything she was,

Everything she made me.