Your half-open mouth when you’re half asleep,
Your messed up hair from the rickshaw ride,
Your hand on my shoulder,
that slyly sneaks to my waist,
All of that is mine; all of it is me.
I am the sharpness of your extra teekhi chutney,
I am also the wholeness of your cutting chai,
I am the sweetness of your last sip of coffee,
I am the chaashni and malai.
I am your unfinished whiskey by the bedside,
I am the warm yellow from the fairy lights,
I am the cool breeze on a boiling May afternoon,
I am the disappointing Mumbai winter, sometimes.
I will calm your demons by singing them lullabies,
I will fill you with my stories, wise and otherwise.
I will tell a hundred lies to the world,
only so that I can see you for a while.
You bring out the Mumbaiwali in me,
The abey and the oye in me,
The rust and the robustness of the kaali-peeli in me,
The shameless kisses in the rickshaws in me,
The missed sunsets at Marine Drive in me,
The fourth seat in the train in me,
The wrath of a delayed Virar local in me,
The casual bhai and the bantaai in me,
The angry, reluctant smile after our fight in me,
The meethi chutney on the sukha puri in me,
The “cheap Chinese” dinner dates in me,
The ritually losing the umbrella in me,
The rare finding of a window seat in me,
The bright red of the BEST in me,
The muddy browns of the floods in me,
You bring out the Mumbaiwali in me.
Yes, you do; you really do.
You bring out the serial bomb blasts in me,
The bullets and cries from the Taj in me,
The wretched 7/11 in me,
The pointless ‘Mumbai Bandhs’ in me,
The losing homes to floods in me,
The poverty of the slums in me,
The affluence of Bollywood in me,
The chor, the bazaar, and the Chor Bazaar in me,
The dhol-tasha of Ganeshotsav in me,
The sultry, impious Nav-ratris in me,
You bring out the “Spirit of Mumbai” in me.
You bring out the fearless Radha in me,
The staunchly devout Meera in me,
The emptiness of the day that follows Diwali in me,
And all of my nine Durgas in me.
You bring out the sweet pain of unrequited love in me,
The strongest lust for your flesh in me,
The unrealistic expectations of our future in me,
And our inevitable separation in me.
You bring out the six-yards and the dupattas in me,
The skinny jeans and the salwars in me,
The laaj, lajja and also the besharmi in me,
The “nahi, pehle meri baat sunn” in me,
The “sab theek ho jayega, yaar” in me,
The “aisa hota, toh kaisa hota?” in me,
The “arre samaaj ko maaro goli” in me,
The “I’m good; but not good enough for you” in me.
They say my name means ‘love’;
You bring out my name in me.
*This particular one is my (very rueful) adaptation of Sandra Cisneros’s ‘You bring out the Mexican in me‘. Easily and non-exaggeratedly, this has been the most fun piece I’ve written in my entire life!