Durga’s face, totally effaced,
red and white with sindoor and sandesh
or perhaps it is the residual stains
of fervent worship ….
— S.S., ‘Durga Puja, 1992’
Even the worshipping must close,
chandipaath song-cycles must end for now too,
dancing must stop —
not cease for good,
but just pause for a moment —
to reflect and pray
for peace, love and well-being.
The tenth day is here —
and I have to immerse you
in the river-waters of Yamuna
with my own hands.
Letting go is difficult,
but it must be done for catharsis,
for celebration, for camaraderie — for us.
As I gently lower you in the waters
amid the fading evening light,
clamour and din of all that is familiar —
your body melts in my hand
slowly dissolving away,
mingling as one — my beloved and me.
A stray shiuli flower-petal
clenched tight in my right fist —
its flame-coloured veins
marking my fist’s arteries
that it glows rust-gold in the night-sky —
involute, interrupted —
fragments forming a whole.