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

                                                     accidently remains
              clenched tight in my right fist —
its flame-coloured veins
                          marking my fist’s arteries
                                                                even bloodier
that it glows rust-gold in the night-sky —
                                       incandescent, incarnadine,
involute, interrupted —
                                       fragments forming a whole.