Project Heptanesia

Tanushree Baidya

As the pandu came running, I stood watching
He thrashed and grunted, the little boy squealed, we all stood gaping
A lady in saree grimaced, raised objection, the pandu smirked, ‘they deserve it, little twerps’ 
At a distance a man stood, his eyes roving, puffs billowing, and through the rush of traffic, of rickshaws honking, of sweaty browns faces, and vendors catcalling, he sees me watching
The little boy, no more than 9, maybe 7, in rags and bruises, laughs out loud, 
Sings a tune I danced to in a club the night before, it’s a popular one
He thrusts his pelvic, back and forth, eyes unfocused, cusses, hisses, spits and jerks
He’s high, they do that to those little boys, then tear limbs, gouge eyes (mercy this one has it all),
Little boys who steal bread, who beg money for that man across the street, the pandu a player, and us, the spectators
I only see when I shut my eyes, the travails, the tragedy sinks in
For when open, the pace of life takes over and I breeze past with melancholy
What can be said, what more of a being as me? A just prelude eludes such a feeling
For it is constant, forever, this suffering around, I breeze past with melancholy
I did stop one day, pondered over a spur of inspiration, 
Dug in deep into my shallow pocket, tossed over a coin into those wanting palms,
I breeze past my depravity with assured melancholy. I watch the lights turn green, 
I make my way past a hundred open palms; it is constant, forever, 
As the waves that gush over the shores of my lovely city, my Mumbai, my Heptanesia
I breeze past with a fake sense of dignity

It is snowing in Boston, and I have run out of stories for Heptanesia
 I have paused, taking in the scenery, walking through cobbled streets and ruffled parks
There is beauty, white skin and dark, in blue eyes, and hazel
Color has a different meaning now, so different from my world...  the one I know
Vignette of trees and faces – red, orange, brown and golden. Seasons grow, it is now all white
Not all so white, nor black, there’s olive, n’ wheat, tan and birch
So clear. The beauty in faces roll by, I go no further
Melancholy persists, but the context has changed
 Vanity irks and hems and haws, still. Me against this beauty, a complex brews
Wish I was fairer, lighter, leaner, this shade, that drape
Florid moves, just doesn’t feel the groove in this new world, I struggle
And I have run out of stories for Heptanesia, my Heptanesia
 I walk, with a wanting heart, but the context has changed
I can’t feel the stench, the rot, the deprave, the heat, the sweat down my neck
I can’t feel the brushes with strays - human and dog, the little beggars, cocky buggers
The honks, the screams, the shrillness I miss the most
I reminisce the comfort in familiarity; it made me human, treading beyond the shallow
The depravity here doesn’t strike a chord, 
‘Tis not sad enough or I haven’t lived here long enough, a fairytale
I frolic in the snow and fall colors
But the little boy in my mind stays forever