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Ghalib lists thirty-eight varieties of mangoes in his letters

Because the sky’s vote of ruin

in yellow dust storms

said seven times your life-size mirror will crack

show marks of infant deaths

in cinnabar ink:

Go bury each palpitation of hope

 

Said your haveli’s thirsty walls

will devour years of rains

flood your bones and your wife’s

and burst through your brother’s

schizophrenia

 

The poet tosses and turns

but always wakes up with Adam’s spark

of mischief and his gift for names

 

dandles a new divan on his knee

taunting loss

by naming the lust of monsoon

thirty-eight times:

 

Husan Aara “adorned with beauty”

Enviable beauty

 

Badami “Almond-like”

Shape of jinn eyes

shape of secret through spy glass

 

Neelam “Sapphire”

Verandah under the indulgent velvet

of the night-sky

 

Zafrani “Saffron-like”

Aubade of the beloved’s veil

draped over the window        

 

Fajri “of the Morning Prayer”

Gold foil rising

Dew under the worshipper’s feet

 

The poet finds names of mangoes

in the folds between empires:

 

Bishop:

Man of God

on the chessboard of the great game

 

Bombay Green:

Green hills where “Chaughaan”

becomes “Polo”

 

Hamlet

who asks on every stage

what the poet asks

 

Monsoon moistens the grave

Ghalib inhabits

Mirror in the courtyard webbed with cracks

He pens:

 Nazuk Pasand  “Favoring the Delicate”

Turn of phrase

shard of diamond








 

 

 

 

Posted 09/05/16
Haveli: Urdu for mansion Divan: Urdu/Persian for a collection of verse
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