Photograph by Doren Mayanglambam of PhtoMax, Kakching. © Thoithoi O’Cottage (April 2014)
Silent city, unreal like a bad dream
Its beads of noise soaked up by weariness.
Smoky beams splash sunlight on my dusty floor
And shadows of leaves rustling restlessly—
My ancient floor with sets of little footprints;
They bring some sounds distant, some calls distant
They won’t hear my answer any more now.
When another live butt off the ashtray
Hits the floor smoking and rolls to a stop
Its muffled thud rings clear—smoldering thud!
Did it burn out the loose seams of sound
Or bust down a hidden sealed crack to the world?
Small sounds trickle in slowly like strangers
Timid first into a silent world of no sound—
The burnt-out fan creaking possessed in the wind
The wind chime tinkling at the empty porch,
And the sound of my breathing, but no more!
They rather deepen the cut into my soul!
Long shafts of yellow crash onto the floor
The shadows are still rustling on the floor
Voices still calling from the distant past—
I’m curled up in one corner of my room
Observing the emptiness building its empire.
Windy day, lying still on the bank
A quiet dog looks into the water—
A pair of legs limp in the wind
Like the tree’s last autumn leaves.
Late silent night—blue moon in the pond.
A yell from the distant past—
A frog’s panic jump!
Slowly the moon gathers its pieces
in the blue silence!
Like in a dream while in my bedroom
My house disappears just like that—leaving me nowhere
Amid an endless expanse of a cold blueness
Of low houses heavy under thick blankets of snow
Peeking low over the blue wilderness of snow,
Like shawled witches crouching over their lamps
In a choreographed motionless shroud dance
Furtive glances sneaking out from the sides of their eyes.
The streets, the roads, the houses, the landmarks…
Not quite familiar, and not that strange again
I’m walking in a living fairy tale among houses
Where stood the houses disappeared just like that
Without even the ghost of a bubble’s quiet pop.
The snow falls leisurely, and I walk searchingly
Spiteful and yet indifferent to each other
Like clips from different movies merged into a single frame
The streets like a beauty’s black eyes and brows stretch into eternity,
With the witches watching me from under the snow—
Bed and Breakfast! Read the signs on their low windows.
I’m a stranger walking lost in my own land,
(No other land I’m more familiar with than this)
As if an unwelcome ghost visiting home
From a battlefield of old in a far foreign land!
Nobody comes, nobody goes. Nothing happens.
I don’t know what has become of this land,
Where all the people with all their voices have gone.
It’s all blue—too dark to be a day
Too bright to be a moonlit night—it’s all blue.
I prowl the empty streets, roads, and alleys, threading in and out
Of the silent darkness between snow-muffled houses.
Not a soul stirs, not an insect creeps or crawls either—
The city is a blue bloodless still cut out of a movie.
Cold wind blows leaving smoky traces in the air
Wind chimes tinkle at the silent porches quietly,
Their cute little tinkles smudging on all the walls blue!
I feel like the wind’s tulle bedraggled in the mud and snow!