At the Dancing Square—Chowk
Let me be. She licks her scream like a morsel it
hovers in the brazen sky. My sun is caught in the rain.
Staggering halfway to the square she fixes her laughter.
Somewhere far away from the sloppy moonlight
there is a hope, red and blue.
Not all men are tone deaf unable to hear the call
of hunger. Body, bosom, bare hips, needless to say
bare feet. She cannot afford the luxury of sleep.
Her hair smells of jasmine and hands glisten with
Jaipuri bangles. Kohl-rimmed eyes ready to sting.
Worn out with waiting the city lacerates one and all.
The city has spared none. The city will spare no one.
The street is her illustrious companion.
Often it rings with the flavor of seviyan and paan
Even the ghungroo relishes the touch of korma.
Tabla and sitar once had a taste of lucknowi tehzeeb.
Tracing her steps, up and down, subversive innuendoes,
voices reeking with lust and country made liquor, gaping
indifference of the hushed minarets. Often she is baffled
by the distant call of Amma: “Get up and be ready for Ajaan.”
A whiff of wisdom sits on her head. She opens her empty
fist and catches the fading star, like long lost siblings they
laugh at each other and promise to meet again. If not tonight,
she knows she will find a lover and watch him snap
her dreams with eager lips and unsteady fingers.
- Pudding made of sugar, semolina and nuts
- Betel leaf
- Ankle bells
- Meat dish
- Lucknowi Tehzeeb
- City of Lucknow with its distinct culture and tradition
Ranu Uniyal has written two books of poetry: Across the Divide (2006) and December Poems (2012). Her work has appeared in Mascara Literary Review, Medulla Review, Muse India, Kavya Bharati, Femina, and several other journals. She is Professor of English at Lucknow University with a doctorate from Hull University, UK.