Free Verse | Painter Talking to Flowers1 min read . Updated: 29 Mar 2014, 12:11 AM IST
In memoriam: Bhupen Khakhar (19342003)
Two feet from where our jeep drew mud
from the monsoon-rutted road, he stood
talking to the yellow flowers pricked out
against the marching khaki wall of shrubs
behind which the airstrip crouched,
its low growl muffled beneath the hood
of an eat-shoot-and-sleep routine.
Only this man praying at the highway’s edge
could hear the planes take off and land.
To the flowers, his love was clear as day:
he floated above the iron-bound hedge,
dodged watchtowers, gagged on the spiky taste
of a metal creeper growing wild. It overran
the city’s roofs. We drove on, he framed his scene.
The golden rain of the end had begun to fall
when the city locked him in a frieze
of dead lamps, blind walls, gates with sprung claws.
By fading light, he looked hard at the old maw
and while his breath emptied to a final pause,
he grinned and painted the parachute trees
in the mildewed sepias of autumn.
Excerpted from Central Time (Penguin, ₹ 399).