Stacked against us from the start:
the Puris, those witches, wanted man-
bhaji. I bedded one—which I don’t know—
so all three saw me as common property.
My music was good, better than ever;
that was the worst of their lies.
The scene: sun streaming windows,
breakfast steaming the table, Bel Puri’s
rat’s tails dipping her oats, fork
frozen midair, fatted worms adangle.
I brought the hook home, very slow,
so slow you could put your fist through
the notes, no words, vowels like silence,
loaded with the longing I felt for my wife.
They couldn’t stand the idea of love.
I didn’t look back, that too is a lie, why
would I, when I knew she was behind me?
She didn’t look back either, she was happy.
They pulled her down from jealousy.
How she howled when they took her.
I have no reason now to lie : I have no body.
~ Jeet Thayil
Jeet Thayil’s poetry collections include ‘English’ and ‘These Errors Are Correct’, which won the Sahitya Akademi Award. He is the editor of ‘The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets’ and one half of the contemporary music project Sridhar/Thayil. His novel ‘Narcopolis’ won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and was shortlisted for five other prizes, including the Man Booker Prize.