Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jackie


As bombs burst outside,
faint-hearted Jakie ran inside.
Her ears couldn't bear the sound.
Diwali is always loud.
It was, even in Kashmir.
She ran for her life.
Crossing vot,
she made an instinctive dash
for the safest place in the house.
Eyes and some legs followed her.
Jackie ran for thokur-kuth.
The God room, the holy kitchen.
Among the framed family portraits of smiling gods
from the Himalayas, Plains and the Heaven,
Jackie stood moaning right next to the unlit
(but still warm for autumn night) daan.
Howling.
A canine inside a Hindu Kitchen.
'Jackie isn't very fond of Diwali. Jakie went mad.'
They were all now laughing.
Jakie was led out of  the Kitchen.
But nothing could make her come out of the house.
(Weak-hearted Jackie)
So she stayed inside all that night.
'Tomorrow, she may go back to roaming the streets.'
Old lady of the house again cleaned the Kitchen.
Poured water and swept the floor
Purified.
A diya still burning in front of gods. She bolted the door shut.

'You weren't born when this happened.'
I heard this story, every Diwali, every year,
while I was growing up not in that house.
'Jackie must have died a year or two after you were born.
She used to play with you.
You wouldn't remember that (do you)!
Killed.
Someone from the neighborhood fed her something.
A needle in her throat.'

And then the post scripts.

'Then when your sister was born, around that time, we took in a dog.'

I remember the litters. The dog was really shy.

-0-

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