In that city, it is easy to slip
into the pretence that you’ve never left home -
all along the lanes of the Island
and along the riverside
there’s the same mauve petal-foam
of the jacaranda tree,
the same flamboyant firesparks
the gulmohur shreds on the roads,
the stone built citadel, the pointed arch
in the crumbling ancient walls.
If you look away a moment
and look quickly back again
they exactly echo the ones in
the ruins of the mausoleum
next to your old schoolbus-stop.
On a radiant spring day,
there are two small boys
in holey singlets on a terrace
flying exuberantly coloured kites;
just as there used to be
in the old neighbourhood
off the Ring Road;
the smell of horse and camel dung,
the silky perfumes of old, old dust
hung like streamers on the dusk.
At the start of winter,
fake snowflakes and Santas
are plastered on shop windows
in places that have never witnessed snow;
that’s the same too.
There are fifteen-foot dressed trees
in the atria of buildings, miles
of tinsel and fairy lights;
they make you smile
and rope you into
secretly celebrating festivals
that aren’t quite yours.
That entire city is a conspiracy
to rope you in; to make you celebrate
things that aren’t quite your own.
You are given two homes on earth,
one is where you feel at home,
the other where you can pretend you are.
I am travelling and will catch up with you when I get back. Meanwhile, a very merry Christmas and the best of 2016 to you, if you are celebrating. If like me, you don't, then well, there's always that pretence :) Happiness and peace to you all.