Thursday, May 27, 2010


that's what I've been reading, both online and in books. I found this little piece of absolute, raging gorgeousness that I wanted to share.

You Bring Out the UP- walli in me *
You bring out the UP-walli in me,
The zari, gota, sitaraa,
The sweet, sweet bataasha,
The lilt of my (m)other tongue,

simmering under these words in me.

I play for you. For the twinkle in your eyes

when I rant in Hindi.

Kya hai

You bring out the UP-walli in me,

The toe rings and the nose pin in me,

The glitter and the large earrings in me,

The kohl around my eyes in me,

The love of wearing bangles in me,

The folklore and the folk music in me,

The jigar and the beedee in me,

The loud weddings in me,

The raunchy numbers in me,

The beats of dholak, the songs of naughty grannies in me.

You bring out the UP-walli in me.

The love of the epic in me,

The Mahabharat and the Ramayan in me,

The chastity vows and the infinite appetite in me,

The warrior-sage ancestor in me,

The meek minions and the mighty queens in me,

The banished one, the vengeful one, the dark one who rebelled in me,

The woman who had five husbands but loved only one in me.

They say my name means Seeta, daughter of the earth.

You bring out my name in me.

You bring out the UP-walli in me.

The blue neel in me,

the pink mahaawar in me,

the crimson gulmohur in me,

the yellow amaltash in me,

the cactus in me, the crotons in me,

the redolence of Eucalyptus, the scent of henna in me.

For you I’d mulch the mehendi leaves that hedged

our government bungalow in Jhansi.

For you I’d paint my palms and

I won’t complain.

Wild roses in Ranikhet,

Empty fireplaces in Benaras,

The smell-less smell of a desolate Noida fog,

The fragrance of raat ki raani in Karbi.

Like all these, I long for you.

Come sit on the floor beside me.

Eat kaddoo curry with soft kachauris

laid out on plates
made of dried leaves.
Dip your finger in the yogurt to stir the boora,

Make love to me with our fingers sticky sweet,

Say hum when you mean I,

I’d raise my skirts and let you in,

caress you with fumes from the dhoop batti

that used to be lit every dusk

in my Nani’s house,

and pat you to sleep.

Come. Call me jaan, or raaje.

You bring out the UP-walli in me,

The surprise of heeng in hot daal in me,

The shock of ghee sizzling with whole, red chillies in me,

The bite of raw ginger sprinkled on aloo-gobhi in me.

The sepia dust storms in me,

The mango orchards in me,

The tales of dacoits and bandits in me,

The bhaiyya complex in me,

its self-deprecatory humour

but the hidden pride in me.

I play for you. For your gritted teeth and

shut eyes when I move over you.

You’re the only one I’d allow to call me Raani,

You're the only one I'd let overtake the kitchen,
Bring me breakfast in bed,

And sometimes wine.

You bring out the UP-walli in me.

The proud grandfather and the generous parents in me,

The love of literature in me,

the scholar in me, the nerd in me,

the wannabe Anthropology intellectual in me,

the show-off-I-got-100-out-of-100 in me,

You’re the one I spin these yarns for,

At 4 am,

Overworked and sleep deprived.

Let me show off to you.

You bring out the UP-walli in me.

Hand pump water with a tang of metal in me,

Sugarcanes eaten on terraces

In dusty villages in me,

(hard teeth around firm flesh bursting with sweet in me),

Sugarcane juice running down my elbow in me,

The sexual innuendo in me.

The hot-white glare of the Taj Mahal,

The thick walls of the Jhansi fort,

The withered wooden door of my gaon house

Complete with iron knockers in me,

All nestled in me, marinating and

Roasting in me, always torturing me,

Never letting go of me.

Of naked feet on hard,

Cool, stone floors,

Of air coolers, of khus-khus

In summers,

Of peeling walls that smelt of wet earth

When sprayed with a hose,

Of blistering boulders with a whiff

Of heat.

You remind me of all these.

The forgotten, pushed away,

Hidden parts of me,

The lekin and the agar in me,

The abey and the oye in me,

The ab to ho gaya in me.

You bring out the UP-walli in me.

Let me love you.

(You do.)

Let me show you.


You do. Yes. You do.

* Gauche but earnest attempt, inspired by Sandra Cisnero's lovely, lovely 'You Bring Out the Mexican in Me'...and you.

1 comment:

janaki said...

O my, this is so lovely :-) I read it twice. Will do again after posting this comment.

Amazingly beautiful. Coy and in your face at the same time. I love new India. good stuff, liquifier.