by Parth Pandya
On lazy Bangalore Saturdays,
when we are about to set out to eat
and then return for a well-earned siesta,
my boys come to me with their arms raised,
waiting for me to spray my perfume
on their shirts over their armpits,
on their unsullied bodies,
rejoicing in this little ritual −
quite unnecessary yet wholly satisfying.
It takes me back to my many summers in Surat,
an annual ritual of my childhood,
when my cousins and I
would raise our arms in surrender,
to the uniform perfume that was sprayed on us.
United in blood, united in fragrance,
we would exit into the streets
of a city that didn’t seek a
sense of purpose to exist.
Nothing ever happened there –
nothing needed to.
We were happy in this nothingness,
enjoying somnolent lunches
and waving newspapers to convene air,
when the electricity deserted us,
spending hours playing cricket
and walking through the by-lanes of an old city,
evading the motorcycles that narrowly
dodged the cows on the road.
Dusk would see us walking back home,
washing the city off our hands and feet,
changing out of the clothes
from which the perfume had long evaporated,
and eating food under the loving gaze
of our grandmother,
who never asked what we did
in a place where nothing ever happened
and nothing ever needed to.