On 8th February, 2010, two men forced their way into Dr Ramchandra Siras’ house and shot a video of him in bed with another man. The next day, Siras, a professor of Marathi literature, was suspended by Aligarh Muslim University for “gross misconduct”. The Courts ruled against the university, giving Siras his job back. On 7th April that year, Siras died in a rented house under mysterious circumstances, a day before the official letter revoking his suspension arrived at his office.
in those nights
you must have felt loneliness like a drip
the walls of your room
held together by a faint song,
past loves sitting by you
combing the hours.
That poem, Dr Siras, where you ask the beloved moon
not to fear the dawn that separates us
where you seek consolation
even from shadows –
I read it last night on the terrace,
it held my hands, we will dance
as shadows dance, it let grass grow
under my feet, we will touch
as shadows touch, it hurt
my morning into dewdrops.
Dr Siras, in my Delhi barsati
the windows open onto a palash tree.
I was 27 when I first moved into it,
the landlord did not pause
at the word “bachelor”,
he only asked if I had “too many parties”.
I didn’t. I got the house.
But next time, Dr Siras
when I look for a place in this city
I’ll be older (I was born the year you got your PhD)
and they’ll pause at “marriage?”
I will try to draw respect from a right surname
from saying “teacher”
from telling them my birthplace
and will try and hide my feeling small under my feet.
You had said you were always unseen in the light of day.
What did you say, Dr Siras,
when you looked for that house in Durga Wadi?
What did you tell the neighbours:
Teacher, Professor, Poet?
What gives us this respect, Dr Siras, this contract with water?
In those nights
weighing this word in your hands
you must have felt weak, you must have
closed the windows to keep out the evening
you must have looked back, and hung the song in the air
between refusal and letting go.
(Thanks to Apurva M. Asrani, Deepu Sebastian Edmond, and Ishani Banerjee)
Excerpted with permission from the poet of ‘How Many Countries Does The Indus Cross,’ Akhil Katyal.
In the age of popular expression ‘Dilli se hu *$&%#^@’, Akhil is a poet who describes Delhi as his lover. Being from the poetic capital of India, his work is quite on-brand. What makes his work my favorite is that it does what good art is supposed to. It hits hard, yet it hits home. The writer makes you feel what he feels for when he writes about topics ranging from the socio-political environment of the country to the most popular muse of any poet, heartbreak. But mostly about the former in his book, How Many Countries Does The Indus Cross.