New | Poetry | 3 Haibun | I Want My City Back | Manoj Nair

I want my city back 

On the other side of the aquarium inside Cubbon Park, sitting on the big rocks by the bamboo grove, one can hear the bamboo crying when the wind blows through it in the evenings.  It creaks and groans as if in pain. 

Blowing smoke through a cigarette, hidden in the palm of my hands to avoid attracting the policeman, I felt a shadow on me in the setting sun. His buxom figure clad in a saree and thin blouse showed his navel. He smiled at me. Do you have a spare cigarette? his open smile trumped his vernacular English.  Sitting beside me on the rock adjusting the pallu, he blew perfect smoke rings through his red painted lips.  

I come here every evening. This is where I operate from. Thank you for the smoke, he said stubbing it out on the rock, light embers flying about in the breeze. 

Lockdown ennui- 

smoke from the ashtray 

dances in the dim light 

Will he be there when the lockdown ends? 

I want my city back. 

At the junction of Brigade Road and Church Street as I move aimlessly past the Starbucks, she stops me on the road with a red rose in her little hand. Begs me to take a flower for a loved one. And it’s not even Valentine’s day. 

I buy a rose for twenty rupees and gift it back to her. She smiles impishly and runs with the money crumpled in her hand to her mother who is squatting near the metro station with a newborn in her arms. Waves to me from a distance. 

I climb the stairs to Easy Tiger, take my favorite spot on the balcony, order my beer. And watch the comings and goings on church street. 

She continues to plead with her bunch of roses, singling out young couples and single men. I continue sipping on my local ale. She looks up , sees me on the balcony and smiles . 


Quarantine lockdown- 

a wind rustles 

the roses on my balcony 


Will she still be there when the lockdown ends? Or has she gone back to some remote village with her migrant mother?

I want my city back. 

Some years ago, in my earlier workplace, a few of us colleagues formed the Bangalore Bar Crawl (BBC ) club. The idea of the BBC was to go bar hopping along the streets of Bangalore. Not the regular high end pubs, but the seedy shady bars along the market places and old areas in Bangalore. The ones where you can stand and order a nip, drink it raw, gulp down water from a plastic mug, shove your hand out to the bar tender for free peanuts and have a quick lick of pickled mangoes from the common bowl. Strictly one drink at each bar and we move on to the next one. 

Maheshanna -who served us the free peanuts at Sagar Bar with a zoned out smile. 

Quarantine lockdown- 

house plants grow  

in empty whisky bottles 

Will he still be working at the bar? Or has he returned to his village home with meagre resources?

I want my city back. 

*All pictures by Bindu TG. 

Bindu is an intrepid world traveler, photographer and writer when not being a techie working in the virtual reality of the dreary tech world. Her greatest passion is to share the beauty and the hideousness, happiness and poignance of the world through her pictures and words.

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