Inadequacies and Reassurances

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I will sleep tonight, I tell myself
Despite the insomnia that developed
After you left, like the filth that washed up—
Mainly broken bottles of rum and beer
On the shore from the receding waves—

On first impression
My psychiatrist calls it depression
And like a village ojha
Produces tablets that keeps me in good faith,
Still deeply unconvinced of my wellbeing
Later he realizes I am a victim
Of faith and a whim

Appams taste the best on earth, I tell myself
I have never tasted the dark-eyed beautiful Malayali man
Behind the counter in a little restaurant in Kochi
Making Appams or Idiyappams
Black hands on white powder
With Sisyphus’s power

Abundant love too fails to be adequate
Like the coarse edges of an iceberg immersed
Immense, neither round nor whole,
Reassurances follow inadequacies
As swiftly as regret follows impulsivity

Do inadequacies leave you so powerless?
Groping for dilapidated coping mechanisms?
You will refuse in the end, you will
Make it an occasion to invent a truth instead
Aching all the while for desires lost
And expectations disappointed

When the boat almost capsized today
Did the moments that meant the most to you
Return to you in flashes: Of how
You asked the Kashmiri boy
Who made you ecstatic
In his one-room apartment
If he loved you and he said yes.

Or how teary mother would make
Paneer paranthas on days of departure
From home to college in another city
Or how your bones nearly broke in
Baba’s embrace at the airport
That struggled to hold together
Our disintegrating strength

You forgot about all this,
The rejection letter
The note of apology
Your book that won the award
You drew strength from the helpless boatman
Who has resigned from operating the motor
And clasped his hands tight in prayer
A proud atheist on other days,
You turned into a believer

You returned home
Laughed about the unsafety of boats in India
Resolved not to go boating again
You advised everyone else too to refrain
In your educated circles
You laughed at the witless boatman
Who had no smart maneuver and
Gave into rustic liturgical chants
Reassurances have followed inadequacies so far
It is not a miracle, simply consequential.