A deer park, a duck lake, a fort—
“It’s colder here, isn’t it?”—
“Yes; we’ll walk fast, ok?”
Distress clouds your eyes:
“You should’ve got your coat.”
“It was sunny when we came out.”
(Ma chère, what’s gone through the sieve…
what’s stuck in the net, we receive
like cactus flowers in a drought.)
“It’s still October,” says our friend.
She’ll be only too glad to take an auto.
We press on to the lake.
The fort was restored to defend
the water from the Mongol hordes.
These Khilji-Tughlaq ruins now boast
of peacocks, lovers and ghosts;
no one remembers Taimur’s sword.
The dusk is smoggy, the village is lit-up.
We hear jazz, Sufi,
and debate on rum or coffee.
“To not drink would be sacrilege!”
We each order one-and-a-half
measures of rum: the cold retreats.
Good I didn’t get the coat, it cheats
me of the warmth of friends.
—“Or rum?”
—And we laugh.

Uttaran Das Gupta

Uttaran Das Gupta is an assistant professor in the Jindal School of Journalism and Communication. He is the author of Visceral Metropolis and Ritual.