WOMAN OBSERVED AT BATLA HOUSE*    

She appeared-
as my hope for the colors
of the ghetto’s narrow labyrinthine lane
a noisy dullness-
teeming with men and veiled women
Her white scarf-
green-blue flowers and fringes
draped over her head and shoulder
A jacket-
dark blue
A long skirt-
kaleidoscopic print over pale white
The stalls-
selling clothes, bangles
and other adornments
fluorescent, or incandescent light above them
ensuring their bright appearance
She walked slowly-
observing-
not looking ahead
bending over a little
looking more closely
Her small, deft hands
over bangles
At our closest distance-
I saw the calm grace
of her face
A sudden sparkle
from her nose-pin-
broke my gaze

Colors that reached my eyes-

reflected subtraction
 of the absolute light
Colors she kept behind
to herself-
non-visual
unrevealed-
painted a mystery transfiguring
I was back again
to the dullness
My holey boots-
rambled
in the crowd
over my hesitant shadow
with hands inside my pockets
Inexplicable to my mind-
the afterglow of colors
Sparkle
of her nose-pin-
revealing itself
as my clear moment
with the light.
*Batla House is a Muslim ghetto in Delhi.
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