Meeting Madri

    By Archana Pai Kulkarni

    A door creaks open, a serpent-breeze
    coils itself around her ankles.
    She has crossed her feet, curled her toes.
    The mattress has two depressions
    where her heels have dug in.
    The paint on the walls is peeling off,
    like the skin on the inside of her thighs.

    The room stops breathing, braces
    itself in the darkness.
    In the moonlight, she can see his
    amorous eyes. Outside the window, a raven’s
    croaking frosts the air. He lies
    down beside her.

    She hears the discordant notes
    of his polyphonic wheeze, the murmur
    of his scarred heart. His calloused hands know
    their way around, stop at soft spots,
    and follow the undulating terrain.
    He is a withering rose emitting
    a rheumatic fragrance. He had kept
    his cardiac condition a secret.
    His arrhythmic ardour reeks
    of betrayal. Her body turns
    to stone as his every pore lights up.
    Her struggle is his aphrodisiac. Ecstasy could be his—
    ruination; hers, too. To love him
    is to lose him. To add fuel to his fire
    is to turn him to ashes. His doctor’s warning
    is analogous to Kinadama’s curse. To mate
    is to die. Now or soon.

    She wants but is afraid to want him.
    His urge leaves her without choice;
    she gives herself over, commits
    a crime against herself. Lust is hard
    to stop, love, harder. Her body becomes
    a seismic zone.
    Through her sweat and his wetness,
    she holds her breath and waits.
    In that conjoined eternal nanosecond,
    when fear and hope play tag,
    when bliss could be a coital nightmare,
    the world opens and closes. In that blink
    he inhales, his heart pounds on her
    bosom, and in the throes of the invasion
    as relief washes over her,
    she cries a little, flies a little, dies a little.

    The erstwhile editor of New Woman magazine, Archana Pai Kulkarni is a writer, independent editor, interviewer, and yoga teacher with a keen interest in nutrition and Natural Laws. An amateur birder and inveterate walker, her day begins with sun- and sky-gazing. When she is not being a drudge, she practises conscious noticing and is committed to decluttering and travelling light. She finds deep joy in the ordinary and is enthralled by the mundane.

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