(Photograph courtesy Jayshree Shukla. Posted with due permission)
Love and faith light up the dense tangle of streets
that lead to the dargah of mehboob –e – ilahi,
and the tomb of his beloved disciple Khusro,
garbed in rose petals, attars, offerings
and a heady whiff of spiced kebabs,
lost words float across the treetops,
arches, patios and tombs, sometimes,
quietly they nestle in an empty nest
or whirl down onto the marbled floor
in an aerial dance—like dervishes,
caught in a mystical ecstasy, their souls
electrified by the rising crescendo of qawaals.
Possessed in a feverish frenzy of longing
and sensuousness, bodies dissolve
into each other and in turn into
the saint and the poet, love rises
as smoke at the end of the lit incense
and floats through the prayers
tied to the marble lattice
I sit in a corner, eyes closed – entranced,
the poet in me loses herself to the scents,
the sounds, the sights, the dust, the birds,
the trees, the sky, the marble, the songs,
and then dips herself in holy water
as green as the greenest emerald.
The sun seeks its path among
the silhouettes frozen in time.
I lean against the afternoon draped pillars
and feel my inner darkness melt
with their lengthening shadows,
the senescent walls soak up the pain
as I trace my fingers over them.
Across the courtyard, time, like a poem,
burns in the dua-e–roshni as the day
meets the loban perfumed night.
Two lovers completing each other
like two halves of a sphere.
It is in this cosmos
that the inexpressible exists,
visible to those eyes which can see.
(Based on one of my visits to the Dargah this is one of the poems in the Delhi Series. First published in Asian Signature Magazine.)