Skies /A conversation with बाबा/ by Lisa Mandal

These days the skies are blue curaçao
– Exotic. Kind of rare.

बाबा tells me how there’s a different joy
in not capturing it on the phone.
He says how the poem I intend to write about it
will be hypocritical, simply because
our species survive that way.

It is what it is.

My friend texted me a while back –
The clouds today look like they’re
the squirrel’s acorn from Ice Age
exploding into popcorn
when the world ended.

I say –
Well the world hasn’t ended yet. Haha.

बाबा says –
is hypocrisy at its best.

Because hype is a thin line between
hope and hypocrisy,
drawn on the same chalkboard
where आशा didi outlines her airplanes,
aspiring to become a pilot some day,
only to come back and feed her birds
caged up in the corner of her room.

बाबा says the sky can lie too sometimes.
You would see birds fly towards a dark sorceress –
a scene straight out of the skies
of a haunted house movie,
only to find them flying towards
an enlightened angel hiding
behind opaque clouds.

But बाबा that’s exactly what hope is
– desiring for light in the darkness.

बाबा responds –
Desiring for the Sun or desiring death?
What good did hope do to Icarus?

You see,
the sky is just a bigger cage
and we’re all birds chained in it.

It is what it is.

बाबा looks out of the window,
the Sun setting upon his years.

बाबा says he was quite the rebel in his green days
– he tells me how he always wished
to become an astronaut, an अंतरिक्ष यात्री,
and escape the shackles of his संसार.

But the sky’s chains proved to be heavier
than बाबा’s dreams.

So he passed down his dreams to me –
hoping I would vacuum the clouds
before they cried,
hoping I would trap the Sun in my palms
before it set,
hoping I would tear through this blue blanket
before it smothered me dead.

मेरी बेटी तो उड़ेगी, जी भरके उड़ेगी.

Is hypocrisy.
At its best.

Lisa Mandal is a 19 year old BA student residing in Bangalore and pursuing a triple major in Journalism, Psychology and English Literature. She won the maiden champion title at the APM National Youth Poetry Slam for the teenage category, was a selected participant at the Slam India Retreat held at Jaipur, has been an active member of the Campus Diaries campaign on mental health awareness, been a featured performer at The Wryte Litfest Pune, Spoken Mumbai, The Times Litfest Bangalore; and a finalist at the all-India level BIS Slam for two consecutive years. She has performed on the same stage alongside artists like Sarah Kay, Phil Kaye, Anis Mojgani, Kalki Koechlin, Priya Malik, Blythe Baird and Olivia Gatwood. She likes poetry and cinnamon glazed donuts. If she could turn snarky sarcasm into a paying job, she would be employed for eternity. You can find her on Instagram as @lisamandal.

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