You start out thin, yellow and uncertain.
This is when you learn to stir,
when you learn that care requires
not just passion or dedication,
but rhythm, timing and doggedness.
You remember just how much sugar
you've put in, so much sugar,
but if you don't stir and stir
every thickening minute, you risk
some of it coming back up
as burnt up bitterness. Never mind
though, your flavour's rich enough
for it not to matter so much.
Three hours of stirring that seem like
decades, and you're close to the end.
Stirring and stirring, reduced down and
thick, rich, brown, sweet, it
rouses itself in the pot like
an animal ready to leave the nest.
So you spread it out to cool
with the hope that it will be
as beautiful as you willed it to be,
and as you wait, you realise
that not all seeds need be planted
to give life, some are ground down
so that their bodies can bring
and hold together generations of work -
grains of wisdom in the vast
body of love.
It drips down staircases,
flows through closed windows,
disturbs snored-on or fornicated-on
sheets, dissolves sleep -
the sound of running water
or voices angrily reproaching water
as if it were an absent lover.
A water tanker's spigot
opened and aimed at
the narrow neck
of a single plastic bottle.
These days fountains
do not make you smile,
rather you long to bend down
under each one, close the taps
that feed them and hope
that they can cover your dreams
with a wet blanket of security.
Rohinton Daruwala lives and works in Pune, India. He writes code for a living, and speculative fiction and poetry in his spare time.