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  You could have a big dipper   

What is with Februa and Moondust White Maruti Cars by Mandira Pattnaik

Except Februa is spelt and salt and strips of goat skin/ Roman/ How like decoration it hangs in my room, doting mother to February, leans over it, whispers purification, and how like an induced spectator, I mute the TV, and see it frolic on the window sill, harbinger of everything spring/ Not to be defeated, the screen sprays ever-renewing images of distant ugliness, or alien streets, or soft-growing summaries of fleeting days, until I arrive at a series I hope to binge-watch/ Only to have it interrupted by a just launched moondust-white Maruti car, ultimate insignia of Indian ingenuity and enterprise, soon gate-crash onto the TV screen, and percolate into my plans/ I view the intrusion as a 796cc hatchback of 1983 driving into chaotic Connaught Place on a warm blushing morning, the smaller, lighter, neater, Japanese philosophy broadly embracing our happy family of six on a Sunday outing, portraits of glorious affections, also hidden knives between my grandmother and her daughter-in-law, as we got off, queued up at the chaatwallah/ How I shared stories about the trip with friends on the Monday after, at school, for the better part of lunch-hour/ How they were suspicious not all of my tales were true/

Except my mind trips back to the day that apple-red shiny new car was just delivered to our home, parked in the newly-built garage, like new-bride/ Dad waiting for Mum to crack coconut by its front wheels, the auspicious occasion of Diwali, endowing a grand welcome to our first four-wheeler/ Ushering it like family/ Family it is — hasn’t betrayed us, still in the garage, relegated to the farthest spot, unmindful of dust and cobwebs, flattened tyres, yet standing and waiting to be taken for a spin someday/ Dad is sure he won’t sell it, for whatever it’s worth; he will not be Brutus/

Except, now, Disney’s Spacetime Odyssey unravels on screen, stunning CGI included, storytelling humanity’s follies and leaps/ I look on, but I’m not allowing sound yet/ Rushing-vanishing images can’t hold me tight/ I can hear February still, its presence in my starved house, the birds all busy, while a whining winter recedes, and the sun, mellow and humble, spreads itself on a washed-clean azure sheet/ When I pay attention, there’s an interruption in the Odyssey, yet again/ It’s the moondust-white Maruti Baleno once more, after the Italian ‘lightning’ or the Latino ‘Fire’/ Whooshes out of the frame, just as fast/

Except, Februa, I glance at you for reprieve again, you gaze back with the beckoning of lover’s arms, wistful like fragrant breeze/ Outside, on my balcony, potted peonies and petunias colour the canvas of pale light, reminiscent of budding affections in adolescent hearts/ Cosmos peregrination enslaves me a while longer, but already I’ve been transported to another universe and back


Mandira Pattnaik's work has appeared in Citron Review, Watershed Review, Splonk, Passages North, Amsterdam Quarterly and Gasher Journal among other places. On Twitter @MandiraPattnaik

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