Cloud-swept, a dim opalescence settles on high
horizons. This is the beginning of winter
in the tropics, as foreign fires eclipse the sky,
suspending dust, enkindling doubt in a befuddled age.
Now it is the air that we see through, darkly,
inhaling the simmering fumes of Agni's rage
descending upon a dismal dreamscape of gloom,
where the silence is not calm temple stillness
but the dazed stupor of grey minds, with no room
for the morning sun to dispel encroaching darkness,
or fresh rain to comfort voices struggling for breath.
Stray coughs, from an old tissue-seller, powerless,
echo through the empty streets. It takes a wintry
mind to be unperturbed by her splutters,
or to maintain one's nonchalance in a country
choking on its own visions. The cold, glazed
air swallows the old tissue-seller, as she totters on,
aimlessly, disappearing into the distance, unfazed.