Poetry: Alienation and Metro musings by Malcolm Carvalho


Malcolm Carvalho writes poetry and fiction when he is not occupied with his daytime job of a software engineer. His work has been featured in Bengaluru Review, 365 Tomorrows, Narrow Road, Spark, Reading Hour, Literary Yard, Muse India and in Urban Shots, an anthology of stories with urban settings. He has attended the Bangalore Writers Workshop and is a regular at weekly poetry meet-ups at Lahe Lahe in Bengaluru. You can read more of his work at www.grainsofthought.wordpress.com.


We sit here at the table just
like infinite halves of a silent storm,
skin pulled over stones,
faces planted on heads,
stars in mismatched constellations.

We speak the same language
as we did a year ago.
Today your words have burnt edges,
I’m guessing mine sound
like a warped guitar.
I play the same melody
I don’t know any other.

Maybe, that’s why we don’t talk much anymore,
There’s only so much you can speak about the weather,
Only so much we can reminisce
About conjoined lives from a decade ago,
Only so much we can try to fuse our umbilical cords
with terrace-edged memories
until we fly back to our vacuums,
swim through keyholes leading to our cocoons,
surround our cells with bricks so thick
our capsules become our universes.

Metro musings

‘Next station: Marol Naka.
Doors will open to your left.’

The PA voice floats
in the spaces
between cold metal
and people lined up
on seats
on the edges of this metro coach.
We’re two teams,
one on either side.

A girl looks into her cellphone,
her life perhaps compressed on a 5-inch screen.
On my left, an old man
looks straight across
into another eye on the opposite row,
as if to confirm light travels in a straight line.

Wrapped in silence,
the 20-degree Celsius air inside
insulating us against
a concoction of dust
and smoke
and the enthusiastic
vehicles at Saki Naka,
this coach
feels more Europe,
and less Mumbai,
more sanitized,
and less chaos.
Here you have space
to stretch an arm
and not fear
punching someone in the head.
Here you don’t screw up your nose
because an armpit
is in your face.

Here, freewill is generous to you,
so when the train saunters in at the station
you can stay where you are
or choose not to.
You will not be washed off by a flood of bodies onto the platform.
You will not have to become a dam against the flow.

here you retain yourself,
you are no longer a small cog
spinning in the super consciousness
of a Mumbai local train.

That is,
until you alight at Ghatkopar.



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