The Games We Played

Written by: Jeena Chacko

We pace the stone streets now, groping beneath the woolly underbelly
Of the mildewed memories, dried by age, wrung silly,
But they trickle back, malicious memories, bitter-sweet,
of a long time ago, of the old house by the banyan tree.

We searched for hidden secrets in the countless bolts-
the rusty knobs tasted blood-like and knife-cold-
on our patchy kitten tongues, and gooseberry noses.
Iron projections, remember? we leaned against them,
they wobbled against our protruding spines
our faces discovered new expressions
opening, closing, flickering, winking or slow widening-
the dance of summons, the promiscuous eyes play.

Our pantomime childhood, of make-believe-
now we ponder over it and wish, if only;
Too late, the clay has set into the mould.
But it could never have been, too well we know.
We were precocious, cunning and amorous.
Our eyes were never unclouded, but shrouded by the weight-
of knowledge we stumbled upon too early, oh how well we hid it,
with our brown shiny faces, and the melting baby smiles, my love.

We shared marbles, stolen chalks and heartbeats,
and longed for the 5 ‘o’ clock cartoons
As much as we craved for each other.
Remember the awed caresses, the terrifying-
responses we contained, the sighs, so bizarrely grown-up.
The too-short holidays we locked ourselves in my room,
built bed-sheet tents, played Eskimos, slipped in a touch-
biscuit-crumb mouths sought the bony arms.
You became the doctor, I your willing corpse,
laid out for a delicious autopsy, your fingers already maestros,
played my harp, my lute my tremulous taut drum.
You found new roads, uncharted territories running,
wildly into peaks, plains and molten volcanoes in me.

We smelt the ripe watermelon in each other,
the saliva on our breath, the edges of our bitten nails.
We were furry blind caterpillars blindly writhing our way
under the leafy shadows, crushing grapes between molars
spitting questions and seeds into the creamy air and giggling.

Years later we nibbled seedless grapes and mused
on the too white napkins, distracted by the music
the icy lucidity of the cocktails and our own detachment.
Soon we were imprisoned inside chrysalises
near-identical caterpillar bodies became more and more different
the curse of the forbidden fruit which we tasted too early,
 now too awkward to forget-
pierced into our flesh now rigid,
 rotting coconuts-
drifting down the endless river,
you there, me here-
only the skeleton of that insanity
 rattling against to our shells.