A Bengal monsoon burst
catches me without an umbrella
My helplessness — nothing
a warm bath and a hot
cup of tea cannot remedy — fountains
from a habit I perfected into trait
through six years of NCR conditioning.
You’ve got trees — nature’s own umbrella
said a colleague on our way to the metro.
We walked under the rumbling roof,
counting the trains we missed, not
so much the droplets tapping my
shoulders with the inevitability
of a post-precipitation cold and
the periodicity of a milestone.
An asbestos roof juts out
more than half-a-feet. My butt
squishes between the naked brick
wall and my conscious attempts
at tucking in an already sucked-in
belly. The corrugation of the roof
makes a cell out of cool water.
I was once told by a man with nauseating
confidence — the kind that is acquired
at birth — that he thought Adivasis
were either malnourished or athletic.
The fat around my belly suggested no
prospect of a sports-quota job — that I
was an editor at a private establishment kind of soiled
the conversation for him. His tongue,
the dying whip of Durin’s Bane, wondered —
loud enough for me to hear — before drowning
in loud WhatsApp forwards (mostly songs
of religious temperament), whether
Adivasis could do without reservation.
My first few years in Delhi, I always found myself
Under the umbrella, hiding.
I sleeve-swipe my soaked cellphone;
a feeds roulette on Instagram
informs me about the government’s
decision on OBC quota for medical education.
I read the comments. A rush
of thick, slimy, putrid secretion rise from concrete
burrows like foul vampires from graves; it’s amazing
what only a 27% precipitation could flush out.
I decide I can walk back home without an umbrella.
Ankur Surin belongs to the Munda tribe. He is a writer, editor, and amateur photographer. He is the founder and editor of Pop the Culture Pill. He loves movies, especially Hong Kong movies from the 80s. He is, currently, finding creative ways to procrastinate working on his novel.