Eyebrows raised at some youth’s youthful ways,
on a broken armchair
half-stalled, coughing, old, this Lucknow.
To the Coffee house, Hazratganj, Ameenabad and Chowk*
split up in four mores, this Lucknow.
This Lucknow of a few dead-beat youths
arguing pointlessly at each point –
boring each other, but bearing each other –
running into each other, yet shunning each other –
swallowing woes and wallowing in woes –
and longing for life hither-thither.
Another Awadh* twilight –
took two hours to take in and spell out
a trifle needing ten seconds to sort out
yoked one's untiring brain
to the rattle cart of a brainless lout
tired it out on Hazratganj streets – up, down and about,
no ends met today, made do with a talking bout
spent the evening yet again, like a fated rout.
where wants run out of breath fast,
where an epoch of crowd strolls past,
with no space to name,
Hustle and bustle –
with no cause or aim,
just a come-and-go so dreary,
this is – the town’s haberdashery.
Like a tomb of dead magnificence,
like some widow's forbearance,
propping up a canopy
of sad Awadh twilights
atop domes turned rickety,
Like a courtesan’s song and sway,
each tomorrow like yesterday,
Lucknow, like a hunched nawab,* bowed,
like courtesies and greetings bestowed,
amidst ruins, the lament of some princess echoed,
like delicacies embroidered on a delicate dress,
the city’s frail finesse,
like quawali-singing* poise
to entice some fickle head
in the decadent graces of princely stead:
Longing for a new life like some patient,
the Lucknow of Sarshar and Majaz,
the Lucknow of connoisseurs and alas of bores:
This is Lucknow, Sir,
ours and yours.