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An Overheated Submarine Takes Us from Press Club to South Delhi

By Uttaran Das Gupta

Past Raisina Hill’s gradient, bureaucratic sandstone domes sunk in yellow light;
past circles, endless, once indecipherable, concentric;
past branches grabbing at fog-ropes, symptomatic of the dirt in our lungs;
past the purple jacaranda canopy.

At this hour, static roads rearrange themselves into dramatic maps,
like a clock’s insides,
like an aquatic landscape—precarious, sparking cartographic curiosity:

through what automatic process did these routes become so familiar?
confusing for the driver; to me, so clear?

This 2 a.m. Uber, a warm submarine, called by an algorithm to escort us through this urban aquarium.
Every screen frosted in this overheated submarine distorts perspective.
Superfluous blowers make civic furniture flower into marine items:
sunk aircraft carriers,
dogs turning green, sprouting piranha gills.

This hot submarine shoots across this Atlantis, like a time machine,
over-familiar with the labyrinthine folds of the ocean floor.

Blind crabs of the night, scuttle away,
half in fear, half delight.

March is myopic.

The smallness of it all:
fill the bottles,
dry your clothes,
take out the garbage;
buy vegetables: eggplant, beetroot, peas;
call you mother.

Tepid light grows on your windows, falls with an inalterable rhythm: cabbage days.

The clockwork is unsound, rusty.
You crawl through mushroom hours;
the amaltas grows pall.

An in-between month, a technical snag that stalls the metro in a tunnel.
Cylindrical walls enclose zombie-thoughts, like a still-born’s caul.
Everything is too sanitised here, the skies need some smoke, some ink.

You need gluttonous eyes.

Painting: Saatchi Art

Uttaran Das Gupta
is a New Delhi-based writer and journalist. He has published a book of poems (Visceral Metropolis, 2017) and a novel (Ritual, 2020). He teaches journalism at O P Jindal Global University, Sonipat.


For more stories, read Café Dissensus Everyday, the blog of Café Dissensus Magazine.

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