In Calcutta, the clothes were already dry

The night before, hard and brittle against

The blue mosquito net pulling them down.

They did not even drip, and the bed sheets

Remained white, and damp only because it was

Hot. Waves of it, this heavy humid hotness,

Pushed through the opened window and the curtains

Only lifted, slightly. Not like fast wind.

We took our baths every hour almost, desperate

To wash the grime away, and watching as it

Disappeared in dark pools down the drain.

But some of it I kept, hidden between the moth-eaten

(Or perhaps here they have rats) pages of second-hand

Books we bought on the way, everyday another one.

And on the soles of my old sneakers, the dust and dirt

That isn't really dirty, sifting through the holes. Slowly.

Thatha keeps it on his walking stick, right at the bottom,

Where it mixes with Bangalore dirt, with other Indian soil.

It's a memory, of our trip together and our fruitful searches

For this and that along the unfamiliar roads. Of meals

In an air-conditioned dining hall with drapes and

Fresh-cut mangoes- not as good as ours but different.

Something we got used to.

And the imprints that I can't, and won't shower away

Are strong, and thick and present. Almost like the heat.