A poem by Madhuri.
I stayed in the strangely-named Galle Face Hotel
in a big room with a deep wardrobe and a ghost.
He was an old army man with a moustache
all dressed in brown
very put out about something
(as it is so easy to be).
But we tolerated each other,
no problem. I’d brought an amazing ensemble –
a sort of A-line gown with long matching peignoir
made of tissue-cotton in black
printed with turquoise, yellow, pink
and with silver and gold stripes running through.
I wore this in the dining room
where the mulligatawny soup was hot
and delicious with island spice.
I went out onto the green then
where the tired sea flopped and sighed
upon the shore
and people promenaded, despite the war.
It was all a bit silly
I was by myself
I tromped around shopping for silver shoes
while I waited for my visa.
And I found them… heeled mules
I wore for many years until they died.
But now the street-corners wore sandbags
and teenagers with rifles
and the road was closed while the government
drove down it in a huge black car.
It was a strange interlude
I missed my boyfriend
I bought black lacy bras
and after three days flew out
through the grey haze to Bombay.
And that’s all there was to this wee sojourn
of mild, lukewarm blues
– the time I tripped about in a war-zone
in search of silver shoes.