My neighbors Trina and Leena
tell me in secret, their obsession with gulkand.
That in aphotic rooms smelling of rain and jasmine,
they want 300 grams of gulkand.

Their talk as lively as ponytailed girls on tv
with a distinct tongue stressing on ‘e-s’ and ‘o-s’,
but that’s just how they are, okay;
sensational, street-smart, radical housekeepers.

Sometimes in the alley, the mesdames stand at a distance
gossiping and giggling, caught dealing again
hiring a gent to fetch slips again.

That’s how they win fortunes of 600
joy hidden ‘neath queen sized mattresses.

They shout a warm ‘halloo’ then tell me
about networking, and people, and affairs.
That some people, they run game,
while others, lovers, are bloody losers.

My neighbors Trina and Leena tell me about love
arranging three tall glasses of colas and slick little cones.
They talk about loving the same person a second time
then all things plain, and cruel, and inexcusable.

They tell me about leaving too,
leaving and returning,
and letting pain slide into jars of gulkand.

But when the kids interrupt
they demand that they leave,
learn, or the love given will be snatched away.

SHREYASHI MANDAL is earning her PhD in Arts from Jadavpur University’s Department of Comparative Literature, located in India. Her areas of interest include gender identity and gender politics, social media, and romance.