>Navarasa Sadhana [1]

Babitha Marina Justin

︎ April 19, 2021

My Portuguese guru posted his pictures
in tutus , his  Étendre & tourner, a pierced
nose, I assumed he is gay and I’m safe.

In the morning he taught me the first
sense of navarasa sadana, & he asked
me to imagine smell, rose or jasmine

as you wish, he said. I smelled musk,
cinnamon, camphor, oudh, tobacco,
cedar & incense. I like the earthy notes.

I gifted my lover Givenchy Gentleman,
then Eternity, I hoped  our love
is eternal with its raw-flesh tones.

My guru likes roses and jasmines,
I grabbed a vial of cheap cypress oil.
I was  a powerful nose inhaling

the scimitar smell. Perhaps, my lover was
a woman,  & I, a man; we wrapped ourselves
in what we were not, & that’s where our love

lied about roses and musk. I imagined him
as a rose in the bed removing the  machismo
thorns he wore, & I was the musk, hidden in

sagging glands. Cypress felt cheap
after a few sniffs & we were perhaps
wrong in our naked confusions, I was the man

his woman sought, & he was the woman,
my man sought. My eyes shut tight on
the stinging olfactory revelation.

My guru on screen asked me
to write down my illusions before
I stepped into the first rays of sunlight

smelling of  jasmine-blossoms & fresh smoky grass.

[1] Practising the nine emotions

Babitha Marina Justin is an academic, a poet, and an artist. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Jaggery, Fulcrum, The Scriblerus, Trampset, Constellations, Indian Literature, Singing in the Dark (Penguin), etc. Her books are Of Fireflies, Guns and the Hills (Poetry, 2015), I Cook My Own Feast (Poetry, 2019), salt, pepper & silver linings: celebrating our grandmothers (an anthology on grandmothers, 2019), Of Canons and Trauma (Essays, 2017) and Humour: Texts and Contexts (ed. Essays, 2017).