After Nine
by Mihir Vatsa

It was those years when we slept early-
lying silently in beds, around nine,
having offered the daily prayers
to numerous Gods.

They knew about stuff-
Imraan, Mukul and Rao- and would
call me to their spot to tell
what they saw
when mom and dad weren’t around.
That time, our pants grew hard
with absurd imaginations,
while we shared the contents of our tiffins
in the school playground.

Must have been midnight;

I woke up thirsty,
and crawled through the dining space,
when, from the angle of an open door-

lying on the sofa, with a hand
inside his jeans, he was watching
the stuff on TV.

My Gods were already sleeping.

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