The Star-Drinkers

The Star-Drinkers
Rohinton Daruwala

They wander in here every night,
dripping starlight like sweat.
Some of them order drinks, some
solar lamps – the pricey ones
with the adjustable spectrums.

They’re out there in the thousands,
moth to Surya’s yellow flame, that
burns with a bright casual majesty.
The only yellow sun for light centuries
around knows how beautiful he is.

They’re not one race, or one colour,
these wanderers from a hundred worlds.
But they all have the same
haunted eyes, their bodies wrapped in
a corona that’s blessed and removed.

Some of them like to talk.
Not the chik-chikking insect-in-a-suit
that looks only at his drink or the
blue blue sentient plant that
lies photogasming on the roof
and who always smiles at me
with her entire body.

But once in a while we get a
star-drinker that knows he’s a star.
Old man Karkaria hates them,
not for the hollow shine of their
arrogance, but because their groupies
eat and drink so little and
always mess up the tables.

I serve them drinks and
they serve me up bad lines,
most often about my hair.
Sometimes I tell them it’s a hologram,
and that they should thank the android
at the bar for it with a bigger tip.

And sometimes one of them will
offer to star-mark me (with a
trellised burn across my wrist),
as a groupie turns a very
unphotosynthetic green.
I draw up a sleeve and
show them a very convincing fake,
that’s not all a lie.

When I’m off this shift and
back in my small round pod of a room,
if I can keep awake long enough,
he’ll come to me tonight, and
with his presence melt away my shadows,
my own secret sun.


Rohinton Daruwala lives and works in Pune, India. He writes code for a living, and speculative fiction and poetry in his spare time. He tweets as @wordbandar and blogs at His work has previously appeared in Strange Horizons, New Myths, Star*Line, Liminality and Through the Gate.