Monday, February 18, 2019

a piece of barbed wire that runs
between this world and that world
on the other side there is a tree
leafless lifeless broken
sometimes a bird comes and sits on one of its branches
trying to sing,
trying to bring it back to life
hopeful for a short while
before it gives up and flies away
what is dead once is dead forever
an old woman in a village once said to me
that if you curse a tree enough, it will die
i wonder how much hate it took to kill a flowering tree like this one
maybe it's the intensity of the hatred that kills and not the time spent hating
if you hated someone enough you could invisibly choke them,
slowly, one glance at a time, one word at a time,
even if they were under the same roof
look at it with enough dislike
and it would take not long for it to wither
build a barbed wire fence all around it
so it wouldn't be able to grow
it chokes on itself,
one small root at a time
using up whatever quota of happiness it has been feeding on
until one day
it gives up
and just lets go of its soul
the bird knows not
that no amount of singing will ever wake it up
for when freedom is but an illusion
how can I find the will to go on living? 
Sylvia Plath put her head in an oven at the age of 30
But you don't have an oven
because radiation can kill, you see?
And you hate shutting your kitchen with blinds and shutters
so anyone could look in, and try to stop
if you were trying to pop like popcorn in your kitchen
There are the celing fans but the dust on the blades would probably deter you
and make you cough so hard you wouldn't be able to tie the knot
unless you fell down from the ladder
But no one dies of falls from two-step ladders
The balcony is too pretty to contemplate jumping off
What if you were wearing old underwear and everyone found out?
So for now
I will just slit my wrists and
lie low
until someone finds me
Maybe after the odour wafts out of the house
and mingles
with the smells of cooking
from other people's houses
they would wonder where the stench was coming from
and comment on it
blame the housekeeping
or some poor innocent neighbour
and then after some days frantically try to find the source
until they realise no one has gone in and out of this house for days
so they bang open the door and call twenty people and break it down
and upon finding the corpse exclaim
'Oh, but she seemed normal when I saw her!'
stuffing my chaos
into a little packet of quiet
pushing my thoughts
into a tiny sachet of silence
hoarding the voices in my head
in the freezer in the basement
fermenting my opinions
in fragile bottles of shutup
there, I made my ferris wheel from all the wildness in my head
and the wantonness of my heart
round and round it spins
and spins
spins to the top
hanging over the world
until it snaps
one day
it snaps
scattering me
one piece at a time
The stupidity of
spending money
on things
you do not need
or on things
that are needed to impress others.
At the end of this life
we are all going to end up
with maggots crawling in and out of our eyes
and nostrils
and butthole
and mouth
whether we wore Jimmy Choo or Bata
in our living life.
305 days ago we drank a toast to our friendship through our phones
little gadgets that reveal what they are supposed to hide
and hide what they are supposed to reveal
297 days later we swore eternal love
through the same beeping machines
a total of 1614 nudes, quotes and amorous declarations later
a total of 500 cross country car drive kilometres later
today we sit at this diner and agree
that love is indeed
as blind as a bat
a friend lost her baby, he was stillborn
which means he was perfect and ready but without a beating heart
she sent me twenty photos of him, lifeless and cold,
but in her heart he lived and suckled at her breast just like all the other babies born that day at the hospital
my grandmother told me I was a blue baby
which means I must have put my mother through a lot of trouble right from the moment I was conceived.
Married at 19, living in an alien land with its alien tongue, pregnant at 20,
her nausea must have been awful
she must have cried on nights that she was depressed.
Even though my father is a caring man,
i am sure they must have had their bad days.
in her ninth month I must have constricted her arteries, veins
so that when she was rushed to the hospital
after a long wait for a car, probably an ambassador
she must have creased her forehead with worrylines,
when the doctors discovered her blood pressure was way too high,
she must have prayed to a God that didn't care.
i imagine my grandma, frowning, hand on chest like she always does when she is worrying,
at the thought of her inexperienced, unprepared daughter being readied to be cut up across her belly
my mother still carries the scar and for a long time as a child,
I was repelled by the flesh rising on both sides of it
my grandma calls me on the phone and tells of how I was blue and lifeless and cold too
so when the doctors hung me upside down, holding me by my feet, slapping my behind twice and then gave up hope
my grandma pushed them away, grabbed me and slapped me in fury like i was some animal that had injured her
so that when I finally cried, but she still went on slapping, the doctors told her Amma stop, stop Amma, what are you doing?
so when she weeps over the phone and tells me how can i ever forgive myself for hitting you like that when the blood hadn't even dried on you,
i blink back hot tears and say, it was for my own good, you see for all that my young mother did, it was you who gave me life
perhaps that is why I am immune to people's condemnation,
or have a high pain threshold,
well, when you start off life like that,
with so much pain all around,
you just create your own shell
in a noisy train when the whole world is passing by,
you lie alone listening to the cacophany of a thousand thoughts
the panic rises slowly in the pit of your stomach
the shadow that creeps over your shoulder whispering 'you have no one'
so you fight it
and fill your mind with things that you would do,
could do with that someone you hold dear
and so you say stupid stuff
desperate words,
slicing open your insides and putting it out in a text
and you want to say 'i miss you and wish you were here'
but you say something stupid like 'i want to count the stars with you'
and they delight
and send hearts
and speak of some starry night
and how they spent it in the company of someone really wonderful,
but that wonderful is not you,
and you feel stupid and silly because all you thought of was you and him and him and you,
but now there are ghosts of people past,
and moments past,
and you will never be able to snuff them out from his life,
so you lie alone and think of that someone
and when the tears seep out
you sigh
and you lie alone in that noisy train
listening to the cacophany of a thousand thoughts


when did I grow so large
that now there is no space
for me
in the crowded rooms
of your crowded mind?

and when I do find myself in that house of yours,
I can never find a place, a nook,
to pause and collect myself?

all these ghosts from your past, who go in and out of these rooms, and linger in the hallways and whisper in the corridors,
and you tell them hush, now, she comes,
and they all turn and smirk,

since when did I become so unwelcome so as to make you come running all the way to the front door whispering 'not now, my dear, there is a party going on'

once upon a time it was just me in the whole wide world that is the inside of your head, but now I am left jostling for space,
trying to carve out my initials
like lovers do on rocks and tree trunks and random places in streets

so I sit at the foyer by the shoerack
forgotten till you call me in

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A dog and a death

once one of the eighteen dogs my grandmother adopted
got trapped in a snare meant for rabbits
we saw it coming back to our house swaying
and we thought it had drunk toddy again,
at the liquor shop at the corner where the drunken men lovingly caressed these animals and fed them chicken, fish, mutton and let them drink for free,
but then grandma screamed and I saw what she saw
its neck cut, leaving a thick trail of blood, swaying with pain and half crawling, it came towards us
my grandmother left what she was doing, washing vegetables I think, and ran to the mangy dog as if her life depended on it,
calling her "my princess, my darling", shrieking "who did this to you" and lamenting
it collapsed as soon as it saw her as if it had mustered that little energy
only to reach her lap
there it lay, its neck mangled and my grandma's sari bloodied
she crooned into its ears as it lay looking into her eyes
it never ceases to amaze me how much animals love us
that they were willing to crawl in pain only to catch a last glimpse of us
after sometime, it got up and walked on wobbly legs, still bleeding, still in pain but now with its head up,
to a corner of the outhouse at the back
"don't go there", grandma said, as she got up, "she deserves to die with dignity"
an hour later it lay rigid, devoid of life, stiff, but peaceful
if only as humans we had the same choice
I remember seeing a great uncle when he lay sick, how he had sores on his back from laying on the hard cot all the time
how ants had bitten his toes off and scabs covered his legs
how the stench of urine permeated the room, his clothes, my clothes, everything
and how he looked away while asking his wife for the bed pan
and when he passed away they said he didn't want to go
he was afraid and thrashed in fear and tried to fight death
and grabbed at his wife's hair and hands
and clawed at her face
while she wept and said 'go, go now'
how sad and how horrible that even a dog makes peace with its ending
but we as humans are full of regrets and guilt, all our lives, until the very end

Of fathers and daughters

my friend's father passed away a few days ago
with a newborn in her arms how could she come all the way to India to bid farewell to the man
she loved
sometimes fathers teach their daughters the worst things
they teach their daughters to trust men
and they fill their daughters' minds with the dreams that all men will treat them like princesses
so that when life deals a blow and the daughters get men who treat them like trash
they start hating their fathers for making them so gullible
for making them fall in love with the wrong men
this is how fathers trick their daughters
by loving them unconditionally
by putting up with their daughters tantrums
and listening to the words their foolish daughters hurl in a moment of rage for something as simple as not letting them go out to party
fathers trick their daughters
by crying like 'little girls' on the day the daughters get married
and imploring the husbands' families to please forgive their daughters should they do anything foolish
like trying to stand on their own feet
fathers teach their daughters everything that is wrong
like expecting love and respect and admiration and adoration from the men they meet later in life,
as grown up women
and then fathers leave their daughters to the mercy of other men
and when the daughters want them, the fathers are nowhere to be seen
because they are too far away
and we, the daughters, know that telling our fathers about the awful things that happen to us would break their hearts
so we put up with it
and cry in our closets
and bathrooms
and think of why we had fathers who raised us with love and tenderness instead of hatred because now we cannot find men who can come close to loving us like our fathers loved us