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

Friday, September 28, 2018

A taxi, a birth

once in Mumbai
I was driven around the city by an autorickshaw driver
whose wife had delivered a baby exactly eleven minutes
before i flagged him down on my way to the embassy
he refused to take money because 'i am very happy today, madam, I am a father, after all these years of trying, finally God has heard my prayers'
so I asked him to take me to see his baby
there in a dirty tiny shed, in a dirty little chawl in a dirty big slum in that dirty miserable city,
his wife lay swollen and exhausted next to a sleeping baby boy, 'he has my color and my wife's beauty' said my friend, the driver, beaming with pride
I tried to ignore his chest that puffed up like a rooster's while everyone around clapped him on his back
congratulating him
as if his five second ejaculation was more important than what
her body did
someone handed me a laddoo and a glass of watery tea and pulled a chair next to the bed where she lay,
after all I was their special guest
'this is for you and for your baby, pls do not refuse' I said
thrusting two thousand rupees into her hand, which she quickly stuffed under the bed
'your husband is very happy, I think' I told her
she looked at me and met my gaze
'he is happy madam,
because
this time it's a
boy'

My shadow and I

some days
I'm more scared
of my shadow
than all the people in the world
put together
the things it knows
the things it has done
the things it would do
for love
while seeming all innocent
are the things
my nightmares feed on

Monday, September 10, 2018

bees and us

yesterday I read about a custom in parts of England where you inform the bees staying in your house about the passing away of someone in your family so that they get enough time to mourn the death.
what if someone gave us enough time to mourn the death of our loved ones?
so that when my grandfather passed away of Alzheimer's, when he had deteriorated to the extent that his death was a blessing,
someone could give my mother, his favourite daughter, enough time to mourn
she spent the first nineteen years of her life with him and then the rest married into a distant land,
she never spent a day more than the twenty two days of summer every year when she and her father licked their fingers clean of the lamb curry that my vegetarian grandma would prepare
In the last few years of his life, my mother had no inkling of how destroyed he would be by dementia
so that everytime she visited home she would cry
because he would ask her who she was 'Are you the new maid?'
'yes' she would reply because saying that she was his daughter brought nothing back
'you clean well, I will increase your salary by ten rupees' he would say kindly, retreating into his days of youth
Somedays he would ask her to sit next to him and he would ask 'are you my nurse?'
Other days he would scream at her to get out accusing her of coming into his room to rob him.
Those days my mother cried in a corner, hiding,
wanting to go back to the years before he lost his memory,
so she could spend more time with him relishing food from hotels, walking in the fields, just being together.
I wish someone had told my mother that her father had died happy so she could have mourned properly,
instead of being called in the middle of the night twelve hours before he died
'come quick, your father is slipping away' grandmother wept
I wish someone had told my mother she could mourn for as long as she wanted to,
instead of sweeping regret under the carpet, and spilling guilt onto the floor, and turning her heart into stone.
In a world where even bees are thought of kindly,
I wish someone had been kind to my mother over a death in the family.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

This fool swears

What is the female version of 'Chutiya samajh rakha hain kya?' I wonder.
So when you say that you are now going to a new city
excited about getting to fool around with women left right and centre
while I am supposed to wait here for you
cupping my arms around a fucking diya that has been burning for months now
scorching my fingers from time to time
while I blow on them without letting it bujhafy
because it is the eternal symbol of hope that you will come back to me
like Paro does for Devdas in that pathetic novel
I want to pick up the phone and ask
'kya mere maathe pe chutiya likha hain?'
but that is guys talk
and I don't know what the female equivalent of this is
of course there is the whole pink candy bubblegum word 'fool'
but at this point I m not using sentences like 'do you take me for a fool?'
because for some reason
I want to look you in the eyes
and tell you that
neither do I have any tears left to cry
nor any feelings to spare,
so if you must go,
go quick
and spare me the sentimental crap
but I won't say this to you
for I am busy blowing out stupid Paro's flame for Devdas
because now Paro has a new love interest
and she better not waste her time

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

reunion

many years ago in a building under construction, just like this,
in its abandoned skeleton,
we lay in a car tracing letters on the foggy window glass
we fooled ourselves into thinking ours was a love story with a happy forever ending
with your mouth on mine we mumbled words of eternity
a mouthful of possessions, you are mine, I am yours,
silly words like that

some moons ago in a window in my phone screen, you popped up
with entreaties and a mouth full of regrets
bringing back those days and all the conversations we never had
decades of wondering where you were and how I am doing

here we are in each other's phones and it is like
we were never away
picking up conversations from then
like you had just stepped out to throw the trash

on the late evenings that we talk about dharma and the big bang theory and religion and poetry and wars and peace and comets and stars and animals and me and you and us
you in your bed and i in mine
believe me when i tell you
no one has fucked my mind like you do now
so feed me more
and talk until your tongue falls off
and my phone battery is dead
so talk until you are full of me
and i of you

come see me now
instead of telling me you
regretted my loss
come touch me now
instead of telling me you
never stopped wanting me
for here i am
all of me
all for you

Today I want to be a man

Today I am tired of being a woman
I am tired of being told to cover my breasts with a dupatta
I am tired of being told to sit cross legged, demurely
I am tired of being told to keep my mouth shut and open it only when asked to
I am tired of being told to wear clothes that are modest
I am tired of being told not to drink or swear or put on red lipstick

Today I am tired of being a woman
I am tired of being told not to go out late at night
I am tired of being told to write down the taxi number and driver details and send it to someone back home
I am tired of being told to fast for someone's longevity
I am tired of being given blessings to bear sons
I am tired of being told to learn things that women supposedly do cooking, cleaning, producing children
I am tired of the subtle suggestions at familiy planning
I am tired of being asked why I tied my tubes
I am tired of being asked why I am having a child
I am tired of being told to cover my hair
I am tired of being told to stay outside during my period
Today I am tired of being a woman
I am tired of being leered, ogled at when I am outside
I am tired of being catcalled, commented upon
I am tired of hands brushing against my hips, my butt
I am tired of being desired
I am tired of being called sexy
I am tired of bejng sent sexually suggestive texts
Today I am tired of being a woman
I am tired of the dick pics flooding my inbox
I am tired of the male friends sending out feelers
I am tired of being told to hide my shame, and safeguard my honor
Today I just want to be a man
But how can I, in a land where
even the Goddess
has to be safely guarded behind bars of iron,
How can I,
a mere woman,
hope to be free?

matches

It was one of those mundane parties where people pout and air kiss each other
where the politically correct jokes are now unfunny
and the same old cheese and wine appears for the fiftieth time
in a party like that, you asked me what my hobbies were
and I said I read
and you got excited and said OMG, I am a reader too.
Seriously, I asked, what do you read?
Oh, all the classics and Sherlock Holmes and Chetan Bhagat and Ashok Banker.
and there I was expecting to talk about Catherine of Aragon and Cromwell and the Medicis and Tipu and the Aghoris and the monks of Tibet and the seven sacred plants of Ayurveda and the billions of years of history of the earth and the throat singers of Mongolia and everything
there i was wanting you to fuck my mind
but all you did was dowse my enthusiasm with your watery vomit of boredom
another time I met another you
and you asked are you kinky?
and i said i am scandalous and risque and dirty
and then we decided to make love
but you undressed me to a chopin score in the background
and then turned off the lights
and made it into a nine course meal the proper way with napkins and bibs and cutlery all arranged in order
this is why I take a step back now
everytime someone says
they share the same hobbies
as mine
while I wonder whether it is wrong of me to expect someone to match my standards

love like this

I will love you like an ocean in rage
a typhoon in full force
a river in flood
I will love you like a night of rain
and thunder and lightning
I will love you like a tsunami in fury
I will love you until you can't breathe
without me
and you cant breathe
with me


mesaured love

how do you love with half your heart holding a pair of balancing scales in your hands?
maybe you have never been loved wholly
to be able to give all your love to another
so when you say my love is like a storm
that uproots you one day and places you down in a strange place the next
and that you are fed up of the turmoil it causes
and you don't want any more upheavals
I fail to understand if what you want is a love
that is boringly placid like the waters of an algae ridden lake?
where do people get these ideas from
about how love should be like or not
about how much love to give him and how much love to give her,
or not to give?
tell me who draws the lines here
what if I said love is knowing a train will come rushing out of the tunnel and hit you with full force
and you still want to stand in front of it and get hit,
I have and will,
what if I said love is like knowing there is a chasm that separates you from me
and the only way for me to reach you is to jump into it with both feet from the word go,
I have and will
how do people know when to stop doling out more than what is their measured quantity,
words measured precisely,
only so many 'i miss you's or
only so many 'i love you's
because if you let on more than that, the power will be in their hands, the ones you are supposed to love
since when did love become an ego tussle, where if you showed your vulnerable state of mind you would be deemed powerless
no wonder people go about seeking love all their lives, never finding it
all that you give comes back to you, so why are you afraid to give all of your love?
you see, if you have not been loved by someone who uprooted you today and twirled you around and took you on a whirlwind of emotions,
and then put you down safely in an entirely new place,
you haven't been loved at all
if you love someone,
love them like i love you,
like a river in rage coming down from the glaciers to destroy whole villages,
retreating and coming back the next year
I will wreak havoc in your mind,
and leave you rootless,
but I will love you forever

Friday, August 03, 2018

Clean Balance

beds are meant to be slept in
but ours are made, tip top
not a wrinkle, not a shallow spot,
there is nothing more disgusting than unmade beds, where people have slept,
hair and other things,
left behind for maids to clean out,
clean beds are just that, clean
like relationships of the owners who leave beds that way,
clean,
how nice to have a clean equation,
you stray, I stray
you leave, I leave
my room, your room
give take, take give
clean, clean everything
equality in all things, divided fifty-fifty
so when the outsiders come and admire our tip top bed,
we scurry out of the room,
because it is too clean for our messy unequated love

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

seek

in and out of dingy rooms
in dirty old hotel buildings
where the bathtubs have slimy grime in their cracks
and the sinks are leaking
where the floor sticks to your feet,
she weaves her broken body,
gives it to one and all,
trying to find what people mean by love,
every mouth that she tastes,
is bitter
and every hand that touches her flesh,
is rough
still, she looks for it,
that elusive thing called love,
lyjng on the creaky bed,
she stares at the fan whirring noisily,
beyond some stranger's shoulders,
beyond the frantic pounding of men's bodies inside her,
with her hair fanned out below her,
sometimes pulled,
but never admired,
'do you love me?' she asks the betel chewing man who has started asking for her by name,
the fourth time this month,
he laughs in her face, 'i m giving my love to you, this is love' he breathes into her mouth,
grunts as he releases his stickiness into her,
'this is love, my love' he laughs as he rolls away making for the door
while she rearranges her clothes,
for the next in line
'i am lovable then?'
she asks, but he is already out of the room,
and she waits for the next knock,
the coded tapping,
'someone will find me worthy of love,
just you wait and see'
she mock-scolds the fan, frowning,
and the day passes into night
and the night into day

truth

she wove fantasies around him
spent nights longing for him
lasted for days on nothing but thoughts of him

when they met - she wanted to
delight in him
savor him
experience with him
talk to him

him?
he fucked her and left

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

make believe

you could have been, you would have been,
but in the end you didn't
she hopes you carry a piece of her with you
she hopes you will remember her in times
when you have no one else to think of
how she trembled in your arms and
you gathered her up into a bundle until she was calmed
how she blushed hot inside every time you looked into her eyes
how she looked away for fear the world would hear her thudding heart when you were near
how she moved away quick for fear she would be unable to control herself from flinging into your arms everytime you passed her
but most of all she hopes you will remember how she smiled when you told her things
that you told a hundred others before her, and will tell to a hundred others after her,
how she smiled when she believed all that you told her
give her this, this hope,
this little cheap trinket of hope
that she will be a part of you
even if she isnt
it took her ages to find all the pieces of her heart that broke when you
like all those before you,
stomped on it with iron boots
it took her painstaking hours to fill it's cracks with cheap glue that would melt the moment someone like you came in, blazing like the sun and offering burning passion
so when she looks back at you and smiles
know that it takes her much effort to not let those tears brimming in her eyes, fall
at the sight of you
give her this,
this little trinket of hope.

seduce me like this

talk to me about nothing
talk to me about everything
tell me things
and I will savor them
tell me what you think of when you can't sleep at nights
tell me why you twiddle your thumb when you can't decide what to watch on TV
tell me about the things that make you happy
and the things that make you scream
let us crawl into each others' minds and get lost
talk to me over hazy rings of smoke
over the steam rising up from cheap hot tea sold in dirty steel tumblers on roadside kiosks
talk to me of the earthworms you squished as a child
talk to me over overflowing beer mugs and I will swing my old monk rum straight bottoms up
talk to me until my ears fall off
and my brain is full of you
and my mouth is full of your words
talk to me till I fall in love with you

not enough

i wrote for you
but my words were not enough
i sang for you
but my songs were not sweet enough
i tried to make you laugh
but my wit was not humorous enough
i have you all the attention in the world
but it was not enough
i then cried for you
but my tears were not enough
all I wanted were your talks
but for you even that was too much to give
in the end i found you to be too little
and you found me to be too much
so here we are
me, happier
you, more miserable
and i now find that satisfyingly enough





Monday, July 09, 2018

claim my bones

put your mouth to my ear
tell me things about you
seep into my bones
with your liquid thoughts
and let them freeze
near my cold heart
and when my heart begins to thaw
with the warmth of your embrace
i will put them this way and that,
my bones and your words
my bones and your thoughts,
crack some, join some, remove some
until you can roost in them 

Let me be

Let me be
If you find me bursting out into tears
because a puppy yelped in the middle of the night, let me be
If you see me buy a plate of chaat
from a gross looking street-side vendor
just because I want to, let me be
If you see me thinking I am worthless and
sinking into bed all day
and remaining there, let me be
If you witness me breaking into a dance
because I heard my fav song of the moment
from a passing taxi, let me be
If you see me jumping in excitement
because the courier guy is
bringing a new pair of socks for me, let me be
If you see me hugging the beggar woman on the street
because she has an infant tied around her swollen belly, let me be
If you heard me say a dying street dog deserves dignity
and see me sitting up all night
with its head cradled in my lap, let me be
If you heard me refusing to enter a temple
to perform ablutions where your god resides while outside
poor children eat mud, let me be
If you see me crying
because I think crying solves all problems, let me be
If you see me spending five thousand bucks on old books
instead of a Zara dress, let me be
If you hear me snub well heeled people
but make best friends with the maids and housekeeping staff, let me be
If you see me breaking twenty eggs
because I still can't figure out how to
get the stupid egg white for my face mask, let me be.
If you feel I am neither here nor there
neither in your world nor in mine
neither as yours nor as mine
let me be.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

seek

remember those three days
you went blind
crying your heart out
thinking that
it was the end of the world
him leaving you
the thought of him not coming back ever
the three nights that you were stuck to your tear-stained pillow and holding in your sobs
the big wrecking ones that
made your stomach hurt
the breathlessness that
made you gasp and curl up
the swollen face
the sullen eyes
but look at you now
three weeks later
beautiful and laughing and dancing like no one is watching you
bursting into songs
look at what happens to you
when you get over it,
move on and
leave it behind like a bitter piece of cucumber you bit into,
in a salad;
and now you are in love again
thinking of doing the same things you did with the last one
the things that led you to those three broken days
but guess what, you will overcome them too
in fact you will overcome another three thousand broken days and nights
and another three million heartbreaks
and another three trillion men who will treat you like shit
but you will never give up believing in love
even though society's idea of love is so very different from what is in your mind
but you will seek and seek and find it one day
when you finally realise that
no one can give you the love you want
except yourself
and no can love you in the way you want to be loved
except you
so until you realise that you are your own lover and your own true love
go on
and seek love
in everyone
and everything

What use is all this?

Who cares about your diamonds
or your expensive cars
Show me your bookshelf
and tell me which book you read non-stop all night
Who cares if you travelled to a new place in first class,
what is the point if you went there and ate what you eat at home
Tell me did you mingle with the localites and learn about their culture
What is the point if you didn't pick up any words from their language or didn't try to learn the history of their existence
Who cares whether your kanjeevaram saree has pure gold threads in it
when your maid uses dirty rags during her period to save money
Who cares about the interiors of your house when you don't let your children draw on the walls and they are left alone all day in your pursuit of more wealth.

Where will you take all this to when you die?

Monday, July 02, 2018

death of a marriage

under the so called visual symbolism of a wife
under the plastered smile
under the fearful coyness
under the embroidered clothes
under the wrathful eyes of a husband
behind the forced coupling at nights
behind the emotional neglect
are hidden the scars of a marriage.
how can you blame her for choosing death
when you refused to let her live?

Friday, June 29, 2018

words

I gave you my words
but they were left unread, unacknowledged
were I born centuries ago
I would have dedicated sonnets and poems to you
I gave you my heart which
after you finished breaking it,
lies in pieces at my feet
but it is glue-able, super-glue-able
and I will glue it and reglue it every time I hand it to random people for the rest of my life
but what do I do with these words?
I have written them and put them out for the world to see
and now everyone knows I am in love with you,
no, wait,
and now everyone knows I was in love with you
for even if I were to erase them and throw them into the air,
they would still smell of the remnants of our love
that never was
I sit here near the shredder with all the letters I wrote to you
on those sleepless nights and restless afternoons and aching mornings
not long ago

but is there a shredder for memories
that I could use to rid my mind of you, of us?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

some happiness pls

yesterday the vegetable vendor's five year old daughter
painted my nails yellow,
with some cheap local nail polish.
at first i wanted to laugh saying it looks like, to borrow my son's words, potty
then i looked at her scrunched up little face and pouting mouth and how involved she was in it
'your hands are so pretty' she said
while the truth is they are ugly
i have old women's hands I think,
no i don't have old women's hands,
but i think i do,
it comes from my mother's dad's side of the family
and i always ask her peevishly 'why didn't you give me the milk-cream and hazel eyes and light brown hair genes from my father's side'
instead of mountain feet and bony hands
as if the sperm would have a lengthy discussion with the egg
and finalise on what all genes to put in
and sign papers after
and applaud at the successful design.
but the little girl thinks my hands are pretty and i believed her all evening
until the sun came out today and I saw them in the light next to my friend's hands.
'i like you', the vegetable vendor's daughter says, 'you are very kind and the clothes you gave my brother, they are nice, he refuses to take them off'
'i will buy a frock for you, on your birthday' I offer
'what will I do with a frock', she asks, eyes round and sad
'what if you buy me one eclairs toffee everyday for the rest of my life?'
'but why?, don't you want to twirl in a new frock and look pretty and be happy?' i ask, amused at her naivety and innocent bartering of a pricey frock for cheap toffees
'no, you see if you give me a frock i will be happy for only one day, and my happiness will run out the next day, but if you give me a toffee everyday,  i will be happy everyday, only a little  happy, but a little happy everyday'

i wonder who teaches children about sadness and happiness,
and injects so much sense into them
that they have to choose between
two measures of happiness - 'so-much-happiness,
and
'a-little-happiness'

i wonder who told her that happiness is doled out in quota, and that it runs out.

Come home.

for a long time
i waited
assuring myself
you would come home
that no matter where you went
and for how long
you would come home
to me.
so I waited while everyone said
what is gone is gone
and I told them instead
to shush and keep quiet.
so I kept the food warm
and the fire lit
and I patted down the feathers of our sparse bed
every night.
and I went and stood at our favourite spot
down there under the trees
where we counted the stars and fell asleep
inside each others' bodies.
what is gone is gone, they said
but I shushed them, hush,
so I waited
while you were gone.
i remember how you caressed my chin and said my body was your home and how could you ever not want to come home?
so here I am,
your home,
now ruined and empty.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Come back

how do people leave people behind
without any kind of hesitation
it is like one day they just turn their faces away
and walk away
and the sand has swallowed their footprints so that
you can not run behind them to stop them
sometimes I wonder why
I find it so difficult to do this,
this walking away without looking back
without giving a thought about
what the person you left back there is going through
maybe it's a he and he is crying
maybe it's a she and she is slashing her wrists
so I linger and wait for the closure that never comes
for the other person to break the chains
that were never linked at all except in my mind
I wonder whether you will stay if I cling onto you tighter
or let loose more tears
or take out my heart
and show you how it is filled with only your thoughts
and nothing else
how I have shown you my naked vulnerable self
and loved you with everything I have
and forgiven you every time you let me down
so when you turn back on me
and leave me here stranded
I fail to understand whether it is
because I am too much for you
or not enough

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Glue me with words

'I am drinking whiskey and I miss you'
sometimes you say the randomest of things
and even though I know you dont actually mean them
and they are just perfunctory words,
they do make me happy
even if I am forgotten, an old flame, a long lost lover
sometimes I wonder if you think of me the way I do
thinking of how you would hold, no,
gather me up in your arms
as if I was something falling apart
or something broken
i did fall apart but didn't know until later,
after you were done breaking me
even though I told you I was fragile
and I came with a 'handle with care' sticker
but sometimes you are the china in a china shop and a bull comes stampeding into you
and you are all damaged
then you peel away the fragile sticker to reveal 'broken twice and reglued' sticker
underneath counting the cracks in your broken china heart
'I am missing you and I love you'
sometimes you say the randomest words
years after you have broken me
years after I have glued my pieces back
and inspite of some fragments missing I function whole
but then you come again like a bull
and break more parts of me
and though they are just perfunctory words
and you don't mean them anymore,
they still make me happy for some reason.

Tell me about you

‘tell me about yourself’ you say over the phone 'where do I start and where do I end, what do you want to know'
'anything, I want to listen to you’ you reply

should I tell you about how I m so spontaneous
I broke an anthill one day
without thinking of the consequences
because I was watching ants carrying their eggs
and wanted to see where they were storing them
and I got bitten all over
so i rolled in the mud
and jumped into our family pond
I was eight but I did not cry

maybe I could tell of how on summer nights
when the balmy wind carries the scent of jasmine from my balcony garden I awaken and sit near the blooming creeper inhaling the fragrance like it is my last day on earth

if I told you of how one day when I was a little girl
someone told me to sit on his lap and it hurt
I was four but I did not cry

should I tell you that they call me 'the slightly happier version of Sylvia Plath' for the depressing stuff I write
but every other idiot is writing of pink teddies and red hearts and handholding and frankly I think the whole idea is boring

or how I have to count the bogies of a passing train like it is an OCD thing,
actually it is,
it IS OCD because I also go crazy if the bristles on my toothbrush are wet in the morning

sometimes I use a soap for bathing because I can't stand the squeaky squeak of the shower gel container and the soap has to be handmade

and sometimes I will buy
a local cheap thirty bucks nail polish on a whim
because I like the colour

should I tell you that I don't drink milk sold loose
because it smells of cowdung
or that I can hold a goat by its hind legs and milk it
or that I know everything about farming and running a rubber estate
and I can actually drive a tractor and a combine harvester

I can't tell you about anyone else except me you see
because no one was there to listen
and now I can't seem to shut up

I could tell you things about me the whole day until you drowned in them
and finally asked me to stop talking for God's sake

You see there is only so much you can take in
before you also get fed up of me
being too much.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

city of loss


the city of broken dreams they call los Angeles


what about this city where every hope has died
starry eyed I came here more than a decade ago
fell in love, drank and ate and made merry
waded through swampy friendships, now long lost and gone,
singing throatily in tucked away pubs where jobless singers and musicians sang
where we ordered cheap beer and chilly chicken
sitting for hours in a hazy screen of smoke
legs over armrests, arms around our friends'
solving the world's problems, one at a time
with poetry and songs and words that made no sense
a car and a drive to the hills, a little bonfire, warm coats,
just a bunch of friends revelling in the warmth of our amiable annoyance at each other
calling names and teasing, colored jokes that no one objected to
why does thinking if those days ten years later
bring an ache in my chest
akin to yearning for people long forgotten
and caught up in settling down
people i called friends and whom I so miss

Monday, June 18, 2018

Tower of Babel


being outside is like being in the tower of Babel

all the languages you can understand
are like a million voices in your head

that couple arguing over why he liked someone's Insta photo and why she wore this revealing top

the old man talking to a stray dog while it wags it's tail in reply, atleast the dog listens to him

a husband ordering two scoops of butterscotch icecream for his wife then remarking that the blue currant she actually likes is a stupid flavour and that only one scoop would have sufficed

a woman on the phone with her friend
giving advice on how to get out of a toxic relationship while she herself goes home to one

when you can speak so many languages
the voices in your head are not so loud

I sit there wondering what the fuck people are eating to spill so much venom with their words

Friday, June 15, 2018

not content


it is not enough

it is not
this meeting, so short,
just enough to prepare a drink for you,
sip it under watchful eyes
it is not enough
this talk of things mundane
next to ears tuned in to our conversations
it is not enough
the brushing of our hands as we pass the snacks bowls
the words forming in our mouths but not spoken
the hearts beating wildly but not acknowledged 
it is not enough
it is not
this longing and this wanting

Thursday, June 14, 2018

if

if i could come to you
with eyes wide open
soaring on a pair of wings
if i could come to you
sweeping my fears aside
the hesitation in my mind
if could come to you
ignoring the stumbling of my words as I make small talk
the trembling in my knees as our fingers brush
if i could come to you
with my heart beating wild
and my lungs wanting the same air that you breathe

but i have you seen burn others
and so I shall love you from afar

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Depend on yourself.

people say they feel lonely
and they feel all alone
i don't understand how someone can feel lonely when they have themselves, own

all your life you have people coming and going
some leave their boots by the door
in case they come back
some, you hear from no more,
why the fuck would you feel lonely when you have yourself, own

when you cry, it's YOU that cried with you
when you laugh, it's YOU that feels happy with you
YOU are your own friend
YOU are your own lover
YOUR body is yours
YOUR mind is yours
YOUR heart, well what of it that inspite of being stomped on by others, it beats on
only for you

you may feel sad
you may feel sorrow
but how the fuck can you say you are lonely or bored
for you can feel like that only when you depend on them,
on people, on things, on places
but when you have YOU holding onto you,
nothing and noone else matters.

OK this is more of a fucking rant, because it disgusts me when people say they are lonely and bored. Go somewhere, travel, walk outside, observe the ants carrying food to their house, grab a book, learn a hobby, create something, make a drink, shove chips into your mouth, play with an animal, tear up an old t shirt, put sprinkles in your coffee, make an omelette and burn it, or just crawl onto your balcony and think of what you would do if you were the president. But seriously this whole blaming the smartphone, gadgets, technology for feeling lonely and bored is pathetic....Ummm...rant over.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

All that I have, I give to you

it all starts in the same way
you have beautiful eyes
your smile makes me melt
i love your words, write to me, babygirl write for me.
it leads to a kiss
some handholding
a compliment
a promise of everlasting love
red velvety carpets of flattery
until you give in
bowled over
head over heels in love with them
then you spend nights and hours and minutes with them
feeling like nothing in the world could go wrong if you were with them
then an exchange of words
and more exchanges of words
until you start feeling that disconnect
the realisation that something is lacking
that something is amiss
it is now not the same as before
the compliments stop
the flattery stops
all the I miss you every minute stops
then it is you begging them to stay
then it is you begging them to call
somewhere along the way instead of them chasing you
it becomes you running after them
then the nights that you wonder what went wrong
and why they act this way
If they only knew the rivers of tears that you let loose
and the pieces of your heart that you handed out
to all and sundry
hoping someone will stay
for a while
for a little while longer
to know what makes you, you
and uncover what goes on in your mind
and quell the fears that you have
the love letters you wrote to all and sundry
Oh, but they made paper planes out of them
and ran laughing in the wind
while you stood there
let down
wondering why they won't stay
"Silly girl, you gave them your all, and that is why they walked all over you, because you gave them your all"
but how do you love them, if you don't give them your all, all of you?
because isn't that what they teach you about love?
isn't that how you are supposed to love?
you show them all, you give them all of you
your darkness and your light,
your sanity and your insanity
isn't that how you love?
so why do they stop loving you
after they have got your all?


Monday, June 11, 2018

To you.

there are days
when I want to
walk away from everyone and everything
days when my bipolarity
plays tug of war
with the happy and the sad
and on those days
when I am exhausted
and want to walk away
don't stop me
let me go
after all the things I have done
or not done
all the people I have talked to
or hidden from
all the places I have seen
or avoided visiting
i will come back to you 
to you
always

we silenced them

How did we go from adults
who swore to protect our children
to being the monsters we warned them about
how did we go about trapping their little hearts in our sinful cages
and amputating their limbs one by one
while they flapped helpless
they trusted us
and we took that trust from their eyes
blinded them with our fear
and threw them
like rag dolls
we brought them into our adult world
and did things to them that we call adult
we took their innocence
and twisted it with our bare evil hands
and then stuffed it down their throats with the words 'dont tell anyone'
eleven month old little girls
a three year old boy
a sixteen year old boy
a twelve year old girl-
we abused them all
we broke them
hid them and swept them under our carpets
then when they tried to seek help
we laughed at them
said they were imagining thinvs
and pinned down their little half broken wings
and we banished them behind the heavy curtains
and stuffed their screaming silence behind this facade we call a world
how do I know this
you adults ask
because when I was a little girl of four
you adults did it to me too

HOW DO WE NOT FEEL OUR BLOOD BOIL AT WHAT ABUSED CHILDREN GO THROUGH?

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Phone conversations

seven minutes and forty four seconds
was how long we spoke yesterday
why can't you say I love you, you ask
but don't you know I cannot
I find it easier to write
because when my mouth opens to form those words
they don't come out
and instead
I hear all the I love you's
that were spoken to me before
and not meant
If you don't mean something
if you don't feel something
how can they come out of your heart and travel all the way up and out of your mouth into your lover's ears
but with me they don't come out because they are too heavy to escape the wild beating frantic-ness of my heart
and I cannot mouth the words that roll around on my tongue
because now I no longer know whether I mean them or not
what do we talk about
since twenty questions get me two answers
and then I do not want to feel like I am breaching your privacy
even though you call me your life and say I am your weakness
but if you don't tell me details I can never love you
for I need to know everything about you and not just bits and pieces
so tell me everything you do and think of and speak and I will fall in love with you everytime we have a conversation
even if it is seven minutes forty four seconds long
and then perhaps I will say I love you
because then the words would escape me and fly into you

Friday, June 08, 2018

Teach us to be proud of us

Sorry to offend but if only women had the confidence that men have,
some of us would also be hairy, paunchy, smelly and bald at all amusement parks
but we cover up,
we look for that one hair left behind,
we look for that one strand of grey hair
that one imperfection that makes us sick
the wrong shade of lipstick
winged eyeliner gone wrong
body odour a little too strong
sweat stains in all places wrong
eyebrows not done
hair tied in a bun
the skin darkened by the sun
omg, did you Photoshop your selfie and hair
you look sooo fair
omg, your skin is dark
here take this fairness cream - they bark.

We look for excuses to criticise our flaws
to joke about them with friends
then hide behind iron curtains and nitpick each one
we are scared of the Hai-Hais and Hawwws
from other women
who
like you
like me
have their own flaws
If only we taught our daughters to celebrate their bodies
and taught our daughters-in-law to find beauty in their bodies
we would also be as cool as men

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Conversations with the mirror

the mirror knows
how you stood in front of it everyday
all those years ago
to look for budding breasts
but instead saw red pimples on your face
how you wanted to pop them but
somehow delighted in the red spots
they made on your cheeks
so when the boys whistled at you
they wouldn't know it made you blush
the mirror knows how
all those years ago
when you were naive and innocent
and thought
beauty was all about
your body and face
you wasted hours measuring yourself
on a scale of one to ten
no one told you you were perfect the way you were
skinny, petite, light and airy
then they would offer you food
'shall I buy you food?'
'do you even eat?'
'how can your stomach be so flat?' it became a game for them
everytime you posted a picture
or went shopping
'when you get pregnant no one will know coz you will be still skinny'
and you came back to the mirror and wondered what was wrong with you
and then
you came out into the world and realised that skinny shaming is as much painful as fat shaming
and you were hot and sexy and beautiful and desirable and gorgeous and wanted,
except that the latter always get to be bullies and also get fans
'Real women have curves'
'We need meat on those bones'
Lines like these became the slogan
for women who were obese because of their lifestyle choices
The ones who had weight issues because of illnesses, sympathised with you, sent you notes
You are beautiful, they said
So you see, now when I take a picture of myself,
after all these years of listening to this,
or take a selfie when I feel like it,
and see my flat stomach or my thigh gap or my collar bones,
I am absolutely satisfied with how I look.
I hope you do too, whether skinny or not.

Monday, June 04, 2018

color me

you are the blue of my sky
and the green of the grass beneath my feet
you are the red of the gentle bruises you leave on my thighs after we have made love
you are the pink of my eyes after I have spent whole nights crying for you
you are the yellow of the sunflower field we first kissed in
and the black of my eyes that long to look at you
you are the orange of the sunsets and sunrises that I lost count of while thinking of you
you are the brown of my skin that craves for your touch
you are all the colors of my world

and yet you see only my drab greys

Thursday, May 31, 2018

lie to me

tell me it hurts you the same
tell me that when you try to breathe
you too are left gasping for air
and that you too feel
that there is a hole in the place where your heart used to be
tell me that i will not be
just some passing thought
that you will remember me for a long long time
tell me that you love me
even if it is a lie
for lies are all i have to remember you by

brittle bones

I thought my bones would break
when you were done filling them
with the marrow
of your love
I thought they would
fall down in pieces until there were
no bones left
but how amazing to know that
once I started to think of them as
cages where my
heart was captured
and my feelings trapped
in what I called my love for you
it was easy
to break them
on my own
you see
now I am no more
under your spell

i am woman

I am your mother
and your sister
I am your daughter
and your girlfriend
I am your wife
and the mother of your child
I am the goddess you worship
I am woman
so think of all of them
when you think of
ruining my body

hiding the bruises he gifts me

see the beauty in everything they said
so I did
followed their advice
all these years
sincerely
see how beautiful
this burn mark on my thigh is
see how beautiful
my black eye is;
they bring out the beauty
of my bruised lips dont they
but if only they showed me how to flaunt this beauty I would be so happy
because it is difficult to always hide them under make up and full sleeves

wandering feet

These feet wandered
all over the earth and
through the wind and
the sea and
the sky
until
they came to rest
where you were standing.
'Come' you said
and I followed
without a pause
I followed until
you were no more to be seen
and now
they trudge
through the mud and slush and swamp
until they come to rest
again
where you will be standing.

you are beautiful - in body and mind

when you put on weight
they will say you have got boobs and an ass
when you lose weight
they will say you look like a victoria's secret model
but mostly for them
your breasts are too small
too large
too perky
too droopy
your 24 inch waist is too skinny for them
but if you have a 30 inch waist
it is too flabby for them
your butt is too big
too small
too bony
your thigh gap is frowned upon
as are your thighs when they rub together
you see
your body is a product of all the genes that multiplied before you were born
all the millions and billions and trillions of genes that got together repelled attracted joined pulled apart
to create you
it is a product of your mother's ancestry and your father's ancestry and their mothers' and fathers' before them and theirs' before them
you are you
and there is no one like you
anywhere on earth
celebrate your womanhood
celebrate your body
celebrate you.

stranded

You wish there was a way to
be with someone
without getting all these feelings in.
maybe if how the poets put it was indeed true
that the heart is a party pooper because it gets attached
you would rip your heart out and throw it and be with people
so that when they leave you
it wouldn't be a mess
but if you did that you would die because it is all different in the real world you see
you would have to sever the arteries and veins and cut through muscles and have the blood squirt everywhere
but it would still be less painful
than someone leaving you
in the middle of nowhere
standing in a storm of all the love letters you wrote for them
standing in a murky pool of tears overgrown with algae and weeds of despair
standing forlorn and alone wondering
why the fuck
you gave them
all of you, the whole of you
when all they wanted was
parts of you

hiding our love

I wonder if you think of me
when you do all the little things
all the routine things that you do
in the course of a day
like when you are drinking tea
from your old yellow cup
that has a crack at the edge
and how you always run your fingers over the broken line
almost as if willing to
smooth away the ridge
Do you wonder about me
when you caress that broken cup
knowing how I love to look up at your face,
at your laugh lines and crow lines that I so love
while you brush my hair away

but alas,
not all love is out in the open.

what is this love nonsense?

you can move on
you must move on
for what is love
and what is feeling
if you take emotional intimacy out of it?
then it is just what two crickets do with each other
or two cockroaches
or animals
or birds
or bacteria
the process to multiply or breed or propagate your seed
or if you are the little artsy type the process to satiate your primal urges
when you see it like that
it becomes much easier
to move on
you see if you don't,
you are stuck in limbo ad infinitum

the girl who thought she could not be tamed

there was once a girl
who loved life
one day with whiskey on her breath and stars in her hair
she kissed a guy who told her she was wild and he would tame her
tame her he did
so that now when she wants to sing
no sound would come out of her throat
tame her he did
so that now when she talks
she measures her words and tone and sentences
so that when she dances, she does so unseen
tame her he did
so that she no longer remembers
what it is like
to run with the wind in her face
and whiskey on her breath and stars in her hair
there was once a girl who was wild and free
and now she sits in a cage
gasping for air

monochrome

to know that you can fly must be the most exciting thing in the world
to escape when things became monotonous
like the conversations replayed inside
the same four walls
the monotony of routines
strictly adhered to
mostly to battle against any change or
anything new to disrupt our carefully measured time slots;
periodic timetable for breakfast exercise lovemaking conversing working going out;
sometimes violent splashes of colour
jarr the greys and blacks and whites of our life
in the form of unexpected gestures of love
but soon they are muted and made drab by
force-grinding them against our existence
Sometimes all it takes is for an outsider to step in and point out how we left some Colors somewhere
and now we are hell-bent
on erasing the traces of that too.

defenders of honor

Honor is between a woman's legs they say
as is respect and moral values and culture and modesty
well with all these stuck between our legs
it is no wonder
that we women find it so difficult to walk ahead
And so we stand here in the middle of nowhere,
while these great things dangle from between our legs
the men who walk on the same road of society either carry us over their shoulders
or slay us onto the side of the road
the only ones amongst us who walk free
are the ones that have nothing to do with what
lies between their legs
anymore
they are the ones who are free

pangs

this weather
and you
it's sunny and bright and blinding
then suddenly
dark and suffocating and humid
clouds rolling marching stomping
bellowing becomes thunder
screeching becomes wind
finally drenching love on parched me
this weather
and you
bringing heartache
and joy
and heartbreak
and hope
this weather
and you

then

when we first came to this city.
we were high on love.
and drunk on happiness
for hours we sat in the cafes.
watching the people and cars.
without having to worry about whether we had enough vegetables in the fridge.
or whether the curd had set.
we ate where we want and what we wanted.
without worrying about heart attacks and diabetes and bad knees.
now we fear tablets and fear our bodies breaking down.
if there are no fruits to eat, no salads to make we panic.
we exercise and maintain our physiques.
watch our calories, more protein, less carbs.
in the middle of all that.
we lost the time we had on our hands to while away.

comfort is us

yesterday I dreamt that i had died
and i panicked a little
because it would mean
i would not be able to wake next to you
even though we sleep
not always on the same bed
but sometimes in the other room
sometimes in another house
but always with thoughts of you.
how you make that grumpy face when the sunlight streams through the windows
that I refuse to cover with curtains.
for curtains make me uncomfortable
take me back to places I don't want to go
to people I wish i could forget
the touch and smell of.
sometimes you get annoyed before you have even opened your eyes
buy some curtains or take out the old ones from the loft you say
but how do I explain the panic in my chest
at the thought of curtained windows
and curtained doors
so I look away and pretend to be asleep
then you fall asleep when I shade you with my body and I wonder
whether our lovemaking is an excuse for the annoyance we mask inside.
but then I drift off to sleep again and
you turn me over and pull me to you and we go back to the shared comfort of domestic bliss
like travellers who have travelled all over the world and stayed in the best hotels but still
come back to rest on a broken cot in their room
because that is what comfort feels like
like you
like me
like us

the babies that never arrived

How do i use the phrase FML
for writing
about my own child
the uptight mothers ask.
Well when your own body has eaten three of your four babies
it is easy to
I say.
So shut up and be grateful,
you did not have to
see your belly swelling up
and your breasts filling with milk
and then
one day,
wake up to find that,
the babies you wanted
would never arrive.

they tell me to change

they tell me to change.
to become less like me.
and more like them.
i try.
i quieten myself.
stop dancing.
stifle my laughter.
swallow my tears.
numb my pain.
i will be happier.
if I am more like them they say.
if i m more like them
then why am i unhappy?
when i have become.
what the world wants me to become?