Friday, November 22, 2013

White lies

What do you want for your birthday
She asked him quietly
You, he said, without much hesitation
It was an obvious lie

She wanted to believe that lie
And she clearly did
It made her illusion a little happier
And she needed it

That lie travelled across the globe
In her little pocket
Across cities, states and nations
Like a secret bodyguard

A few years later, on a winter’s day
His wedding invite came
She had to be there, for his sake, it said
And she would go

Her painted feet touched the floor
And walked gently
Towards the glittering decorations
As she stood before him

It was going to end tonight for sure
Their silly fairy tales
He was checking out for good
From her pretend world

But she was smiling from the heart
Even shook his hands
And the soft hands of the beautiful new ‘her’
Taking home just the lie 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Light up

It’s interesting how
Smoke from a cigarette
Dances to its own tunes
Swaying, twirling and shifting

It’s interesting how 
A little light from the sun
Makes the whole dance
Into one big theatre production

And then you blow
Gently into the centre
And the smoke disappears
Leaving little or no visual trace

But your drapes
And your sheets and pillows
Hold the memory
Of every cigarette ever smoked

Just like love. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Her. Him.

When she came
She stared at him
And with tears in her eyes
In utter silence
She gave him her heart

When she came
He looked at her tears
Tenderly, with affection
And wondered when
And how he'd hurt her 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Just another day

At some point, the flowers do stop coming
The party and cake orders cease
A moment you thought was special, at some point
Competes for some recognition amidst the regularity

Some people forget, some don’t bother to make that call
The number of thank yous has reduced
Like clockwork, you make coffee, eat toast and egg
And like every single day, clock in silently at nine thirty

Candles are saved for power failures, you believe
And not for silly moments of romance
You know there won’t be strawberries and champagne
When you hurry back home, knackered, at seven

The love is there, somewhere, hidden, you explain
Possibly like the gift you won’t find
It’s in the eyes or in the lines of his unclenched palms
Behind the boredom or embedded in the ageing brain

Be the goddess of the night; give him a new 'you';
The pressure’s been on for a while
You eat more greens, no grains, and retrieve the curves
 You drop sizes, go shopping and even get some makeup

That night, as you rub lotion into your tender, tired, hands
And glance at his hair you love so much
You realise that you want to love and like never before
But now you’ve become the girl no one wants to touch…

Friday, August 09, 2013


You’re a woman. Be strong. Life is going to throw many more challenges at you. You have to face them all.
I shiver.
Sometimes, I don’t want to be strong. I want to give in to whatever the hell is going down; it’s could very well be the only way my soul would be purged.  
I don’t want to hold fort all the time. And sometimes, I really cannot. My knees buckle and I can feel the earth crumble beneath my feet.
Sometimes, I do not want to take on the world. I don’t want to read feminist lines that talk about equality of women and empowerment.
I cannot be a feminist. Feminism is differentiation of some sort. I am human. To me, men and women are the same - Both love, laugh, hate, hurt, cry and hide. Social definitions mean nothing to me. I don’t care about straight people or gay people – I care about the line between good and bad and I know that sometimes, a sandstorm can hide that line. People cross over all the time. We are all guilty of something and if we sit on our high horses and start to judge, we’re damned. And it won’t matter whether we are straight or gay bi-curious or asexual.

Sometimes, I don’t want to be a woman at all.
I don’t like the idea of being told, “when you have your periods, it’s god’s way of telling you that you hold the key to giving life.”
I don’t give life to anything. I only facilitate the entrance. And I don’t want to bleed to prove that. 
I don’t want to be the woman who’s patted on the back for her bravery because people almost didn’t expect her to make it through to the next level. 
I don’t want to be told how fortunate I am to have found someone who cares. Sometimes, I would like that to be said about me.
I wonder how many people would have told my husband that: you’re one lucky bastard to have her. 
None of my exes, I am certain. 

In my weakest moments – when I can barely walk or lift a hand to push hair away from my face, I have someone doing it for me. Someone helps me get off the bed and put on my clothes, takes me to work and waits to bring me back. I have been fed, hugged, comforted, tickled and entertained when all I wanted to do was crawl under the bed and possibly, perish.
And that someone is not a woman.
I am proud that I am alive and healthy enough to earn a living. I am also proud that I am human. But honestly, I don’t give a rat’s ass about being a woman. I think this whole gender thing is way too overrated.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I do

He’d given her a smooth pebble
It was black, no, dark blue
And always cold
And oddly, comforting 

One day she took that pebble
And hit it against her head
And again
And again
Till blood oozed out of her forehead
And a tiny river was born

Finally, they were married.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Your taste
Is like coffee
On a rainy night

Your memory
Is like salt
That rims the eyes

Your song
Is like cinnamon
It sweetens the lips

My love
Your name
Is like white smoke
That gently disappears

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Unnamed #5

How is it that I wait for a date that doesn’t exist anymore?
Why is it that I remember it right from the beginning?
Why do I remember where we sat and what you said?
Is it because you never really let me forget?
Why is it that I have to explain myself everywhere,
But the one place, where I never have to, shut down?
How come you’re not willing to cross this excruciating distance?
Is it because gratitude fastens its claws around your wrists?
Or is it because, deep within, all I have become is just a happy memory?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Unnamed #3

Do you remember the fragrance from the Frangipani behind our room
Told us stories of different lands that we all knew never existed?
Remember how we sneaked in dried nuts and put them under our pillows
To be strictly had, in the dark, during those insane story telling sessions?

I remember them like I would a favourite jigsaw puzzle from those days
Pieces you know will eventually come together but not right away
I remember some songs, some funny games, and fights we had over nothing
And how it all ended without a warning and vanished behind the doors

Occasionally, I would read these novels that had the two of us in the middle
They were us, with different faces, different names and different stories
But I would ride through the story like a desperate and wounded horse
That had to reach before it fell on an unknown plot and bled to death

Your best friend left the country and you cried because she didn’t ask you once
My lover walked out and I burnt all his letters that we knew were seriously lacking
Under my bed, rotted a stuffed bear that my second lover gave for a birthday
You poked fun at me, called me a child and ran out of the room with your pigtails

You make me smile even without intention and from that overwhelming distance
You and I no longer ask, call, speak, wish, love, hate, cry, laugh, smile or argue
Lives were parted, with a wide-toothed comb, possibly to untangle the rough edges
Causing deep lines, differences, lack of interest and general disregard for each other

We turn defiant, annoyed, and annoying, and let our egos take over as puppeteers
You walk in the snow, hurt your neck, shiver in the cold, go months without money
I burn in the sun, hurt my neck, reel under the heat and go months without money
It’s ironic, isn’t it, how in a way we live identical lives without even asking for it?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Unnamed #2

Now that you have worn all your gold
That dances to the light from the window
And sung your song and read your story 
Is your head, now resting on his shoulder?

I was there. Right there, somewhere visible 
I told him once, perhaps slightly too aloud 
That our fates were fastened together
And then, I told him again, this time quietly.

You banished the chillies out from the curry
And fed him slowly, bite by bite 
As he stared into your eyes that mirrored his
And dreamed of the wild ocean at your feet.

You walked, leaving a trail on the sand
He sat, afar, watching with addicted eyes
While you smiled unknowingly, blushing a little
Whispering his name into the seductive breeze.

I tore at my hair and gouged my eyes out
Bared my soul and abandoned my ego
Told him. Begged him. It was only him I could love
But it was never too often and never too surely.

The two of you built a castle without walls
Filled with jewels, children, felines and tureens
You laughed, wept, shared tales and relived moments 
And made love in summer without complaining.

I saw it all. I saw it from a distance one can't measure
Cracks had begun to appear on my cursed forehead
I forgot the lines, the maps, the names and time
From your door, I didn't quite know the direction.

Monday, February 04, 2013


I cradled her in my arms as she slept. The tiniest of fingers wrapped around mine. I couldn’t sleep. What if I missed this tomorrow morning? And as she began to smile in her sleep, dark circles began to form around my eyes. A candle burnt on the table, threatening to end before its turn. Overworked candles. I always felt a little pity for them. Thankless jobs.
Can one daydream at night? I have often wondered. As a few familiar books began to collect mites on the shelf, I thought of our first day together. ‘Our’ day. It was special. There was no else after classes. We were watching the clouds shape-shift. “It is going to rain,” you had said. I didn’t have an umbrella, and hadn’t cared.
That was, what, 20 years ago?
Adhuna was sleeping on the floor. Her old bones would give up at night, as she would writhe in her sleep, often fighting bad dreams. I would watch her too. Why did she work here? I hardly paid her anything.
For three years, Adhuna took care of me, and now her. She came to me like a discarded orphan, well into her fifties, asking for a job. I needed someone to just be at home when I came back every evening.
For three years she worked without complaining. My little flat looked like a home within a week of her employment. After many years, I didn’t have to eat dinner silently.
Diva by day, broken by night – month after month, I had fought the craving to end it, the charade I was playing without a break. Adhuna would wash my clothes and iron them carefully. She would oil my hair once a week and shampoo it as I sat on a stool with water and tears pouring down my almost naked body.
Adhuna. Adhuna became Adhuna ma.
I had named her Adhuna as well; the original was not going to live for too long. I needed something to remember her by.
I had saved money for Adhuna; money I had sworn to never touch.
Six months before the little one came, Adhuna went to her village, to meet her brother and sister-in-law. I had handed over ten thousand rupees to her, money that I had saved for her, and told her to buy them something. She came back with the money, shoved them into my hands and never spoke of them again.
It was 4am. An unnatural force was dragging down my eyelids. I fell asleep.
When I woke, it was already 10am. Adhuna had cooked my breakfast, packed my lunch, fed the baby, bathed it and was sitting on the little balcony reading out the newspaper to a five-month old. I never asked where Adhuna learnt English. I felt she would be embarrassed if I did.
It was my tenth year at the newspaper. Things had changed. From a sensible set of pages, the paper had turned into something that fed the population only with what they wanted. There were no opinions, no stands taken anymore. My day began and ended exactly the same way – with a sigh.
The morning of my so-called ‘anniversary’ at the job, Adhuna brought out my favourite tunic. “Wear this today. You look very nice in it,” she laid it out on the bed. Lining my dark eyes with some kohl, I tied my hair back. I didn’t really know how I looked anymore. I had stopped looking years ago.
“Didi, I have cleaned the breast pump,” Adhuna said, handing over the silly contraption.
It was a long day at work. There was an office party at the Press Club that went on till 1am. After literally forcing a news editor to drop me back home, I walked up the stairs of the dilapidated building. A decade. I have seen other decades. A decade of marriage. A decade of romance. A decade of friendships. Nothing quite stays.
Even if you tie it to your soul with a magic link, things have a way of slipping out of your life. There is no ‘forever’.
A tall glass of cold water brought me back to my senses. Stop complaining, I said, you have more than what you deserve and much more than some others. Everything that functions in your life is a miracle.
Switching on the light in the bedroom, thanking that there was no power outage, I washed my face, my feet and changed clothes.
Where is he?
Does he know what day is today?
Is he thinking of me today? At least today?
An Ernest Hemingway lay next to me. I had read it five times already, and had started it all over again.
Tomorrow might be the same but it will be a different day.
“What do you think Adhuna? Will I get a raise this quarter?”
There was no answer. Even the baby didn’t stir. Even the lingering shadows of a dead adopted mother and a baby had disappeared.
Yes, tomorrow will be a different day. But it will be the same.