Category Archives: Poetry

Tonight is the Dying Kind of a Day

After staring at my computer screen for long hours,

I stood by the sink waiting to puke, maybe, I thought – whatever I’m choking on would throw itself out,

But my mute had become cancer, it spread inwards. Even my silence was eaten up, nothing came out of the throat that once sang fire songs and bullet hymns. I could sit without moving for half the day and the other half, my nerves wouldn’t stop banging themselves hard on my flesh, turning me into a hurricane.

A few hours back I wanted to write a poem about how I never realised that Amma, she came with a ticking clock,

My one hour of ignorance now causes her four hours of anxiety, my Amma who could dance on songs of Rafi, now lets her heart settle with echoes of sad songs.

People too come with expiry dates but unlike medicines we want to keep the people around even when their rescue dates are quite near, people were better medicines, always.

In the morning, I wanted to write about an old house that I miss, the chirping of the birds outside my window,

They bring to me the smell of those curtains, yellow leaves dipped in raindrops, the swing that was safe, the slide where bullies didn’t push you hard, the rope that sticked to my body more than my own soul, the blood that left it hollow forever after.

A minute back I wanted to write a poem about how an artist forgets to get back home even when he does return,

How do people count projects and assignments, schedules and meetings more than they can remember coffee mugs and reasonless conversations?

Yesterday night, I wanted to right about the things that were suddenly making me cry, a micro second of tears and hours of chocked breath neither reaching my tongue nor gulping itself down my guts.

Wearing a jacket that smells of you and ointments that I use to cure cold, not able to figure out which side to sleep, an aching finger or a soundless still soul that won’t utter even a murmur of its pain, what counts?

I wanted to write a poem about people who write stories about choosing adventure over love, I wanted to write about why I chose love over adventure and that seemed like seeking a validation. And then, I wanted to write a poem about validation.

There are days when I can write poems like layer by layer I’m ripping my skin off and it doesn’t even pain, like I’m throwing lillies over my head and they come back turning into rainbows, like every drop of blood in me breathed poetry.

Then there are days when I can’t even spell POETRY, in a single attempt. I read Rumi like I’m reading a nursery rhyme and I read Wolf and Plath like I’m reading an article on trend setters.

I am a sea of strangers beating each other off to scoop out the bitterness,

But all they see is dust grooving with the air: my nerves still jammed worst than a busy red signal. I sometimes think I don’t have a way with winters, maybe I should be in the mountains high on vodka whole day long, at least my spirit won’t freeze to death.

If being fragile ever meant being vulnerable, I could call myself the poetess who could be a goddamn goddess but —

being fragile doesn’t open wounds up like buds waiting to turn into flowers, being fragile shuts the graveyard even stronger,

being fragile some days only means a louder silence, poems moving in circles in stomach like a hullabaloo, tongue tied up and a soul that slept on half bottle of pills without its alarm clock on.

// tonight is the dying kind of a day //


My New Emptiness is Called the ‘MAKESHIFT SOUL’

A hundred poems have I written on emptiness,
there’s one on the back of my old math notebook
one on the birthday card I made for mum
one on the red wall of my terrace –
it’s a one line poem – “WHY DOES IT NOT END?”,
there are many poems floating on the shimmer
of water in the off-white bucket in my bathroom,
there are several in my laptop – incomplete,
several half eaten in my stomach,
half chewed in my mouth
half read hanging on my eyelids
and half sung, sticking on the tip of my tongue.

People are continuities, people are patterns,
they continue each day something of their yesterday,
I am half dismal and half glory, with life one day long.
I have endurance of a woman who’s gaining weight faster than she’s gaining courage to be a shameless “cheese lover” and a constant “gym hater”,
I have patience of a kid who has no idea why did they teach him how plants breathe and not “HOW TO TEACH YOUR MOTHERS THE ART OF BREATHING FOR THEMSELVES”,
I have love of an artist who cannot decide if having a muse is another form of tranquility or hysteria.
The impermanence of how I feel changes colours
faster than a chameleon, from sunlight to midnight,
I am twenty million people; my days end with a text from an old friend that says “I know you so well”
and a text from my psychiatrist that says “YOU KNEW YOURSELF BETTER TWO YEARS BACK”.

This is how my newborn emptiness looks like,
about which I’ve never written a poem but only broken
jingles that sounded worst than nursery rhymes.
My new emptiness is called, MAKESHIFT SOUL,
I sleep with a fear of “who would I be tomorrow?”
My mornings begin with a note – “you can do this!”
my nights end with – “would i try it again tomorrow?”
The worst thing about emptiness is you don’t know –
you don’t know at what point does your ship finally sink,
your bones are half water, half blood but your flesh
wants neither of the two.
Despite what your heart wants to feel,
emptiness is merciless, it continues throughout the day
to splash both water and blood right on your face,
leaving you naked and drenched in an unknown guilt,
an unknown fear, an unknown face –

As the colour of my skin changes by the night,
my feet more cold and painful, my hands warmer than I want them to be, my spirit descends to an unknown field.
Of such fields, there’s no address, only yearnings.
Like mother earth, I too am a life,
there are things about me that do not change,
I am tired of making them survive, because emptiness –
emptiness does not tell where does it hurt
emptiness does not tell what does it want
emptiness does not tell of whom does it long
emptiness does not become home or a grave
emptiness stays like a parasite, it eats,

I Too Call Myself ‘I’

I have no joys that are not yours, no
aches which are not yours, I too call myself I.

There are no rains, that I’ve not seen
turn into melancholy, sitting like a drought
on the window side, waiting for a single drop
to wash the air off your stains, but you
occupy everything, everything.

There are no afternoons when I’ve not burnt
brighter than the scorching sun in the sky
to light my own house and look for a touch of you
lost but breathing, shivering for the warmth of my chest,
your longings falling like tired embers.

There are no nights that I’ve not spent sitting
depleted and curled within a hundred layers
like a mongrel, trying to dig into the end of me,
where my grave must be, where my birds weep
to go to sleep.

There are no seasons when I’ve not looked
for the face of spring, how many years have gone
autumned, perforated, pining for dancing horizon,
to feel once what does a dead tree feel
when flowers break out of its emptiness.

I’ve ached too but they called it a manner
of a woman, an emotional freak, a damstrel,
whose tears the world can see is cowardice
and a man’s pushed down the throat is courage.

It is I who’s lost like the wind of anguish.
It is I who’s betrayed, once beloved
and in the end a bereavement.
It is I who has sucked air out of the body to check
if my lungs are breathing pain, in and out.

But they’ve counted on rolling calendars
seasons after seasons, your autumns,
your cold januarys, your storms of despair,
your abyssal, your suffering, your bleeding heart.

You are the pure heir of a family’s name,
soul bearer of another lioness to your beast;
and I a surpassed sorrowed gender,
whose heartbreak must end with a whimper.

But how will they separate from our mournful sky,
this I from you, you from this I. For if we were
a damaged ship, put together piece by piece
one last time,
I will still be I.
You will still be you.
We will still be us.

The first two lines of the poem have been picked from Kamala Das’s An Introduction.

Life is a makeshift

There are these moments
when you’d want to pluck the earth off the universe
and put it somewhere in the junkyard, forgotten;
never get any of these lives back and find yourself anew
folding into layers and layers of unanswered qualms.

I once ran off places on earth and in my head with a wrong map
each time I was sure, I would take some pills and quit this.
Yes, once upon a time I wanted to die or maybe not
but I walked till here and
I’ve shed my own self, I got the path
and I’m an existence forever ‘becoming’.
I never reach a point where I look into myself
And feel where have I reached, where is the right map?

I do not arrive now, at places, in time, in situations, amidst people.
I roam in circles encountering my silent adventures,
I become a dandelion, a root, a leaf, a flickering bulb,
a freak, a wolf, a nest, a cocoon,
And from each life, I move towards another,
To never let the world see,
What have I made of myself.

I am not the noun, I’m a verb.
I change and I am a process,
Maybe like a feather of the bird that falls down
Swaying and shedding the weight of its broken wing.
Yes, I couldn’t once choose myself over my sorrows
But I’ve made museums with chandeliers
Out of each of my grief.

Magic chambers in my eyes,
I’ve left long back
What people made me think
I must learn to be,
I’ve let my eyes dream of plains, scrapes, slopes and mountains,
Instead of directions, seasons, goals and constructions,
I will be my tomorrow before tomorrow arrives,
It is I, who’s moving and maybe not the time.
You’ll not find me arranged in a single manner,
A concrete, a mere life
Till a breath tears me apart.

You’re the light: light of all lights

You’re a quintessential summer song
bittersweet, mixed with a soft humming.
How my heart beats, almost lonely,
without your hand in mine.

You’re that red wall with the window
from where the glitter seeps in
and turns me into a labyrinth of lights.
Forever the favourite one.

You’re that melodic old radio
that sometimes sings and
Sometimes makes noises like a hullabaloo
How do I love the noises and songs alike.

You’re an album of photographs.
If I open too much, I drown too much.
If I let it closed, my heart is closed.
When I speak to them, they sing back,
same way as you.

You’re like a secret box full of old books
that makes me a child
always running for you,
for the graves of your naive little poems
you saved from the world, dearly for me.

You’re like an evening walk.
I can blabber everything and not know
I spoke to another soul.
You wear my thoughts on your heart,
same way grass covers our harsh feet.

You’re like that swing I miss.
Every touch of you that I remember
swirls everything in my stomach,
like a pool full of fishes
embracing every drop of me.

You’re not you anymore
How joyously do I see us
A you and a me
running into the wild
with sky above us, infinite.

Not everyone’s father is a hero

Not everyone’s father is a hero.
They kill childhoods with whisks of drunk nights and sullen, hollow homes.
They never gift doll houses, sketches or books.
They never remember birthdays as celebrations; rather it’s a day embarking a sorrow.
There are no summer holidays together, not even a Sunday brunch.
They leave imprints of violence, abuse and several nights of suffering and tears.
Their children never see galaxies and stars and rainbows, not even their favourite cartoon films on TV.
They crush under the silhouettes of dominance, ignorance and lies, a daughter’s dream tale, her voice and desires.
They roam escaping family, an absent figure.
They are not the ones children wait for, I always felt so free when he wasn’t at home.
His room and work place took no space when he wasn’t there, quiet like a lonely song, how well I could empathise with them.
They are unknown and unheard.
And yet the grief for a lifetime remains: it’s irreparably painful to forget them, abandon them.
Give them the same pain back.
Their children grow up with a heart full of rage and rebel and do you know whom do they wound the most?
Not everyone’s father is a hero.
~On father’s day……

Waiting Remains But Seasons Change

I wait for you, for the eternal love between you and the aching soil,
I wait to smell the sky opening like a cave to let you break,
mud in the pots and old red walls painted in your colourless colour.
I forget everything, you’re my manner of detachment
from agonies and suffering that make me dreadfully dry.
I forget the laments of the broken heart of that black bird
once shooed away for her colour and once for her free song.

They taught me it’s an act of a fool to wait for something
which is temporary and seasonal, but what are you if not the face of freedom?
Do you not break your ties with the vastness of the sky
to meet your old graves buried in the soil?
I love how I fail to believe you’re a season’s gift and
I’m a desperate freak in your waiting and in forgetting of this drained self.

Summer begins to stink, no way different from these people, poor bodies,
crushed in small yellowed houses caged in their wraths and dooms.
I wonder if summer intends to make jokes, every season, on our shattered blossom.
Hot air we breathe but bones still frozen.
I wait for you, for the season to match with how my heart feels.
Only on your arrival, do my songs and sorrows drown into one another,
Just like the first rain drops sizzling on the forsaken old heated floors.

I wait for you all day long, without measures and calculations
everything is wrong, so wrong, but everything will be right
when the sky is not too bright, a little dull and lifeless for a while,
and then your beginning, the upheaval first and a continued soothing hymn.

Waiting remains but seasons change;
But a man never said four seasons be enough for escapes and
when have I not asked for more, just a little more of you?
An unseen solitary ocean is waiting in my songs
for a few dewdrops of petrichor to let me melt
my ruins of reality with you.