The drum stick ricochets off skin

Like the flutter of wasp wings.

They dance – thrust, throw, shove, grind –

Frenzied, hurried. Dirty

They’re pigeons in heat.

The tiny hair on their cheeks has risen.

Accidents happen – gaze, chests, bottoms, lips.

Around them, within them, their own blood

Turns to sweat. The air turns musky;

Their voices, husky. Zoom in, out of focus.

There’s nothing but the sound of them

Breathing. Nothing; but them. 


I lie in a bed not made for me,
Wrapped in sheets that smell of you.
You, who stay away, far far away,
a thousand miles, a million galaxies
away, in the room adjoining. There,
I spy you, hiding among shadows that
grow as evening turns to night. Sometimes,
what you seek is not what you find.

I am shrouded in darkness – I want
to believe you search for me just as I
turn to you. There is much I imagine as I
breathe you in, but lesser that I forget as I
air you out. We are lost in the dark and to each
other. The night has worn us. You glimmer
pale, reflecting your thoughts. Sometimes,
the people who save us, also enslave us. 

You plague me – as you are and as you could be. 
You are a warlock, an addiction; a spell cast,
a charm thrown, another self invoked. I am as afraid
of seeing as I am of dreaming, for I thought I saw me
when i saw you. Illusions must not last. Now, we
must sink the stone. Before it ends, the surface
will shiver. Now, we must disappear. Because
sometimes, we are just the dust, not the gold. 


This time, they sought
the dark corners of the Web
to hide in. Anonymous, shedding
off all identity, this is where
they would let it blossom. For now.

They’d tried, and failed,
to keep a low profile. No public park,
heritage monument, or obscure cafe,
brimming over with so many like them,
could contain the music

Of their rising, overwhelming
affection for each other. Public
display was another matter —
They weren’t sure who had earned
the right to witness those moments.

They always came, invading
upon their continent of silent,
imagined kisses. But this at least,
they believed, was worth it.
Worth protecting. Worth preserving.

Even matchbox-sized rooms,
with the sun drawing needle-thin
lines across the terrain, was not
enough. They always came,
wondering what was being strangled

Or birthed. Contain. Compress and
compose. Words, now, were
their choice of coitus. Only, they feared,
no turn of phrase ever invented
could describe the enormity of

This accelerating crescendo.

True Love

There was once a boy who knelt in front of me with a bouquet in his hand and said that he loved me by way of asking me out – such was his innocence in matters of the heart. I was his first love (the rest were mere crushes) and he did everything he could think of to keep it going. He bought me flowers, chocolates, food, music, books, walks around beaches, beer (though he was a teetotaller) and oodles of chicken (though he was a vegetarian), he wept for my pain and laughed for my happiness, he sang me songs, he wrote me letters…oh the letters – going away letters, coming back letters, random stream of consciousness letters, gifting letters, celebratory letters.

When he handed me one while we were sitting next to a window in a fast moving bus one day, it blew away. I was reading it with tears in my eyes for it had promises I was desperate to hear. And then the wind blew it away. I turned to him, eyes full of shock and apology, and he just said it was alright. I was going away and he was dropping me to the airport. When I returned 15 days later, he handed me a patched up piece of paper. It was muddy, crumpled and torn in places. He’d gone back to that exact spot and fished about in the gutter and the roadside and found most of the scraps and taped it back. It left me speechless.

Towards the end of our relationship — and I knew it was ending at astronomical speed, and there was nothing I could do to stop it — a very flippant acqaintance of mine commented that he was a very good boy, and that I didn’t deserve him. She’d met him fleetingly once and barely knew me in our two years of shallow camaraderie. I was shocked — and this comment worked to cleave us apart all the more. I know it was unreasonable, i knew it then, but how do you explain all this to a passion-filled heart?!

A year and a half later, I am sorry for how things transpired between us. There are times when I regret my actions, but I know if all this were to happen again, in some other universe or another time-space axis, as they show in the sci-fi movies, I’d end up doing it again. The coordinates may have changed but the climax would’ve stayed the same. At some point in those four years, I’d begun to see the unseeable: This wasn’t it.

I really am sorry. Please take care of him, Universe.


There was once a girl who radiated happiness in a manner that could put the sun to shame. She came from Kashmir, from a conventional Muslim family, yet, defeating all stereotypes of the world (as most people are wot to do at some point of time or the other) she had attended the hallowed halls of a much cherished, much desired all-girls college in Delhi. Her father was in the merchant navy. She rode to college everyday in a creamy white Corolla Altis with her grandmother and five-year old sister in tow. The surveillance on her life was very heavy. Her stint at the college where we met was her first experience in a co-educational school. It had taken her parents a lot of will power to let her go to a co-ed school for this implied immediate contamination.

But she was a bubbly child, super-excited about being in the company of boys other than her brothers and in an open environment. She wore fully covered salwar kameez with Puma sneakers and a grey backpack, which carried her notebooks onto which she inscribed notes like a dictaphone. She loved the world of hi-fashion and had grown up to venerate the ways of South Delhi ladies. But her innocence made her seem cherubic. She laughed and giggled and hugged and kissed and sang and hummed and danced and burst with such energy that the first thing any of us wanted to see when we reached college was her big smile and a big bear hug — it made it seem like everything in the world would be alright.

I fell for her in a way only a girl can fall for another girl, minus any sexual connotations. I wanted to be the reason she smiled, laughed, i wanted to be her best friend, her secret keeper, her advice giver and seeker, her confidante and co-conspirator. It might seem childish now, but a day of her absence made me restless for I didn’t know who to turn to for company. Some of the best times from college I remember today are with her in the picture.

Halfway through our course, she fell in love with an Afghan fellow. I warned her, attempted to make her understand that these things should be taken one step at a time and not rushed into. She wouldn’t listen — she had an army of Bollywood stories to back up her convictions that he was the one and if you don’t die for your love, it never was love at all. In the end, she listened to another — one who brought the same look into her eyes as she did to mine. I’d never thought I’d be in a platonic love triangle!

Today, I don’t know where she is. None of us know where she is. Even her Afghan sweetheart has no clue where she is, seeing as he was violently thrown out of her life. Her father called us all up and warned us to not speak of her ever again or there wold be dire consequences. Her heartthrob blames the end of their relationship squarely on her. And her FB page looks like a vigil for someone long gone.

Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her. I fell in love with her – it was that simple. She may not have reciprocated, but she had a good heart and does not deserve this state of affairs. Please take care of her too, Universe.

Lessons this Spring

You would be foolish to give love in abundance and think there’s enough of it to go around. Because in this realist world, what you want is reciprocation, a fair deal. Ok, maybe even an unfair deal, but a deal nevertheless. But in matters of the heart, this doesn’t work. People will always judge you. They will convince you that you do not deserve what you’ve got. They will pull you down. Unconditional love is a fairy tale. A lesson hard-learnt, then.

Of course, there are exceptions. Those that will say to you, it’s alright, making mistakes is human, let’s move on. Those that will never give up on you. Those that will believe in you and your goodness, no matter what. These, then, are the too-good-to-be-true people and you hang on to them for dear life. For life may not be a fairy tale but around these people, it might seem like one in short euphoric bursts.


O treacherous moon,
Tonight you are half
Like my heart,
From battling yourself.
You’ve shone
With all your might,
With true love’s pride;
You’ve loved and lost
And yet you love again,
With light you borrow,
To mask all your sorrow,
You fade out of sight
Every fortnight.
But something within you
Must gallop at her sight;
Stars must shoot,
Meteors must burn,
Elsewhere, elliptical
Galaxies must turn;
For the heart doesn’t know,
It is a haunted canoe,
You want her to come
Take you out to sea,
Within her, you want to be.
But she stays, always
A mile away,
cold cold cold
You think her heart is
Wooden whittled wired,
Anew every corner hired.
But you see, she too
Is precious, like you.
Her heart, like porcelain
Is fragile, she too
Must’ve loved,
Only to have it slain.
And tonight we’re half,
You and i; let me bask
In your dim cascade,
Let us go away, into
The pain, let us fade…


In the space between our hands,
When our fingers entwine
For all the world to see,
In the tiny vacuum there                                                  
Flickers a spark
Glimmers twinkles winks
As do the mirrors,
Lights, colors, sequins,
Raining down every window.
The spark is alight
As our steps take flight
Buoyed by our skinny love
Light as the butterscotch
Swallowed, floating on a cloud.
The spark burns, rages
Like the blood into your
Sun-kissed cheeks,
Like flecks of red bursting
upon fresh white snow.
And into your eyes
I melt, today, as we feel
That spark, in the little world
That is born between
Sliding, familiarizing hands.

( For Shishir )

( Also dedicated to Jalil Mehdi, whose love sort of inspires this. )

Wishing that airplanes in the night sky were shooting stars…

Dad, last evening on the phone, tells me he’s lying on the beach, feeling the sand, hearing the waves, looking at the night sky with all its stars and almost full moon and wispy clouds. “It is important to be able to just look at the night sky, see the stars and the moon, feel the dark every now and then,” he says to me. I make agreeing noises, and he goes on: “You need to be able to appreciate the natural creations around you. Even if you don’t believe in the Creator, you have to be able to wonder, be awed by these creations, whoever made them.” I make more agreeing noises and he concludes: “You children do not know what you miss, being so trapped in big city lights. It is just not the same. And this is what I shall sorely miss about Vizag once I leave here.” And I think to myself – it must help, knowing the sky is forever there, even if your closest loved ones are not. It must help pa, seeing as he always gets philosophical about the irony of knowing the number of days you’ve lived, but never knowing how many more to go. Thank you dear stars, for being there for him. And for us.


Love, that lasts a fleeting second,
A fleck caught in your eyelash
That makes you turn around
And wink, for the second once-over.

Love, that descends in her eyes
As they revolve around the fire:
He is her entire world
She, his many satellites.

Love, for one night,
For a stupendous price.
Silken sheets, plastic keys,
As much cuddling as you please.

Love, in every wrinkle,
Every line, every rotting tooth,
All sore joints; but how young, distilled
Through all seconds of the hourglass.

Love, on Eastman-color posters, tainted,
In garbage-strewn alleys, painted,
With red spittle, tattered,
But still scorching silver screens.

Love, in the middle of the night.
In our hands – held, In this bed – white,
In our sky – light. And in this whisper –
Don’t break my heart, just yet.

Textbook Love Of The Teen Age

We will live within a wall as white as milk,
Breathe within a curtain as soft as silk
We will bathe in a sea of crystal clear,
Cherishing the golden apple that will appear.

We shall sing songs of cascading moonlight
Dance on dewdrops shining bright.
Read of undying love mighty and high
Cherishing ours with a deep contented sigh.

We shall walk through shimmering fields of gold,
Bask in the warmest sunlight and behold,
This vast wide world in all its glory,
Thank our stars and relate our story.

We’ll dream of stars, angels, love and peace,
find true bliss, our souls at ease,
We shall live life in all its ethereal design,
Now that I’m yours and you’re so very much mine.