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. 


The Story-Teller

Everyday, she tried, without success,
to string it all up together. She sat
cross-legged, eyes clamped shut; stood
on her head, belly sucked in; lay
prostate, airing her thoughts; walked
painfully slow, measuring her step.
And yet, it all stared back at her,

Mussed up, strewn about, incoherent.

Mere words, she looked at them,
lolling about in the sun, making her 
sweat buckets, trying to take stock,
like a mother of triplets: one produce, 
but thrice the effort. She plucked and 
pleaded and coaxed and berated:
“Gather around!”; but they wouldn’t listen. 

Within her, she knew, there was a story
waiting to be told; a song to be sung, 
a landscape to be painted. Everyday,
she told herself, is a new start, for today
we shall finally voice. Love, war, peace, hunger,
passion, pain and introspection — today
was her day of expostulation. 

But the days stayed mum, whispering through her.

Them words be tricky, smug little imps,
Hanging off the edge but never diving.
Them words, they laugh at her — now old, 
grey and frail — taunting her still, playing
hide and seek. They still rushed past her,
and once, she was certain, she caught a
pity-soaked whisper: “You are the story, m’dear!”


It is a caress gone unnoticed everyday.
Softly, flowers graze my breasts,
seeds flying wild, transported
on chiffon, floating far away
on your anguished, breathless sighs.

A bare mid-riff — silken to touch
with the dampness of down
trussed up in roses billowing 
on a petticoat the colour of summer —
is the middle, the end, the beginning

Of a new chapter, a new idea,
born in your soul, a desire that burns,
much like dry, flaky wood,
incensed by a fluttering pallu,
winging up your lustiness.

but much like that brittle bark,
your burning will be all smoke too.
six yards to seduce — is that all
it takes? I may not be as compliant,
flexible, open or ready to bend.

It’s a caress I may not feel anymore,
But my delicate chiffon will defend.
Your mind may sing, even go hoarse
thinking of my virtue, so loose. 
This chiffon, I warn you, will strangle.

The illogic of small big-big things.

Beware of the night, they whisper.

In the black, there are always, and only, shades of grey.

A vortex, it will slurp up the white, like a Hoover,
Burp and beam, from Jaapan to Jalandhar.

Replete with satisfaction, it will leave red.
In your face, on the road, on your sheets.

And then Society will come a-knocking.
And all they’ll be able to see anymore is the mud.
Horrors. No blairwitch, this. “She wouldn’t listen”
Is all they’ll have to say, passing it on.

*Facepalm*. Life’s sucha bitch.

Friends, anyone?

Airtel’s (now slightly old) new ad campaign says har ek friend zaroori hota hai. Every friend is important. Or every friend holds some place in one’s life. Every friend is special, indispensable. It attempts to sell talk-time to a generation that lives in college canteens in groups on kulhads of chai; bunks classes to smoke pot in huddles or watch movies in single file rows; has survived on watching re-runs of ‘The One Where…’ episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S and absorbed more life lessons from those than any classroom lecture. The day it was launched, the video went viral on Youtube and Facebook and every few seconds, somebody or the other would post a new status message getting all soppy and emotional about dosti and what all their friends meant to them, as if it had JUST then occurred to them the vital wisdom of this simple statement.

Look at the ad stills at bus stops – the lazy friend, the bookish friend, the kanjoos friend, the adventurous friend…and it goes on. But here are some they totally…forgot (is the word)… to include i guess:

The Study-Notes Friend : Come February-March and I suddenly find there’s an increase in the number of people willing to buy me coffee or wanting to talk with me or simply just beaming at me from across the room. Of course, the fact that I record notes like a dictaphone has nothing with this, it’s just the spring air, yaar.

The I’m-Never-Going-To-Pay-You-Back Friend : Soo, you lent her some money one beautiful morning, when she needed it and you still thought she wasn’t one of ‘those’. But turns out….abhi toh pocket money nai aayi yar, my boyfriend dumped me yar, i lost my phone, my wallet, FIVE HUNDDDRUD bucks yaaaarrr….yaaaaarrrr, *puppy face*, kal pakka haan!

The Bottomless Void Friend : Who basically measures the amount he/she loves you by the ounces you put into him/her (oh well, you might as well say IT!). Feed them, nurture them, water them (with beer and whatnot) and IT shall be yours lovingly forever (till your resources for such fruitful enterprise run out). Even Marley knows where his loyalties lie, bones or no bones, yaar.

The Vanity-Fair Friend : She will bring you all the gossip and shine her royal light on you, at the price of at least one compliment a day. Or she will do whatever it takes to get all the boys’ attention, all the spotlight so she can radiate the sun into oblivion. Or he will crack witticisms about everything and bring to you the most bizarre, alternative information engineered to blow your mind away and make him cool. And the moment you stop the flow of admiration, he/she will begin to see in you the essence of your office’s dusty furniture. Mein bhi toh sultry hun, yaar!

The Who DAT? Friend : You’re walking down a street and you come across a face you know very well, and you stop, turn and run back to say hi! But the person is so oblivious to a world outside of their own personal haywire orbit that they cannot place you. Orrrrr, they pretend not to place you because you’re just not cool enough to be on their list of acquaintances even! Of course, this comes after they’ve ignored your calls, messages, wall texts, tweets, postcards, inland letters, pink-scented love letters…once your medium of association has expired. Out of sight, out of mind is only fair, afterall i know soo many people, yaar!

The Le Joker Friend : Sinister, like, Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight, this one’s particularly tricky because they’ve got split personalities and many faces. She will be always by your side, you will witness her ups and downs, you will an intrinsic part of her life, glass-shattering, wrist-scratching, self-loathing moments included. But the moment you go home, she will tell the world how you torment her, sabotage her, prey on her, steal from her, mooch from her and basically treat her like she’s the doormat. Sympathy milegi toh boyfriend bhi toh milega, yaar!

Of course, this list goes on. We’d all find some or other ‘friend’ who’s done this or more to us, duped us into believing this is the real thing. OR we might squirm and, if we still have a heart left, admit that we too have not been ‘holier than thou’ and done something awful to some unsuspecting soul, maybe not so wittingly ourselves. So if the bums at Airtel wish us to believe that being nonchalant about it will make it alright, they must know heartbreak and friendships don’t mend easily. And if all they’re trying to do is tell the world to get a grip and be good to your ‘hommies’ too, well, it’s a noble enterprise, but i do think it is a rather lost message in this day and age of short attention spans, shorter memories and big humongous egos blooming at terribly young ages instead. Dosti ho toh aisi yar!

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.

…It was right then that I started thinking about Thomas Jefferson on the Declaration of Independence and the part about our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I remember thinking how did he know to put the pursuit part in there? That maybe happiness is something that we can only pursue and maybe we can actually never have it. No matter what. How did he know that?

— Chris Gardner, The Pursuit of Happyness, 2006

The Last Hour

This was his last hour.

He knew it. Every neuron in every cell in every part of his body and every drop of his blood told him, whispered to him in chorus – this was it. The sand had begun to slip,  into the other hemisphere of the clock, out of his grasping tightened fingers, out into a vacuum, where he would soon follow.

His breathing was quick, shallow. His hands felt the tremor that reverberated inside his head. He could feel the heartbeat rise, the seizure coming on…and then his head said, wait a minute! Lets do a quick recap, shall we? And bless his cranium for relaying in realtime the sights he loved the most: his wife, arranging knick knacks around the room at that very moment; his little angel Inaayat, who was trying to get his grandson Aman to eat his dinner; his mute brother Hussain, signing furiously at him, and laughing inaudibly at the joke he’d just told; his Royal Enfield, which he wanted his grandson to have; his paintings, sitting in the dark room nobody was ever allowed to enter; his mother, may she rest in peace; his books, Virginia Woolf, Bach, Madhubala, his bed; his land, to which he had dedicated his legs, an eye and his soul; Toto, his parrot, swinging in his cage and doing imitations of him…

They said one’s last moments on earth brought everything back, reconnected one with the oldest memories. Well, he didn’t know about that, but everything that had ever made him happy was in this room, and right in his vicinity. He’d been aching inside this cage for so long – aching for freedom, and that’s all, because everything else, thank the lord, was with him, here for him. And here it was too, a chance to leave, get up and get out, go on a free run over buildings and walls and garbage bins and trees and parks and statues. Here it was, his being ready to climb, jump, run, jog, twist, clamber, throw himself away.

The recap continued, and so did the rising heartbeat. Only, now it rose for excitement about this new adventure. The runway, he realized, had been a brilliant joyride – he’d done his jaywalking, loving everything, the pleasures and the pain. This last fight might be His, but the balance sheet was in his favour, with this huge credit of happiness weighing it down immeasurably…

Inaayat was the first to look up and see her father grinning, staring straight ahead, his gaze fixed on some unknown point in the street outside the open window. Something about his rigid posture and the lifeless swinging of the armchair alarmed her. Appa! She yelled, rushing towards him. Her mother ran towards her too, Hussain was already trying to shake the unconscious form out of stupor, miming his dissatisfaction at his brother leaving so early, before he’d even tried his new recipe, the kebabs from heaven.

Aman stood in a corner, staring at his Abba, wondering why everybody was making a fuss about him napping. Abba looked about as happy as he himself felt when Sharma uncle gave him lollipops.

Abba is dreaming about red lollipops, Amma. Let him be, he said, pulling at Inaayat’s salwar.

Dancing in Distant Places

And her eyes, they said,
To the world: “Dead
I might be to you,
But i only seek new
Horizons to cruise,
Far away from those blues,
For flight, for freedom,
For jazz, and just some
many little joys. i’ll take
All that heartache,
Thank you, i’ll keep it,
I know, it’ll do its bit.
None were mine to call,
Nor was i theirs; in all
I did just fine, i think,
Never fell off the brink,
But for all the pieces
That fit, the creases
Only made for more eloquent
Satin. Now that i’m bent
Into shape with this pirouette,
To forever whirl, i am set –
Yes, i will, i’ll take my chances,
For I have the soul that dances!”


Anticipating the perpetuity
That the polaroids would bring
They lost themselves for hours
In skies, strata and seas
Drowned in time and dreams,
Scraped many-a happy knee.
Mischievous impish eyes
Profiles and white lies
Loud grins and side glances,
Now live in rectangles
In my gasping living room,
Scrambling for space through
Precipitous memories at noon.
In the thunder and downpour
Of nostalgia storming through the door
They come to me, ghosts of suns last,
Drink my wine and pluck at my heart.
But O heart, my dear heart!
Take heart, this at least never will part,
We’ll name them in everyday of that past…
But then, my heart, we must go back to the start.