Time

Tonight, the moon shines
Just like a decade ago
With a little fire, glowing yellow
Setting memories aglow.

At my bedside, a lamp comes alive
After long; golden lines slanting
At a familiar, pleasing angle
Gazing upon these words, knowingly.

Dusted and brimming, nostalgia
Arrives — moments beam up
Floating slowly through this
Tropical air — and it is a moment, pregnant.

This rain, enthusiastic, torrential,
Seeped with the spirit of another time,
Awakens a longing, tugs at my heart,
Turns my soul on.

So much the same, so fleeting
It remains. This night must
Not leave. For as dawn encroaches,
I’ll be lost, my past vacant, yet again.

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Origami

On my body, you will find

The lines you’re looking for. These creases

are just old enough – for the lines

To not become borders. impenetrable.

Impregnable. Trace your fingers across

My solar plexus, and you will

Find

 

[Pigeons soar alongside, I see them

Racing to stay in my line of vision

As we hurtle on, epiphanies within

Sight. They throw themselves

At me only to hit duplicitous glass. Now,

The light turns liquid and flows down

The cracks they leave behind.]

 

                                       The light

Of a million galaxies trickling down.

If you listen closely, there’s bird song

Too. You will bend me, and I will

Comply. Rehearsed; this routine isn’t

A lie. But it isn’t the truth either.

 

There are only questions in these folds.

 

These folds that are grey with age.

 

This is an age unwilling to bend.

But around the bend, lies the answer.  

Glitter

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!”

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.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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.

Reckoning

2012. Distances grow. Without meaning to. From innocence, from love, from sharing, from family. From concern, from grappling, from reality. From truth. From coherence. From understanding. Growing up is happening too fast. Suddenly, there is no time. I’ve lost myself in a tumult of the outside, forgetting myself in the hurricane. Gladly so. Suddenly, it is easy to ignore the mundane, be engrossed in the trivial. It is easy to feel like I’m doing something of credibility, of worth, something that will have an impact. Much harder to realise, in moments of self-truth, that this may not really be so. At the end of the day, my eyes hurt behind lids that are coloured grey and red every time I close them. Loud guffaws of the day echo in some cob-webby attic of the mind. There’s distance in perceiving time too. Days have begun to feel like an age. Exhaustion consumes me, I don’t have the energy to think things through. And yet, this is ordinariness. Others have lives twisting into hyperbole every second. And I run away from them, from myself because I have no solace to offer. Every morning, I wake up unwillingly, and the first thought that floats into mind is a tiny prayer for a sense of humour to a God I don’t particularly believe in. And he/she grants it to me. And I live on…

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.

Bewitch

Of course, by now, heartbreak was
a foregone conclusion. She knew, even in
those intense moments when she could almost
touch a wave of love welling up inside her,
that this too, like all else, wasn’t going to last.
Nor was the universe, only our perception
of time didn’t allow us to comprehend reality,
she thought, melancholy. She knew, the comfort
of that blissful blindness, when all her flaws are eclipsed
(because she knew how to charm them a silly pink),
was temporary. They would see her, inside out, baring
thorns on flesh and bones, they would see the big hole
where her heart should have been. She knew that they would
know, in a single moment of blinding clarity, that she was
merely mortal. Not Princess Leah, not Sasha Grey –
Not transcendent. She knew, they would be appalled,
When they saw her plain, reflected whole in an honest mirror.
They would puzzle at her fears and her dreams,
they would blink, stare, wonder – is she for real?
She sighed. She knew, she’d have to end this too.
Self-preservation, her mirror told her, meant
she must hold on to the pedestal. That, at least,
they won’t see her addiction to adulation. Only
her tears, salt and sugar, swords to etch
unforgivable wounds into unsuspecting souls.

She’s Got A Wayyyy…..

“FIRST J&K WOMAN TO TOP STATE CIVIL SERVICES EYES UPSC” scream headlines across newspapers and all of them too-many news channels and the internet today.

Clap Clap Clap.

Can you imagine the politics that might be playing out behind Sehrish Asghar’s many identities on this momentous day of her life? A woman. Topping. the Kashmir Administrative Services. AND eyeing the Indian Administrative Services.

Or do we always end up imagining too much?

———xxxx———

Anderson, sire, thy words rankle,
like them birthmarks on my ankle! 

Sanity-Schmanity

We are well into the Age of Unlearning.

By the ‘Age of Unlearning’ i mean the time of our lives when convictions passed down to us by the medium of carrot, stick or just plain old genes, through the younger, more innocent years of our lives, get violently shredded one by one, into tiny itty-bitty pieces. Like Bertha Mason’s poor curtains, they become victim to an overpowering, uncontrollable rage, which itself stems from some form of clarity.

Convictions? Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Love, Karma, the power of Altruism, democracy, the You Ess of Ae, Capitalism, or Socialism, My life is the dream, Money will get you places, theories about superiority of the species, God?

Is this just the natural trajectory of growing up? Or is this just a phenomenon specific to our ‘post-modern’ generation whose motto is ‘everything goes, man’?

Madness is only expressing what shocks, abhors, deranges the babus. Bertha, your anger may well have been justified. He didn’t give you the chance you deserved. What of ours? At the betrayal of a thousand full moons and countless content nights? Of the violation of an innocence that will never come back as it is? And to think, saying that your God is a farce if you want blood on his hands is madness!

Growing up is to be able to see better through thicker lenses. That’s just sad!