Thursday, October 24, 2013

Akhon Onek Raat

Words found in a limbo of languages,
Extinct dialects of the heart,
Forced cacophony of the world around,
Sounds that mean what we make them mean.

Akhon onek raat,
Tomar kaandhe amaar nishshash,
Aami benche aachi, tomar bhalobashaye.

Simple lines, spoken a million times over,
in many love stories, like ours,
Beaten to death by authors, and burnt to ash,
by poets and blurred off paper by painters.

Chuye dile haath,
Aamar briddho booke tomar maatha chepe dhore,
Dolchi kamon neshaye.

Drunk in meaning, of eons of stories,
Heavy with the weight of so many souls,
Lines, still just lines of words after all,
in an alien language.

Kano je oshonkoche ondho gaaner koli,
Pakhar blade-er taale shojashuji kotha boli.

Nonsense and sense, churned like buttermilk,
Indistinguishable anguish of the once loved,
Unfathomable logic of the still loved,
Hopeless hope of a still to be loved. 

Ami bhabte parini tumi buker bhetor phatcho
amaar shorir jure tomar premer beej.

Yet surprise they do, sometimes, all the time,
How well they say my mind,
Your mind, this effervescent syntax of ink on paper,
forced to breathe, somewhere on our common ground. 

Ami thamte parini tomar gale norom dukkho
aamaye duhaat diye munchte diyo please.

Note: The Bangla lyrics are from a fantastic song from the film Hemlock Society (listen to it here). It has been written and sung by Anupam Roy.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Self Deception

Does someone else feel it too? A vacuum? Of words that one once used to speak? To loved ones, to strangers, to confidantes? Why do I feel that the words are ebbing away slowly. From my fibre, inch by inch, gram by gram.

This is what comes of reading a book made of letters. I read one a few days before, and I wanted to write about it. But I guess I am even more of a wallflower than Charlie. Epistolary. And now it is this one. It is curious, the path that has led to this book. Or led this book to me. Curious, to say the least.

I once used to write long letters. To friends and lovers alike. Even when they would not write back. Most of those friends have morphed into silent curtains. And lovers have been sucked in by reality. My devotion to the written word has thus suffered a severe lack in companionship.

I once used to write long emails. I can still manage a few. My earlier abandon though, lies spent somewhere, whimpering at having been kicked in the gut. It has shrunk, like a rejected lover's self-esteem, to cover only the bare essentials.

And so now is it only the perfidious sms that one gets. Terse to read and cumbersome to write, it conveys no emotion to me except an desperate, unreal urgency to exhale.

I wanted to write a letter in this post, and look what I ended up writing. And though it is quite unclear why anybody reads this blog at all, surprisingly, people do. And even more surprisingly, they write in sometimes, telling me how they passed an evening reading this electronic reflection of me. Sustenance for my narcissistic writerly self it is. Written morsels that reveal an interested person behind them. Such luxuries.

Luxuries one can always dream of indulging in. So now, my anonymous reader, be a dear, and write to me.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Cat Smoking (Part 4/4)

The bright lights of the road to airport snapped Pushmeet out of his frantic typing. He stared stupefied at the screen. The words he had typed were staring at him. The soft white glow of the screen lit his face, which he saw reflected in the car window. It had an expression of veiled fright. The look on his face changed as he realized what he was looking at. His phone buzzed.

He checked the inbox to see a sms from Trina saying, “Waiting for you at the departure lounge. How far off are you? Want to cancel the flight back and check-in into a hotel for the night?” He felt a longing to feel Tri's fingers on his stubble. They made it seem more like a Monet brush stroke than an ugly outgrowth of his lethargy. The first time he had met her at an airport, he was coming back from his first book tour. She was coming back from a meeting with clients. The idea of giving the flight a miss had been his. She had resisted the change from schedule initially, even insisted that they check-in into separate rooms. Later that night she had told him her entire travel schedule for the month. He had coordinated his book tours to match her tours. Airport hotels became erotic stopovers for a month. By the time the book tours became infrequent, her visits to his apartment had become a habit both had become used to. He had barely finished typing an emphatic yes, when his phone buzzed again.

With a message from Veronica that read, “Waiting in your apartment with Cat.” His mind played back images from the evening when he had walked into Ron's apartment with the stray cat he found on his way back home from the pub the night before. Ron simply called her Cat. He had hungrily dug into Ron's half finished cup of instant noodles before hitting the shower. He remembered how he had come out of the shower to find Ron crouched on the floor, talking to Cat in hushed whispers. He could not decide who looked more cat-like between the two of them. That night, their lovemaking had been infused with a feline energy interspersed with subdued mewls from Cat. It felt exhibitionistic to be making love in front of Cat. That only made him crave it more.

His hand wavered on his phone buttons. Not knowing who to reply to as the car drew into the airport departure porch. Getting out the car seemed more like the end of an expedition than the end of a road trip to get to the airport. The journey had been a revelation. The journey of listening to them tell their stories. Of letting them talk without his thoughts moderating the conversation. He showed his driving license and ticket to the airport security as he walked into the departure terminal. He was still standing their undecided about who to answer to when his phone buzzed again.

Without looking at the message, he walked to the flight ticket counter and cancelled his flight ticket. He walked out of the airport terminal, hailed a cab and headed back to Hampi. The journey held the promise of a story that had to play out itself in his head. The cab turned away from the airport as his fingers embraced the backlit keyboard of his laptop. He had to know his story. The story of what he wanted more. Lovemaking or stories? Who he wanted more. His lovers or himself?

The journey was essential. The story was necessary. The questions were undeniable. The women were merely characters.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

He Just Touched Her

He just touched her.

Tip of his finger, slowly grazed
the back of her flowing neck
Rising tides, churned far away
kept deep down in check

He just touched her.

A rumbling echoed beneath
her ribs, stoked alive in a pit
The moment his skin touched hers
like a sentence in flames, writ.

He just touched her.

Winds changed their song
A howl and a sigh of the dead
When a bead of sweat slid down
to meet his hesitant tread.

He just touched her.

Threads unravelled in her fabric
falling apart in the face of pure
Desire slicing veils and walls
erected by her, so firm, so sure.

He just touched her.

Helpless. So helpless in broad daylight,
between crowds, a prison of solitary
Delight coursing through veins,
betraying a self, wild in her, free.

He just touched her.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Cat Smoking (Part 3/4)

The sea laps the dark boulders that line the shore, consoling them for being immovable, and commending them for being absolute. On one such boulder, sat Veronica, legs folded, held close to her bosom, arms resting on knees, tracing the waves as they rolled in from the horizon and broke stride on the rocks. She is clad in frayed denim shorts and a loose worn-out drab grey t-shirt, with her curls tied into an unkempt bun, held fast with a red hair pin.

Beside her, on a lower ledge of the same boulder, is Trina. Leaning on the boulder with her palms supporting her lithe frame as her legs dangle off the ledge, feet pointing toward the sea. Dressed in smartly cut tangerine salwar-kameez and an ivory white dupatta, she is looking towards the clouds in the sky as the breeze blows her short tresses onto her face. Pondicherry is an escape to many, but both these women are here on work.

Trina, as a consulting architect to a resort being built few miles out of town. Veronica, on the hunt for a story about fishermen being displaced by rampant urban development. They have been forced to share a room for two nights, as the hotel has had to undertake sudden repairs in a few rooms due to a burst water pipe. They have grudgingly grown to like each other. Each aware of the other's femininity as only a woman can be. Each wary of the other's femininity as only a woman can be.

“The sea doesn't care who we are. We are specks on the rocks it sees everyday. The sea will be here long after we are gone.”

“Not at the rate at which we are going. The sea may not last that long after all.”

“Nothing on the sea shore looks out of order. Nothing natural every looks unnatural. Every wonder why? Why can't we design our structures to be more natural?”

“Why must we build anything here? Doesn't it defeat the point?”

“Can you think of a better place to make love than a room with a glass wall that looks out into the sea?”

“Yes I can. The beach.”

“You will make love out in the open beach?”

“Try it. On a moonlit night, the sea lapping at your toes, the waves drowning out all other sound and a lover amazed by your shamelessness make for heavenly lovemaking. Don't forget a sheet to lie on. Sand has a habit of getting into unwanted places.”

The thought struck Trina as being rather unhygienic. Curious, maybe even erotic, but decidedly unhygienic. She stared at Veronica's nose-ring. “Silver,” she thought, “I haven't seen silver jewellery in a long time.” Sunlight skids on silver, like a ninja on water. “Ninjas? What have I been drinking! Why am I thinking of ninjas and silver! Weren't we talking about the sea and lovemaking and nature. P.”

“Do you want a cigarette?” Veronica's dusky voice seemed to wrench her out of her silvery fog.

“I am trying to give up. I want my lover to give it up actually. But he says I am hypocrite if I don't give it up myself first.”

“Mine smokes like a chimney. And hides his stash in my apartment - his is searched it seems, by what he calls 'the cigarette police!' Have you ever kissed a mouth full of smoke? Exchanged smoke like saliva? I found the thought disgusting till he made me do it.”

“No... I don't quite like the saliva bit either, much to his chagrin. I am more of a touch person, than a kiss person.”

“I am all for touch, kiss, lick and other forms of bodily interaction, to put it mildly. ”

“Hmmm... I think I am more of a mental person. As opposed to being physical I mean.”

Veronica let out a laugh and shook her head.

Meet says about the same thing for me. That I am a mental person. Meet is my lover and friend.”

“In that order?”


“I would like a friend first. Though I am not sure I would want it. I am not sure P understands the difference. He does look sad when I tell him he does not understand. I think I hate it more that he tries so hard to understand than I do his not understanding.”

“How do you design anything thinking like that?”

“I keep work and love separate. I either work at love or love my work. I don't do both together.”

“I can't seem to keep one aside to make room for the other long enough to separate them in my head. I need good lovemaking to work well and crave good work to be able to make love.”

“You have sex at work?”

“You don't want to know! You seem to be too proper to be scandalized by such revelations. I like working at Meet's apartment though. That gives me high. And that is not only because of a constant supply of cigarettes.”

“I hate working at P's place. The place smells of decadence. I cannot work in such a place. I like his place precisely because of the reason I hate it. I think I'll have that cigarette after all.”

“Thinking about Meet makes me want to smoke. I don't think that is called having a positive influence on someone. Don't you find falling for all the wrong types too stereotypical? I always pegged myself to be more of an outcast than this.”

“These days being the outcast is being stereotyped. It's like history rewriting itself.”

“Do you have other lover's too?”

“No. I don't. I am monogamous.”

“I am not though currently I am only with Meet. It is not infidelity when I do not invest in another lover. You know – only the occasional fling.”

“Between the otherwise steadier fling, you mean?”

“Kind of. Though I find I am losing my taste for lovers after being with Meet for sometime. It's how being a smoker kills off your taste-buds.”

“And still I smoke. We are not that different in some ways. I wonder how different our lovers are. I think I do not know mine well enough to answer that. I think I do not want to know mine well enough to answer that. Knowing too well dulls your taste-buds too.”

“The familiarity-contempt line of thinking. I agree. We are useful as lovers as long as we hold the secret of our charms close to our hearts. After that, maybe we are only useful as friends or companions.”

“I don't want to give up being a lover to being a companion.”

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cat Smoking (Part 2/4)

Twilight melts into night faster than the mind can follow itself. Blinding headlights of vehicles into which the Innova plunged headlong with abandon made him shiver at the thought of a violent death that plagued him every so often. The fear of being wiped out of the collective memory of humankind due to a freak accident was one of the first reasons that he gave himself for taking up writing as a career. The reason he gave to others, his love of words, was his last. He loved stories far more than he loved words.

Tri, I am at a loss for ideas. There are no interesting subjects around to write stories on. You are the only...”

“I'll kill you if you think of me in your filthy words.”

They had been lying naked on his bed on a sweaty afternoon of load-shedding, blowing smoke rings at the ceiling. The fan looked tired at the sight of their lethargic bodies lying limp from pleasure and heat.

Ron, can I write about you? Do you want a cigarette? Or perhaps a cat?”

She had looked at him with a half smile, as she sat cross legged in her pyjamas on the dining table and ate scrambled eggs. The morning sun was made the dreary apartment look like a movie scene from a crime thriller.

“The Felis Catus. Wouldn't mind one. Though I have run out of matches.”

He had decided to name his story Cat Smoking. Not Cats Smoking. He was sure it was only one cat. He had no idea what the story was. But he was sure this was the title. Traffic had picked up since the car had hit the highway to Bangalore. So many people in transit. Between destinations. Between smokes. He shook his head to throw out his obsessive allusions to smoking. Almost in revolt, his hand slipped a cigarette between his lips. As he put the lighter down, he started typing.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cat Smoking (Part 1/4)

The car, a plush Innova, raced on the serpentine stretch of clear tar, unzipping the face of the earth, leaving its embarrassed red nakedness exposed to the skies. Pushmeet instructed the driver to roll the windows down and let some of his stench out.

“Will you please roll down the windows. I could use some fresh air.”

The air that blasted his lungs was heavy with dust from the Bellary mines.

“How much iron ore does the world need, Meet... how much greed can the earth suffer?”

Veronica had looked genuinely perturbed when she reported the illegal stone quarrying near the Hampi ruins.

“It's stone I thought, not iron ore.”

“Same earth. Same pigs. Same greed.”

“Pigs actually are very friendly to the earth. They love wallowing in squishy, squelchy places.” He had chuckled as he gave her a pat on her shapely bum.

“You are a pig too mister Meet. A thoroughly enjoyable one at that. Come... let's see you wallow some more and save the earth in the process.”

Pushmeet was yanked out of his libidinous reverie by the sudden swerve of the car. A large container loomed large for a moment on one side as the Innova overtook it with ease, the driver muttering his chagrin in Kannada. They had been driving for two hours now. It would take four or five hours more to reach the airport. The driver had not slept in the last 24 hours, neither had Pushmeet. He sounds like her, sleepy-sharp, overworked and pissed-off about not being allowed to design the wall like she wants too.

“Let it be Trina, its only a wall... come to bed na... soon you will be off to work again.”

“Shut up P! You know this is important. The structure needs this wall almost as much as you need me in bed right now.”

Pushmeet watched her peering at her laptop screen, her half smoked cigarette balanced precariously between her fingers, in a state of partial undress. She had received the sms announcing the demise of her beloved wall while he was unhooking her silk crepe blouse. She had muttered an abuse and turned towards the laptop. All Pushmeet could do was gaze longingly at the red satin balconette that she had on her. He had already slipped into half dreamy sleep when he felt her cool skin beside him.

The driver insisted on honking every few meters. The speed of the Innova made sure that meant a continuously sounding flurry of honks that kept everybody on the road alert. Windmills on distant hills turned with the deftness of government plans to generate power for its people.

I hope the laptop battery lasts long enough for me to finish this. The story was already due and he did not have a clue about what to write. A choice of words had never left him as flummoxed as a choice of women. So he had decided to become a writer. Of fiction. To his not so unexpected surprise he found women drawn to his words like talking parakeets to pirate sagas. They always held the secret code to the treasure on the island of cannibals – unlike the stories however, sometimes he hit the jackpot, sometimes he got eaten by cannibals and still worse sometimes, he had to let the parakeets fly away because the treasure seemed to good to be true.

He had met Veronica and Trina on the same day. In a bookshop and a cafe that lay beside each other on the loneliest stretch of road that led to his apartment. He landed his first book deal the next day. A constant stream of words, ideas, cigarettes and lovemaking had filled the next few weeks. Ron and Tri weaved in and out of his unkempt life, sewing him to reality in between them. Both parakeets that held no promise of secret treasure and refused to fly away. Even after they had pecked his mind threadbare.

To his questions about why do they continue to see him, Trina had answered, “Because you are the only unkempt wilderness I can tolerate cultivating.” Veronica had been more unabashed in announcing, “It's the sex dear, and a free supply of cigarettes. And an intelligence that does not insult mine.” That was a year ago. He had constantly tested his ideas about the world and its women on them. Leeched their thoughts into his words. Lingered on their gaze and sketched their gestures with his thoughts. Trina had inspired his mind just as violently as she had inflamed his passions. Veronica was on the other hand, kept him steady and straight, both when his mind and hands wandered.

The Macbook Air rested on crossed legs, as he gazed out at the dusty brown skies stretching over miles of hills in the distance and miles of history in time. History that stands witness to the plunder that reduced the majestic city of Hampi to ruins and history that is witnessing the plunder that is erasing itself from the slates of time. His fingers hovered above the keys, waiting to catch the words that fell from his imagination. His imagination, however, lay captive with his muse and guide. He had managed to not tell them about each other so far. They did not pry. They only wanted him for themselves when they were around and in this, he had been honest. Not thinking about the other, when he was with one of them.

The strain of this existence was beginning to show. The strain of remoulding himself, in entirety, to fit their moulds. Like oft kneaded clay that was beginning to dry, he was finding it difficult to stay cohesive and form a shape. The very words that demanded he made bedfellows of both his women, were freezing up in indecision in his head. Maybe, the thought had teased him, it is time to let one of them go.

But which one?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Happy to be me

The sun on my face,
Trees sliding against a blue sky,
Calm winds and a sweaty brow,
A willingness to try.

An understanding of whims, and nonsense,
Teaching and getting to learn,
A pencil and a tablet together,
Hope that is yet to burn.

Accepting and moving on, fighting
and being able to fight,
Food, a kitchen alchemy fix,
A sense of wonder, what might.

Help in heart and hand,
Test and turn out wrong,
Chips, eaten and built upon,
Voices lent to cries and song.

Beauty to hold and feel,
in flesh, breath and mind found,
Support and sanity, temple trysts,
Myriad forms of love around.

Humble and proud, shall I be,
Grateful and happy today,
That I was born as me this time,
With my life, I can live my way.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


In between lines of blue and green,
Lines I let go long ago,
There is still lingering, to be seen,
Dreams of peace within.

Curves that I learnt to draw,
Of form and figure, earthen pots,
Proud to emerge, as a final straw,
Hopes of life afoot.

Trembling hands on ivory sheets,
Conquering white with shades of lead,
A kiss of senses, where an eye meets,
Loves of divine trysts.

Lessons learnt in nestled coves,
Taught freedom from structured melds,
Flow and melt inside treasured troves,
Meanings of chaos anew.

Imagination of fiery minds spark,
Teasing forgotten thoughts to murmur,
Beckon to explore my inner dark,
Selves of me alive.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

In Protest, Shame and Prayer

I have forgotten how to write.
I have lost words amidst crooked thought.
That bleed in tatters,
shred by my thorny times
Everything human brought to nought.

It is good that I have forgotten.
Words as protest are a mockery of the mute.
Ridiculed and powerless,
aborted before being born free
Everything lush burnt to the root.

Why should I try to remember.
Cries that echo in hapless lament.
Blistered souls dissolve,
in the powdered shame of man.
Everybody joins in on the torment.

They still haunt me in dreams, my words.
Vicious vicissitudes of hope and fear.
Of the future I lease,
as nature's consort in life.
Shirking the right of rapine my species holds dear.

I choose to not write, but scream in horror.
I sear my choices on my fragile man.
Cast in her muffled freedom,
birthed in her blackened womb.
I will not stop decaying, until she can.