The Dark of the Night

You would not have walked with me
Had the nights been not so scary
And your nightmares
All so real for you.

I would not have held your hands
Had the hands that I wished to hold
Not left me out in the cold.
Let us together, you and I

Celebrate our togetherness
Even as in our silences
We cherish our separateness.

Mar 7, 2015
First published in Indian Sahitya, Feb 2017 Issue on Contemporary Indian Poetry

A Strand of You

I was on the table
When a strand of your hair came calling.
I could see you in the kitchen,
Your face at once a storm and a breeze.

I curled the single strand of loving you into imagined shapes
And spoke to it of fascinating tales.
And as it played on my fingers,
Twirling, and curling
I could hear the music from its silent songs.

I had half the heart to carry it with me home
And hide it in a book marked you.
It smelt like July Flowers.
It smelt so much of you.

First published in Indian Sahitya, Feb 2017 Issue on Contemporary Indian Poetry

Folk Songs

Thannare thana, thinna thannaram thaana....(II)

I am not sure of the words of their songs
I am not even sure if this is my language anymore.
But as the rhythm beats
It holds me in its serpentine sway.
My soul strums up some ancient memories
Of a life in the cradle of green fields
Of grains and harvests and rainfall
And pagan Gods.
The beating of crude drums remind me
Not to forget
Where I come from.

As the music fades into the distance
I walk up to the little temple of my ancestors
And light one more lamp in their memory.
And as the wick sputters into a bright light
I am once again my great-grandfather's thought of me,
I am a continuum of His cosmic grace.

First published in Indian Sahitya, Feb 2017 Issue on Contemporary Indian Poetry

अबकी होली

इन रंगों में वो रंग कहाँ
ये रंग नहीं, है फीका पानी
जो स्वाद थी तुम्हारी
भरी इस ज़िन्दगी में
जो तुम नहीं
तो वो स्वाद नहीं।

सुनो प्रेयसी
थी अबीर जो सिंदूरी
उड़ गयी शायद
बीतते वक़्त की आंधी में।

लो आज फिर जो आयी है होली
एक चुटकी तुम अपने हाथों से
वो लाल हरी चूड़ियां की खनखन से
उड़ा देना दखिन की ओर
और रंगरेज मेरे इन रंगों को
फिर घोल देना बहती झरनों में
और ले आना मेरे आँगन में
फिर से एक ऐसी होली
जिसमे रंग हो उसके गुलाल की सिन्दूरी
जिससे कम हो जाये
फिर हमारे दिलों की ये दूरी।

Prayer of that "Thing" living in me

From less of that "Thing" thing
To more of that thing with thoughts of her own.

From less of having to play the donkey
To your grand-dad's ancestry
To freedom and equal choices.

From less of my shreiks
Being stifled in my own womb
To regaining ownership
Of that which is naturally mine.

You can be my hero
And you need no armour
Nor an Alpine account, as some would
Want me to say..

I am not your equal
Nor am I more, or a little less.
I am different,
So when you look at me
The next time
Look at me
With a look
That celebrates who I am
Celebrates Me.

(Celebrating women on International Women's Day today)

सकरात की शाम

आती होगी ना उनको भी
अपनें कटी पतंगों कि यादें
जो उड़ गयी क्षितिज में
और फिर न लौट आएंगे
उन पतंगों की यादें।

मुझको तो है याद मेरे दोस्त
वो बत्तीस रुपैये कि लटाई
वो मांझे की सरसराहट
और हाथों में तुम्हारे
नए लाल हरे
चूड़ियों की खनखनाहट।

चलो एक बार फिर मिल पतंग उड़ाएं
तुम चकरी संभालो और हम ढील लगाएं
इसी बहाने हम और तुम
सुनहरे आसमानों से हो घुलमिल
फिर संक्रांति मनाएं।

If you had loved me...

If you had loved me,
Half as much as I love you,
That would have been quite intolerable,
Even to myself.
If you had ever looked at me, with the intensity
Of my hungry stares,
I would have probably felt
My soul clench within
My migrant heart as well.
There ought to be no justice
In love
As in life
And as in life
A poetic pause
Need not always precede
The sullen cry
Of the unloved.

To the Years that are yet to Come

In the long innings of this life, we are like the stage where the drama unravels. The Plays change, the players too come and go. The audience is like the river of time that runs through us. There are bright lights and wonderful stories and some stories that run to empty seats.

Whatever be your story this coming year, pray don't be enamoured by it, nor be bogged down. These are just stories. Stories change. But life as it is, is lived forever between the shows and the silences that follow when the curtains come down.

You are the stage. While you may have a little say in the stories that play out in your life, I hope you learn to enjoy the successful ones, and forgive, or forget, or do both, to the ones that never really took off. This is not a new year wish. It is what I wish for you, every year of your life and for the lifetimes that are yet to come.

Happy All Years.

Suddenly

It was not planned. It was a government office. A private sector bank representative was called in for some support. The person was supposed to come by 10. It was already 12. I was busy on my laptop. Three others in the room were busy in their own works. And then the door opened and she walked in. Just like that.

24 years of thinking about her, and she just walks in. It were as if there was a tear in the fabric of my universe, and she just appeared out of nowhere. We talked like two perfect strangers. If she recognized me, she gave me no indication of that. I wanted to hug her across the table. But that was not why we met.

Later, as we said goodbye and she crossed the busy road, my heart leaped at the familiarity of it all. All these years, and she still jump walked!

Did you think of me just then?

It was a long day. Just like any other of my dogged working days. There was nothing in it that stood out.

As my fingers worked on the keyboard, I could feel the words on my display suddenly blur. A shroud like silence stealthily climbed over me, surrounded me. The laughter at the workplace dimmed, the phones lost their ring.

First the words of what I typed and then the screen fogged out. I found my hands quickly moving to cover my eyes, as if hurriedly cleaning them of some imaginary fruitfly. And as they misted over, I could feel the warm rush of my tears welling over. I looked around, and found that the other bay was empty. Thank God for small mercies, I thought, as you, suddenly, without notice, and without tact, deluged me, again. As I slowly tried to crumple myself into a discarded page of my poems, I found the whiteness of my handkerchief funny. I remember I had used one of these to tie your toes once. And as the tears fell without restraints, I  allowed myself to slowly and gently float in its tides. Wobbling here, sinking there, but forever engulfed by you, carried by tides of you, into you, always and so awkwardly, living in you.

The Dark of the Night

You would not have walked with me Had the nights been not so scary And your nightmares All so real for you. I would not have held your hands...