Miss You

I miss you,

For infinity that lies in your eyes
For the midnight that dwelves
Between your manicured brows.

For life and all its joys
That you carry in your wake
For happiness, and joy
And chuckle and the silly fights
For longing, and pain that is to come

I miss you
For the shades you lend to my shadows
For being the reason for me to walk
Into my otherwise empty tomorrow's.

This little life
And all that there is in there
And not there.

Lead Kindly Light

It is not darkness
But the absence of light
Not pain
But absence of pleasure.

There are days that are dreary
Days that are sad
And I find myself looking up at the sky
And begging for the Sun
To just fucking shine.

The heart that throbbed within me once
Like cannon balls thudding around
Now lies silent and forlorn, even,
As a battle rages deep within.

What the heart feels
A poet can string to words
Through slow mellow rhymes
Silent in longing and love.
But the Shakespearean silence of my soul
I can never pen,
Into words you will fully understand.
There is no method my love,
To my madness
My madness is you.
It is not darkness that surrounds me
It’s the absence of your light,

This life’s only true delight

Long Train Journeys

Long train journeys make me sad. The gentle lyre that plays some sad Chinese melody in the background of our everyday lives, suddenly comes afore. The notes from their pathos drown me. As in a trance, I find myself staring at concrete sleepers and iron tracks, my eyes brimming with ancient tears.

I have often wondered why this happens. Maybe because long train journeys remind me of my childhood. Reminds me of a life full of beautiful loving people. Some have traveled to the edges of these railroads and faded out of sight, some have merged with these tracks and what remains of them are the sounds from these clanging wheels of an ageing memory and iron dust.

This rattling reminds me of a journey that all of us have to undertake. This long untiring unending relentless journey on iron wheels, hooting, halting, changing lanes, always running. I bid goodbyes to those who have arrived. As I hurtle towards my own destination, I take a quick look at those who i travel with. When my time comes, I hope I have earned a decent farewell. I hope I have some to wave me a warm goodbye.

Moonlight Glitter

I have felt your heart beat
At my finger tips
I have felt the heightened fluttering
In your being
From my being.
I carry within me forever the warmth
From that near embrace

The moonlight that lends a sparkle
To the glitter in your lashes
Reminds me of that night
When I first realized
That the heart that beats near mine
Is just as mine
Only closer.

Before I Knew You

Before I knew you, I did not know myself. Before I knew you, I thought I knew myself.

I did not know that a stray wind carrying in its fold a faint fragrance from yore, would make my heart miss a beat, stop time and freeze me in its eternal moment. I did not know that a laughter from a stranger would reverberate across an ocean of full of shackled memories, and huge tidal waves of your thoughts, could drown me into eternal grief. I did not know that I will catch myself so often, intensely staring at strangers in red, for red was your favourite colour.

Before I knew you, I thought I had conquered love and were immune to it.

Before I knew you, I was barely human.

Just Like When I Was A Kid

My mamma speaks of the time when I was a four year old. One day, I jumped on one side of an empty refrigerator stand, and the other side came and hit me on my face. The stand was made of iron and I hurt my eyebrow bad. I went about playing until the blood started clouding my vision and staining the floor. It was then that my aunt looked out of the window and screamed out of fear and surprise. It was her scream that scared me. I started crying as well, rubbing all that blood from my slit eyebrows all over my face.

It hurt bad. The doc gave me 6 stitches to get my brow back in shape. I still have them right there.

After the stitches, mamma says that I would play around all day and occasionally weep with the pain from the stitches. I will sing, laugh, run and fight, and then cry some as well. It was funny, watching me hop around with a huge bandage on one eye, it was also heart rending for her. I was all of four years old when that happened.

Mamma, nothing much has changed. The pain now, is not from the stitches anymore. They tell me that these wounds can't be stitched. I meet my days everyday with a  smile. I laugh, I play, I dance. And when I am reminded of her, I cry some too.

Two shades too blue

TWO SHADES TOO BLUE

I watch the empty window-side table closely. For this used to be your favourite place.
Here you would sip your half cup tea
And pout and look out of the window longingly. You will point to people going about their everyday lives,  and like a little princess, you will weave stories, and chuckle and laugh

Your presence had a way of making my little house
Feel full.
It was as if you filled my walls with shades
That made then come to life.
As if suddenly,
Being a dining table was an important achievement,
And that wall hanging
Would acquire a personality, and indulgently
Glare at me; as if this were its house, not mine.

I now look at the empty space besides my window.
Baby, it was your favourite spot.
And watching you
My favourite moment.

First published in Muse India, Jan-Feb 2017

Missing You Missing Me

That constant pulse of missing
That heightened anticipation of a change
That would never come.

I miss you so much
That I could not even write these lines
Until now
For the fear that these lines will fail to tell
The sadness that surrounds my soul
And the emptiness that walks with me

Reminding me
Of just how much you will forever
Mean to me.

This shell of my being
Is a soulless godless place
And without you the colors fade
As if they just gave up their shades
Now that you are not looking.

Its not your fragrance that I miss
Its not the exquisite beauty of your being
No
I do not miss you
The way people miss people.

Baby,
I miss your love.
I miss your look.
I miss you missing me.

The Heart Want What It Wants

I no longer live in your secret places.  I am aware that relationships change, perspectives change and so do people with it.
But the heart wants what it wants.

I look into your eyes and I don't see myself there anymore. You look at me and I know that you are not looking at me anymore.

But the heart wants what it wants.

Happy Riding

As you ride along long winding lanes of your life,
And as you take each blind turn
And live out its destiny;

Remember my friend
I too would have passed that way
One car distance away,
Taking those very same turns with you
Ahead of you,
For you.

And if you ever feel lonely in the ride
The seat next to me is empty
And I would love you by my side.

------------
Inspired by NFS-The Movie,

In the Heart of Silence

Every once in a long while, I fall silent in midst of a roaring relationship. I wait for the clutter of last night chatter to subside and the noise from everyday thoughts to settle down, and then I watch how my withdrawing affects the relationship.

Most times, the silence stretches uneasily. It is as if somebody has paused a Schwarzenegger movie. It is as if an icicle forgot to drip, a snowflake landed on another and I were in a dream where the bogey man scared me to silence.

Back to the Sea

I have never seen an ocean. I don't know anyone who has seen one. Growing up by the Ganges, I was in awe with the angry river that overflowed every year. I looked at Baccha uncle's marooned steamer and imagined the ghosts that lived within its iron soul.

When I first saw the sea, I also sensed the roundness of the horizon, the fullness of its brims and the infiniteness of the waves. If I were to sing on a dark silent night, l knew that my song would not reach the other shore. The sea dwarfed me into nothingness. It made me feel like a handful of water held up to the sun as an offering and then running down the fingers, back into the sea.

Like an errant stream, I run a crazy winding course downhill. But my dear, I know that when I am done, I will meander my way back to you. I can feel my rush as I fall into you. I know what awaits me, as I dive deep into you.

I too, fill you. I loose myself so that there can be you.

So said the Sea

I see the vastness of these oceans and I look at my bare foot legs, wet with the oceans longing for me. Not that I waded into these waters deliberately, not that I heard it's call and responded as in a dream. These waters came searching for me.

As the showers spray salt shatter break breach surf and roll, I feel like the sea, rushing to lose myself among the vastness that now surrounds me.

It is time to lose a bit of me. It is time to change a bit of you. Of what use my dear are these two separate identities?

लहरों का किनारों से

जो रिश्ता समंदर का पानी से
लहरों का किनारों से है
कुछ ऐसा ही रिश्ता मेरी हमनफ़ज़
आपके दिल का हमारे दिल से है।

कभी इतनी पास की रूहानी हो जाये
कभी दूर इतनी कि रूह तड़प सा जाये।
कभी तुम्हारे आघोष में वक़्त यूँ ही निकल जाये
तो कभी बिछडन कि आग हमें निगल जाये।

सुनो, जब कभी समुन्दर की लहरें
बूंदे बन तुम्हारे बदन को सेहराये
उन्हें झटकना मत, कुछ देर और भिगोने देना
क्या खबर मेरी हमनशीं तुम्हारे कदम
लौट मेरी और फिर कब आये।

जो रिश्ता वक़्त का पल से

धर्ति से ना पूछो
कि है बारिश से ये कैसा प्रेम
वक़्त से ना पूछो
क्षण का प्रेम

तुम इस कदर हो घुली मुझमें
जैसे कि तुम वक़्त और में क्षण तुममे
तुम भूमी
में जल सा समाया तुममे
तुम मंज़िल
मैं पथ सा तुममे
तुम वाणी
मैं भाषा तुममे

में वो कहानी
तुम परियों की रानी जिसमें।

Roller Coaster Ride

I have felt your heart fluttering as my fingers made weird random design on your palm. No, you don't have to tell me what I do to you.

It's just a small bit of all that you do to me as well.

An Urchin's Prayer for You

As you walk into this day,
I want you to meet it all the way.
I want you to make love to the sunshine
I want you to dance in the rain.
I want you to fight with the traffic cop
And abuse the zombie on the other lane.

Kill a boss or two
Bring smile to a lonely hearts face.

Drench yourself in Victoria's secrets
Drape yourself in a lace

As you walk out to meet life today
I want you to face it with little grace.

तुम्हारा जो रंग है

एक दर्द ऐसा भी दे जाओ
जो सिगरी कि तरह सुलगते रहे
थीमि थीमि सिसकियों से
रातों को जगाती रहे

एक ऐसी सुबह दे जाओ
जिसकी कोई रात ना हो
और जो ख्वाइश अंधेरों कि हो
तुम्हारे ज़ुल्फ़ों का साया साथ हो।

एक ख़्वाब ऐसा दे दो
जिससे हम कभी जागे नहीं
और जो गर आँखें खुले
बगल में तुमको पाऊं

एक रंग ऐसा चढ़ादो
जो बदन से उतरे
तो लहु पे चढ़ जाये
ज़िगर से सिमटे
और ज़िन्दगी बन जाये।

इक पन्ना है बरसों से खाली

मैं तुम्हारे किताब का वो पन्ना हूँ
जो इस वजह से जुड़ गयी
क्योंकि हर किताबं में कुछ पन्ने
यूहीं शामिल कर दिये जातें हैं।

कुछ लोग ऐसे पन्नों में
अपने नाम लिख छोड़ देते हैं
तो कुछ लोग इन्हें
खाली ही रहने देते हैं।

मैं तुम्हारे वक़्त का वो छन हूँ
जिनके होने न होने से
ज़िन्दगी की रफ़्तार में
कोई खास फरक नहीं पठति
कुछ पल ऐसी भी होते हैं
जिनमे ज़िन्दगी कभी जीई नहीं जाती
आप ही गुज़र जाती है।

में तुम्हारे दिल का
वोह खली कमरा हूँ
जो केवल छट दीवाली होली में
खोल साफ कर दी जाती।

सितमगर मेरी, मेरी जुस्तजू
गर वक़्त मिले तो इन खली पन्नों पर
इक कलम चला देना
बस एक करम करना
with love के बाद
अपना ही नाम लिख देना।

गर साथ हो, तो साथ चलो

ये कैसा सन्नाटा है ज़िंदगी
जो इस कदर बेबस करती है
कि शाम ठले
तो तुम्हारी यादें शोर-ग़ुल
चैन तबाह कर देती है 

इससे अच्छा तो यह होता
कि कुछ दूर और हम साथ साथ चलते
और यूँही किसी मोड़ पर पलक झपकते
तुम कुछ ऐसा केह देती
और मे कुछ वैसा सुन जाता
कि राह चलते जो इक मोड़ अति
तुम इक राह पकड़ती
और दुसरे से हम निकल जाते।

Aawargi

Photo Courstey

जिन नज़रों से मै तुम्हें देखता हूँ,
उन नज़रों कि कसम

वो दुआएं जिनमे 
तुम हर पल बस्ती हो
उन सभी दुआओं की कसम

जिन रातों की चांदनी
तुमसे वाबस्ता है
ऐसे हर रातों कि कसम

जिस सुबह को तुम्हारी गुज़ारिश है
उन सभी सुबहों कि कसम

जिन घटाओं में शामिल तुम
बे वक़्त बरसा करती हो
उन सभी घटाओं कि कसम

जिन खूबसूरत वादियों में
हम तुम शाम ठले मिलते थे
उन सभी हसीन वादियों की कसम

जिन साँसों में तुम
धड़कन बन कर बजती हो
उन सभी साँसों कि कसम

याद करना तो आया न मुझे
पर अब जब भुलाना चाहुँ
तो भूल भि न पाऊं

रोना तो सीख लिया मैंने ज़िन्दगी 
भुलाना तो तुमने
सिखाया न मुझे.
 You can listen to this poem HERE

My Story

I see those questions in your eyes
And I see that my silences
And where they come from
Surprises you.

I can feel you peeking hard
Into closed alleyways and corridors
Of my silent gentle life
And I see you.

It's my story
And I hold it dear.
It is full of longing
Full of silent tears.

It's not a story that I wish to share
For it's my life,
And as it unfolds
One chapter at a time
You will know of it
If you are in there.

Amen

In that moment
Between looking up
And looking down
Smiling
And holding back that smile
Touching
And not letting the touch linger on
Waiting
And not making it look like waiting

Is a story well begun.

The Dream Within A Dream

I had this dream. I had this dream that I was floating on a cloud and you were with me. From the mist of wayward dreams, I could feel your fragrance engulfing me. Each time I was confused and frightened and lonely and sad, I could see you pouting at me. The sun was but a glimmer and the birds were catching wind. The dew drops seem to have turned into a translucent liquid, and they were staring at me.

And when I opened my eyes. I could feel the softness of your lashes, as they lovingly brushed against mine.

The Wedding Trousseau and other Short Stories

If you were to mix an Ekta Kapoor with a Munshi Premchand and add a dash of R.K.Lakshman to it, you will get an Ankita Sharma.

I just finished reading her book of short stories and discovered a very different Anki from the mellow blogger I have followed for long.

The Wedding Trousseau and other short stories is published in India by Humming Words Publishers and contains eleven really short and widely diverse stories. However, there is an invisible thread that connects them. They are all stories from our everyday milieu. The protagonists are all people you come across everyday. The frustrations, the taboo's, the deep rooted social norms, divides and beliefs and longing and mystery and laughter, these fill each page. From the abject poverty of a Chottu to the blatant hubris of his memsahib, from UFO sightings to a drunk wife beater, these stories make the ordinary, extraordinary.

My best wishes to my favorite fellow blogger.

And for those who wish to order online, it is available here or here.

You can read Ankita's blog here

The smoothness on rock faces

What happens when waterfalls dry up? She asked me one day.

The steady deluge turns into a drip and then down below, it leaves muddy memories from the time when all was well. The parched rocks smolder and dries up the last memories of the water that once fell from above. And then there is dust and death and silence and waiting... And waiting.

Who waits Raj?

The universe, Princess. The roundness of the cavity into which water once fell, waits for its purpose. The smoothness on the rock faces nurses its hope and waits as well. The spawns and the lichens and the catfish and the lovers... everybody waits Princess.

What if water never falls again? What if the river has dried up for ever? What if it has changed its course? Will they still wait?

They will Princess. My universe will never accept that possibility. It survives on perpetual hope. Hope is good. It nurses convenient memories over generations of adversities. We hope, therefore we are.

Waiting in the wings

The night went crazy
With all the bantering throughout the night
And when the candles gave up
And the waiters stole a wink
And the guests on other tables
Slowly made their way to someplace else

I knew that the best of us
Had only begun.

Tempest

Don't look at me that way
I am not the silences you wish to seek.
For deep within me rages
A fiery storm that consumes,

And my love
I cannot buy you peace.

That time in life

That time in life
When in the heat of smoldering summer
Wild blush of spring roses
Bloom on your dimple cheeks,
When dead daisies from last season
Flower fragrant in your breeze.

It is that time in life
When life  itself
Swings to fluttering rhythms
Of a beautiful butterfly wing.
When wild flowers burst forth
A parched desert dune
And hope that lay dormant
From long years of arid ennui
Springs and bursts forth
Shoots of living green.

Live on, I say
For these are not moments that you lose
To thoughts of yesterday
Or hopes of a tomorrow
That may never come.

O How I Hate

How I hate the silly perfumed wind
As it rushes to breeze you in.
That stupid oyster grain
As it delicately dangles
Between those secret place I believe
Are oh so mine!
That hint of a bindi blazing fire consuming
All my worlds all the time.

That glow on the setting sun

The setting sun down west
Put up such a splendid show in red
I had to hurry down to you my love
In case
You had for a change
Given away too much of your blush!

The letters you wrote to me once

Cobblestone pavements
Naughty Kites that once flew into the horizons
The faint aroma of a robusta, rightly brewed
The smell of Jasmines buds, recently sprinkled
The big temple bells' chime
An old Morris minor, polished chrome gleaming
My English teacher's lipstick
Grandma reciting grand tales from the Mahabharata
A long competing hooting bout with a Cuckoo
A short rare one with a crow pheasant.
Thoma on his ancient cycle, selling fish
Eliamma's six felines courting Thoma all the time.
Green from the paddy fields of yore
Red from the fiery musandas
Yellow from the April showers
White from my grandmas starched mundu 
Love from your letters
Reached out and colored
All of my remembered universe
Until I safely stored them
For another lifetime.

Come away
The cities have invaded our kind countrysides
Grandma is no more
And the kids of today
Don't bother with real kites.
We will meet again
And rebuild our little lives
One cobblestone at a time
A path, a pavement, a crossroad at a time.

Good Byes

The silences that fall over oceans
Once the Ships that set sail
Reach their shores.

The darkness that fall over walls
And curtains of a theatre
Once the play is done.

The feeling of that full stop
Which placed right at the end foretells
The End.

Crazy Poets

Who is your best friend?
I
What do you mean I? Indu?
No. Just I .
Don't be crazy. Everyone has a best friend. Someone with whom you can share all your secrets, all your pains. Someone with whom you would love to walk into the sunset. Someone with whom you can share a giggle, be yourself.

I do all that with myself.
I have no secrets,
I write.

Secret places

I love to get lost
And then be found again
In places that I never knew existed
Until I was lost
And I thought I will never be discovered.

I love your secret places
You don't look for me there
And I love it
Just that way.

Twisted

Every time I am with her, I am reminded of a Neruda: "I loved her, and sometimes, she loved me too."

Every now and then, from the random chaos of everyday living rises a warped relationship that is funny and entropic. I love her, and sometimes, she loves me too. Every time I hold her close to me, she melts into herself, rarely have I felt her melt into me. Those proud threaded brows, with their perfumed winged lashes flutter in random anticipation of a kiss, but those eyes don't talk to my eyes, they seem to be in deep conversation, with themselves. I know her favorite dress, I know her special days, I know her fears, her dreams, most of her desires. She knows where I live, she knows what I do, not sure if she knows my middle name. She knows I have a niece, not sure if she knows about the nephew.

Many years ago when I was frantically searching for a copy of Dr. Zhivago, I remember what our librarian Thomas sir told me, R, where these books go and hide, is a mystery. When it is time for you to make friends with a Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago will come in search of you. Until then, there are so many other yarns to weave.

I loved her. Sometime she loved me too.

Forever Mine

That shreak of surprise
And delight
When I first lifted you off the ground
And swung you around.
Your open hair fragrant
Spreading a heady note
Into an otherwise empty room.

At that moment
At that very moment in time
As I looked into your doe like eyes
And you looked into mine,
Together
We transcended time.

What I told the Sun today



If you found the dawn a tad lazy today
And the deep orange hues play around you
For a longer while than it usually does,
Remember my dear
This was especially for you.

For, as I watched the chariot rise
I called out to the Sun for some respite.

Down here lies my princess asleep
Would you care to slow down
For a while?

You remind me of lilies

There are these places
In me unknown to me.
Mysterious places
Rarely visited or remembered by me.

That evening
When you walked in with your red dress
Smelling of lilies
From colonel Mishra's garden
And smiling like you knew me
From some other lifetime,
I was remembered
Of a night from my teenage
When I had jumped a fence
To kiss a girl
Who could sing like Streisand
And looked like Helen.

She was not for me
And with time those lilies,
They smelt like roses like jasmines
And like other flowers, whatever you will;
Until the night you walked in
And I remembered how lilies smell.

Much like in dreams,
They smell so much like you.

Old Things

Raj?
Yes Princess?
This rice cooker is not working!
I know baby. Will repair it this weekend.
How much do you earn Raj?
Baby, I don't like where this conversation is going.

Why have you not bought a new one? It's always the same, the burner of this ancient stove, the rice cooker, that ramshackle apology of a washing machine that you have... Why? Why don't you just get some new ones?

Baby, we have discussed this before. You know I won't.

Shall I gift them for you?

No Princess, these don't leave my house. I can't accept new ones.

Will you always always be so difficult?
Yes baby, always.

Why?
Cause that rice cooker has been with me for 12 years.
So?
So I can't just chuck it.
What does that mean?
It means that as long as it is amenable to repairs, I will repair and use it. I will use it even if it costs me twice the cost in repairing it. I won't give up on it, until it gives up one me.

Do you know how crazy that sounds?
I know baby.
And you are OK with it?
That's the way I am baby.

How long have we been together?
22 years baby.
Love you Raj.
Love the cooker too baby.
Dog you are!!!
Bhou Bhou Princess.

Picking your hairs from a white marble floor

My fingers tremble
I am not used to this.
I wish I could use my lips
To pick them all.

Every bit of you
Smells so much like you.
Even this little lock of hair
As it frolics on this floor
Smells of your Shampoo
And is so full of you.

And as I try to hold them
A small draught of your wild wilderness catches a wind
And they go sliding through my fingers
On to the floor, again
To be courted and loved and longed
Until finally coiled and entwined
Off they come with me
Into my forever times.

Also appeared in Muse India

Butterfly Heart

That slight tremor at a touch
And those glazed eyes measuring
How much you possibly mean to me
And how much of the surreal
Is real

Those subtle hints of ownership
Of someone you believe
Can't be owned.
That desperation for another hug
Before time intervenes
And rips us apart.

I now live a day at a time
And count my days
As one with those filled with you
The rest
My love
I do not remember
To have ever lived.

Death in hue motion

On a dark magenta evening
I could see bright ochre leaves
Falling wearily on to a willing ground
Awaiting one final embrace
From those
Who had once moved up
In search of life
Outside a lemon yellow shoot
That eventually turned
A dull dreary brown
With all this tired living.

Slow Death

There is a futility in loving you
I know that you grow in lonely places in me
And will eventually
Kill me.

There is a futility in loving you
Like moss that grows in my village well
Beautiful
But treacherous, you see.

There is futility in loving you
Like arsenic
Green and lifeless
Someday I shall be.

There is something about you
Around you
And in places and things and sounds and stains and smells of you,
That softly weighs on my soul.
It’s like a background score
From a movie
Time forgot.

There is futility in loving you
And as I watch myself softly sink
I remember how you smelt
Of Victoria's Secret
And other crazy things.

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

Virus Attack

I know what it is
I have lived through this before.
It starts with a simple ping
A rather unnoticed query
Reaching out to the heart admin.

As I fight to forget you
You quickly upgrade yourself
From a PUP to a malware
And then to a virus that destroys
Any semblance of control
That I thought I had on my thoughts.

What shall I do with you
When every time I run away from you
You crash my OS with your thoughts.

Come hack me forever my dear
And turn me into a zombie
Forever playing programs
That entertains you.

Ink That Blots

Come
Fill my pen
And flow through my little life
Adding colors
And forever staining
What were white empty pages
In waiting
Endlessly
For this fluid verse.

Let's make love
With these moments.
Punctuate me
So that I never run out of breath.
Complete me
So that there be meanings
Stringed together
Out of ordinary letters
That etch a forever tale.

Special to Me

As special as every single snowflake
Before it falls on to the other
And becomes ice.

As special as the first born
After years of thankless
Tyranny of time.

As special
As the memory
Of our first kiss.

As special
As first love
As the first rains
The first house
The first pay
The first dance
The lost ones
The loved ones
The dear Lord

And
This life
With you in it.

With the Sun in my eyes

There was a turn up ahead on the road. A turn that I did not want to take.

There are times when you don't want any further changes in your life at the moment. It was one such moment in my life in time. However, the concept of having a choice is rather overrated. If I had a choice, I would have become a deodar tree in the middle of Indian rain forests and lived quietly for a million years. Such choices are never available.

There was a turn up ahead on the road. The turn required of me to move along its contours. The turn wished of me to succumb to it's long curves and stay away from its guarded rails. Missing the turn would have meant a dive into the setting sun. I can imagine how it would have felt, a white car trying to land on the setting sun.

As the sun's saffron hue set the horizons on fire, I once again found myself on a road that leads to you.

That wife like thingy who lives with me!

I change my name when I am home. The person who cooks bakes cleans mops and goes about keeping a very clean house is not me. It is someone else living in me. Her name is Rajesh Kumari!

It took years for the beautiful girls at Spencers to believe that I am single and I buy provisions for all of myself. In India, you cannot be 40 and single. Its too strange in too many ways for too many people. A typical Indian male is an infant forever on the verge of growing up, but never actually getting there. When the 27 year old is finally weaned away from his mom, he quickly learns to latch on to the young Indian wife who is supposed to suckle him till worlds end. Most men from my generation have rarely held a knife in their hands. Kitchen was always moms forte and then it was the wife's job. Most guys don't know how to fold a vest and the brief is something which is supposed to magically get cleaned and made available by the mom, or the thingy you call wife. If you show them a ridged gourd, they might call it big beans!

Given the conditioning as mentioned above, my milkman finds it impossible to believe that that devilishly clean house is kept clean by me. My new colleague loves the vegetable Korma and asks me to convey his appreciation to the wife, my new neighbor loves the mud  cake i baked, I could not let her into the secret. I was worried that if i tell her that there is no woman at home, she might even forbid my entry into her house for being too strange.

I settled all these issues once and for all by declaring that all household chores are carried out with great devotion by my beautiful meticulous hard working patient and God fearing wife. I keep her hidden and locked inside my house and she rarely comes out. My name is Rajesh Kumar, obviously...her name is Rajesh Kumari!

Bachao!

Just Passing Through

I have often been flagged down
By random strangers looking for a ride..
Which way they would ask
And I will tell them,
I am just passing by.

It's a long road I have traveled
And with me on this journey
Have traveled quite a few,

These roads have been mostly kind
And in moments of rare distress
I have found strangers in my life,
Kinder than the friends around.

Don't honk too loud behind me
I shall allow you a pass without a murmur
I have been a rider on this road for long
There is really no place I call myself a home
Even as you hurry ahead
Remember brother
I am just passing through.

How high is high enough?

Would you like to have a bigger house, a bigger car and more money into your accounts? This is a question that has been thrown at me several times in the past. It is also a question upon which I have given many hours of thought.

My name is Rajesh. It is a very common name in India. Already 2% of all men, if not more, will have this name. My other name is Kumar. A good 5% of population will share their second name with me. There is nothing in my name that forces me to believe that I am either better off or worse off than anyone else. However, when my grandma used to call my name, she made it sound like the best possible name in the universe. When my dad introduces me to his friends, and ads "my son" to my name, he makes it sound like no other name. When my sister or my cousins speak of me, they make my name sound quite like a la George Clooney. When my boss calls out my name, with a string of superlatives and expletives, he makes it sure that everyone knows...you need to be a Rajesh to get the job done, no other bugger is good enough. My name is quite ordinary. The people in my life make me believe that its extraordinary.

My earliest memories of wealth are about absence of it in many peoples lives. While I and my sister studied in the best schools in Patna, the kids of our maids dropped out of local schools early and took to helping their moms earn more money doing the dishes in our homes. We were very middle-class but most of the people who lived around us were terribly poor. The schools I went to taught us to be good and taught us to pray and work for the poor. Thank you Sr.Subha and Notre Dame, Brother Cyril and Loyola for not asking us to be anyone other than who we were. You see, we were never told that is not ok to be somewhere in the middle between the very rich and the terribly poor. Nobody asked us to detest the poor and be jealous of the rich. Rich were rich, poor were poor and we were ok types. I did not grow up thinking of my first iPad or Audi. We had an Ambi and a Chetak, and that was all right.

When I stepped into college, my professors loved me. The only unsaid rule was that I go about spending time doing things I loved and that way, they were free to take their classes without me being anywhere near. The arrangement worked just as well. They survived me and I had an awesome education. Everybody loved me and claim to miss me to this day. Thank you St. Berchmans' for fostering a spirit of scholarship in me. If my Alma Mater were to ask me to become a Steve jobs instead of a future Elliot, I would have been so at sea!

My first boss asked me to go on and become a great manager. He forced me to constantly work out of my comfort zone. He never promised me an A, nor did he promise me out of turn hikes or promotions. I took his advise very seriously and went on to work for those who worked for me. I believed that I need to work on behalf of those who seek their livelihoods and success with me. They did not work for me, I worked for them. Success and hikes and promotions happened on their own. As I grew in ranks, so did the ones I worked for. Without them, I would have had no reason to exist. Without their growth, mine would have been so unfair. And life needs to be fair. It begins with me and includes the community I live in.

I don't want a two digit hike, and I love my small house and my cheap car. Those who love me don't love me for my wealth or absence of it. They love me for myself. Its a long life I have lived. They have traveled with me through long dark and lonely stretches. I have lived through bouts of insanity and mayhem, I have lived through great losses and grief. I carry within me fear and uncertainty and despair for things I have lost, or may lose in the near future. Neither the money in my bank, or the length of my designation or the brand of my phone has ever helped me get through a difficult phase in my life.

I measure my growth with how much more I can do for those around me. When I look back, I am amazed at how exponential my growth has been. And yes, I am very happy with my lot in life, there is just no other place where I wish to be.

Stain my white shirt

Kiss me everywhere
Stain my whites
Let there be pink creases on my arms
And let the glitter flakes raise a sparkle.

When I walk into the night tonight
Let there be disco lights all around.
I pray for people to stop and stare
And with a scandalous tch! tch!
Look at me and think of you.

Go on Princess
Paint me in all your hues.

I Do Not Love You

I do not love you
Like the way those teenagers do.
I love the fall of your velvet skirt
I love the waves
I love the crests
I love how you look at me
With that new burgundy gloss
Pouting
Waiting.

I cannot love you
Like teenagers do.

Footprints on the sands of time

I followed your trail through the ancient by lanes of my memory. I could see your footprints span across all my remembered life. I have never really trusted my memory. I forget more than I remember.

But of this I am sure, that those footprints are not from this life. These are from every life I have ever lived.

Fiery Fairy

I love your play. I love it when you stand close enough for me to breath in your Gucci. I love it when you lean on me, your hair falling on my shoulders and parts of you brushing against me. There are fires that burn without and the ones that burn within.

I love the way you control this combustion!

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...