Monday, 27 October 2014

The Old House

The old house,
seething in anger,
distraught –
cursing wordlessly,
fought time.

Like its inhabitants,
it withered away slowly,
crumbled in places no one looked,
quivered ever-so-lightly in strong winds,
put up a brave front to visitors,
and waited.

It waited,
for the young ones to walk into it –
they ran around its vast porch once,
plucked juicy jamuns and tamarind from its garden,
fell on its high threshold,
slid on its smooth floors,
lit fires under its dark chimneys –

It waited,
for the stubborn little girl
who once found a snake
slithering amid firewood
and killed it –

It waited,
for the soft-spoken boy
who once dreamt of a demon
and wet his bed –

It waited,
for the little toddler
who once banged his head
on its door
and left liquid red patterns on the floor –

It waited,
for someone to look again,
and call the bluff
on its pretty façade –

It waited,
and wore itself out
with every passing hour.

The gates never opened
to let a young one in. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Days Before Humans Died

My dreams have become colourless, odourless, tasteless;

My nightmares come in all hues of 

I yearn for the days 
when I did not have to wear saffron 
and detest green 
to live in peace.

I yearn for the days 
when symbols of religion were symbolic, 
and its tenets remained in the collective memories 
of no one in particular, 
while we circumambulated its edifices 
without a discordant thought or fanaticism. 

I wake up to news of 
communal riots, inter-religious skirmishes, deaths, rapes, sacrifices.
But now I do not even flinch. 

I yearn for the days
when the world contained more humans and less gods. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


I. From a daughter to her mother

A solid gold necklace
studded with jades and rubies;
A rack full of books -
Tolstoys, Dostoyevskys, Gorkys;
Old newspaper cuttings
of Republic Day Parades, The Emergency, P. Chidambaram;
Binaca toothpaste miniature animal collection,
old stamps, coins, film star cutouts -
You've given me a lot, amma. 

A royal lineage,
Regal bearing, 
a sense of independence,
a love for literature,
a thoughtful mind, 
politeness -
You've given me a lot, amma. 

A weak respiratory system -
sinusitis, allergies, 
wheezing, breathlessness; 
Blood pressure, 
psoriasis - freak cells,
weak bones - 
rheumatitis, arthritis,
You've given me a lot, amma. 

II. From a mother to her daughter

I have a lot to give you, my baby -

A name
    chosen with care
Broad forehead
    tiny nose
                thick long hair;
A plethora of attributes -
    sensitivity, politeness,
                thought and care;
Myriad habits,
    collected over time
                from people, places, things;
Souvenirs of a nomad life -
    Rajasthani jewellery
                Kerala sarees
                            Gujarati cuisine;
A trunk full of folktales
    gathered from grandmothers,
                teachers and Tinkles;

A bunch of hereditary disorders -
    rotten breath, blood, cells,
                Forgive me for passing them on, will you?