‘Is feeling ever wisdom’s prescience?
Through self or vicarious experience?’
“Well, a lack needs an ‘other’
To let you know you’re ‘only’ better
And that’s all that’s vicarious of sentience.”

She countered with needless sternness.
‘Well then; my sadness takes form in your furnace
Our union, you see,
Is but a notional decree;
For my happiness finds no matching purchase.’


[For my only aniyan, whose rhyming guile coaxed gloom to reconcile with smile]



I want to find the words
. I have to .
dig them up from within
from the pages of a dictionary
from remembrances of
learning and of experience
from  somewhere; any where.

And then I must make
incantation necklaces
string up word beads;
make them fast and furious
or the moment will pass;
wind them around your insouciance
splutter sentiment out of steel.

Flat shriveled balloons of  words
that will jump to life under your gaze.
Your scorn, like flying fingers flying on rosaries;
Only your scorn will give them the plump of breath.


Brother-in-law brought an animated cartoon
It is better watched than told, I know; still..
The joke was on me and to my ill-concealed delight..
Of a fraggle-like child-character calling your name incessantly
Until a yell hollers in threatening response and it flees,
In relief overwhelmed by humiliated annoyance.

Countless are the times since; I have called
In empty cartoon clouds laden with unheard sound
Not daring to give them voice until I hearken
The affirmation of an echoing shout.
If silent it must be; we will be silent together.

Ah! Now, here come the walls. Swift sliding woosh-es past the silence.
Building compartments in practised haste
I survive because of these walls.
Some don’t have them that strong it seems
A fashion designer. A singer’s husband too.
Were theirs filigreed frames? Perhaps they had none.
Mine are fortressed over years; Brick by brick.
My sturdy stockades bolt down like granite
I can do nothing but wait inside them.

Grated Maya

I came upon your writing
On a neatly folded sheet forgotten
Between the pages of a book.
Even spaced squiggles in a script I never learnt.
Your usual exquisitely detailed symmetry;
Measured in thought, as in speech;
With not a line crossed, or an edit smudge
You fill your page with a quiet conviction
Ceding little to doubt. Speak what is known;
Silence the unknown, from voice or sound.
A question mark never more ambiguous
Than its intent: a query and nothing more.
Always; that effortless perfection with restraint.
The moment passed without much complaint.
That you inhabit and pervade time and tract
In your place; amongst your books, your space
Should that compel my lament?
It is only as it has been; as it always will be.
I close my eyes and retract into a togetherness
Into: an as it should be.

Sleep a nightmare

NoooYawk. NooYawk. NuYawk. NyawK. Nn..yAAAWW..p.
Scale walls of brick and glass
Find a foothold in a joint, grab a gargoyle
Scale the sheets; Of rough concrete and slippery steel
Too polished; Wrong-fit.
Run up stairs; nail my cowardly legs, that gave out
On the 3rd floor, to the exit door
Hang my pounding heart on the rails of the 16th
Leave it there beating and dripping
Against familiar unyielding steel
Slap my mouth stuck slick with drool and escaping breath
On the red Fire box of the 30th; agape in panting wannabe scream
A blowing gale meets its match on the 45th terrace
Loses and retreats. Eyes prise open in triumphant blaze
Scan lanterns in squares of gold strung by lintels and by beams
Mostly plane empty light; others filigreed with shapely mysteries
Coming. Smoking. Going. Little shapes. Big ones. Moving. Doing.
Light ascending in rows and columns of never ending desire
Reaching for the moon. Who.., washes down in broad benign glow
On the caterwauling symphony of the alleyway cats
Crowding around a dismemberment.


Pic courtesy: www.thealternative.in


Wet hair turbaned in white weave
And body swathed in bright silk
She begins her morning ritual.
Hand and gaze steady with purpose
Stretch double lines from point to point
In bright white on earth blackened by wetness.
Dark empty spaces take form in the betweens
Shapes dance and change; here a triangle, there a circle.
Opposites combine to calculatedly conceal
Mysteries of the known and the unknown;
The seen and the hidden; an anubhava and a darshana.
Some she fills with color proposing desire
Some she leaves alone for His disposed grace.
Her auspicious algorithms welcome auguries
And the ants that scattered return on cue to feed.


 Pic courtesy: www.paulheathphotography.com

What is your name?

I know of you now. I know you are a girl. I know you are a student. I know you are young and wanted to live. But, my dear, what is your name?

I’ve heard you called: the girl, the woman, nirbhaya, amanat, damini. Names that try to capture you; that try to define you through your ordeal. But, my dear, what is your name?

I know you wanted to study medicine. I imagine you kept odd hours, studied subjects with big names; laughed at the Latin twisting on your tongue; cursed the tomes that you filed in stacks of memorized data, yet turned to them every night in reverence and awe; slowly and surely fell in love with the body and its mysteries. But, my dear, what is your name?

I know you went to watch a movie. That you chose to watch Pi over others. I imagine you read the book. I imagine you argued over which one to watch. I imagine you worrying about returning home, the late hour, the work piled up for the coming week. My dear, what is your name?

I know you had a friend. That your friend was a boy. That you trusted him enough to share an evening with him. That he didn’t betray your trust. Did you hold hands? Did you know the love of friendship? My dear, what is your name?

I know you climbed into a bus. Did you climb those steps in relief of finding a ride; did you climb in choice-less anxiety? In a life led against a backdrop of fear; where the simplest exercise of choice could spiral into a descent to terror; was it one of the myriad times you took a chance, the kind that you and all of us born with the same strikes take, in the hope that fate is our ally. Oh, my sister, what is your name?

I know you were shrouded and consigned to dust in fog and silence. That you were denied the dignity of presence. That you were denied the sorrow and love of the millions who would’ve walked with you on your journey. My dear, my dear, what is your name?

“ Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air. .. Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest.. And read their history in a nation’e eyes.” – Thomas Gray