Saturday, December 1, 2007


I waged a two hour long war against Blogger and its templates. Needless to say I lost.

I hate technology.

Friday, November 16, 2007


- I’ll write.

- Will you bring back prayers for me?

- I’ll write everyday.

- Yes, but will you bring back some bells too?

- Keep an eye on the mail. You tend to forget.

- You won’t bring back prayers it seems. Will you bring back letters then?

- I will send letters!

- Oh. Do send some prayers too. And silver bells.

- I will bring your bells, I promise I will.

- Small bells, but pure silver. They must tinkle sweetly, for they must compensate for everything I miss.

- Anything else?

- Can I send letters too?


On nights when the chorus puts an end to silence,
and their song unfolds on her wooden desk
she writes a thousand letters.

…I have heard that letters lose their way,
trickling into the hands of strangers…

And in those letters she said-
‘Bring back for keepsake
the muted prayers of the monastery
and the mist-like swirling colours
of the snow drenched hills.
Colours that would fill my palette…
for in splattered strokes your portrait stands-

On certain nights of counting blessings
and remembering prayers,
nights of playing out desires-
the desire of clear voices and ink,
she writes a thousand letters.

...letters that do lose their way
losing themselves in the yawning strangeness
of strange men in distant cities…


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Splishy Splashy Colours

'The Gypsy's Wife'... This one is for Leonard Cohen.

'...whose darkness deepens in her arms, just a little more...'
This too is for Cohen.

'Purple'/'A Different Sky'


A little surprise for my readers :-)

Happy imagining!

(note: All of the above have been done with the help of Adobe PhotoShop, and of course- Cohen!
Click on them to see a larger-and better-version.)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Strange Cities

When your mouth starts tasting like the city, you know it is time to leave.

Time to leave, you muse, as you trace the thick coat of grime, dust and parched gaping streets that have made their way into your mouth, with the tip of your dry tongue. You look at your callused feet and wonder, to whom do they belong…and as you run streaming water through those cropped tresses you wonder why it smells like tar…

Yet, you step out to brave another day of strange faces and myths. Evening descends and on the bus-ride back home you trace the thick coat of grime and dust with the tip of your tongue and again you decide to leave the city. A slice of emerald green enters the square frame of your spectacles leaving you startled. Oh yes, the sky still exists.

Instead of going back to the four-walled home you inhabit these days, you enter a little café on Park Street and after deliberately prolonged sips at a simmering cup of coffee, you take out one of those black notebooks you carry to write little stories in. That was when you heard them, I believe. Two young women sat opposite your table and carried on a hushed conversation, the words found their way to your table of polished wood and yellow mugs.

-She is me. She is me in another city. Not here, not in Calcutta. In Calcutta I am myself. But look at her, all alone and wretched and sad!

-She does not look wretched, perhaps she is one of those people who enjoy being alone.

-No! This loneliness is forced down your throat. This loneliness is that of strange cities and strange nights. I can be found in Mumbai, sitting with a diary, smoking innumerable cigarettes and drinking steaming cups of coffee, counting calories, reading some odd, bright book that I had picked up from a nearby bookstore- in a café where people are busy sharing memories with someone or the other, in a city that revels in company…and me… I’m all alone. And loneliness feels like being drugged after a certain point of time…
That girl sitting in the corner of this busy café in
Calcutta marked out by her short hair and notebook, with her coffee is my image. It almost feels like I have stepped outside my body to look at myself… I could amuse myself for hours on end. I could look at her and pretend that I am gazing at myself. Look at her efforts to appear comfortable, look at her finishing her work on time, trying to make the first and last sip of her coffee last- last for hours on end. Clutching the corners of the table when it is time to close the shutters and then she might step out in the rain with her umbrella of muted colours. And pretend that she likes being lonely, pretend that the sad lost gaze of her eyes only adds to her charm. Yet she knows, she knows that if she disappears one night, disappears under the glare of a thousand headlights, disappears in the long drawn peals of the church bell… no one will miss her. Even if she screams till her voice decides to break.
None will notice the translucent figure of a solitary woman on these streets… not even if you walk the same streets a thousand times over, not if you buy your newspaper from the same man on the corner every evening, not if you throw some money into the crooked bowl of the dozing beggar every night. I do not blame them in Mumbai… and I’m sure she too doesn’t , here, in
Calcutta; such are the customs of strange cities. In such outlandishness we fade away… and through our skin they see the coloured panels of the shop, they see the rain through our hair and the stars through our eyes, we cease to be substantial to them.

And when you walked back to your tiny apartment that night, the stranger’s voice crept into your ears repeating itself like some unending echo, persuading you to believe that you were indeed translucent, that your skin was stretched tautly encompassing the entire city, stretched like a canvas, and that you ceased to be solid while succumbing to that intense pull…

You repeated your well-rehearsed prayer while kneeling beside your bed at night. The ground felt cold and hard, and your ankles seemed bound to some ancient stone, and a line slipped on its own into your prayer (a prayer usually preserved for forgiveness, kindness, pity and love). You heard yourself say, above the din of the stranger’s voice you had carried home in that black notebook, “Make me opaque.”

Next morning I did not see you step out to brave the gray morning.

You left the city on that very night of voices and answered prayers I heard, and that they call you a green gypsy these days.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tagged! (Yes, again.)

Tagged by lost poet.

Here goes my best-test effort : P

1. Pick out a scar you have, and explain how you got it.
Near my right elbow. Fell down while playing badminton.
Erm, actually was
pushed by someone who was playing badminton. (I was loitering around).

2. What does your phone look like?
It is black and golden. Looks very nice. Though some say it looks awful, I say it
is sexy and wunnerful.
*applauds and cheers the 6080*

3. What is on the walls of your bedroom?
Blue and red paint. There used to be a few framed paintings- brilliantly done, by Dada.

4. What is your current desktop picture?
Dancers waltzing, in black and white. Finished doing it a few nights ago on 'Paint'. It is kinda nice.
: )

5. Do you believe in gay marriage?
Yes, I do. There is no reason not to.

6. What do you want more than anything right now?
Peace of mind, coherence and colours.

7. What time were you born?
Maybe at 2.10 am. I'm not sure. Had a fight with Maa right now, so cannot ask.
: |

8. Are your parents still together?
O yes. Definitely!

9. Last person who made you cry?
Myself, I think. Actually some old letters, not a person.

10. What is your favourite perfume / cologne?
Hugo Red.

11. What kind of hair/eye color do you like in the opposite sex?
Groomed hair, doesn't matter whether long or short. Oh yes, and floppy too :-D
And eyes? Dreamy! Maddeningly dreamy...eyes that speak of blue lagoons and charming twilights...

12. What are you listening to?
Leonard Cohen. 'Famous Blue Raincoat'

13. Do you get scared of the dark?
I rather like it these days. It ain't that scary when one is used to it. Even when it is within.

14. Do you like painkillers?
I do not 'like' them, but I DO take them if necessary.

15. Are you too shy to ask someone out?
Um. Yes.

16. If you could eat anything right now, what would it be?
Chocolate fudge and ginger ale. : D
And I
do have the ginger ale now. Yeay!

17. Who was the last person who made you mad?
: x

18. Who was the last person who made you smile?
Maa again. ; )

This tag goes out to anyone who wants to do this.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


At times I wish the pen would run away with my soul.

Sit in the shade of green apple trees and conspire to write stories. Hundreds of them, thousands of them! And bring them back to me to read in this very little room that now encases absolute emptiness… carrying them in the guise of shadows during thunderstorms, bringing along lemon tea and rain. It would not have mattered to me if those stories had been only about the sea and the moon or gilt edged paintings and waltzes. It still would have been a part of me, a slice of my spirit.
Sometimes I wish the pen would run away with my soul and visit the life of paintings, it should seep into a Picasso or a Dali and proceed to tell silk-spun tales of melting clocks and sleeping girls, or picnics under greenish skies. I would not want honest answers. Never! There must be speculation and fabrication and spinning of the silk and clocks till the pen should tire awhile. And the soul shall write of hissing bonfires too and tales that were strung around them, of the charm of a chance reflection in a mirror, of murmurs and of puddles in summer and coloured umbrellas…

But now I travel back to this room, dislodged from the mental escapes that open eyes dream about. There is nothing that should inspire art here, it is small and shabby and distastefully furnished in yellows and oranges by the lady who lived here and then rent it out. I wonder whether it is this very room that stifles the art I so often dream of, whether the very smell of desolation shrinks my soul to nothing more than a pulsating beat that does not skip.

On mornings after a hard night’s toil at this wooden desk, I silently creep up to the huge window on the opposite wall that opens out to reveal a view of the grey sleeping city. The sight remains the same almost always. The street lamps yet to be turned off and the roads glistening from last night’s fog. The huge chimneys lining the sky, not yet pouring out the dismal fumes of grey to add to the dismal city that slept... Slept when it lay at night, slept when it woke- slept through a thousand stillbirths at one go.

From my window on the second floor one could look down to see the neighbourhood of some poor dears- living in the kind of poverty that is defined by wealth, or the lack of it. They seemed rather satisfied with their hard wrought fate. Happy in their smog brushed faces, in their dirty rags, in their empty bowls which if clean reflected their smog brushed faces in turn. Crumbling roofs and crumbling walls mattered not to them, they were happy in their belief that their own roof shall never fall.
It was while inspecting the gathering pigeons on one such roof that I first saw them both.

She gathered her skirt around her knee like a princess and broke her loaf of bread in two. To the boy she gave her larger piece and urged, “Eat”. The boy’s face must have lit up I believed (for I could not see very clearly from my window- just the back of his head when he accepted the piece). He broke the larger piece in two, and fed one half to the pigeons that had gathered with the morn around them.

She looked accusingly, first at him- then at the pigeons that gobbled up greedily all that was tenderly given by that small soft palm, before breaking her already halved piece in two. And again she handed the larger share to the boy, saying, “You eat!” with a look of extreme indignation. The little boy gurgled with innocent laughter and ate his bread happily, with occasioned sips at some tea from a clay pot which he shared with the girl. She seemed happy too.

The pigeons rested on their roof, pecking at minuscule crumbs that had slipped from their fingers, while their laughter shooed away the assembled gloom. The morning felt blue for the first time in ages, even brighter when the streetlamps eventually went off. The white breasted pigeons too perhaps smiled before flying away to a clear summer morning.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


While music merges with wilderness and hills
and cries in caves of scattered light…

where distant seas churn songs and winter
in the moist cradle of blue recesses…

there we might search for you in specks of
stealthily disappearing spirits…

And your fingers now gleam
with untamed imaginings-
of buried souls and restless colours.

We sleep while you dream…

For you shall rise like the moonlit mist
on the wings of perfumed nights,
and embrace miracles…

(This was originally written for Inam. Poet and Friend.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I have been tagged by Arse Poetica, and hence this pretty nice (albeit narcissistic) effort:

If I were a beginning, I would be: ‘The night is fractured/ and they shiver, blue, those stars, in the distance…’
If I were a month, I would be: February
If I were a day of the week, I would be: Friday
If I were a time of day, I would be: Twilight
If I were a planet, I would be: Saturn
If I were a season, I would be: Monsoon
If I were a sea animal, I would be: Sea horse
If I were a direction, I would be: Neither here, nor there
If I were a piece of furniture, I would be: A small desk. Solid oak. Beside an open window.
If I were a sin, I would be: Lust
If I were a liquid, I would be: Darjeeling tea
If I were a fraud/scare, I would be: Nightmares… probably of locked rooms and snakes.
If I were a gem, I would be: Emerald.
If I were a tree, I would be: A striking silhouette at twilight and dawn…
If I were a tool, I would be: Paintbrush. Or a fountain pen.
If I were a flower/plant, I would be: Jasmine.
If I were a kind of weather, I would be: Stormy.
If I were a musical instrument, I would be:
If I were an animal, I would be:
I’d rather be a goldfish.
If I were an emotion, I would be:
If I were a vegetable, I would be:
If I were a sound, I would be:
The roaring sea or the crashing waves.
If I were an element, I would be:
If I were a car, I would be:
Cherry red. White seats.
If I were a song, I would be:
Take This Waltz
If I were a food, I would be: Chocolates. Warm and melting.
If I were a place, I would be:
If I were a material, I would be:
If I were a taste, I would be:
If I were a scent, I would be:
The musty smell of yellowed pages.
If I were a religion, I would be:
Creating Utopia.
If I were a sentence, I would be:
‘Time, time, time/ See what's become of me’
If I were a body part, I would be:
If I were a facial expression, I would be:
If I were a subject in college, I would be:
If I were a shape, I would be:
A triangle, with a circle around it.
If I were a quantity, I would be:
Sold in pretty glass bottles.
If I were a colour, I would be:
If I were a thing, I would be:
Pretty old and worn. Antique!
If I were a landmass, I would be:
Snow drenched Kanchenjunga.
If I were a book, I would be:
The Bell Jar.
If I were a monument, I would be:
A temple in ruins.
If I were an artist, I would be:
M.C. Escher
If I were a collection of poems, I would be:
Anything by Lorca, Neruda, Hernandez or Plath.
If I were a landscape, I would be:
A vista painting.
If I were a watch, I would be:
Running behind time.
If I were God, I would be:
Flooding the Earth again.
If I were a vowel, I would be:
If I were a consonant, I would be:
If I were a formula, I would be:
Easy and ingenious.
If I were a Science, I would be:
If I were a theory, I would be:
Revised in a few years’ time.
If I were a famous person, I would be:
Dead. Happily so…
If I were an electronic equipment, I would be:
Run by a remote control, I guess.
If I were a sport, I would be:
Um. No idea.
If I were a movie, I would be:
The Sea Within
If I were a cartoon, I would be:
One of the Ghostbusters
If I were an explorer, I would be:
Sitting in my cabin drawing maps.
If I were a scientist, I would be:
Einstein (That hair!)
If I were a relation, I would be:
One who came once in a blue moon with loads of gifts from ‘Bilet’.
If I were a river, I would be:
Moody.(The Pat Boone way... ooh yes!)
If I were intoxication, I would be:
Praised by the likes of Coleridge.
If I were alone, I would be:
Elated for a while, and then elation wears off to leave a nice, comforting void.
If I were a question, then I would be:
Oh, tai bujhi?
If I were a hobby, I would be:
Stocking a personal library with good books.
If I were a habit, I would be:
Day-dreaming. Bitching (occasionally)
If I were an end, I would be:
A swan-song.
If I were you, I would be:
Still working a few things out. Then realize that I am (that is, you are) not worth it.

Most of my friends have been tagged already. So anyone who might want to do this- go ahead!

Monday, July 16, 2007

In Wine and Sin

In wine and sin then shall we mix…
And revel in bottled sympathies.

While hope returns,
Among omens and neurosis-
And darkness curls in spirals
With nightmarish fantasies of love-

I bleed into another’s skin,
Shivering in a voyeur’s delight,
Scratching obscurity on surfaces
Of paper and minds-
I might tell you of my dreams.

…And here we pressed hands
Soaking in the warmth of blurred moons…
Mixed in crimson desires…

…So shall we rise again
From the ruins of your memory
Forging love from lost twilights…

And in those dreams you said-

I shall seep into the spirit
Of the troubadour who sang me to sleep.
I shall seep into the spirit
Of the prophet who kept me awake.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

So Soft, This Goodbye...

She slipped a piece of the dark night sky into her pocket, and lifted herself to the rain… she glided like a forest breeze, her arms outstretched, and her eyes wide shut, this was the first downpour of the season, and an end to all that had been…

10…9…8… “Are you enjoying this?” his eyes were earnest and questioning, perhaps the question was a ruse to hold her gaze, “Yes… I am…” a soft smile, a hidden sigh, 7…6…5…4… “Get ready now, it is almost here…” he pressed her hands and smiled…3…2…1… loud cheers and a hundred voices shouting ‘Happy new year…’ The lights blinded both of them and then began the fireworks, the sky blazed like a magician’s cloak and the purple folds of the night melted away…

The smell of wet earth inched its way into her skin, into her hair… it spread magic on her heaving chest, and she swayed herself to the beat of the raindrops as she sashayed down the street in a trance…

The cigarette smoke dimmed his face, dimmed her sight, dimmed the voices that surrounded the two, the drink sparkled like a diamond sky, the smell of love and lust, the whiff of momentary lapse of reason in the realm of thoughts, and there were smiles and ‘thank yous’ when the sky seeped in through the dusty floor and enveloped their corner table to hide them behind a cloud of smoke rings, behind verses, behind the laughter of the invisible God who shielded them thus…

Not for once did she open her eyes; her naked feet were caked with mud… the street lamps gaped at her dancing form, sketching patterns of surreal imaginings, while the throbbing rain merged easily into darkness and light and the lake was lit with the golden daggers of reflecting stars… and she relived her past.

And she talked of broken rainbows and poisoned dreams, of that circus to which she had recently been, where the fire rings had singed the tigers and made the clowns weep, of the paper roses she had made for him…
His eyes seemed earnest as he drank it in, a smile hovering on the corners of his lips, he sighed and patted her clenched hands and he too began to speak, he spoke of dreams that had clung to her lashes when morning peeped in through her curtains last day, of clowns who rode the cycling elephant, of the paper roses that could not be pressed…

She winced for a moment as her fingers traced a purple wound along her neck, and she tilted her head, letting the rain wash the dried blood as she shivered in paroxysmal bliss. A lightening streaked the sky’s womb and she looked on with her elusive eyes, a shadow lurking beneath her iris of madness…

“But it was not love” she protested, without adding a reason to her argument
“I surrendered in the haze of the moonlight to the painter’s whims… shallow and unreal… ah, caring for you reduced me to being this beast of burden…”
He looked on with confusion firmly in place, no disgruntled sighs, and no sound of his broken heart echoed in her mind, perhaps because it did not break, even as he percieved a part of his life breaking into uncertain fragments… “But when did I burden you…”
She cut him off with that familiar wave of hand and spoke in an uninterrupted flow of words, she cried, “What do want to know? How loving you drenched me cold sweat all night, when I might have died for the want of a little warmth? How loving you left me empty, vacant…and I kept praying for a gesture of reciprocation, an assurance of what I thought had been love…"
His tousled hair drifted into oblivion as his words rang in the disturbed air, “How could I know… these words never crossed your lips before…”
“And they do not matter anymore…” Her lips parted in a relieved smile. “What designs did you have for me? Or does my imagination lend fire to the starry nights… What does it matter anymore indeed?” The words died a soft death on her lips and she left as she had come to him, carried in a poisoned dream… reducing him to a vague level of familiarity…

“But I am happy tonight…” she whispered to the drenched circle of lights, she caressed the self inflicted wound, a sign of memories that could have been, and she slipped a piece of the dark night sky into her pocket and lifted herself to the rain…

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Not Yet Dead...

I could not save her.

At night when the sky is lined with broad strokes of the darkest charcoal, and sketchy shadows form under the street lamp… I hear her cry like a haunted soul; she calls out to me in a cold-blooded shriek, her repeated screams splitting my core into pieces of hideous self-pity…

“Mother! Don’t you love me anymore? Won’t you save me? Come fast!”

I did not betray you, sweet child… I had no place to hide your little body… forgive me, won’t you? If only I could hide you in my empty womb… warm and safe…if only I could place you in my vacant eye… if only…

Yet I hear her sob, “Will you let me die then mother? They are burying people into knee deep graves… and trampling on those not yet dead…”

I have searched for you in vain for days and nights, and at last the rain dissolved all hopes. Why didn’t you return to me little one? I have lined your pillows with down feather… the hearth is yet to cool down… we will play your game of hide and seek later…

And she wouldn’t come. Out of the darkness I heard her reply, “But I can’t stop the pain mother… my eyes, they hurt…they burn and no one gives me water here, not a soul left to help. You told me once that God doesn’t harm the faithful lot… then I shall be safe. They won’t be able to push me into the pond- several of us have drowned there already… I have seen their bodies, pierced with bullets and charged with sticks…”

Muffled sobs rack my frame.
I asked you to hide somewhere, I asked you to run. Why didn’t you listen to your mother? And now I survive, while you are gone forever…

“I dragged my limp body to the fields mother, but you were not there to guide… they had forced you into that house, tearing your sari into pieces, reducing it to rags… hitting your swollen face till blood oozed from the corners of your mouth… you asked me to run, you asked me to hide… but where could I go?

The muddy lanes now wore a garb of sickly red, and I saw men digging graves, their faces twisted with wild glee. I escaped that gruesome end too… but how far could I run mother? I must have fallen in that field, while the world seemed to hiss and glow… spinning in circles… round and round…
They set me on fire… remember this dress? The flower-pattern you made for me… I could not salvage this while I burnt…”

I did find you sweetheart, in someone’s field. Your face charred and black… a bullet that had pierced your weak chest and a mangled body which no one could recognize… it had been days… they could not bury you alive, nor could they drown you like countless others… they set fire to your little frame and watched your life ebb away… my phantom child…

I have summoned the ghosts of the past to keep me company sweet one… while I covered you with a cloth caked with my blood, and once again your blood mixed with mine… without the umbilical cord this time. Should I hold you against my withered chest? Does that lend you comfort anymore? I pressed my ears to your distorted mouth, to your dead tongue, and waited for your response…

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Silver streams…

The water danced around her feet, in streams that meandered effortlessly… and it reminded me of wind chimes, hundreds of them, all dancing to the errant wind that threatened to rage on till its thirst subsided somewhere out in the sea, oblivious to elements, and hidden from human eyes.

Her soft laugh hung around us, perhaps separating us from the rest of human habitation. To me it seemed like a spell that would ensure something infinite… it would hold time back in crystal vials and pause this moment…

She drew figures on the sand with her toe, and the water would come time and again, erasing her initials, her footprints, throwing up shells that she would gather in the fold of her skirt to string them into chains… chains that would lie unused, gathering dust in some corner of her room… but she collected them merrily, singing a tune that I had never heard before…

At night I found her at the small desk in our room. She seemed to write something with passion, her pen seldom stopped for an occasional pause. The words appeared to flow and countless thoughts filled those crisp white pages of her diary.

She would never let me read what she wrote in that red diary of hers… yet at the darkest hour of night she seated herself at the desk, a little flickering candle by her side. She would pen down something and then look outside and sigh. The trees seemed to reply with a hushed whisper, and that soothed her. She would blow out the candle and tread her way back to her bed, dreaming perhaps of the silver streaked ripples that danced when she stepped into the sea…

She assured me that she never craved for wings. That her world was wine-coloured and she felt music all around… and at times she caught herself in those rhythms and let herself be swayed…

That was all I knew when she took her life, leaving behind a red diary for me. Allowing me to glimpse the world encased in that book, a world she had guarded jealously…
I leafed through those neatly filled pages she had never let me see.

Perhaps she wrote of summer dreams or sparkling wine that passed those lips… perhaps she wrote of the salty sprays of the sea… she might have mentioned the troubadour’s song we heard last year… of halogen lights seen on city trips and the fisherman’s boat she loved…

With all these lingering thoughts I opened her diary. And she wrote:

‘The salt here hangs like a shroud over me… I wash myself again and again, yet the white salt bonds with my skin, blocking my pores, my soul… if only I could peel off my skin… I need a breath of spring, a breath of green… I need the hills!’

‘I smell death here. The prophet said it too last year and in words of crimson fire he sang of the rain of blood to follow. All is decaying. He whispered the truth… he told me:

‘‘And you will suffer for what never belonged to you. They’ll hang you on twigs of dead trees in the market… and they’ll wrench your soul and see it smolder like molten lead… they will cut out your tongue too, making sure there are no more dissenters… yet cries emitted from hollow hearts and echoed in the dead air… they chop off dead tongues…”

I must set you free…’

I turned over the pages in a trance; almost afraid to believe what I witnessed…
Was this brilliance or insanity?
It seemed impossible that she had harboured such thoughts in that little frame of hers, that she had carried words streaked with fire… I thought she was contented.
And I kept reading:

‘They are burning the flower shop, their crimson swords slash at your throat and a blood-laden whisper drops to the ground from your lips like those dewy petals do… the swords slash still…mercilessly, and blood pours in torrential streams… the shop at the corner now destroyed… my flowers too…’

‘Stabbed. Twenty-one times. And they blistered my soul with their fevered hands… he spelled out dreams for me to lend comfort… and gave me fresh roses. White, fresh, pretty roses. He tied them with a golden ribbon.
I tore the petals, one by one, and pressed them in my diary.’

‘But take me to the dark side of the moon, my house drenched in twilight caught unawares… and I’ll bring back silver showers… freezing brandishing swords and hanged men shall come back to life…’

She was my wife. A woman I thought I knew. I looked into the silver framed picture beside me and she smiled back. Yet I noticed the wedding band, too tight for her fingers, cutting into her delicate skin, I noticed the smile that seemed watery to my eyes now. Her locket was shaped like a maple leaf… ‘The hills’…I heard her cry now. And her eyes heavy with inherent sadness, a melancholy I had never seen… never tried to see…

Hesitantly I looked at the last entry on that page.

‘You remain blissfully ignorant another while,
And I crave for a little respite,
A little bliss myself...
You might never know-
Of the muffled sobs at night
As you lie asleep in a drunken torpor.
Tears stain letters written in ink…
So shall mine be rendered indecipherable?
Perhaps. Perhaps eyes unknown shall
Shall read over these and conjure up

Silver streams of water… silver nooses around my neck… strung together with shells, and he too collects them for me… the choirs mourn… a last swan song for me.’

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Ready to go...

She’d leave soon. Perhaps this is the last time we would be sitting here, in the feverish buzz of the almost decrepit canteen, sipping on a cup of soup… till the thin paper cup threatens to spoil it all by sagging under the pressure of your palm. Gloom hangs heavy here. And I could catch emotions from thin air… for the first time perhaps we forget to laugh. Or discuss something unimportant, irrelevant. Like the reason why you are leaving us behind. Or what would eventually happen to the boy you had a crush on, or why we always spoilt it all by laughing at him. The last time for the five of us.

I do not see you emote. Is it because you have always been the most sensible of the lot? Or is it because your new future beckons alluringly, and you would rather not be moved? I know not. None of us do… there are emotions too deep playing inside us.

The final words remain unspoken, even though we talk about the bag we promised you for your birthday, and the biriyani treat we were supposed to give. Then what did we not say?

We will miss you girl…

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

half drawn faces...

I gritted my teeth, and shielded myself against the cold, my fingers too numb to work anymore. Tears poured from my eyes as perhaps blood would from an open wound…yet blood flows for a reason. I shut my eyes tight, drew my legs against my chest, my chin resting on my knees and I rocked myself… softly to and fro, almost dreading the moment when long forgotten, dreaded memories would return to haunt me again. It was time they would arrive… the painting is finished… ready to be framed…and I kept softly rocking to and fro… that’s what ma did when I was young…

The wind shall whisper for you my child… and soothe you when distressed…your tears will cool their warmth when the breeze blows softly against your cheek…

Softly rocking to and fro…to and fro… I did not want to plunge into the depths of despair again… I did not want to feel its icy-cold grip on my neck… rocking to and fro still…
Ma… she’d hold me warm against her and pat so softly on my back…

The wind shall whisper for you my child…she whispered.

And then the silence was shattered by another voice…

Worthless creature he hissed…my child…he spat…to be a painter?! Never…never

And I rocked on…my pale red shawl now turned crimson…a steady drip drip changed its hue…

Let her be what she wants to... she pleaded for me.

I wanted to paint…perhaps to escape the reality of this drab existence…to paint my canvas the way I could never colour life… I would paint skies of azure… golden eyes… winding lanes going nowhere… a lady’s face half sketched…

Never! She’d be a doctor… she’d be my dream… I have so many dreams yet to fulfill…he had shouted.

My faces are still obscure… despondent eyes…half drawn… masked faces… lurid lips…

Throw that cursed easel into the fire… and he destroyed my brushes that day.

Softly rocking to and fro…

The room seemed to have shrunk around me…stifling me… the single window still wide open…there I keep my colours, beside the window… my easel and a painting yet not dry.

I remained sitting there for a long time…and then I heard my labored breathing ease… and a sliver of light crossed the room… I stopped rocking then… and reached out towards my painting… a part of my soul encased in its layered colours… black…grey…blue…

Morning brought with it a fresh wave of sanity… panic and despair seemed to have disappeared with the stars that have always been deceptive to me… stars that misled… I wrapped the painting in crisp new paper and ready it stood to be framed.

I was free now… at least until I finished another piece… I knew that this depression would return in an even more appalling form next time… it happened every time I finished a painting…as soon as I rested my brush… as soon as there remained no more strokes I could confer upon my canvas…

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Reminiscences, a little nostalgia and some incoherent babbling.

Last week was Saraswati Puja. There was this unmistakable heady scent of ‘kuls’ in the air, and everything wore a paint of yellow- bringing back memories of all those days spent here, all those Saraswati Pujas we always looked forward to…the paper chains to be made, the goddess to be adorned… the ‘alpana’ to be made without any delay…

I have grown up in this four-storied building with about five or six people roughly the same age as mine. Every evening, we would descend to the basement and play. Be it basketball, badminton or even carom- play we must. The walls would echo our laughter, and there was so much of sunshine in our lives! Every occasion was looked forward to, and every little thing made us happy… we gave roses on ‘Rose Day’, painstakingly made friendships bands for each other along with hand painted cards… little tokens of appreciation and love. Picnic would be one of those halcyon days… we would be up before the sun itself, filled with energy as we pushed our heads up sweaters too tight for us and wore sneakers caked with dirt. Who cared? All we wanted was fun.
There came a bus and we poured in, trying to get a seat near the hallowed ones:
All ‘DADAS’ and ‘DIDIS’.

The little attention they bestowed on us would send us into spasms of delight. And why not? After all, we were six school-goers, hardly qualifying as teenagers while they were all college-goers then. They were the ‘cool’ people. Besides we wanted to spy on them, and find out who was dating whom. Theirs was a larger group- about six boys and seven girls in all.

Impromptu feasts would keep taking place throughout the year without rhyme or reason, and enjoyed immensely! We were infamous for having weird games up our sleeve for every occasion. Be it a game called ‘lalure’ (something we made up ourselves, and I would rather not burden you with its details), or dumb-charades (where we ended up talking, coughing, spluttering and what not)

Today almost nothing remains. All the didis are married, and have left the city… all dadas too busy with their office work to even care about petty things like feasts… and even our group has scattered. Some gone to different engineering colleges, some busy preparing for their board exams. And others who do not care. Every year at least during the Durga Puja we try to interact… but something is still missing. These people have been able to break the bonds holding them back. I have not. There is no sense of security in the fact that I belong here. No one else does.

No longer can you see us midgets jumping up and down trying to retrieve the ball that got stuck in someone’s kitchen pipe. Or dipping our hands into a plateful of ‘biriyani’ during the feasts, to get the biggest piece of mutton… or perhaps the running wildly…freely… and hiding in the dirtiest corner ever, only to hear someone call “I spy!”

I miss those days. I miss my friends. I miss laughing my head off at stupid jokes. I miss those evenings when we were made to clean up the basement walls (as we had scribbled on them- a prank)… hauling buckets of water and splashing them on the walls...
I miss the warmth that this building lent me once; it was a cocoon, a shelter for us all…
How I wish I could go back five years and relive those days again!

I am an emotional dork.

Friday, January 19, 2007

She Sang for the Last Time

“How few, of all the hearts that loved,
Are grieving for thee now!
And why should mine, tonight, be moved
With such a sense of woe?”
~ Emily Bronte

Her pale, diminutive figure drew compassionate glances that entire evening. I have never seen her wearing black… yet, here she was- dressed in her mourning attire, receiving bouquets of white roses and condolences.

“Does it not break your heart to see such a young girl…widowed so soon!” someone whispered to me, and left before I could answer.
What could I have answered?
That perhaps grief has lent an unearthly beauty to her eyes…
That there was a touch of moonlight on her pale skin this night…
That I perceived memories flowing in her veins…

She moved towards the piano and threw open the window facing the instrument. Everyone stopped to look at her as she sat down at the piano and ran her fingers lightly over the worn out keys… humming to herself a soft tune for some time. And then her clear voice rang out as she sang.

She sang for the last time that night. Somewhere her voice got lost amidst tears…she broke off and fell into a reverie, only to begin again. Sometimes she sang clearly, her soulful voice haunting us all- there was an unmistakable tinge of melancholy that pervaded all those verses she chose to sing. Her tears traced their ways down her cheek like serpentine rivers…salty streams…

She refused to close the window facing her. The harsh, bitter wind whipped her face and she simply said: ‘It keeps the wound fresh…’
For the first time in weeks she let her hair loose, they hung like twined brown tendrils, softly caressing her neck, her cheek…those gentle tears too…

Next morning we found her dead. Her delicate figure leaning against the piano… the window still wide open. No wind blew this morning. And here she sat, blue with cold…her tear-stained face lifted towards the skies.
I pried open her clenched fist, those numb fingers opened to reveal crushed rose petals lying in her stained palm… and a smile seemed to hover on those blue lips.

How unbelievable it seems when we say that she died for love, that she died of a broken heart…perhaps she will rest in peace. Perhaps not. Perhaps on such cold December nights she will come back to this room and sing for us…loud and clear, emotions clouding her voice at times, the wind chilling this very room… singing of something so commonplace…singing of love that rises like a phoenix from the flames…

Sunday, January 14, 2007

idle ramblings...

Hmmm… I seem to be posting more personal stuff here than writing the stories I was initially supposed to. But, this is probably because blogging is actually an efficient outlet- I feel much better after having typed frantically on my keyboard for at least an hour. This also explains why I stopped maintaining a diary- something I have been doing for the past five years. Daily.

Well then let’s get on with business. I was wondering what kind of a year 2007 will turn out to be. 2006 had been…let’s just say… ‘happening’. Why?
Because so many things happened.
I passed my board exams, escaped the clutches of law… i.e. I was supposed to get into law, specifically NUJS- probably would have been there too by now, slogging my way through the mush, had I not firmly put my foot down and opted to stay on in J.U.
This kind of broke my dad’s heart, and I hated myself for it for a few days. But J.U.D.E. is where I am meant to be, I guess he too understands and appreciates it now.

My best friend passed her boards too, with great marks, befriended a guy she really liked, he proposed to her in December… and she refused. Don’t ask me why! I think she’ll melt soon and give in.

As for me, I made wonderful friends in J.U. They are more close to me than most of my school friends… and I feel blessed and lucky to be in a group of such like minded people- people who appreciated me for what I am. Life did rock in 2006!

But 2007 began rather strangely- Valentine’s Day is just one month away and everyone I know is ‘breaking up’. Kind of sad really. And people who are not breaking up are getting over their crushes. Humph. It is gonna be a lackluster Valentine’s Day this time.
I certainly hope things change for the better soon.

Oh! I forgot to mention something. I have got ‘blogging buddies’ now. Ha-ha! Go figure it out…except suki and lost poet of course. Suki was right- no one else seems to read our blogs, sometimes it feels as if our blogs are actually group discussions restricted to ourselves! Not that I’m complaining but why don’t others read them too?

Right now, I AM forcing some of my school friends to read my blog or else… I might just resort to tortures like the rack…*evil smiles galore*

If people have friends like me, who needs enemies?

Thursday, January 11, 2007


It rained heavily that night. It was a torrential downpour, something so unusual in these parts. Perhaps it rained for a reason. Perhaps it rained for me. I walked through that narrow lane after fifteen years… will I still be able to recognize that house? Will she still stand over the balcony, looking forward to my visit?

Countless seasons have brushed by me…by us… it did change me… but her? Does she still smell like those lemon blossoms she hid in her sari? Does her wet hair still caress her face, hanging like limp tendrils?

I walked on for some time, reflecting on my past while the raindrops shot towards the street like bullets… my salty tears indiscernible from the drops that splashed my face. The empty street heightened my isolation, and somewhere I melted into nature herself. I was the rain…I was the storm…
The raindrops kept on pelting me- numbing me to their soft sharp blows…my muddy shoes whined perceptibly, the umbrella hung limply from my arm.
I wished it would rain harder- hard enough to drown me…keeping me cold and wet till sleep or death, the latter more preferred, overcame me.

I saw the end of her sari trailing behind her, following her languorous footsteps the way memories do… I heard her soft voice spell out dreams and felt her breath on my cheek… or was I imagining it?

Will she look forward to my return?

I saw her flushed face near a window, half opened to cool the air inside… or was I dreaming again?

A house loomed large in front of me like a giant rising from the abyss… I remembered the verandah…there it was… decrepit though. The windows were closed, the door securely locked. She locked me out even now. The house looked vacant- perhaps it had been so for a long time. Not another soul shared the silence amidst which I stood so lost.
The rain blurred my vision for a while.

I do not recall when I had reached my hotel. Or how. All I remember is a comfortable bed, solid oak chairs and a bulb that glowed dimly at all hours beside the mirror. I recall seeing a frail, pallid creature in the mirror…a vacant, listless look in his eyes… and I remember my nightmares. Or was it reality?

A twenty something Sheta… an affection that lasted a few months, something that happened fifteen years ago. I needed someone to share my story with. Almost feverish with passion and overcome with torrid emotions I began writing.

I met Sheta almost fifteen years ago. A fine young girl, with doe-like eyes… I called her my ‘dusky princess’… many a times have I visited that house that looked so forbidding and forlorn now. She lived with her grandparents there. Did we fall in love? She did. Did I? The question still reverberates in silence…even after so many years…
She was my muse awhile. I might have painted her portrait a thousand times, trying to capture every emotion that flitted by. I might have dedicated to her a hundred poems, and she wound them all up with a red ribbon. I might have gifted her many wild roses…so safely she pressed them in her diary… and I have kissed those red soft lips and run my fingers through her hair…

I returned to Calcutta after spending about six months in those hills. Without telling her. I was too afraid of facing her wrath… I never saw those silent tears fall, or her lips open to half utter a word…

I had quite forgotten her in all these years, but something changed it all. Last month I received a small envelope, enclosed within were some yellowed pages… and a red ribbon binding them all…
Within days I rushed back to this place, haunted by memories… haunted by guilt. And I walked through that lane again… the only difference being her absence.

‘I look and see it there, shrinking, shrinking,
I look back at it amid the rain
For the very last time; for my sand is sinking,
And I shall traverse old love’s domain
Never again.’
- ‘At Castle Boterel’
Thomas Hardy