Tuesday, March 13, 2012


the prisoner of a heart,
the conqueror of a body,
sauntering in the garden of life,
how complex are your thoughts?

A languid slippery street
of useless thought.
But do your wits urge you
to frame that scene
against your acumen?
Why do you waste so much time
 in contriving ways to arrest time?
Are you a fossil of a moment lost?

Time and again you burn
in your internal flame,                                           
emerge like a wingless bird
on a windless flight.
Are you searching for clarity in those clouds?
Does your wanderlust lead you
to some kind of truth?

When you imagine beauty, is it confined to the world?
Or is it an endless stream of lucid dreams?
When you create your magnum opus,
will you be brave enough
to give it your whole heart
and yourself dissolve into its reflection?

When you see people shuffling
in their sundry dyes,
do you struggle to see things
in black and white?
Every day the twilight disperses
a virgin palette,
and you laugh at the brevity of life.
Tell me, sir, has your life been your art?
A shimmering souvenir for inspiration?

Do you see art?
Plunge your sensations in the sieved form?
Or do you marvel at the fact
that you can witness it,
and that it is you,
and you are.

Or do you paint the eyes of your mind
and walk on?

Monday, March 12, 2012

In the land of my father,

there are landscapes
sculpted with summery imagination,
there is life
stemming out of scattered shingle,
antiquity in its breath
that become textures in cities colored bright.

I count the lands that I have seen
and those from your eyes
through the tales you’ve told me,
I will only have to count the stars
festooning the sky
to count the hearts
that you have touched.

Seated under my trophies, you asked-
What use is a flute without a song?
A body out of character?
Answers without deeds,
And it is only now
that I have found
my slight life’s meaning
written almost lyrically
in them.

In the land where you parted
with your wear ,
we slipped into your attire
with straight backs
and humble heads.

We were the birds
who carried your shroud
with brave eyes
letting our hearts
cry some diamonds
as we held on to your
bare spirit.

We let it steer our stories
today, tomorrow and forever,
as we attempt to grow as tall
as the great outlines you set
and call it triumph
if we could
by our end
become a wisp of your impression.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Weakness

He did not pass a glance
when he arrived,
with a body
and a beating heart.
I saw him
shaking hands,
and opening his mouth
to laugh that laugh.
From afar
he saw my back.

He came around with an empty glass,
softly sighed,
made me cognizant
of the controlled movements
of my own chest.
I poured some wine,
to raise the fire
in my mind.

It led us out
of the masquerade,
and for a while
he followed the trail
of some star
in his head.
When the distance of the star
became excruciating,
he came closer
to me.

He spoke
in a language I did not understand.
With every pensive look
he committed,
my skin slightly jumped
and danced.

There was gloom in his stories
and life in his eyes.
We wove
a memory,
and shared
a smile.

we ran out of the pleasant
too soon.
His hands were clean,
and face flawless.
there was
a button less
on his fancy coat,
inefficiently masked
like the clique
we had run away from.
It was such
a tragic mask,
I feared
it might have no color.
That it might be
as pure
as white.

The wind turned West.
Under the plastic tree,
he clicked his tongue
and I shook my head.
We concurred
on a change of scene.

He saw
right through me
when he shut the door.

That there was 
an inferno
scampering down my arms
even in my stillness
and especially
in the insincere censure,
moist greet
on my lips
that I was keeping warm
for words not to be said.
I let
his fingers say phrases
on my neck.

Then he moved the air
And the air moved me.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The boy in the orange shirt.

-Thursday Night, Acrylic on canvas, by Neethi

“Get fucked or rape yourself.  Now you have my favorite shirt.”

It is the third day today. I know it because I had slept three whole nights (most part of the days too) characterized by unnerving fear attacks which pulsed an intense reflex of peeing each time the rainy wind blew over my face from the open slide window, cascading my dreams with unpleasant nuggets of reality.

Yes, right now, every book I touch seems like a Hitchcock movie.

Right now, even perforated salty biscuits taste tasty. 

And now, I find myself on the outside of this world. In another, that can be explained best as inexplicable.

Now, I rephrase the aforementioned as being beyond the world.

The rain just won’t wash itself off, and when you desperately want to be bright and sunshiny, a day like this can put any zombie specimen off. With the zombie-thought raining on my parade, I take out Camus and sip 7-Up as if it is tea- with the icy-hot treatment. I see one too many words and realize I am still squinting. I bury my face in the damask-flock printed cushion and think about the graveyard on which this building was built. I laugh a half-ridiculous laugh, sincerely.

All this seems vaguely familiar. I had passed the same series of events yesterday, except that someone did bring a hot glass of tea for me. I remember yelling at some motherfucker for being loud. Maybe the nice tea-guy. But I swear each word played three rounds of squash on my eardrums. I had passed out again before I had a real shot at the tea. Damn. No tea today.

The rain stops. A gloom fills my hollow insides, and I scratch my head to recall whose mother had died. Failing, I put on a shirt and decide to take a walk to the grocery store. Why so morbid, the luggage counter fellow seems to probe. I float in the tide of washing powder packets. It reminds me of my stinking pants from the day before and I recoil. Some vomit, a lot of beer. I drop three packets into my cart for the flowery redemption my linens deserved. Even the cashier throws an understanding nod. I flip at the sight of Ferrero Rochers lined besides the counter. This is not so bad, I think as my teeth take a dig. Not bad at all.

Yesterday had not been good.

Yesterday –

my head stood peculiarly on my neck. It wasn’t the mirror, no. But I had an aerial view of my body from quite a distance up and my feet seemed oceans away. I wanted my head to stop bobbing physically. What was with the corkscrew motion? If I had another head to see my head, I would have LMFAO!

I pinched myself and didn’t feel a thing. I affirmed that it was indeed real and shoved my head back into the cushion. Someone yelled, so I was loud. The sight of tea gave me shivers. I rolled my eyes at someone and that sent me on another spin. The clock gyrated anti-clockwise and the previous night’s events flashed back. I wasn’t sure if it was the previous night, or a previous life. But slowly my memory drew just the right lines to make a shape, and just the right shades to make a form. It zoomed out presenting a curious picture of the boy in the orange shirt.

It must have been well past midnight because the double ass-faced bumpers living upstairs would usually have their sing-song affairs till late. I woke up with his face on my mind. I remembered sensations. Like the warm feeling when we shook hands, and my mind being blown off. My head, mind and heart, all presented different channels of sensations (magnified to the power of the largest number you can imagine). His face was beautiful. Iridescent with genius and youth. Involuntarily, I threw up on myself. But it didn’t bother me very much. I tried forming a frame with whatever scattered bits of memory I had. But like a killer Cubist painting, several multidimensional intersecting planes of occurrences flashed before my eyes. I feigned waking up with a start, just in case it worked and cleared the cloud. Neah. I surrendered and passed out.

The world seems indifferent towards me. I don’t know why I expect anything different.  After all, it was just the four of us bedazzled by the boy. Or perhaps it was just me, I can’t remember. I turn on the radio. The classical shit easily becomes a part of my milieu. I strain to recall the events that led me to the state in which I am now. I know it will be futile, but I try anyway. Bored of it, I call up Mathew to shoot the breeze. He greets me with his characteristic Fuck You Bro and I know some things never change. I ask him where he is. “In my shack here, whore. Where else do you think I will be on a Sunday.” So it is a Sunday, check. Ten more minutes of our pleasant talk reveals that we were two bottles of rum down when the boy surfaced out of nowhere. A nice, genial young boy who also happened to be loaded, at Dev’s farmhouse party.

It was refreshing to have someone with all the youth flushing out of his pink skin, sit with a bunch of dreamers like us and talk about his accolades like they were mere grey stones. We exchanged silent nods of approval for the boy and were pretty damn impressed. We must have chatted on for hours. It was only when the girls arrived that we digressed. The boy had disappeared and I had wandered off.

Mathew is a nice catholic guy and doesn’t like to disrespect his girlfriend on a Sunday morning. I understand, so I hang up thanking him with my own set of epithets.
That was not just it, I know.

I go out to my little balcony to be on top of that little world I clearly made my way out of recently. I let my eyes scan the view. Clouds with a golden outline, birds, squirrels, some old pots, a clotheswire… wait! An orange shirt on the wire? I run towards it, flipping out of my wits. Dammit!

Before I know, the bats are taking their flight towards East. The dusk totally takes me by surprise. I must have sat there transfixed for god knows how long! Kishan brings a glass of hot water, and I look at him with a newfound brotherliness. I thank him for the water, and he is taken aback. He clearly doesn't appreciate it too much. He thrust forward a piece of paper in return saying- “Voh, koi ladka aya tha, diya ye.” I take a grab at it and ask him to get lost. He smiles in answer.

“I know you are puzzled. And probably will not appreciate it immediately. But get fucked or rape yourself.  That is how I have lived, and it is the only right way to live man. Sorry about the beer, you figured me out. Now you have my favorite shirt. I’d not want to part with it. Address at the back of the slip. –M”

I imagine his happy shiny face saying this out aloud to me, glittery eyes looking sheepishly into mine as he fruitlessly tries to sound ahead of his age. What the fuck happened to him, I wonder. And as though it’s the first time that blood has ever run into my head, I jolt. The blackness clears out my head and I spring to my two feet.

I call Mathew to hear the whole bridge of a song he had picked up on his tour to South India. No answer. “Girlfriend!”, I hit my head. I decide against calling the rest. I lean against the railing on the left, stare into the dark and muse.

In an out of the body experience, the boy with shiny hair stole my soul. Even if it was just for a moment.

The girls had arrived, and I wasn’t quite that high. The innate nervousness pulled me out of the crowd. It was when I was poring over the fullness of the moon that he arrived with two bottles of beer. Pushing one smoothly into my hand, he flashed a perceptive grin. So what do you write about, I asked. I was genuinely curious when he had talked about his stories. “Love, life and death.. Doesn’t that sum up everything?” he proposed. He had sad eyes. Sad gleaming eyes. I didn’t agree with him, but didn’t say so. His eyes were fixed towards the sky. But he wasn’t looking into the infinity. He was looking at something that was really close.  His sight kept shifting curiously and I nearly thought he was dreaming. For a moment there, it seemed that the boy had lost his poise.

When he turned to speak about his writings, he conquered me.

“Engineering was alright.. I thought writing would give me an edge, you know.. “

His casual tone had already made an impression on me. I realized that his articles had been published in a couple of monthly journals which were popular amongst my old group.

I wanted to know more about this little cherub.

“I live just down the block. Have the house, a car, a cook and a few ladies at my disposal. You should come sometime. My girls would be pleased to give you a nice rub.”

Possibly because I was under the influence, I did consider it for a moment before laughing it off.

I learnt that although a Bengali, he had spent most of his life in Punjab. A nice white bungalow was his own at the age of eighteen, when his parents moved back to the native town.

“It was a riot then! Friends and party. We lived everyday like it was the last. But I never missed school.”, he said raising a finger in defense.

I thought about the scoreless times when I have gotten out of the Bank with the will to overhaul my business ambitions.  Wasn’t I just like him, once?

“When I joined IIT, I thought I would miss our tight group. How was I to know that it would be even more 
explosive there?” He continued. “It was in my first year that I fell in love.” I thought he said that more to himself than to me.

“From there, bro, I shot up like a missile” He added. “Ah! The little black dresses they had.”

He spoke ferociously.  “Wilde had a wise ass. A woman’s face is her work of fiction, izn’t it?” he winked. “Wah! But my college did have some. What about you? Your women?”

“I had a wife.” I had had many women in my life, of course. But whenever attacked while my guards are down, I tend of talk of her.  It was my only real heartbreak.

He did not dither. “Come over. I have just the right thing for you man! You seem to be the cool type.”

“Yeah..”I said, unsure.

“I know what you are thinking. About your life, right? I tell you, think about your death. Living in its anticipation will wipe that dirt of fear off. That’s what I tell my girls too.”

I mulled over this for a while. Looking at his profile, this somehow didn’t fit.

I asked about his other friends.

“I keep flying for lectures, so my circle is pretty global. I pick the coolest bunch. We smoke up, party, have a fucking good time!” He roared. “My car is the most precious baby. Don’t worry, all my babes know that too. Y’know, there comes a point in life when all the fucking feels like fuck and you just want some time to generously space out.”

If he appeared casual about his professional success, he certainly did seem to be boisterous about his associations.

“I only stick by my East Indian girls now. They have no games. Plus, my fellows like them same. Heheh. I thought I’d bring them along, but.. y’know..I was a little worried about ..the people. Got to say, I do care. Ha!”

That was it. I wasn’t sure at first, but it seemed plain now. The smile was a cover up. The laugh was a distraction.

“Let’s party soon man. It will be a mindfucking rampage. You will soar!”

He was alone. The boy, all he wanted was a friend.  He was flailing in desperation. He laughed some more and it hurt me.

“You are bluffing, aren’t you?”, I said in an eager slip.

Unblinkingly, he dropped the bottle. My heroic dive to rescue it rendered me colored with beer.

The unintended slap on the face left him silent. I did not see the boy’s face when he slapped my arm.
A yank out of the clouds, and I was flat on the ground. I could see the boy’s face now. It was all around me. I saw his lovely skin shine with a tear when he said,

“A broken heart needs this. I know you need this too.”

He smiled like a rascal.

I felt his face inching closer to mine. A supple energy was throbbing in my body, which lied limp, as my mind took travel. I had no voice. He said it was God’s, I thought he was God. Slowly my existence crept out of my skin, starting from where he had slapped on my arm, and saw the world. Saw wonderful nuances of death and the futility and emptiness of life. “This is how I feel..in my every breath”, he was saying. As I slowly lost all sense of time and space, I lost control over my body but gained complete understanding of my surroundings.

I wanted to die, and feel that way forever. I wanted to ride in his warped warren and be his friend.

I never want to feel that way, ever!

The stupid moon is still there. I back off the railing and think about how I reached back home. But my head smarts from thinking. I look at the orange shirt, but with distaste. It induced no enigma, no charm, no humor or anger anymore. He was a drug.

I sit on my bed with the note in my hand, not turning it around for the address. I push the thought of my ex-wife out of my system.

I bury my face in the cushion, and dream about flowers. 

Monday, July 25, 2011


In that cavernous murk, it could have been a reticent ghost. But you feel his breath and see his rose skin, and know he is but a form.

His shoulder bones shift sides and his alight eyes reveal themselves with command. You cannot move. You don’t want to move. There was another world in them- a mirror image of the present-, as unreal as reality, and as real as disregarded truth. You watch him lift his pupils up with a controlled force. All the worlds disappear in a blink and tranquilly he presents himself.

He tweaks a toe and you hear water. He lets some fall off his fingers as he levitates.

He is a looming flower.


He plucks a single sea from the sky and is abruptly transformed. He is carrying two souls and salt. The very next moment, he is a fluid torrent of fire. You witness a body of contrasts. He portrays a preview of how a pauper exercises his powers. And in a split second he blasts into himself.

He is gold.


You see a silhouette against red, as the drum rolls. He is the resident God.

In disguise, he attends a merchant. He sweeps the floor, and gets stale food. He burns ill habits, and receives foul words. He draws fraud riches, and gets a bitter poison. A thousand single eyes stare back at the trader before he could spot the moon on the boy’s head.

He dies, and revives as an immortal.


He owns himself. But if he is to be experienced, he’s your personal composition. He is ferocious, and follows a circle. He tells a million stories with his palms. It is soon clear that everything is contained in one. His ever unmoving lips are silent. But you hear him scream.

He is a path of life.


The light fills the platform bottom-up, he doesn’t budge. His stillness makes everything around him move. They become dust. You breathe it.

He is immobile. Yet, you are aware of what he sees -around and above him. His vision takes a trip and soaks each floating energy matter into his fiber. Then: he takes a step forward.

That is when he becomes you,

And you become the dancer.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No coffee for you

It brews like amassed anger on an inflated day.

Pointed up in see-through,
the square picture with a square picture.
I, in my stupor; you, through your thoughts-
plant a lucid exchange of painted fog.

Far away, I own many a place.
Here is home.
The corners have become large hearted.
Its face is ours.

You ask yes, I agree
and forget,
and say no when you talk of smokes.
So excuse me
if I brew some coffee,
even if it’s a state of mind.

The bloody dagger
only but cuts a lemon,
because up on the hill
sweetness lay in silk.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Annie's Song

I didn’t know blue could have ever looked the way it did in her eyes. I hadn’t seen a more spirited set of eyes either. She let the pallu of her handspun sari slip from her head and seemed delighted to discover that it matched the shade of her hair. Her mouth widened with joy. She was still smiling as she looked around and unearthed lovelier things -like the sequin covered butterfly on her slippers, ribbons curling out from her gifts, and (she turned left) the fancy bracelet that adorned my hand.

“That thing is marvelous!”, she exclaimed, still enchanted. Every head in the room turned towards me. I gawkily held out my hand for a display, but no one was interested anymore. She was still staring at my bracelet.

If it could be called quick thinking, I swiftly removed the bracelet and said, “You can have it, ma’am.”

She returned it with a sense of shock,“ Oh. I can’t take such a precious thing away from you, dear!”

“It’s alright, ma’am. Take it as a birthday present”. “Is it your birthday today?’ she asked mildly surprised, her blue sparklers directed towards me. Her mouth took an oval shape.

"Um, no.. I thought it was yours.." I began. I looked at Geeta, demanding for an explanation. Geeta was my genius neighbour, pursuing Mathematics from a reputed college. She had been visiting STM Old-age centre since she was twelve, and had tagged me along this time.

“Well, Mrs Annie is.. sick. Dementia.”, she whispered almost apologetically.

“Oh.” I felt a sudden spasm of pain when Mrs Annie touched my hand and handed the article back to me.

The ayah came to her and took her by hand. “Chalo, madam. You have to cut the cake now. Don’t you want your cake?”

Mrs Annie, apparently, took offense and whispered to me, “I don’t like her. She puts me in cold water and grabs me like this” She demonstrated by clutching me by my shoulder.

I realized that I wasn’t very good at dealing with situations like these. Before I could drown the moment in my series of Er-s, Geeta decided to take charge.

“Yes ma’am. She tried the bathe me too, in cold water!’

“Oh, poor darling.”

“But she won’t come near you now. Here, take my hand. You like blowing birthday candles?”

“Oh, yes. Very much.” She beamed. Then as an afterthought, she added, “Is it my birthday today?”

“Yes! Look at those presents! Aren’t they lovely?”

“Oh.” She put her hand on her chest and smiled gratifyingly.
While we sang her the birthday song, she too joined in. Finding me, a new face in the crowd, she came over and said “Happy Birthday, dear. I wish I could stay longer but my back really hurts. May I take your leave? I—”

“Yes, ma’am. Thank you for coming over.”, intercepted Geeta. She turned towards me and said “I think Mrs Annie likes you.” She smiled, and left me in a state of bewilderment. This was probably the first time I was conversing with somebody as old as her. It wasn’t certainly a good feeling not to know how to act. I seated myself opposite the fish tank and began taking interest in the golden one.

The clock had moved a quarter more before Geeta announced our departure. I parted with the golden fish and got into her silver Indica. Though I kept trying to concentrate on the alt rock songs that blared out of her newly installed music system, the image of the old lady wouldn’t go away. Those eyes, I thought. There was something mystical about them. I realized that we weren’t moving very fast owing to the traffic jam, so I took the opportunity to ask Geeta about her.

“Well, her story.” She drew a long breath. “Her story isn’t very different from the rest of the twenty two living there. Abandoned by her only son, it was her lawyer who brought her here...

She used to be a well known painter and an activist. Single parent, yet happy and contented. Unlike the usual painter-lot, she was rich. A heart of gold to make her even richer. But aging wasn’t a gracious phase for her. Sickness, memory lapses; it must have been difficult. Now, although Mrs. Annie still speaks very highly of him, I don’t know what to make of a son who tries seizing his mother’s property. He managed to trick her into signing some documents which would grant him full access to her accounts. Her lawyer friend detected a foul play, and fought her case on medical grounds. She managed to retain the house, but lost everything else. On the final day, she looked at her son and said- But you could have just asked for it, beta.”

Geeta paused, and added “ She doesn’t remember all this anymore. She thinks her son’s still in the boarding. I know it’s not an apt thing to say, but sometimes I feel glad for her illness..” She broke off. It had started pouring by then, providing no respite from the traffic block ahead. Geeta gave me a gauche smile and turned up the volume of her music system.

A week after, Geeta phoned me to inform about Mrs. Annie’s demise from pneumonia. Her ayah had tried to stop her from going out in the rain, but she just wouldn’t listen. She had wanted to dance in the rain.

Later that day, we gathered at the STM to pay our respects to Mrs. Annie. Geeta sobbed incessantly. A prim-looking woman came and sat beside us.

“You knew mamma?” She asked Geeta.

“Oh. Well, yes..ah.. I’ve been visiting her…ah.. You are..?..oh, I’m sorry, but I didn’t know she had a daughter too..’’

“I..used to work at her house. Before ..
all that.. happened. She was a kind lady.. Gave me whatever she had left.. asked me to use it for my education..” I could see a teardrop rolling down her face. “You know”, she added, “She even gave me her bed, because I didn’t have one for myself."

I could see Geeta's brow rise up.

"Ah! I used to come and see her initially, but she grew so sick.. I just couldn’t bear to see her like that …”

At this, Geeta screwed her face and excused herself. Before I could react, the ayah called for our attention. She wanted us to see a video Mrs Annie had recorded on the night of her birthday.

The video rolled. Mrs Annie was as animated as ever. She was singing the birthday song. There was purity in her voice and mannerism. As she started speaking, the room fell silent.

“Happy birthday, dear. I know I should be whipped for forgetting! My memory is strange. But then I saw the presents. So many presents! Beautiful ones! And that’s when I realized that it was my son’s birthday! Oh. Forgive mamma. I hope you get this on time. The wretched woman here” (pointing at the ayah) “would just not let me do anything! But I’ll sing it again for you..”
And she sang again. And again..