एक बात दिल से

बीहड़-से जीवन के कीचड़ का मारा,
इन होटों को दिल में जो मैंने उतारा,
दिल ने कहा, आख़िर कैसी ये मुश्किल,
कि राज़ों को नाराज़ ने आज है पुकारा?

मैंने कहा,
कि ज़िंदगी बेकार है,
आठों दिशा,
बस क्रोध की फुहार है,
खुशियाँ तो झोंके-सी छूकर हैं जाती
आँसू ही पलकों पर अब बर्क़रार है।

कैसे रहूँ मैं इस जीवन को राज़ी,
जो ज़र्रे के सुख की ना करता नवाज़ी?

दिल ने कहा,
तू मुसकान-आँसू को मत गिन,
ग़म और ख़ुशी में है बाँटा हर पलछिन,
जो पलड़ा पलट जाए दुख की दिशा में,
बुन लेना तू पलभर की धूप इस जहाँ मैं,

ना करना कभी ख़ुद को मेरे हवाले,
के मुझसे ही आसूँ ये बनते हैं सारे।

Hindi poem #2! Ok honestly this would look great on the 8th standard me, but four years isn’t that big a buffer, right?

Okay it is.

Thanks a ton anyway 😄

Of Smells and Freshners

Smells are bookmarks.

Time-marks, really.

Casually created, fondly summoned wormholes for memories. Months after you first heard/smelled them, they arrive at your doorstep like unexpected relatives in Diwali, demanding recognition and undivided hospitality.

A certain coffee-flavored mouth ‘freshner’ bottle rolls outside my door, kissing an empty dust can. A full bottle beside an empty can. A sea beside a despondent lover. And I, the conspiring grand-aunt, squat responsible for meeting lover and sea. Bottle and can. The reason I threw it out was so intuitive it had to be overwritten against my mother’s suspicious coffee-brown eyebrows. The smell of the freshner reminded me of depression.

That November is a month-long anniversary of the trough of my depression didn’t help. The same month a year ago, I was at my worst. Like a lush fruit gone rancid in reverse. I was my lowest, my angriest, my emptiest. An empty dust can. Probing in the dark for his refill. His rejuvenating swig of happiness. His mouth freshner. With a smell of coffee.

You know it’s a memorable time when literal and metaphorical blend into each other faster than familiar lovers. The freshner waltzed into my black hole of a life, and hovered over me like fruit flies as I bled poem after poem on white screen, concentrating my nonsensical rage into a snake of digital ink. It wasn’t the cause of my subsequent (and personally, incomplete) overhaul. It wasn’t a solution to my state. It was a notch in time. An important, coffee-colored date marked on a calender. A year into the future, to be flipped back into view for inspection and bittersweet remembrance.

If only I had known the unspeakable power the squat protrusion between my eyes wielded over my mind, I would’ve bought a whole set of mouth fresheners to record and play time back. Lemon for happy days. Coffee for vacations. Mint for nervousness. Orange for road trips. Nothing for depressions.

If only I’d have known my depression had unknowingly been put on tape, a tape that would leak itself to me at the most unexpected of times, I would have made sure the freshner emptied its overblown coffee essence in the trash can the same month a year ago. That I bled digital ink onto paper alone. That the fruit flies departed to someone who wanted their tapes played back.

If only I had known smells contributed so much to vision, I’d have preserved every important snippet in a color-coded tube like my pediatrician. And never suffered from the angel of forgetfulness.
The impossible tangle of desirable and undesirable data. The unquenchable dread felt on tasting a life-changing experience- a dread that the rising and setting suns would eventually let its wonder ebb away like dandruff.

If only I’d known smells, I would, today, read time like an open book on rainy evenings. Beside a cup. Of coffee.

Tamarind for bittersweet endings.

Burst them if you’re heartless, but don’t justify your apathy.

RAMAYAN- FINAL VERSES

I know this sounds weird, but please, 
you need to read this- an excerpt from 
a translated version of the Ramayan I 
received from a trusted source. I've 
verified it with the actual text and
with a few sanskrit teachers, and they 
all told me it cooncides with the epic
in the chronology of events. Tell me
one thing, Hindus- where the fuck does
this mention anything about crackers?
 
It's a long text, but I did not 
feel like snipping it. Enjoy it
or tolerate it; you certainly 
can't ignore it.



Thus borne along in royal state 

King Rama reached Ayodhya's gate 

With merry noise of shells and drums 

And joyful shouts, He comes, he comes. 

A Brahman host with solemn tread, 

And kine the long procession led, 

And happy maids in ordered bands 

Threw grain and gold with liberal hands. 

Neath gorgeous flags that waved in rows 

On towers and roofs and porticoes. 

Mid merry crowds who sang and cheered 

The palace of the king they neared. 

Then Raghu s son to Bharat, best 

Of duty's slaves, these words addressed : 

"Pass onward to the monarch's hall, 

The high-souled Vanars with thee call, 

And let the chieftains, as is meet, 

The widows of our father greet. 

And to the Vanar king assign 

Those chambers, best of all, which shine 

With lazulite and pearl inlaid, 

And pleasant grounds with flowers and 

shade."

He ceased, and Bharat bent his head, 
Sugriva by the hand he led, 
And passed within the palace where 
Stood couches which Shatrughna's care, 
With robes and hangings richly dyed, 
And burning lamps, had seen supplied. 
Then Bliarat spake : "I pray thee, friend, 
Thy speedy messengers to send, 
Each sacred requisite to bring 
That we may consecrate our king.' 
Sugriva raised four urns of gold, 
The water for the rite to hold, 
And bade four swiftest Vanars flee 
And fill them from each distant sea. 
Then east and west and south and north 
The Vanar envoys hastened forth. 
Each in swift flight an ocean sought 
And back through air his treasure brought, 
And full five hundred floods beside 
Pure water for the king supplied. 
Then girt by many a Brahman sage, 
Vashishtha, chief for reverent age, 
High on a throne with jewels graced 
King Rama and his Sita placed. 
There by Jabali, far revered. 
Vijav and Kasyap's son appeared ; 
By Gautam's side Katyavan stood, 
And Varaadeva wise and good, 
Whose holy hands in order shed 
The pure sweet drops on Rama's head. 
Then priests and maids and warriors, all 
Approaching at Vasishtha's call, 
With sacred drops bedewed their king, 
The centre of a joyous ring, 
The guardians of the worlds, on high, 
And all the children of the sky 
From herbs wherewith their hands were 
filled 

Rare juices on his brow distilled. 

His brows were bound with glistening gold,

Which Mann's self had worn of old, 

Bright with the flash of many a gem, 

His sire's ancestral diadem. 

Shatrughna lent his willing aid 

And o'er him held the regal shade : 

The monarchs whom his arm had saved 

The chouries round his forehead waved. 

A golden chain, that flashed and glowed 

With gems the God of Wind bestowed: 

Mahendra gave a glorious string 

Of fairest pearls to deck the king, 

The skies with acclamation rang, 

The gay nymphs danced, the minstrels sang , 

On that blest day the joyful plain 

Was clothed anew with golden grain. 

The trees the witching influence knew, 

And bent with fruits of loveliest hue, 

And Rama's consecration lent 

New sweetness to each flowret's scent. 

The monarch, joy of Raghu 's line, 

Gave largess to the Brahmans, kine 

And steeds unnumbered, wealth untold 

Of robes and pearls and gems and gold. 

A jewelled chain, whose lustre passed 

The glory of the sun, he cast 

About his friend Sugriva's neck : 

And Angad, Bali's son to deck, 

He gave a pair of armlets bright 

With diamond and lazulite. 

A string of pearls of matchless hue 

Which gleams like tender moonlight threw 

Adorned with gems of brightest sheen, 

He gave to grace his darling queen. 

The offering from his hand received 

A moment on her bosom heaved ; 

Then from her neck the chain she drew, 

A glance on all the Vanars threw, 

And wistful eyes on Rama bent 

As still she held the ornament. 

Her wish he knew, and made reply 

To that mute question of her eye : 

"Yea, love ; the chain on him bestow 

Whose wisdom truth and might we know, 

The firm ally, the faithful friend 

Through toil and peril to the end."

Then on Hanuman's bosom hung 
The chain which Sita's hand had flung,
So may a cloud, when winds are still 
With moonlit silver guard a hill. 

To every Vanar Rama gave 
Rich treasures from the mine and wave,
And with their honours well content 
Homeward their steps the chieftains bent. 
Ten thousand years Ayodhya, blest 
With Rama's rule, had peace and rest. 
No widow mourned her murdered mate, 
No house was ever desolate. 
The happy land no murrain knew, 
The flocks and crops increased and grew.
The earth her kindly fruits supplied, 
No harvest failed, no children died. 
Unknown were want, disease, and crime: 
So calm, so happy was the time.

                    --×--


The south has a parallel story for 
celebrating Diwali- the vanquishing
of the demon Narakasur. I haven't 
been able to verify the statements 
about Narakasur asking Vishnu to 
let people burst crackers on his
death anniversary. If anything 
of that sort is prescribed in a
religious text, I'll be surprised. 
So either surprise me, or get that 
catherine wheel the fuck away from 
mankind. Thank you.

A thousand words

urjjvzn4uy

I pace around a sliver narrow
Of black, formless, peace-wrought shadow 
And a tarpaulin sheet,
A shadow where I can contemplate
The reason I’m shrouded in hate
That sings so strong and paints my fate
In morbid melody.

The Sun scalds fringes of my hair,
A frothing, rage-white sentinel
Defining my bubble of bliss;
A single sound brings rage within,
So I wheeze a sigh and close my lids,
And drown in nature’s sullen kiss.

Detachment. Loss. A wordless glaze,
That tries to cut and gnaw away
With gusto, every creative ray
Across the page; threatening to slay
Every wee throb of inspiration
That guides my trembling appendage.

I’m alone, and not averse to it.
People have always, scarily so,
Been to my growing indignation-
Little more or less little,
Than froths of spite and love brittle,
Bits of good in broths evil;
Puppets of constant validation,
Primal urges
And expectation.
All but the last I can endure,
Cradling them against my woe-
But expectations jar me so!
I turn my face and all forgo,
The constant shows of company
For solemn stains of ink as these.

The wind serenades in succinct kisses,
Blown to life by pining pieces
Of leaf and twig and charming sky;
A duo so bizarre and crudely blatant,
Intrepid, downscaled forms of Satan,
Blowing my wounds and wrinkles by.

My whole of dreams and shortcomings,
My words of wisdom and idioms of idiocy,
Have all boiled down to treacherous films 
Creasing the curtains of fantasy,
Running a little bleaker,
A little weaker every day,
Belittling the seeker
Of firmament
Over and over, on dewspun flowers  with dangling petals;
And trailing behind their filaments,
Lower and lower, I scour around for space to settle.

And as I’m carried, drowned in dread-

I see a demon  form ahead.

Not hence nor thence, and o’er the fence , as a lost friend has it sprung,
A dense lens of flowery pretence about its eyes is slung,
A little Sun and shadow lie
forsaken at its feet,
In a tragic, sorry demeanour, a neglected defeat;
And hands the creature knows not,
Only outlets that give in occasionally
To chasmic, dried-up slush,
That oozes as it pleases upon unkissed paper creases,
And weaves them into rambling rhymes
No eye deserves to judge.

And upon the sight of such a being,
My heart grows strong and my wits grow keen
And I gather before it my anxiety,
Masked by hours of desperate writing,

For never have I been alone
When I’m the driver of my poem
And as I pen, my bruises pulse,
Like rains of fire in freezing winters;
While people weep, so weep their eyes-
I weep through thumb and four forefingers.

And as I pen, my pulses bruise,
Slicing the skin against to half,
And breaking flesh, and gulping air;
Noses only breathe in bliss,
And thus I slice my seething wrist
To cut another nostril pair
That breathes in air amid despair.

I gather my broken anxiety
And in that homeless, boundless lea-
Fall upon my knee.

I worship the demon with my blood
I grovel, I grieve, I lament,
I cry countless days of disease
That ebbed as ailments silent.

The demon was my God. I’d found
A final conformation,
A call declaring I wasn’t alone
In my dilapidation.

My ambiguity-drowned years were
Futile but not islolated,
I wasn’t the only one that stayed
Lone and invalidated.

I’d found my pen, my pain, my prayers
In this giant, unsung beast
My church of insecurities
Now had a different priest. 

The oozing blue was ink that I
So daily gave the world,
That all found solace in the trash
In reckless bundles furled.

The sun and shadow now posed as
Miniatures of my days
Constantly teetering between
The truth and the masquerade.

A bunch of other qualities
All coincided in him,
He even had a dull, brown patch
Just where I slit my skin.

From aching head to throbbing toe
The beast was I in all,
And therefore I, in that still lea
Upon my knees did fall.

And just when my fingers touched his
Roughened, beaten old skin,
A question rose its head in me
Like scruples in a whim.

I asked my heart- “If this was me,
If I was the standing beast
Then who was doing the praying, who
Was lying at his feet?”

And who was grovelling so sad
Who was singing his praises?
Who was seeking attention in him
Through piteous, forlorn gazes?

Who had endured the light and dark
Who had brought them so far?
Who had grinned with his grinning wounds
Who had smiled through his scars?

Who was the writer that had used
The oozing ink for good?
Who was this person, if I was
The unsung beast that stood?

It flashed upon my eye, I shook
In dawning understanding
As I realised a simple fact
After hours of dismantling.

Dismantling my esteem, my love
Dissecting my dignity
In hopes of someone up above
That shared my fraternity.

This beast unmoving I had found
In the course of losing all,
And therefore, in that burning lea
Did I on my knee fall.

It was a trophy of hard work
Indeed, but at what price?
A prize earned from killing my worth
Shoving dreams to demise?

I was unique, I was beautiful
So poignantly sad,
I had no reason ever to seek
Validation, as I had.

I turned away from that old beast
Back to my sun and shadow,
Bearing a heart less feared of woe
A mind less friends with sorrow.

The world spins round in pirouettes
While I anchor my stead,
The happy and unhappy pale
In the face of my fitful tread.

The beast was a wish come true, for it
Was all I dreamt to be;
Like every dream, it couldn’t but 
Kiss non-being eventually.

The beast was a mere distorted film
Of my unmet desire-
Bearing this thought shall I move on
And thus shall I retire.

A simple thought indeed, but oh!
It brought to course my worlds
Even though it took a life to learn
And to pen, a thousand words.

Festivals Again

images (3).jpg

A subtle pain adorns my forehead veins, 

All endeavours have now deterred again,
To live through festivals, a smile abreast,
To not give in to knots across my chest,
A single festival without disdain,
Where moons alone are home to wax and wane.

To me the crackle of my sparkler speaks
Little reminders of my crackling knuckles
That, o’er the rising smoke, jitter and seek
To satiate every envy for my neighbours,
As ears are smashed and diyas alertly handled,
Fueled by the oozing oil of triple standards.

For five times twenty four, the city reeks
Of smoke and washable accounts of love,
That, far from what they’re aiming to achieve,
Strengthen what they are trying to disprove;
And ope the lips of contrast even wider;
Depleting love like camphor-eaten fibre.

And who, indeed, should hold we to repay
For vanishing the hugs that so prevailed,
Against a flurry of presents decayed
A meagre chord amid the serenade,
Of friendships watered down for trial and trade?

And whose, indeed, should door we knock upon;
For dearths of grins and hugs the coming morn
As distance is restored and wounds reborn,
As residues of bliss unswept adorn,
The floor against the door in sordid scorn?

So spread your arms and gleefully embrace,
The time to carve your face and then replace
The simple bursts of love from older days;

And never have we so audacious been,
In wearing masks, in donning pinker skin;
So why entitle them with different names,
When all are just designs of Halloween?