Sunday, December 28, 2014

Words and letters

In that idyllic, isolated
childhood hill home
I had only words as
angels and demons

I wrote letters
to myself
to my parents
(who lived there with me)
to imaginary friends

some of whom
became real
in the years to come

Now there are
no friends
the addict words
still want to become

I now make word-walls
brick by brick
between me and the world

it gets darker and darker
inside here

calendars change
dictionaries updated
books released

I am Plath's suicide
Woolf's frustration
Kerouac's disillusionment

my words
strangulate me
cause of death

Friday, December 5, 2014


This was a winner at Muse of the Month (November) at Women's Web HERE.

It was Genesis time
crafted from your rib
you god’s own image
me a mere ‘auxiliary companion’
Dear man, the glory all yours
the blame all mine
I was the temptress
the bringer of misfortunes
and you the Hero

you were the
legendary son of Ayodhya
the ideal man for all times
and yet, a king first
your glorious tale
lives on centuries later
because chastity is always only
a wife’s belt
the test by fire
only for me

In a no-choice polyandry
I was the wife
of five gallant men
polygamous all
my owners by default?
conveniently lost me
in a game of dice
What was I?
in your victory- a prize
in your defeat a price

I was Snowwhite or Cinderalla
always waiting to be rescued
my only chance at a future
charming you
The Perfect Prince Charming
who knew the spotless skin
the perfect hair, the narrow waist
would be an industry someday
and me just a product
on display

all of this remains “HIStory”
Antigone, Medea, Pandora
Kekayi, Ahlaya, Menaka
Helen and Cleopatra
painted black
by male hands
the only colour
for women
all pseudonyms were mine
or I chose anonymous

all the rooms in art, philosophy,
discourse, films, media
already taken
Woolf, Plath, Dickinson
Sexton, Akhmatova
in every century
looking for
A room of one’s own

Dear Jane was right
when she said,
“The more I know of the world,
the more I am convinced
that I shall never see a man
whom I can really love.
I require so much!”

Thursday, December 4, 2014


My currency is words
language is
my elixir and my poison.
I drink voices and words
the music of vowels
and consonants
the symphonies of silence.

Black marks
on a white page
loaded with meaning, that is it.

is also a word said
red between the lines
hear the pauses
be damned
to suffer
alone in silence
no one else
understands this language

are words language
if nothing is conveyed
meaning is an ice cube
it melts and changes
it all forever.

Monday, November 17, 2014

To Ginsberg

“The weight of the world is love.
Under the burden of solitude,
under the burden of dissatisfaction
the weight,the weight we carry is love. ” 
―     Allen Ginsberg 
The destitute old man's
follows me around
his eyes
have some of my questions
Across cities, centuries , continents
loneliness has the same texture
I listen to Ginsberg
and following my inner moonlight
I show my madness
the world turns away
like dubbed cartoons
who speak a foreign language
merely mouths move
conversations are long dead
heads buried in smartphones
hearts buried even deeper
all of us
are yellow sunflowers inside
looking for a sun
the soul howls
at lighted cities
and the fountain of darkness
spilling over
threading colored beads
on a string
I think of Ginsberg, Kerouac
and Rumi
we the damned
unclassifiables !

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


31st December
my frozen hands
want to loose
their painful fingertips
long after the party is over
the dishes are done
I make a new year wish.

20th January
The shiny new flyover
is not a road
its curved underbelly
is home
cold, unsafe, no walls
the NGO people
tell us fairy tale

14th February
I sold 100 roses today
the money and mother
are gone
Are all policemen bad?

23rd March
I serve tea
to intelligent people
in the university
while they talk about revolution
someone called Bhagat Singh

17th April
My mom died
father is in prison for it
I am now a parent
to three of us.

27th May
The little girl
in the big house
where mom works
has something called vacation
I am sure it must be pretty

20th June
She says touch is love
Love cannot feel so bad
the chocolate she leaves behind
always tastes bitter
even when
I be a good boy

16th July
I polish the pretty school shoes
I iron the beautiful pinafore
I pack the tiffin
I walk the dog
I sometimes feel hungry.

15th August
I sold flags
at a traffic light
the tar burns
into my soles
what is In-de-pen-den-ce
who knows?

25th September
I can never forget
I can never tell
what he does to me
but I want to go to school....

19th October
The Diwali sweets
my fingers
my skin
tastes like gunpowder
my eyes can't bear the light
I make crackers.

14th November


Friday, November 7, 2014


The year was 1975.They had met in Shantiniketan. He was already a reputed writer who was visiting for a workshop and she was one of the most stunning and promising singers the university had seen in the recent years.

It seemed like love at first sight, though he was several years her senior. Like a proper aristocrat, the following week her parents had received a formal proposal for marriage which they had no reason to deny.

He expected no dowry and the only condition was that Suparna would not sing after the marriage, certainly according to her parents this was not a huge price to pay by a poor girl to marry into a rich aristocratic family. She was hesitant at first but then love took over her reservations and she believed her love would soon make him change his heart about her singing.

She went into the haveli as Chotti bahu (young daughter-in-law). He had no siblings and after his father’s death, his mother had retired as a pious widow to Vrindavan to spend her final years praying. It was a new life, she had truckloads of new sarees and jewellery, the house was palatial and she had dedicated maid servants for her.  She had started reading English classics at the university and continued that habit, taking out books from the huge library at the haveli, her favourite being the ones by the Bronte sisters.

He called her his muse and dedicated his new collection of poems to her. She was mighty pleased. But gradually Suparna was overpowered by her new identity as Mrs.Sengupta. She was no longer the happy go lucky girl she once was.

Other than his short temper, he was a pleasant man and never interfered in her routine in the house. She had once casually mentioned starting Rabindra Sangeet training again, he had smashed the wine glass against the wall and didn’t talk to her for a week. She never brought up the topic again.

Three years later she was used to a walking-on-the-eggshells life. Whenever his mother wrote or made a phone call to her it was about conceiving an heir for the haveli. Suparna felt violated in more ways than one. Obviously the poor lady didn’t know her son and his wife still lived in different rooms. He being the artist always needed his space and she was not allowed to get into his room, however whenever he chose he could come to her room for exercising his conjugal rights.

On their third anniversary he bought her a singing parrot in a gold cage. Though initially she was averse to the idea of keeping a bird caged but according to him the bird could be the closest she could get to singing now, so she accepted him like a consolation prize and not as a gift of love.

Suparna named him Mitthu, the chirpy and bubbly bird soon became the companion she never had in her life. She would take him around the house neatly perched on his gold bar in the elegantly crafted gold cage. The lady and her bird had become each other’s shadow.

Just a few weeks later one morning, Mitthu was found dead inside the cage. Suparna was inconsolable, but a few days of gazing into the empty cage resting on her dresser, led her to an epiphany. Mitthu’s unexplained death was a message for her. She would one day end up like him if she didn’t help herself now, she thought.

The next weekend she quietly walked out of the house with only the cage in her bag. It was precious enough to pay for the rest of her education at the university and the lawyer’s fees to file a divorce petition.

Suparna had started singing again, and every time she did she felt Mitthu joining her in his honey laden voice. It was ironic that her freedom from her golden cage was bought by selling another cage. Finally Suparna and Mitthu were both free.

Monday, October 27, 2014

of hearts and stones

at The Rock Garden , Chandigarh

broken pieces of everything
joined to make wholes
hearts and souls
covered in mosaics

tales of misuse,abuse
a wasteland of dreams
saved from
the so called

images never lie
they said
once upon a time....
eyes that were mirrors
now stoned
still, blank, empty

stones can cast
carve or build
did they have hearts once
that bled
and shed a thousand tears
on a single sorrow

the lines on my palm
are fading fast
I hold your
heart of stone
day and night

Thursday, October 16, 2014

This isn't a post - 8 Stream of Consciousness

The world is a ruled
A4 sheet
its a tall tree that
can't see its roots

shadows grow and then darkness falls
look at electricity as a miracle
light often means hope

small prizes
leaps are happy
random music
on a toy keyboard
and the world returns back to order

A doll
and her bedroom, kitchen, living room
life neatly arranged
in a pink doll's house

no place for books?
a guitar in a corner
biting dust
the same songs stuck
with an irritating glue
called memory

fans, clocks, history
ripples, bangles
sieves, glasses
life cycle
circles, circles
round pegs in square holes

time to go back
into the doll house.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014


the cursor blinks
waiting for a question
or an answer perhaps
the finger-bowl of time
waits for memories
to be washed off
the fingers of
once lovers

scars are healing
they say
and pain?
I ask
remember the feeling
when the last frame
in films said

Life is scattered
in shelves
boxes, wardrobes, furniture
bills, reports
clutter and empty spaces
places we call homes
dreams of impossible
hope against hope

phrases all
mere phrases
rewind, delete,repeat
rewind, delete, repeat
nothing gets sorted

happiness is
a little girl
smiling while asleep

which language
shall explain
her dream
or the impossibility of it

standing at a cliff
waiting for a cyclone
I think
I am losing it again.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

H for KASHMIR - A Mother's Monologue

Bloodshed is always ominous here
for I know I am being stripped
of another relation
the burnt house
is a pyre
love is a shackle
life is a handcuff

Faiz and his poetry
have long drowned
in Jhelum on
the curfewed nights
that feed on human flesh
Ikwans * and half-widows
and the disappeared
meet in nightmares

Bismil, Ashfaqullah and Paash
are imprisoned in history forever
in books oxymoronically labelled-
Revolutionary Poetry
My young men now
prefer stones

the masks
are lifeless
despite their colors
love, peace, democracy
and the biggest farce of all

gravestones bear
just numbers
names and people
complicate statistics
so madness is the method
only mad monologues
can bear the truth

like Yorick's skull
the conflict has
dead players
and an active battleground

truth and lies
wear the same shirt
like identical twins
they blur
only the ghosts
have tales to tell

the world is
an interrogation camp
with endless torture

only the gravediggers
can sing
death is a business,
dead, half-dead
and the rest
forced to flee
to nowhere

all end
as the bard said
"The rest is silence"
I am a mother
called Kashmir.

*armed counter-insurgency renegades

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

HAIL MARY ! For the daughters of India

For the last few years I have always done a daughter's day post, especially because in addition to being my online journal this is my intellectual legacy for my daughter. I hope some day as a  young woman she would come back to this space to know me better, to understand my compulsions and know my answers.

This year I did not do a daughter's day post, because it was a day with mixed feelings and a lot of disillusionment about how this online armchair activism had become plain and empty rhetoric and going by the number of crimes against little girls ,this country did not seem like changing sometime soon for its daughters.

I was in utter despair because just that week a young two and half year old had been sexually abused in her play school in this city that I call home. My little girl also goes to a school here and takes a school bus with many other little kids. Knowing that none of them are safe till each one of these kids is, is sad and disheartening.

And then today this happened MARY KOM WINS ASIAN GOLD IN BOXING

Mary with her youngest son , Photo courtesy: Google images

M C  Mary Kom is a renowned boxer from India but she has now transcended to becoming a symbol for many aspects of the lives of the marginalised in India . Her story is a special story of triumph because:
  • She is a WOMAN in a hugely patriarchal system, that either subjugates women or gives them limited powers as collaborators in oppression.
  • She hails from the NORTH-EAST state of Manipur, which for years has felt marginalised and suffered political turmoil.
  • She is into BOXING ,which isn't exactly as glamorous as men's cricket in this country.
  • She is a MOTHER & WIFE who carries the extra psychological burden put on her by tradition to always put her husband and kids first and her career down the list.
Her triumph then becomes the triumph of all of these marginalised sections- the women, the people from north-east and the sportspersons in less popular sports.
She is a personal HERO , who makes her own choices, pays the prices and overcomes all hurdles.

A special part of THE MARY KOM SUCCESS STORY for me is her husband Onler Kon. The man who is secure enough to look after their three kids when the lady steals international limelight, the man who supports her career choices and becomes her backbone.

So Mary's story is also a special message for all Indian men - Just Imagine what all your daughter, mom, wife, female friend, female colleague or any other woman could achieve if you would just let her be , if you take your fair share of responsibilities of the home and the hearth, if you let her be less intimidated and be free of prejudice and cliché.

Mary Kom for me is one of the stories that we need to tell our sons and daughters , as its multiple layers will make each one of them revaluate their choices about gender and about stereotypes.

Hail Mary !!


Monday, September 22, 2014

This isn't a post - 7 (back to the stream of consciousness)

Fill the details correctly
life is a long application form
he once told me- no one loves old people. I want to tell him I am slowly getting there to the twilight of old age. But then age is just a number say the fools. Do they wear watches?

its dripping away second by second
every other picture of me looks like someone else
No one reads this, I am told
I choose perish

Seek references
know preferences
ask, seek, achieve
no peace at all
Is worth a pay cheque? Is worth measured by love?

This finding yourself is only good for selling self-help books.

Why do I write?
because Bukowski doesn't let me sleep
because I made a promise to Eliot, Hemingway, Manto and Amrita Pritam

because the noises wouldn't stop
because schizophrenia is a possibility

only the mad ones are alive
the living ones are all compromised
for fame, money or the worst- LOVE

That was someone else
some other person who was ME then
some other space
she wore silver trinkets
loved the rain
and talked to diwali lights

forever is a lie
I type LO- for loneliness
autofill says LOVE.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

To Ghalib

a lifetime into
this city's sunsets
and decades
of despair
to be a legend
I breathe
your angst

dead souls
with fake smiles
lust wearing
love's cloak

words die
a silent death.

and regrets
life is worst
when it is
a pending decision.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014


This story was first published here @ One Frame Stories.

Finally after a decade long legal battle Ria had won the rights to her mom’s property and lockers in Shimla. Since morning she had been looking for an old fashioned cassette player, because one of the lockers had only an audio cassette. Ria found one with a friend’s grandfather and borrowed it for a day. Alone in her room she played the cassette. The recording was long over .The night was long, difficult and full of bad memories. The next morning she called her lawyer. At last she had evidence to nail her dad for killing her mom.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Amaltas Avenue: a piece of enduring campus fiction

The first striking thing about AMALTAS AVENUE, Dr. Manju Jaidka’s latest novel, published by Lifi publishers Delhi is its striking cover, that has a city flyover in the background and yellow laburnum bunches hanging over, defining the geographical setting of this piece beautifully.

The author being a senior and accomplished academic herself makes the campus come to life in this latest book of hers.

The novel tells us that the title comes from a lovers’ lane on campus of the Panjab University in Chandigarh. Many characters live and work there and at various stages of the story the setting comes as alive as any other character in this interesting tale.

The novel has three parts divided into three days- Scorching Sunday, Muggy Monday and Torrid Tuesday and just like the names of the three sections the poet in the novelist takes over in the creating the impactful imagery of this book. Descriptions like the one excerpt below make even ordinary scenes have a long lasting recall value for any reader.

Narendra notes, the bird more like an ethereal dancer, arms stretched out, pirouetting to unheard music. A ballet dancer, lithe and graceful. Isadora Duncan, hair flying, scarf flying, waiting to be entangled in a wheel. Isadora with long, flowing scarves waiting to choke the life out of her.

Even a simple painting on a wall – Breughel’s Icarus makes its presence felt at critical junctures in the life of one of the main characters, Narendra.

The other characters of the novel like Charu, Atul and Madhavi are made to connect with the readers with their peculiar idiosyncrasies, their nicknames so common on every campus and a peek into their personal histories.

The novel places itself firmly into today’s time and age in more than one way. One of the characters runs a blog called and the characters have Facebook friends and online interactions regularly.

Every aspect of the University living right from the happenings at the all-important Vice-Chancellor’s office to the research committees and the girls’ hostels are realistic to the core. Regular campus issues in any university in India like student indiscipline, academic frauds, office politics, manipulation in appointments and ragging are also dealt with realistically.

In the Epilogue the novelist skilfully tries to tie up all the loose ends in all the plots and

The last blooms of the amaltas fall to the ground and merge with the rain and slush.

The readers are left craving for more as they savour this gamut of multiple emotions –love, passion, sorrow, loneliness and despair all neatly packaged into the 262 pages of this brilliant novel.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My issues with DORAEMON and similar SHOWS

I am blessed to be the parent of a child who loves to sing, dance, read, role play and paint much more than she does the 24 x 7 cartoon channels.

Moms tell me horror tales about how kids won't eat, sleep or get ready for school without one of their animated friends constantly on the screen.

Often we analyse the effect of cartoons on children regarding their impact on reduced attention spans, violent behaviour and self control but we fail to realise how they would affect our kids social behaviour as well as their gender sensitivity.

Me and my child watch a show called Doraemon sometimes and I find so many things about it that are worthy of criticism and evaluation.

What the show is about?

If you are uninitiated into the world of contemporary cartoon channels and their shows let me tell you that Doraemon is a robo-cat from the 22nd Century capable of pulling out gadgets at random from his pocket, mostly to help and rescue to  his kid owner, Nobita.

This is the basic format of the show where a cowardly and careless Nobita keeps getting into trouble , and his mechanised friend Doraemon has to come up with a weird solution in the form of a strange gadget to set things right.

Courtesy : Google Images


  • Nobita detests homework, fails in all his tests and hides the test papers every time. Certainly not an ideal we would want our young kids to emulate. He is basically a pathetic role model for a child who then seeks impossible solutions with the help of a robot.

  • All the other characters in the show are the usual stereotypes  namely the bully, his follower, the hysterical teacher, the shouting mother, the carefree father. All adults in the show are also flawed and are always seen as either rebuking or giving in. The mother in particular is only expected to slog all day and "keep the family happy" whatever that means.

  • The flawed vision of life portrayed is very straightforward. Conflicts get resolved every time, good wins, evil loses and  the hero with whom the kids identify the most is always right, hardly how life really pans out to be.

  • All the little girl characters are portrayed in a hugely regressive manner and are wide-eyed, feminine and only good at baking cookies. They never are naughty or strong and always look up to the boys for help . Hardly a feminist ideal for my girl or even little boys who may think girls never take the lead in life, they are only supposed to support and remain BEHIND a successful boy and man later in life.

  • The cultural context of the show is completely out of place and the bad HINGLISH into which these are dubbed does not teach our kids anything at all other than dragging their words and raising their voice.

Now some of you may argue that this cartoon was created in the Japan of the 70s so its contextual to that time and place, but my 21st century child is viewing this nonsense sometimes and most of her friends are viewing it every day. Will it not affect their world view?
We regret the regressive speech, costumes, storylines  and settings in TV soaps , I think its time we look at cartoon shows critically and choose wisely.
I would say NEVER ever let your kid watch any of these if at all they do without parental guidance so that we can help them differentiate between good and bad in realistic terms.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


words, faces
things to do

plea to
come back
go away

who am I?
Am I?
Is any one
the I?

real fiction
money, love

blur, blur, blur

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A few more lessons from my daughter

She is all of 5 years and a bundle of energy that I often struggle to match with, but she is my personal powerhouse of wisdom and life lessons. When life is looking down from all fronts I look up to her my little Buddha to show me the way, and as if she understands this need and during those phases we have some amazing conversations about life and its accessories.
In the last few days she has come up with many insights, I keep writing these down just to archive them for her and for me.
So recently my daughter taught me :
  • to relook at Rani Jhansi as also a victim of the system that idealised her only to sacrifice her young life at the altar of so called duty.
  • to describe death in terms of how pencil shavings can never make a whole pencil again.
  • age is no barrier by telling me that she is my father's sister now beside being his granddaughter because all his siblings have passed away
  • to tell me that freedom is precious because those who are not free are never happy. She thought the birds in the sky are better than the ones in a cage because these can fly to find their own dinner :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Somewhere in the
Australian outback
as the aborigines believe
I have captured
my soul in a selfie
any takers?

its a windy day
the trees
are shedding leaves
the masters of letting go

another insipid
cold cup of tea
I have lost count
how many

the invisible walls
love is
an inadequate word.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

I write
write again

too long
too prosaic
too meaningless
too much

is a
space to fill.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

6 August

the dead are statistics
there is no count of
the walking dead

without a warning
life leaps out
- connection interrupted

and that
lizard like memory
with glass eyes

no calendars, no hours
no appointments
no deadlines
just a vast cavity of
to fill

the clumsiness
of words
the inadequacy
of translations

many decades ago
the worst bombs
had dropped

you will never know
when I died
I will never know
if you really cared.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

random outbursts

Some of us have only words- pain, happiness, success, anguish, all eventually gets moulded into our words.But words are not just sounds with meanings in a language or mere marks on a blank page ,these are tricky monsters, they have the power to hypnotise the reader and dilute the writer.

Some of us can weave such a rich tapestry of words, that it is beyond any classification. The prose reads like poetry, the images are from this world but as if created afresh. They connect the blanks in everybody's story with their words.

The rest of us just write, mundane words about our mundane lives. Images that are stale, expressions over used. But we write too, as if creating a negligible background score for their blockbuster main pieces.

And then there are those who write only for themselves , no chronicle value ,no ambition, like a stray leave on a road on a particularly windy day.

Writing is a lonely art. Word by word the imagination and the heart have to be ripped apart to lay bare a picture for the reader to make sense of.

Is rain meaningless?
Why is meaning important?

Would a collection of words, without any meaning would still be writing?

Is slanting rain more meaningless than the straight conventional one?

what do places and people mean in a plot?

Is there a main plot and all of us trying to write sub-plots that match?

reminds me of Faulkner

look at me
look at me

the crowd
and the lonely soul.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

pilgrimage inside

Each one waiting
someone to confirm
that they are special
the only one

at the core
each one has
laid down their arms
at the feet of
their ordinariness

on the same pilgrimage
sans religion or belief
all of us
oblivious of
our individual purpose

giving up
back to searching

too many drafts
on my mind
"-so you write?
what exactly do you do?"
People ask while thinking
of something else

I go back to
Eliot in a mental asylum\
Bukowski in a drunk stupor
and sit by Hemingway
watching the sea
waiting for a road trip
with Kerouac

the last image
on the mind's eye
is where the heart is.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


The blank page
blankly stares back
makes a face
- "so writer
no words any more
no more wisdom
no more flames

the cursor blinks
the fan whirrs
I smile
and murmur
"Liar ,liar
dying for the
black touch of words
on your bland soul
I shall leave you
longing tonight."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The writer's block

Life's question hour
goes on
a writer's block is
no valid excuse

the vast desert inside
cactus horizons
meaningless dust storms
of thoughts
no respite

the rituals of living
and the long commas
where did life learn
its punctuation?

love, anger, joy
all dust
dark circles of
long sleepless nights

and the oasis
of a memory
in the pupil of the eye.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The hills have changed

The hills have changed
and how
they have adopted
some of the
of the plains

like a loved poet
who has no more
metaphors or similes
to define love
or longing
only loss

the old beggar woman
speaks all mumbo-jumbo
she is the only one
who has moved beyond
the futility of
sane structured languages

Eliot, Woolf, Plath, Kerouac, Rumi
all insane
all beyond the narrow expanses
we call minds

the hills have changed
they are a graveyard
of idyllic childhoods.


Saturday, May 31, 2014


Where is my core from which
spills love, anger, nothing
like a never ending lava
not necessarily in the same order
sometimes one ,sometimes the other
most times all

Voices and voices
all clamouring for attention
for being missed,heard
bottom line -loved

I am yours
is never true
The I always remains
leaving no room for
anyone else

The I is the one sad,happy
the prize and the prison.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


I scrub the lines on my forehead
on the Sufi's threshold
the lines of my palm burn
on the marble floor
destiny flows out

Rumi, Hafiz stand by
love is an inscription
embossed on a skin
by a pair of lips

like day and night
it grows, wanes,changes
never ceases
sometimes a wound
sometimes a weapon

I am weary of
this beating in the chest
Can the dead stop pretending to be alive?

you have knit all the wisdom
about women and men
about love and loss
in your words
my questions roam in your anecdotes
looking for an answer

"ISHQ" travels miles and miles
of my arteries and veins
to reach nowhere

and sometimes peeps out from
the corner of my eye
to blur my vision of the world

I am a sand dune
scatter, collect
I once loved an oasis.

Monday, May 12, 2014

boxes and hoaxes

an old melody on the radio
the strange resemblance
of a fellow morning walker
to a person 
may stir open
the Pandora's box we call past.

sometimes its nothing,
nothing and the box opens up ,
horrors and joys
 come tumbling out,
each slightly coloured
by the other ,
by remaining
in the same box for long.

Am I the instrument or
am I the subject of your experiments, life?

Like children playing cat's cradle
you twist the thread of my soul
around your invisible fingers
and I often fall twisted in myself.

Rituals and more rituals
for the beginnings and the endings,
why do we believe, why we don't?

between auspicious and inauspicious
a grey cat
scared of all the noise
waits for the traffic
to cross the road.

kids behaving like adults
adults carrying
child-like fragile egos
we live your hoaxes

what did you just do?

Monday, May 5, 2014


The fuchsia queen
of some erstwhile carom board
abandoned on a sidewalk
waiting anxiously
for a befitting
royal burial

by a busy city road
which cares
for neither life
nor death

in the footsteps
of the Great Mughals
or the corridors
of the empire
in which the sun never set

thousands of souls
that are lonely together
trying to fill
that same blank
with books,lust

the Sufis and the poets
the revolutionaries
and the mystics

square pegs
in round holes
misfits all
hiding their rough edges

looking for
the perfect other
to fit in
to smoothen out

stories not
worthy of
any telling
live and die

the myth of the city
feeds on people
and lives on

how many graves
I walk on each day.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

heart of darkness

sledgehammer summer
beats down
with the droplets of sweat
down my spine
travels this moment

a Sufi melody
pours out
of a modern gadget
trance struggles to find
its way
through the modern beats

its 7.30 am
the birds chirp
the rat race
neck to neck
and some corners
of the soul
always dark
always quiet

swinging between
yes and no
questions wait
holding their breaths

TV sets, election rallies
cricket scores

noise noise noise
and amidst the chaos
my personal
heart of darkness !


Monday, April 28, 2014


As the hot steam scalded the skin
on the thumb and the forefinger
I asked time- what do you use to
erase fingerprints,

the written word is perpetual
or is it
backspace a few years
and try deleting a regret

the ointment is always cold
and slippery
like memory
we only retain the healing
conveniently forgetting
the nasty colour

lists and preferences
If life was just a network
it would be easy to sort
people into neat groups
notifications and specifications
no ramifications

choices are actually
the inevitability of options
its always either/or
hold on/let go

the NOs are as important
as the AYEs
what was more imperative
in that one moment
and in the next moment
life takes over again

Truth and lies
interchange costumes
the most used word of all
is also a four-lettered word
endearment and abuse

crony capitalists
all of us hide behind
a socialist mask
while constantly labelling
the others
fat dark crude simple
men women
gay single married
bastard bitch

nouns verbs
language the biggest
to create, to destroy !

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Nobody writes poems with disclaimers
or prose with warnings
just like patriarchy
has led women
to believe
only fair, slim and hairless
is acceptable.

Her smile is so warm
maybe because she has no words
or does she
will the voice machine in her ear
ever understand love

women come and go fretting over
the shape of an eyebrow
No dear Eliot
they no longer
bother about Michelangelo

Go,look for the men who
wrote poetry
about the brow?

the girl with a limp
always smiles

the soft fingers rub
a fruity smell into my skin
and I count the dead cells
of the mind
Is there a wonder scrub that induces
and erases all lines that time has cast

my palms look like the map
of a hidden treasure
only there are no destinations
just a long endless journey
the nails point at nothing

I am tired to even open my eyes
but the hands have changed
the postures, the stances
have altered
the eyes that once loved
now overlook, why life?

she parts my hair
and I am scared
what if she finds
the window to my mind
what if she knows
all my sinister thoughts

I miss the way my grandmother
rubbed oil into my reluctant skull
memory are you a hairdresser?

I don't remember her face
only a smell
of pickles,medicines
and loss.

I walk and walk
round and round
to nowhere
the maze is
my punishment.

each morning
is every morning
she says I look perfect
I am glad
she hasn't seen the scars.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Always is a myth

remembering and forgetting
that is all there is to it, the key of living of moving on, of letting go.

hoardings crying hoarse selling love, dream homes, ideal schools, dreams.
a hot cup of tea and someone to share it with is all I need then.

the kids do not know the ugly faces of growing up
they only see the glitter and the glamour
the power of shouting a NO emphatically

if every hurtful word killed even a single cell in the brain
half of us would be half dead if not more

blue isn't just a colour
its a mood he said
Is there a colour that is not a mood?
is there a mood that isn't a colour?

the same plots
with the same twists
and yet the characters may die differently

the sane ones are locked up in the asylums
the mad ones preach life lessons
and go back to their wretched loneliness
to invent new curses.

deserts and mountains
the beach with the sand and the water merging
the sea tossing and turning
in a constant wait
to spill over its cyclone sadness

the sun burning
giving the earth light and warmth
the earth has nothing to give back

some relationships
are always unequal, unrequited

the closures that never happen
the gratitude never paid
the forgiveness never sought
wounds of time the only medals

never before, never again
always is a myth.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Rendezvous with a Sufi

Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, Delhi

through the maze like lanes
going from nowhere to forever
and the meaningless
noises of the world

I arrive at your doorstep
and let my burning soul heal
as my forehead
touches the marbled kindness
spread out as the floor
for the careless world
to tread on

I bend my head
and you whisper
"let your myth unfold"

your unseen warmth
seeps into
my frayed edges
the rendezvous is complete
I am whole again !

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


no froth
no bubbles
from the stagnant
waters of the mind


holier than thou

"We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”
―     Leo Tolstoy WAR AND PEACE

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Women of tomorrow and Election 2014

The sun is about to set in Delhi on what they are calling the election of the century #Election2014. In a society park little girls between 5 to 12 years huddle by a swing for chit-chat and play. The most important topic who wore what on which day and who repeats her dresses most.
What's wrong with that? Probably the growing up of our kids beyond their years faster than we imagine is what's wrong. They no longer talk of fairy tales or games.

The next topic #election2014. The slightly older ones say condescendingly you can only vote when you are 18. But only boys become prime ministers says one. The others laugh," No stupid, Indira Gandhi was also prime minister." 

Thank you Indira Gandhi I mutter, whatever were the reasons or the political motivations you still inspire some hope for our girls. But the little one born only a few years ago has only seen men as presidents and Prime ministers, not her fault if she does not relate to you I argue with myself.


And then comes the shocker, "You know only men know "kisko vote dena hai" ( who to vote for). Why?, ask two little ones simultaneously. My dad was telling my mom and my elder sister to vote for M****, and we must always obey our father. Papas are heads of family you know.


I peer into my phone's screen Mulayam Singh Yadav is condoning RAPE and  suddenly I do not blame the illiterate women in the villages of UP who cast their vote where there men ask them to. I am looking inwards, at educated women like myself and how they let go of every iota of power that they can possibly have only for the elusive ghar ki shanti (peace at home).

I wanted to talk to these women of tomorrow but they have run away by then.

From the shacks across the boundary wall  the light of a single bulb filters through, I look at the multi-storeyed apartments and I see their shallow core producing another generation of unaware exploited women.


The sun has set.
On our way back my daughter asks,"Mumma you know who I will vote for?" I tell her," You don't need to tell me or anyone its your right and only you should know."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I am the fool
for I will not
give up the
to find new words
and newer meanings
for old ones

this is my
malady and the remedy
I am the fool
to speak my mind
and not mince my words

I am the fool
I have no masks
the same foolish face
for all seasons

I am the fool
for I fool the world !


Sunday, March 30, 2014


This poem first appeared here in the March 2014 issue of the Online magazine THE BROWSING CORNER.

The night seemed to be
absolutely quiet

as if mourning the loss

which human hearts

were too small to comprehend


the train cutting through

the dark fields

smelled of fear and

brewing hatred


the brakes halted the train

and stopped the heartbeats

under bundles of rags

he huddled under a berth

as his older brother

covered his mouth


the hot crimson drops

drip on his forehead

all night

every night

for 67 years


a childhood


on a train

from Pakistan !

Sunday, March 23, 2014

This isn't a post - 6, meaningless banter..

23 March Bhagat Singh
Paash, the revolutionary Punjabi poet died on the same date, coincidence?

What is freedom? why is it so precious? Is it valued?

why are words valued? why is voice important?

Is FEMINISM a dirty words? Is it just a badge or an abuse?

The songs I listen to, the films I watch , the people I meet, their residue remains. Some of that smoothens my edges, some of that makes me lose the balance.

does my residue in them does the same to them to?

I am a spec in the cosmos but yet I am important because only this spec can fill this void, only this.

what are my questions? what are my answers?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


It took me a while
to come to this space
where I am no longer
scared or awkward

to restrain the man's hand
trying to grope a girl
on a bus

to protest loudly
when I hear men
use abuses
that are women-centric

to tell every girl I meet
that she doesn't have to hide
her body or her mind

to confront men
related to me
by blood or society
if they abuse or discriminate

to use my word
and my writings
to catalogue
the lessons and the fight

so however little it may be
a small speck in this
struggle of enormity

my voice is my pay forward
to my mum
her mum's mum
my daughter's future daughter
and all women everywhere

This is my sword and my shield
my defence and my attack
and I will break
the conspiracy of silence.

This post is dedicated to an inspiring fellow blogger popularly known as IHM who blogs at THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN INDIAN HOMEMAKER. Her work and her personality as reflected in her work inspire me as a blogger, as a mom and as a woman.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

This isn't a poem

Labels everywhere
on minds, souls and thoughts
and there is Eliot
on the shelf

today I can take
walk with him
on the streets of London
or anywhere

no longer afraid
of the asylum
that's where
the questioning ones end

the rest just comply
or shut down

the million-handed
octopi of thoughts
snatch words
from each other

and then
when the noise
reaches an unbearable crescendo

the words run helter-skelter
to meditate

you cringe or smile
there is no evidence
of any feeling ever

I look up
to find a face
to put up
for the other faces
I have to meet today.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ironies of gender stereotypes

You cook and its an art
We slog it out
meal after meal and
never secure a place
in culinary history

you speak socialism
and equality
you are such a
sensitive intellectual
We speak about rights
and become the
bloody feminists

You are a charmer
a ladies man
and we are
just shameless

your clothes
at best define your
social status or profession
my clothes
can get me raped

So lets talk equality
in some other
in some other
equal space.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

@35 a future calls me mom

beyond the customary wishes
the genuine prayers
some surprises
and the words
is a vast silence

the no noise zone
where I converse
with "I"

where the uncomfortable questions
are asked loudly
where the truth and lies
are sifted

and a self emerges and merges
into unfamiliar shapes

where I delve into
the stagnant murky waters
of the past
and come up gasping

because a future
calls me mom.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Life lessons from Veera Tripathi and Mahabir Bhaati on the HIGHWAY

This post is inspired by this wonderful post by my friend Indian Homemaker at her amazing blog and Imitiaz Ali's film HIGHWAY.

  • Let go, your comfort zone is just that- comfortable, there is whole wide world outside of it.
  • The most important part of you is your voice claim it NOW.
  • Parents don't always know what is the best for you.
  • Learn to question others and yourself.
  • Goodness and /or crime has nothing to do with a social and/or financial status or level of education
  • Boys and girls can be equally sensitive in childhood though their reactions to situations may differ.
  • Romance is not always songs, dance and poetry sometimes it just IS.
  • The greatest and only freedom is living life on your own terms.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Of Love and its memories

Moments unlike photos
cannot be cropped
to look perfect

they either are
fragrant like the beloved's eyes
or cold like the
words from a
broken heart

the soul
is a travelling cemetery
of moments
so that moving on
is just painful and heavy
not impossible

If love was just a word
like any other
it wouldn't
have the baggage of
fabled lovers and
failed love stories

I would dip it
in my evening cup of tea
take a bite
and forget all about it .


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Festival Musings : The prayer might not influence God,but it changes the one who prays.

  • What we give is always less than what we get from life. ALWAYS.
  • Being a good human being is the essence, the rest are all decoration in every religion.
  • Rituals should share the joy not highlight the differences.
Years ago in a small village in Himachal year after year I would celebrate Shivratri the way it is done in the hills. Each family is Parvati's house and each year the Neelkanth, Ishaan, SHIVA comes to them as a groom.

No fancy lights, no artificial decoration.
home cooked delicacies
shared goodies and love.
singing ,dancing in mud kitchens kept warm and dimly lighted by a fire.

SIMPLICITY the order of the day.

Now just another day.


Monday, February 24, 2014


If it was not for a reminder on my old phone I would have completely forgotten about THIS baby's 5th birthday today and regretted it for the rest of the year until next time at least.
Unlike my biological one this one cannot be gifted a toy, a book or even XOXO and the only way to make it feel celebrated and loved is to feed its tummy with my home-cooked posts.

So today I answer some of the questions this baby asks me often and like #Priyamvadaisms I name them #blogisms.

Q : Why did you decide to have me?
ME: Well I have always had a journal ( the hard bound diaries that was our generation's secret keeper) but when I had P there was no time or inclination to even comb my hair so keeping a journal was out of question and that's when I happened to read some wonderful blogs online.
Although admiring other people's babies biological or creative is one thing and having your own the other I took the plunge. I guess it was a parenting over drive.

Q: How was I as a child?
ME: Almost as devilish and as pleasing like P. Sometimes a whole 500 words would be made to do the Houdini act by you and I would pull at my hair even strongly than I did when P would soil a fresh diaper within 5 minutes of changing. At other times I would find friends and much needed shoulder to cry upon in you and rejoice.

Q:What do you want me to become when I grow up?
ME: I wish you grow in years but never really grow up in the grown up way which means stay grounded, honest, straightforward and happy go lucky. As a parent I will try to be there showing you the path but the walking, falling, getting up and the learning has to be your own.

Q: Parting thoughts
ME: Glad to be the single parent of a wonderful blog like you. Keep growing. HAPPY BIRTHDAY  !!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

This isn't a post-5

"I love people. Everybody. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me.", said one of my all time favourite poets Sylvia Plath.
But this interaction with people that we have not in their voices, or with their faces but only with their online personas is this really conversation? will human interaction eventually squeeze into screens?

Truth and lies
hide and seek
black and white

What color is money? some say green. I say money is colorless yet it can color your vision and perception.

what is madness? walking like a herd with the majority and what is madness asking questions? breaking away?

Black sheep

But isn't being different rare? isn't rare good or is it the odd one out?


Wednesday, February 12, 2014


  • A grey-haired caretaker lady from nursery school who walked in a wobbly manner
  • A lanky classmate in a pre-primary classroom who always had the yummiest tiffin
  • The only pet I ever had- Jackie, who was not just a German Shepherd but was my first ever best friend.
  • Many childhood friends from our old neighbourhood with whom I played hopscotch, hide and seek, snow games.
  • The bespectacled librarian in the library beside the church who would sit on her desk in the mild winter sun and always have a reading recommendation for me.
  • The blind beggar who would play Pahari tunes in his flute in the market when we went for evening strolls
  • The junior doctor who would talk to me about Shakespeare as she changed the dressing everyday on a painful surgery scar.
  • A friend, fellow researcher and a wonderful person who chose to break all ties with me on quite a bitter note. Hope she knows I still wish her well.
  • So many of my wonderful students whose notes and gestures of kindness were always in excess of any of my talents or efforts.
  • Some extremely learned colleagues, seniors and bosses who were open to learning and sharing their experiences and knowledge.
LIFE let me be grateful always no matter what !!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Triumphs and tribulations are the same situations in different lights. sometimes we relish a moment and at others we just wait for it to pass but there is no escape from this passing. This non-permanent is the only permanent thing about life.

In the rush to reach destinations the fun of the journey is lost. Like horses with blinkers we keep looking at how it will be ten years from now, missing this moment completely. Everyday living takes its toll on life and most of us grow only in years while our souls keep shrinking in the prisons of what ifs.

Sometimes the loss is irreparable but there is no need to keep trying to fill the void. Everything is not for us to make right, to change or amend. Expert opinions are also opinions, some situations should be allowed to be untouched by analysis.

If Eliot was born in Delhi or Manto in NewYork would they still be the same? Would The Love song of Alfred J Prufrock become The Love Song of Anand Janardhan Puri? Would it make any difference?

Each moment is the slave of its context and each context of its perception and we the biggest slaves of everything because freedom is scary, because operating without set instructions is risky.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Like toddlers of all generations singing the same or similar nursery rhymes without actually even understanding what most of them mean, we go through the motions of life generation after generation. Women grow up to believe love is selfless service like the legendary mother India and men grow up with the entitlement to that service as fathers, brothers, husbands, sons and lovers.

When I read DAFFODILS by Wordsworth as a student and much later when taught the same ( how can we ever TEACH poetry?) to my students on my first job in a college I realised I had never ever seen a real daffodil and yet here I was propagating the farce. Why can't we instead/also talk about the flowers that are more close to us like the humble Delia or the sunflower?

The ghazal on a loop in my mind has a line " जो बीत गया है वो गुज़र क्यूँ नहीं जाता " ( what has passed why doesn't it pass ". If all that has passed was really past us none of us would be burdened by the invisible baggage and the tinted glasses with which we see the world and others.

Fault finding the easiest of activities of  being "holier than thou", none of us let go of that wonderful opportunity of mud slinging without realising its our hands that get muddy even before the mud reaches the other's reputation. Sometimes letting out the venom helps but write it down and hit delete or better still write it down on a real paper and flush it down. breathe and without doing any damage LET IT ALL JUST GO.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


All the monsters, each one of them known as "I" live in an ivory tower, up above the real life on the ground. the life that does not accept or need boundary walls and wired fences, the life whose activity is not small enough to be captured in the security cams.

It is so easy to limit and so difficult to set free ,freedom is threatening because in letting go you could fall, bruise or go through an irreparable loss but boundaries are toxic when they are imposed for too long or too severely. Expression always contains the risk of being in the wrong but repression would the never be right.

Maps and routes and more maps and more routes, the destination is always within, the journey inwards into the troublesome landscapes of the past and into the challenging cliffs of future. The cacophony of instructions ,directions is often deafening and in the noise the innermost voice called instinct gets killed.

Each one of us intoxicated in our own personal opium ,your opium works for only you mine sometimes doesn't work even for me. Poetry is such an elusive opium sometimes it may churn your guts and at others just black tic-tac on a white screen- absolutely nothing.



Wednesday, February 5, 2014


why do I write? why do I need to write this, that or anything?
Why I commit poetry?
Why I commit life or why life committed me about 35 years ago?

Are why's the most important questions or are the hows and wheres important too?
I ask and words tumble out as if a dam of sanity has been pushing them back to the subconscious for long where they wait as a pool of experiences bubbling, stagnant but pushing at its seams to find that one moment of letting go of insane carefreeness.
when I coin my own words or I use a few for the first time and many for the infinite time do I make sense?
I am looking for meaning of all this of the cosmos in chaos. Why it doesn't pause and just like the constantly revolving and rotating earth it gives us only a semblance of being the same each day.
the learning is fun but sometimes when the lessons bruise and wound ,when there are weak moments of giving up, of disillusion, the mind wanders to the mundane- the lonely plant on my window sill or a perfect cup of tea that is sweet without sugar only because it has been waited for and cherished.
The bearings of being the beginning of being, all a never ending wasteland. The old copy somewhere in this clutter, the one with my younger handwriting of notes around it oblivious of what Eliot would mean to me many years later.
life is fond of me it seems it chooses the grind for me afresh every day so that I become a chiselled student , who writes and has a voice and isn't afraid of this madness.

Friday, January 31, 2014

I wish instead....just a rant

  • I wish during my early years in Shimla instead of pouring all my attention on books I had explored the fun outdoors more.
  • I wish when single I had travelled more instead of worrying about a career.
  • I wish when young instead of valuing people for their achievements I had valued them for their essence.
  • I wish instead of being just an armchair activist I am able to do something to make a difference to a girl child's life other than my daughter in this lifetime.
  • I wish instead of the boundary walled apartment complex and the hostile-to-women city I lived somewhere I had a beach for a safe evening walk.
  • I wish instead of following the Indian style of parenting including "protect the child" I had travelled and gone out more with P.
  • I wish instead of this list I had written something better.

Friday, January 24, 2014

DELHI - First impressions, second time

  • MIND OVER MATTER You may value your marble floor and wood work a lot but they can't make a meaningful conversation.
  • RESPECT A barefoot child selling some random item on the signal deserves more respect than a man spitting out pan from his expensive SUV.
  • FEMINISM A plumber works day and night to give his only girl child a college education and a man with a few factories just wants to add a few more zeroes to her dowry cheque.
  • LIFE Possessions are just that , first you posses them then they possess you.
  • HOME Bricks and cement, price tags mean nothing if they do not have the warmth of human souls.
  • LEARNING The more you learn the more you must unlearn to uncomplicated and live a life free of prejudices and baggage.
  • DELHI A city can be a friend, a frenemy, a teacher and all of the above.

Monday, January 13, 2014


a lone lamp flickering
darkness ends
where light begins.
life packed in boxes
boxes of life
The decay
the leftovers
the giveaways, the takeaways.
questions, answers
noise to
avoid being killed by
the silences.
addresses, faces,names
words, songs, places

Sunday, January 5, 2014


hills and fog
memories of
spring gone by
buried in the snow

flavours, fragrances
of youth
the decay and emptiness
of old age

the joy and
the ache
the bitter-sweet
the happy-sad


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hashtag YOLO : A lesson for 2014 from 2013

The world is often divided into two groups those who live by the Internet and those who curse it for everything from divorces to crime.
I belong in neither at times and at times in both, Internet amuses me with its capability to create and demolish so many alternate identities and world in a moment for so many of us.

So yes I am no extremist who says Internet is ALL trash and my takeaway from the online world this year for my inner world is one of its most popular words - YOLO

I am not an abbreviation person per se and I am often at sea when I chat with some of my ex-students and younger cousins who use these like their first language.

But this one kind of stuck a chord-  YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE

Yes this is the lesson, the essence , the core of it all. There is only one 01/01/2014, that 2013 that went by just yesterday is not coming back ever again and similarly you and I may live similar moments of joy and sorrow again and again but neither will be the SAME ever.

I always believe the most precious, important and surreal thing happening to all of us is LIFE itself and we focus on everything else but living. Imagine how much we miss of the essence in trying to grasp the trimmings- jobs, belongings, material comforts.....

Imagine you get a vacation to your favourite spot and carrying a lot of extra baggage that restricts your moving around. And now imagine going through this wonderful world with so much of extra baggage- prejudices, hatred, anger, regret.

So every time my heart sinks in pessimism, or I am hurt, angry, frustrated I will tell myself- My dear #YOLO you only live once- LIVE IT, give it your best shot and as I always say LET IT GO.

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To Kill a Mockingbird
The Catcher in the Rye
Animal Farm
The Alchemist
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Romeo and Juliet
The Odyssey
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Count of Monte Cristo
Eat, Pray, Love
The Da Vinci Code
The Kite Runner
The Silence of the Lambs
The Diary of a Young Girl
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Notebook
Gone With the Wind

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario

The Human Bean Cafe, Ontario
my work on display there !!!!!