Monday, February 02, 2009

Cauliflowers and Autorickshaws

It was evening and the sun was still on the horizon, shining sweetly at people who wanted some light. She walked along little streets, thinking to herself, making some phone calls on her cell phone and making notes in her mind about the things she needed to do. Groceries, change of clothes, gym and such. Things you and I think of on otherwise normal evenings.

She crossed the main road. Cauliflowers. It is cauliflower season in this part of the world. She’d seen vendors in pushcarts selling big, fresh cauliflowers neatly stacked one on top of the other. That is what she wanted to get before she went home.

Traffic went by, there did not seem to be many auto rickshaws at that time. Most of them were away in schools picking kids up and then dropping them off home. She played a bit with her hair, tossed it around and waited impatiently on the side of the road.

And then he came along. In his yellow auto. They didn’t have to bargain too much. He was wearing one of those big rings on his finger which had the picture of a movie star from yesteryears. He went on to tell her many things. He had three children and he was putting money in the bank for their college education. One of them liked sweets while the other two liked spicy snacks. He got them biscuits and peanuts and sweets.

He told her how they saved money, the expenses, and the loan on the auto that he had to pay every month. In a year and a half, this auto will be mine, he said. He told her that his eldest daughter got him that ring when she went to buy a gold bracelet. Both together cost 20K. He seemed a like a charming fellow, working hard with his family to make ends meet. He seemed like a guy with his plans in place, like a guy who smiled a lot and took things in his stride.

Being swept over by all these details, the mundane details of everyday life, this little peep into another person’s world made her smile in her mind. On the way, they found a pushcart selling those fresh, big, bright, happy, smiling cauliflowers. She got two. One for him and one for her.

She smiled at him and also gave him a tip when she got off at the gate of her apartment. A tip and a cauliflower for this peek into his life. For making it seem while the ride lasted that life works out one way or the other. That funny though it may seem, she felt comforted that these things are enough to keep one occupied and smiling. That you can feel content in working just these details out.

Cauliflowers and an autorickshaw ride can make your evening, do you know?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I am

I am a poem, a dusky sketch on a long forgotten leaf. I am that bringer of gifts and luck, that strength that eggs you on, I am that cripple you saw two weeks ago.

I have a life of my own, many things that I need to do. I consider gathering flowers for long forgotten tombs of friends. The same fingers also collect presents for brides to be, wish the best for brothers who turned their backs, flinch just a little with every hardship that comes crashing on my head.

My back is hunched, I can no longer be of use the way I used to. Although my spirit still sings praises of life, all its beauty, and the one above. I may not look like I have been upto any good, infact I may even look like I am not feeling so very good. Oh but I did reach out a hug every tired soul who walked past my door step.

You come to me telling me of all your sorrows, of all your hardships. And yet when I speak of mine, you either walk away or do not listen. My little misfortunes seem not to matter to anyone, and now I’m afraid I do not seem to take seem to take them in either.

I am the fading sunset, I am the water at the edge of the river, I am everything I’ve ever wanted to be, I am the end of the road, I am so very tired.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Three years eight months and twelve days. That’s how long it’s been since I began this journey. It started as most journeys do, just with a strong urge that you have to go some where.

He was sitting across from me, on one otherwise uneventful train ride. He may not have been much to look at on first glance. But the seasoned traveller can recognise those invisible marks on the face, the stories that is held within in a smile exposing decoloured teeth. Slowly, you recognise other things. The book he’s reading- not common for a local, an armlet that looks like it’s travelled a long way too, the shoes that have done a lot of walking. The clothes that will help blend into any culture. Oh yes, you know those signs.

In the conversation that followed, you recognised many things about each other. It was then that he mentioned, somewhat as an afterthought. This place in the mountains. The air is crisp, nippy even. Cedars surround the place. Something about the air there, fills you up in a certain way. On some mornings you can feel it, the air is blue. Woods surround. Somewhere in the woods, there is a stone hut with the bow of a hunter still intact.

You chuckle at the thought of the folklore. A stone hut with a hunter’s bow. That is how myths are born. That is how stories start. That is how journeys begin.

Many summers and winters have gone by since. You’ve come a long way, visited cottages in the hills, forts on mountains and places by the sea. You have attained a calm that is difficult to explain.

However, there is one thing. Just one little thing. No matter how far your feet seem to carry you and not matter how many lives look at you from the outside and smile gently, there is the memory of a face that refuses to go away. It seems at times that yes, this is your calling, that yes, you are meant to be this nomad. And yet in the deepest of moments when the mind has achieved this certain sense of acceptance- it can happen anywhere, in a monastery or by a nameless grave, you feel the gentle piercing of fluid in the corners of your eyes.

You wipe them off before they amount to much.

It surprises me, these sudden attacks, these sudden moments where I know for certain where I ought to be and yet every new journey does not seem to be leading me there, leading me to you. It surprises me because although over the years, my tear glands seem to function less, and yet the heart and mind still come together as if in meditation, making me aware. Aware of a need.

I do not know how many miles I’m going to continue walking. I do not know how far I’ll go. I do not know if any of my questions will be answered, if in some round about way our paths will cross never to separate again.

For now, I just have to keep walking.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


The dinner table is being set at a certain rhythm. The green porcelain and cutlery carefully juxtaposed, the smells of the meal gently waft in from the kitchen. He was on his reading chair, smoking. She was doing odd little things here and there when not stirring the pot or checking the oven.

From the corner of his eyes, he’d look at her. His woman of twenty something years. What age had done to her. She actually looks nicer by the day, he caught himself thinking.

Mozart ofcourse is playing recklessly in the background, a sonata in C major. She has the prelude playing in her head off and on, even when it wasn’t being played on the piano. She reaches over to grab something from the edge of the kitchen counter.

From the corner of her eyes, she sees a photograph in a silver frame. A picture of them from many, many years ago. From a time when they were really young, horribly truamatised by feelings of many kinds, and yet when you look at the picture, you look at two people who were so completely in love.

The meal sizzles to a completion. She sets it down on the table, and he is there filling their glasses just the way he has been for all those years together. For no particular reason, and yet for too many to put down, she smiles in her mind- and a mild reflection of that smile plays in the corners of her mouth. He catches her looking at him and gazes back.


The young twenty something scribbles the last few words and gazes out the window of the café. Winter is almost here, and people scuttle by looking for more comfort and warmth in the grey of their everyday being. Mozart, the sonata in C major, is playing furiously in her head. And there are all these words dancing with the divine music, some of them his words. She found herself incapable of stringing all those words together to form complete sentences. All she could focus on at that moment was the blush on his cheeks, the music in her head and the people huddling outside in their greys.

She looked behind her at the rest of the café, for a teeny moment. All kinds of people seated and having discussions of every other kind over whatever caught their fancy for that moment. The guy at the far corner caught her eyes. She drew back into her world, where there were words and notes for company. And photographs of happy people squinting in the sun, radiating back each other’s warmth.

There was this feeling they shared, and both of them knew it. Like how only certain pianos respond to your touch among a whole lot, among a galaxy of choices. They had that- that dish without a name, that tune without a beginning or an end.

She uncrossed her legs, crossed them back and washed down the thoughts with the rest of the coffee. The cup was stained a colour of nude in the shaped of her lips. She cupped her hands over her ears, careful not to let in the sounds of the outside world, let the music play on in that very schizotypal way.


If I were to rip this sheet off my scratch pad and give it to you, if I told you that you’re the guy in there, that this is the sum of things I really want, making that meal for you twenty years from now, would you give it to me? Oh, would you?

For when there are other beginnings

Her nicely done up lashes looked on and off at the fuel indicator. Full. Anybody else watching her that evening would have called it a piece of poetry, poetry in seeming randomness. Her lavender lacquered nails rested on the steering wheel, as she waited for the lights to change.

It was this grey evening, one that seemed minutes away from a drizzle. The guy selling flowers round the corner was there. The yellow and red carnations and the lavender of the Iris danced in front of her eyes. Like how when you’re cooking with your soul, you sometimes reach out for things, like a dash of cinnamon, that your heart just says it belongs here, in the warmth of your cooking pot.

She wanted to step out in her chiffon summer dress and silhouettes, the blanched almondness of her skin dancing with joy as the first few drops of rain came down. But she drove on instead, drove on home. Watching signal after signal. A left here, a right there. And then just take the road ahead.

Before you know it, night creeps in on all of us. The prodigy playing symphonies on the piano is turned off, and the bed side lamp has a book lying next to it. Each speaking to the other of an evening of contentment, with the rain outside singing out odes and lasciviously conjuring up images of what can be togetherness and what is loneliness, in exactly that order.

From one chamber of dreams to another, she quietly tiptoes. Careful not to wake anyone up, not to disturb other dreams. And she floats amidst scents and colours and minds and wishes and horses and shades and blushes. In one of those chambers, one that was a colour between gentle autumn happiness thrown in with a light blue summer sky, he came. They had this chat. Something about waiting till July. And then he would tell her. She didn’t know what to do. Whether this is good or bad or ugly or undefined. Whether it would make her ache. Or if he was going to just gather her up and drive away to some place where there are no traffic signals, just rain on windshields.

And then the orchestra of dreams did a grand rendition of vague tunes, and her finger tips reached for the edge of the sheets. The erstwhile nicely done up lashes fluttered open. The bed lamp glowing a dreamlike yellow, the bookmark sticking out of a paperback. She remembered the dream. She remembered the face. She knew who it was.

In the expanse of that night, she lay awake.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fractional Dementia

S, thanks for the inspiration. This one is for you.

You are a pattern in chaos
A vertex here, a circle there
Within that closed space
You hold
But what is
An entire world

Numbers and facts
You can be reduced to those
Ayes and nays said
About your life

The closed space holds
Matter that is infinite
Affairs, living, food and being
That tattles across
In many, many ways

Then comes a man
Spirited and drunk
And tugs at chaos
That very pattern
Defined by fragrances and nodes
"Nay, woman, where is your morality?"

The floating point is taken over
By bubbles and pine cones
Closed spaces do not have any character
Not even those fine wrinkles
Closed spaced do not hold any meaning
Not even when broken.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rosette Skies

The hours before dawn are the darkest. There are so many ways of looking at that sentence, and it does seem rosette and promising if you’re inclined to optimism and the like. Having watched dusk and dawn relentlessly over the many moons of my life, I think one of the few things that has changed apart from the colour of the skies at these times in the various cities that I’ve lived in, is my perspective at that statement.

What really surprises me is the starling difference between day and night. How days are filled with activities and little tasks and thoughts and odds and ends. And nights. How they are filled with such unbearable darkness. I think I have begun to almost fear them now. Long, never ending nights.

How I fill these hours is something worthy of a prize of sorts for the angst and somewhat distraught. What do you really do, once you have grown out of being a party animal, have had enough of night outs with friends and beloveds, do not have anything captivating enough to read, and do not like the humdrum and noise-like qualities of idiot boxes and ear plug-ins?

You spend long, endless nights. That’s what.

I think I am now familiar with all the patterns of the night. The little noises the security guards make, the distant barking of stray dogs, the guy in the apartment across who reads in bed with the blinds up till two a.m., and the occasional police and ambulance sirens. These are things nights are made of.

Sometimes there are people sleeping over in my apartment. Sometimes in my bed, sometimes on the living room couch with Tabby the Cat alternating between our bodily warmth. It is funny, is it not, to finally realise that you are growing into that old lady who lives alone in her apartment and who loves her cat more than just about anything else? Clichés are such ironic fun, especially if you find yourself being one.

Here is another night
Slipping into the sheets of day
Part pubescent, part sombre
I wonder what it is like
To be able to fill this world
With all your darkness

You come and go
Come and go
Like a little brown child
And a dusky butterfly;
Come stay in my abode
I promise I’d make a worthy lover

Tangled and messed up
I wander rooms and corridors
Staring at pictures
With people squinting joy
Step in, they seem to say
There is enough sunshine

For all of us

My little tabby
Sometimes follows me
On these nightly excursions;
Woman and pet
Together we sit
Bride and best man
Waiting for you
To pluck me away
From these rosette skies.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I carry your heart with me

Another gem. Thank you, Cummings.

I carry your heart with me(I carry it in
my heart)I am never without it(anywhere
I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
I fear
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)I want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of
the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart
(I carry it in my heart)

E E Cummings