Beauty Business

She used to work at a beauty parlour in the city. It was no serious business, everyone said. Just for passing the time and so. She wasn't trained or anything. But she was, she said. She had worked at one of those well known parlours in the big city. For two years almost, when she was put up in one of those grim working women's hostels. That dingy existence sans sunlight. But every morning, she tidied up, put on her purple uniform, tied her hair back and plunged into bringing beauty into our lives. Scores of eyebrows she threaded, faces she scrubbed and de-tanned, legs and hands waxed, and on and forth and on and forth. When she sat down a little perplexed and drained, she spoke on nevertheless, about how a little bit of lemon juice  rubbed on elbows, made the skin softer or when cotton balls soaked in nail polish remover held upon nails for long actually cleaned them well and merely wiping didn't do the job that good. She was full of such tips. But herself, she was a taught beauty, neither soft, nor mushy, nor pink, neither white. It was as if, she never tried all those tips on herself. Those things were for others and she was far apart.

When time ran out, she was asked to come home, leave that job and be married. So she did as asked to. She withdrew her limbs, fingers held in a fist and toes crumbled, into a ball of human flesh for months. And survived that way in hibernation. People talked behind her back, that it was only too late for her to have a child. And her indulgence in that job had made her more futile. She now lived in one of those small industrial towns, her husband worked at the power plant. They stayed in staff quarters, on the first floor, slightly more lit than her old room in the hostel. And they had a huge portico, even bigger than the whole house. Boughs of nimbus and mango made it shady in the afternoon, sunsets were a thing to behold from up there.

It was in that portico that she told stories to her unborn child, and there that later her little daughter took her first steps. There that she picked out stones from dal and peeled vegetables. There that she knit sweaters for her loved ones and sent them away. But waiting for her husband to return from work, when she sat down a breath to look at the sun set, sometimes the mixed whiff of Parisian cosmetics, still, bothered her nose.

Finding Happyness

That one night I met him, is quite etched in memory. I can literally, if I close my eyes now, see him confidently smile at me. That was years ago. We were strangers then. I was awkward around strangers. Still am. But he, he has this warmth that could make you feel cuddled in moments. We spoke for a couple of minutes, I can't distinctly recall about what. Only faintly. I could feel his eyes roving over my face.

Suddenly I turned back for something, for a moment. When I got back, he wasn't there. He had left without saying goodbye. That was the first time, I noticed my man. Like, his person, was created in my mind. You know how people exist twice, once for real, and once inside your mind. His momentary absence clicked and stayed. That was probably a Friday.

And hundreds of such Fridays later, on a similar Friday night, I married him.

Here's to wishing, and silently praying, that despite everything that has been, and everything more that is going to be, we find happyness. And it, finds us.


I am incapable of relishing happiness. No sadness lasts me either. All I feel is fear, fear itself. Fear manifests as misery. Sometimes the lack of it means, a little bit of joy. But fear is always the underlying. And everything else is its derivative.

All I want right now, is a li'l bit of sky over mah head!. All I want, all I want, all I want.


It's an eclectic mix of smells in the air, that of cigarette smoke and that of eggs frying early morning. As early as 6. These days, she made it a habit to be up early. It was hard first few weeks. But later on, it grew on her. She wouldn't shut her windows at night. The light flooding her studio apartment, wouldn't let her sleep any later than six. She wouldn't care to wash her face, she was that way. Walking straight into the kitchenette, she would stare at all the plausible ingredients of breakfast.

Breakfast is her most favorite meal of the day. Ever. And today was Sunday. Sunday breakfasts are the most special of them all. She walked to the door, the milkman had left her a packet stranded on the money plant bush. She emptied it into the pan and put it on the stove. In the biggest tumbler off the rack, she added four small spoons of coffee and then sugar. Beating that into a frothy paste, she poured boiling milk on to it. That in hand, she lit her first smoke of the day. And that would be her last, she would tell herself. Tell herself hard.

After coffee, she cracked open two eggs and scrambled them neat. Almost simultaneously, she remembered last night's pasta. Or that of several nights ago. She couldn't remember which. She would over turn the plate of eggs on the pasta and microwave that. Quietly, she would stand near the microwave, looking inside, as if waiting for it to explode and being on her toes already, she would run. As fast as she could. But she doesn't.

The seconds seem to stretch out longer, her patience seems to test her. She grabs the door of the microwave and pulls it open when there's still twenty more seconds to go. She holds the bowl in her hand with a towel, gasping at how hot it is but not letting go.

Hurriedly, she looks for the little jar of oregano on the rack. Oh she has almost never been this famished!

Rotten Nostalgia

He called me at about 6. Closer to 5:30 may be. We decided the place he was going to pick me up from. It wasn't going to be the usual place, so he went on a bit with the detailed directions to the spot. But I already knew. I had been longer in the city than him, after all, I was supposed to.

I walked out of office early, didn't have to sneak out because everyone had left even earlier. Outside, there were lights everywhere. It was the Visharjan night. You know, when they carry the idols of Durga in trucks for immersion, and there is a loud procession and crackers, tens of hundreds standing by the road, watching. All traffic had been deviated. Nothing was plying as normal. That's why he couldn't pick me up the usual place. I got on a bus, somehow and walked about a ten minutes to our place. I waited, it felt like a long time. I took out my phone to call him, twice. But then decided against it. I folded my hands, like they do, chose a spot near the traffic signal and stood there. There seemed to be more cars on the road that night. Every time the green light lit up, I expected him to come. But he didn't just turn up. The procession got close, the music got very loud. It wasn't winter yet, but I began to feel cold, shiver. Soon, the idols would arrive one by one. The road would be clogged and I would probably have to go home without having seen him.

Just then, I saw a car, his color, taking a u turn from the other side. Like a dozen other times, I assumed I would be wrong. But it was him. He slowed down in front of me, pushed the door open, looked out and said Hi. It must have been him. It was such long ago, I can't even remember.

Pocket fulls of sand. Wet magical sand. One stringed bracelet. With our names inscribed. And my prescribed notions for a lifetime. Nothing has turned out as it should have. Most things have just flown from one random destination to another like a lazy holidayer. Somehow leaving me wet and unwanted. Just like the sand in my pockets. Yet, you being you, keep me. Love me. Possess me. Not with the jovial possession of new love. But with the charred traits of a seasoned lover. Like quiet sunlight on fair skin, you fill me with warmth. One moment of which is worth caging and saving for looking back and unwinding upon for years later. When feelings of seclusion corner me, and make me want to run off the next adjacent roof, sometimes not too knowingly I think of you. Your chin. My lip. Our things. Paraphernalia for love. I use them to invent words. To selfishly develop feelings, I not tell you about. Because somethings should be given time to unfold. Somethings should rather be bottled forever. Till we end. I think of our tiny toes and the hard earned grace to make a living out of life. I wonder what we have. And see it vis-a-vis what we require. For contingencies. For answers. For supplying enough proofs. Like juxtapose. I wonder if our stringed bracelet of love would stand us on our tiny toes. It should. Because love should be the sole deciding factor. Of our endless haywire lives. If not it, then what. I am not saying just because I am saying. But as I have learnt. I am not that child that sees and doesn't seep into. But I have witnessed a certain emptiness in the plethora of lives around me. In their guarded drops of sweat upon heavily maintained faces. Heavily to the extent of it being an obsession of creating a pretense. A shallow facade. And that bores me to the extent of scaring me. That's exactly why I want you to look within. Unzip me, unskin me. Look at my naked raw self. And then love me like nothing else matters. It's the mind that will never leave me. So love me in there. Shamelessly. Unbridled.

Exhausted to Live

It's a dark deep tunnel. This tunnel is all that is. Look closely enough, and you shall see. Make it out. Its vague outlines, its hot painful breath. With which it shall swallow us all. Each one in its own specific way. But it does. I hope it does. Because I don't want to be the only one dealing with it. Some of us get past it. They see the world beyond, be happy, cheerful. Some others just float in the gravityless air of this tunnel. I am one of those some. I have been floating for quite a while now. Ever since I can remember I see myself floating in this deep dark tunnel. Flapping my hands, searching for the walls. My feet feeling the groundless sway and shivering in that fear. My shrieks, echoing and finding their way all the way back to me. There has been no past, no future. Only this looming present. I look down, I see flashes of light. But then that's it. 

I have come to know that, that light is an illusion. I can't make it through. Through this. I am going to let it swallow me.

Because I can't try anymore. I just can't. Cannot. Part of me, doesn't even want to. I am too tired. Exhausted for life. Exhausted to live. Whatever the consequences, be. Whatever the end, becomes. I just can't do this anymore. 


It has been so long that I've stayed up a night. Not a single night. And read a story. Or just dreamed with open eyes. So long. This is a passing phase, like every other phase that is. Not a song written, or word scribbled. This breathless chase to get things done, is slowly ruining my appetite for life. One has to get some place, be some one, buy some thing. All the time. I haven't paused. In a long long time. 

Truly, pauses scare me now. And, motion does too. 

This is a time of forced peace, But I don't know why I seem to be pushing this disequilibrium down my throat. All this urge to be moving, is not letting my limbs rest. There is a constant vibration in them. My soul, if there is a thing like that is suffocating in utter restlessness. The excess of this tension is slowly oozing through my skin and settling as wrinkles. 

And under my eyes, is getting darker. And damper. As I age, rather relentlessly every night, every day, every year. 28. 28. 28


There was, in the ruins, a temple in the corner of the village. Amongst the trees of neem, mango and pumpkin. Near a pond, full of algae and hyacinth. Decades ago, they worshipped Radha in the temple. Krsna of course, was there. But the temple was Radha's. They said they felt Radha's dance stir up the still air at night and the rustling sound of the leaves mixed with the ringing of her anklets. Only what was borne in her enormous garden was fed to Radha. Be it a banana or a pile of jackfruit, or coconuts or date palm.

With time though, the temple was forgotten, worshippers had other temples to go to. Then an old man from the city, disillusioned with life, abandoned everything and came to Radha's temple. People turned up at the temple with curiosity, just to check what the man was upto. He was dressed like a sadhu, his beard hadn't grown that long though. He spent days cleaning the garden and the temple. Years and years of cobwebs with his own hands, scrubbing mud and silt off the floor. 

Like a miracle he brought the place back to life. The kadam tree in courtyard of the temple flowered like it had gone insane. Rows and rows of marigold and jasmine made the air so fragrant, men and women forgot their chores and came to visit. Children skipped school to see what it was all about. Old women begged to be carried to the temple. At the end of a week or two, the man, who the villagers had named Radhe Baba, bathed the idol of Radha and Krsna in milk and honey and coconut water and dressed them in new clothes and jewellry. It was Radha's birthday. An elaborate swing had been tied in the kadam tree for Radha. 

Radhe Baba sang and danced like no one was watching. Devotees poured in from a dozen nearby villages, owing to the word of mouth. They brought rice and dals, brinjal,  papaya and pumpkin. The rich ones donated oil and ghee. Radhe Baba cooked for hundreds, with a little assistance from the village women. Scores were made to sit in neat lines in the courtyard, and fed on banana leaves. Radhe Baba served with his own two hands, bucket after bucket of rice and dalma, a broth made of dals and vegetables. Hundreds relished their meals with hot green chillies, the assisting women were awed as they had expected to run out of  food way back. 

Radhe Baba oversaw everything, and smiled. Radha stood beside him and smiled too. The temple became a phenomenon. Devotees fell at the Baba's feet as if he was Radha herself. TV channels had found out that he had left behind an arthritic wife, but all his sons were doctors and engineers, his only daughter settled abroad, and he had a bevy of grandchildren. Some saw him as a runaway shirker, some as a self made godman, some as god herself. 

Amidst all the chaos, one morning, Radhe Baba was nowhere to be seen. The TV channels said, he definitely hadn't gone back home. But he was nowhere to be seen. Devotees got worried and pushed open the door of the sanctum sanctorum to find Krsna standing alone and sulking. Radha was gone too.     


I feel this immense sadness when I remember that Robin Williams is dead. It wasn't that one time. It happens each and  every time the realization strikes me. I feel thoroughly diminished, my faith in life plummets a couple notches when I think that, that man had to die. Or worse, kill himself. And in what way.

Despite all our efforts to hold it together as human beings, we are so hopelessly scattered. So hopeless and so scattered.

After this, all this, the memory of James Gandolfini lingers in my mind and that he too is dead. When I started falling for Tony Soprano, I couldn't believe myself. As if the audacity of that man, adulterous gangster wasn't outrageous enough, I succumbed to his horse life laughter and gigantic appetite. I was crazy about him. Half way into watching The Sopranos, I became aware that he was no more.

Before that, I had seen him in a movie, without knowing who he truly was. I sometimes think of the silent turpitude of the cardiac arrest that finally took him. And the hot Italian summer that my man couldn't stand. I miss him. I do.


Not often does dissapointment free you. But when it does, it does it real good. Last few days, I have been questioning myself. Sortof. On-and-off. Now-and-then. Forgetting the question meanwhile, sometimes and later beginning to recall, with the answer distant and eluding. You know, how it is. Mischievous mind games. I have also been losing some memory lately, but that's for a later story, I guess.

The question I have been asking myself is about the design of my life. And whether, if, I shall write again. Ignore my consecutive usage of synonyms. I am just loitering around the topic. because I am trying to dissuade you from the real matter. Lazy-ass-mind-games.

I stare at pictures of cats and socks and banyan trees and red plums and those of endless journeys taken from buses and trains. Feeling inspired. To continue the random stream or circle of thought. To pause and to shed whatever the f*ck has been bothering me. To sit in my chair in the coffee shop and stare out the window. I smell a whiff of the characters brewing inside my head, slowly merging to narrate a story. It's like the first aroma of food cooking, it makes you hungry. To think more, to write down somethings. 

But whoosh! I forget everything, all of that. ADHD, is it? I don't think it has a name, this tendency, of running away from the one thing that is your true calling. But the crowd of nuisance returns to my head and each of those beautiful pictures just mercilessly fades into the background, like ice dissolves in water, leaving no sign behind, like it was never even there. I find myself, sans a word, sans a story, in a restless stasis.  

And that is how, darling, I end up not writing, 

The Old Woman

Now, it is time for the old woman's story. The old woman lives in a big mansion like home. With bitter gourd gardens in the backyard. Many stray creepers have grown in there, seeds flown in by birds. Sometimes, they happen to be those of pumpkin or cucumber. Her balcony makes a good vantage point to keep an eye on things. One look would tell her if there was too many weeds. Or if the villagers intentionally left their cattle in there to graze off everything. Or if monkeys came down from trees during siesta time for that bunch of bananas shining yellow from the distance. The timid scarecrow had stopped working on them long time back. She would sit in the arm chair in the balcony and stare at the garden for hours in the afternoon. 

She had three sons and three daughters, in no particular order. The eldest son, who also had a son who was married off to a princess-like beautiful punjaban in a sea facing five star resort, was a rich one. He had had his drunken wasted days of early youth. Later, however, he purged himself of all evil and rose into the top ranks of a big private company. The middle son was settled abroad. There is, obviosly no further need to elucidate his prosperity. Very little has been heard of him across the decades, he was the bright one from birth, everyone knew. The third son is slightly wayward. His eyes are always red, either from the insomnia, or from alcohol, or from heartache. It's hard to guess. He has spent a lot of the money of his older brothers on innovative business ventures, all of which have almost failed. He has stayed close to the mother, not in their mansion like home, but in an apartment in the city, three hours away.

The three daughters, most of whom were married off early and to the likes of school teachers who made some more money in tuitions, or to those who worked in government offices and got rich once in a while, from bribes etc, stayed close to their mother just like their youngest brother. They visited almost every month with their brood of several children, toothless sons and daughters clad in colorful frocks. When they stayed longer in the summer, or during puja, a swing was tied in the balcony. They, along with their grandmother would keep an eye over the garden and let out shrill screams to scare cattle away.

Everyone that came, the old woman took around for a tour around the house. The comfort and the warm air was almost sleep arousing. The beds and the neat bed spreads, cupboards empty and waiting to be stuffed with things when the sons came home, the dressing tables for the daugher-in-laws and grand-daughter-in-law. Air conditioners for people who came from colder lands, the ones with fairer skin and less of our earth in them.

 At the end of the tour, the old woman who was just skin and bones and hence swift as an eight year old, would sit on a gunny sack full of paddy and narrate how her husband was a lazy bum and how she held the horses soon after she was married at sixteen, so on and forth.

The Art of Unseeing

I now wonder. What else is left to see. Witness with eyes as a human. Now it seems as if, I've seen too much. Felt too much. Now I feel the desire to shut my eyes for a bit, can't stand the glare so much. And even if I haven't seen it all, I think I should pause. Because,

I've seen leopards and rhinoceros. Their slimy arrogant horns in the morning sun. I have seen how dahlias look on ruffled carefree hair. Smelt the smell of last night's date's roses. And shrunken gerberas. I have seen the fake lip color of flight attendants, and their grey eye-liner. I have seen stormy nights and cyclones. Blistering heat and asphyxia. I have bathed in the cologne of love. And slept with doubts under my pillow. I have seen too many people. Kleptomaniac aunts that steal creams to shampoos. To bloody irritating people I hate for no good reason. I have seen plenty of fakes. I am tired, and I can't unsee. I have witnessed failures, and the unfathomable heartache that comes along. I have seen and heard dusk. The bitter aftertaste of disability. Unread abandoned stories and poems. Things like that. Almost everything. 

Though I am yet to see so much more, I want to opt out for now. The snow can wait, the time can pass, the opportunities may lose me. I am bothered, I can't unsee. I can't erase. So I shan't be bugged, I have been paused. 


It's like a nagging pain in the shoulder. Always there. Never going away. That feeling of shallow regret when you look into the future. It's ironical, because, regret does associate with the past. Well, usually. But I feel a mild fear and remorse when I foresee. The number of variables are immense, of course. One could hardly predict. Anything at all. But going by basics, and aware that we are rough cut rocks and not diamonds per se, I can see that my life is going to be, mildly dissatisfying with short glimpses of ecstatic calmness. Even though I know there are numerous factors, peoples I haven't factored in, but I know. Or I fear, I am going to be sad. I mean how unpredictable can life get, except for death. Or illness. One's attitude affects one's behavior which reflects in actions and ultimately in one's fate. And as I have tried and found it impossibly hard to alter my outlook and attitude, let me surmise here and now that I am going to have a sad future. Mildly dissatisfied, quiet, brooding. My misery will always be there, like that nagging pain in the shoulder. 

All fears, put to rest. 

The Middle

On the way back from work, everyday, they make the bus stop where it shouldn't. It's not a designated stop. But they scream out loud, curse. Ultimately, the conductor gives in. It's a desolate place, where they get down. And another bunch of them get up on the bus and, carry on. It seems, it's their slum. It's not a part of the bigger slum that bustles beside the desolate road. It's apart. Distant from the bigger slum, with boundaries probably. 

Initially, I used to get scared of them. They appear that way. Gaunt, half men, wrapped in shiny saris, backless blouses and the make up. Red lipstick on dark skin. Hair pinned back, plaited neater than most of the women on the bus. But gradually with time, the fear left me. I would look at them and wonder where they were going. To fleece money in railway stations, to dance in the homes of newborns. I wondered what it would be like in their tiny gender neutral community. They would live in parallel houses. Cook together, wash together, eat together. 

There would be less of this tremendous bias that clouds all our action and inaction. 

Do you know that God, himself is androgynous? Why else would he dress in saris, being a man? Why would he adorn a nose ring made of the flowers of moonbeam? Or have red lips? Because he imbibes qualities of both the father and the mother. Since, we were strictly occupied by bias, he created the hermaphrodites after himself.

Tonite I feel, I take myself way more seriously than I deserve. I bother myself with so many should be's and should have been's, it drives me nuts. I feel, I should slash the ropes already. Already. 


Whatever happens to those writers who narrate an entire life story in a sentence or two. It's quick and done with. Like, they met in college, married soon after. She bore him his first child, a brilliant little fair girl. A decade into, differences emerged and they separated. Moving on, he met his second wife at forty two. They have a son, who is neither as brilliant or fair like his half sister. But he is, nevertheless. Or, let's say: He was the unwanted third child, conceived by mistake, half heartedly. His father wanted him, mother didn't. So, he grew up with half the love, half the heart, tagged along with his older sister and brother, until, they would no longer have it. So he branched out, broke bad and became an alcoholic. Or, let's say: Ever since, she was seventeen, she wanted a child, a cute plaything of her own. But she could find no man that was a keeper. She studied and worked. Meandered through life, far from effortlessly. Swinging between depression and self doctored therapy until she met a keeper. But then it was too late to have a child, her fluids had stopped flowing. A hostile uterus, or something. Like that. So easy. So easy. So swift. Thanks to those writers, you can live the lives of their characters with such ease. 

But your own life! It is so excruciatingly slow, painful. Excruciatingly slow and painful. And fucked up. There's no way you could just cut short some of the agony. Some of this misery. Some of it. You've to roll on it, lick it, swallow it. There's no way out. Only if the writer of my fate would learn something from these on the fast track. And get done with it. 

Lovin' ye to Dust

How do I tell you, I love you to dust.
In the same exact sense, that I mean it?
I can't trust words.
Nice ones are hard to wait for.
Also, the mind acts funny.
Understands things, that were never even meant.

Of course, I could say
Rather, I love you to bones.
Your bones.
Even, malleus, incus and stapes
Both pairs of those.
I love each bit of fluid in you.
Every ounce of your mass.

But I've gotta say.
That  love you to dust.
Any substitute to that would be
Grossly inadequate. Unfair
Because, you know
Love's special
Love's all there is.
Was, or will be.

So don't get me wrong,
When I erupt and say,
That I love you to dust. Till dust.
Till time ends and space shrinks.
And everything turns to dust.
I would love you till that.
Or may be beyond. 

Time & Distances.

The big cloud stands like a mountain at the end of the sky. No matter how much further I get, I look back to find it standing just there. As if, it secretly chased me. Walking right behind me. Or probably, the distances I cover, get past are too miniscule. I often have thoughts of the illusion of motion. Wherein, we are under the impression that we are moving. But we aren't. We fake the whole thing. Birth, growth, marriages, love, children, middle age, senility, death. To be true to ourselves, we are standing still, with the big cloud behind us. And the pointlessness of it all.

But this again, disproves itself. Time is the most powerful. Change is all that is. May be, motion defines life. And that big cloud is an illusion. I am imagining it. And I am actually traversing these lengths. Stretching my legs. Sinking into depths. Experiencing these new feelings. Progressing or digressing, but under no circumstances, am I standing still. 

But am I? Why does every new experience feel like something I have already been though. As if I am hung over on a perennial deja vu. Does my life circle, only too fast. Did I grow up too soon. Did I shed my naivete too soon. 

Such thoughts swallow me, and I run away from that big cloud. Splitting the wind, wide with my hands. Lunging forward. Or backward. I don't know. Smothered in stillness, which feels like breakless motion. 


There used to be a well between our homes. Somewhere midway on the path that connected our two backyards. Scattered with guava trees and lemon saplings. The well was surrounded with potted marigold. And in the distant pond, we could hear sounds of fish plopping in the water, all afternoon long. In my little girl's mind, I saw the neat trajectories in air that those fish must take, succumbing to their wild death-wish to be without water for a few moments, the flight of freedom, indulging in something, you're warned not to.  

The sugandhraj tree that had overgrown and shrouded the air with its intoxicating fragrance, stood right beside the well. I would go there to pick up wilted flowers that had fallen off the tree and hold them making a pouch in my skirt. It was usually then that he would push their door open and ask me to come in. He was a few years older than I was. Then. Even now, I guess. Ages progress arithmetically. Anyway.

He made those noodles, that came in packets. You know, hardly anyone knew about them back then. He made them all by himself while his mother took her afternoon nap. Long yellow noodles that softened in the pan within minutes and he slashed open the packet of spices into them. We sat facing each other with bowls in front of us. There were no forks back then, we ate with regular spoons. With all the gravy spilling and blistering our thighs, he would try to dissuade me by telling me that those were earthworms. Ugh! Disgusting. 

In summer, we made a doll house with bamboo stems, very neat carpentry from his side, I must say. I carried all my dolls into it, along with all my plaything utensils, pots and pans into that doll house. We had to evacuate suddenly one day when the rains came. That season, we kept a puppy and called her Beauty. We had tied her to the leg of one of the chairs on our veranda. Slowly, it grew big and had enough of the food we were feeding her. So one day, he let her go, without telling me. I cried my eyes out. I looked for that dog everywhere. 

In winter, he made me a Christmas tree by cutting off a deodar, or something. He hung cotton balls from it, I assumed it was snow. I hung flowers from it. I was happy, really, overjoyed.

Today, our ages have progressed. We don't know where we are. I heard, he has become a raging alcoholic. His brain his shrinking at the same speed at which the universe is expanding. And I am. I am deplorably oscillating between finding a reason to live, and losing it. And wondering if life spares anyone at all. Anyone at all.  


Johny boy is asleep,
Johny boy is in a coma.
All those dreams now rest in his head
And for good.
That swollen exaggerated head of his.
Full of anecdotes,
Those of money, women, love, betrayal
Johny boy is now a stranger among the known
He senses stuff, they say
He sees you with eyes closed
Who knows, and who can tell?
The unbeknownst sciences of this dreamless sleep
And the art of being perennially undying
Johny boy is in excruciating pain!
Only he can't tell, they say.
His blood and soul is sedated..
Thank good God for morphine
Johny boy Johny boy!


A vision. Not fleeting. A constant vision. Like a motion picture. Of sheets of rain lashing on me. And I feel closer to the open skies than I am. Arms stretched out, fearless, laughing in endless mirth. The cold numbs our fingertips. Ten of mine and the ten of his. Sometimes held, sometimes free. There's no urge to go back in and be shielded. From this, one brave night of latitude. Is this June? Or July? I forget. What did I want from life, I forget. All I have is this. There's a line of emptied glasses on the ledge. Ella Fitzgerald sings in the background. Just an iron railing keeps us from death like depths. Yet we don't jump, not yet. Now we swing from the skies. I see his eyes twinkle in the light of the splitting lightening and shut our ears as the deafening thunder might come anytime now.


I remember, not so long ago, we had been to this wedding reception and they had scotch eggs. The buffet counter had a long line, kids, women, shoving their emptied plates in the face of the serving guy. Scotch eggs make me go weak. I mean it. Being the person I am, I relate to food at a very emotional level. I don't like cooking, per se. I like whipping up quick stuff I can settle down with to engage in something else while. Eating. It's a comfort thing. You know. I have certain categories of comfort food. Things that make me feel safe, relieved. Comforted. Right now, all I want is scotch eggs. 

A certain cousin of mine, considered wayward, ran away from everything. He was depressed or something. Heartbroken, or close. Some girl must have been involved. I don't have any dearth of deranged cousins. Alcoholics, borderline sociopaths, girls who eloped to marry, and those who almost eloped to marry, cousins who died early, some who have a mind of their own, some who don't at all and are borderline maniacs. My genepool isn't decent as I am. Or I pretend to be. I force myself to pretend to be, And yet I feel like an outsider because I didn't break free like they did. And forced myself to conform. It's asphyxiating, as it is. Being two people. One on the outside and another for real. 

This gibberish, goes on in my mind all the time. I have this involuntary compulsion to end everything. Abandon everything. Start afresh. Or rather not at all. I find soothing in comforting words of those like me that have lived, written and died before me. Long ago. I find soothing in any distraction, if it lasts a decent amount of time. Mostly it doesn't. I just while away days and months. Losing year after year, In cold inaction. In desperate brooding. 

In this country, there are no disorders. We are all like this, and this is normal. So I seek no refuge. Is this cowardice? I wonder. Feels like it at times. The shame and the lethargy of an underachieving existence catches on and grounds whatever leap I could take. Ultimatley, I feel it is me that doesn't want to get out. That I live in this cave out of choice. I don't want out. So I don't get to get out. 

Yeah, that's it. 

Whole Again

While smudging kohl in my eye, I noticed a hole. A tiny hole to the corner on the lower flap, on the inside, towards the nose. I thought to myself, this must be the tear gland. Not the gland, but the orifice for the gland beneath. It's amazing, how I hadn't known where tears came from. After crying my eyes out. And today, it shows itself. It's like finding a blackspot under your chin. You had it ever since, without knowing. Without caring to know.

My mood lately is a cosine curve. I sink into troughs, for a set of predefined reasons. Loss, failure, disappointment, a deep, really deep sense of feeling misplaced. Mostly, I sink because I think I am stupid. Just foolish. And that's not a good thing, feeling foolish. Because it is accompanied with inexplicable anger. I choke myself screaming, howling, literally. I tear down wall hangings, punch pillows. It's like a mad woman has gotten into me. And I actually do relate to her in the span of my fit. And cry, cry a lot. I sink into the trough of the cosine. 

A while after, I consolidate. Very mechanically. Like an auto restoring system. I cool down. I feel up again. I try hard, really hard to convince myself that being a good person compensates for being stupid. I know, it doesn't. But I try. What can we do? I try to tell myself stories. That things will turn around. Even if they don't, I am strong enough to just take the shit. I fail, I shatter. I cry. Again.

And such, it goes on and on. I don't know if there's an escape, but an escape. I so want to feel whole again. 


I tend to be extremely myopic in terms of life. That I can't see beyond a certain point, I acknowledge. So I be within constraints. I don't see myself anywhere in the next 5 years, like they ask in job interviews. I don't see myself anywhere. I used to keep a vague imagery of myself at 40. But that's slowly fading. Pictures, we can't afford. Sometimes, just merely being, maintaining a decent status quo, is such a struggle. Breath sucking, blood curdling struggle. I had foreseen myself at this age that I am now, but when it's for real, it's nothing like that, actually. It keeps getting more and more disappointing. Because of the cages I built inside my head. And prefer to stay, incarcerated. 

There is an old man. He must be in his seventies. He wears a washed out dhoti and carries a huge sack of mudhi (puffed rice, for the uninitiated) on his head and climbs up four flight of stairs. He calls out in that shrill voice, he addresses the women in the houses as mothers, they may be less than half his age. And asks who wants mudhi. He also sells those balls of mudhi rolled in sweet jaggery. Golden looking delicious balls. He would arrive sharp at 9:30 almost on all week days. And that is the most chaotic time of the day for me, I would be swallowing an unchewed breakfast, in the self immolating shame of being late for work. The old man would ring the bell, I would open and shut the door within the span of a few seconds, refusing, caring not if we had enough mudhi or not. 

In afterthought. I would wonder. If I should have given him some money, just for taking all those stairs. I never did that though. 

Last Monday, I was taking a break, for several reasons. Life can get too much you know. I realized I was getting nowhere despite all the running and all the 9 o'clock chaos undertook daily. So I felt like showering in the evening for a few days, instead in the morning. I felt like being myopic all over again and took those days off. 

So, last Monday, I was there when the old man rang the bell. I was. I bought those delicious balls of mudhi rolled in jaggery.   

Red Light

Today she spread on her pink bedsheet. And stared back at the room once before heading out. The TV was adjacent to the bed, you needed no remote. The window was shut. The light was about dim. And blue. The bejewelled actress in the poster she had hung up, blushed, like everyday.

Out on the street a dozen other girls like her waited. They chuckled. Made expressions with their hands. Some lifted their skirts as they teased the men that walked by, rejecting them for fleshier and prettier looking girls down the street. If that didn't work, they lifted the veils off their breasts, before ultimately slashing their prices by a hundred or two, as a last resort.

But tonite she had decided, she wouldn't let anyone bargain with her. She needed the money. She would coil her hands around any man's neck, with all the love and all the desertion. And have what she is worth. No negotiation. She prayed that there be no raid that night. And went in one final time to check whether the mosquito coil had worked or what.


You lose hope, not overnight. Not over the night. That's too sudden. In the period of a night, you cry out. And wake up swollen. Eyes burning like fire. Skin glistening sorrow. But you don't lose hope. Hope sheds itself over days. Months. At times, years. You slowly let go. Consciously, breathing, let go, like noone's watching. But you are. You believe, that way it will affect you less. Pity you and forgive. Well, does it?

Similar to the process of unloving. Unloving, keep note, is not the same as falling out of love. It's an active verb. Falling out of love is more passive an event. more real, commonplace, easier. Unloving too, doesn't happen overnight. Slow squeezing of the heart, is supposed to take time. There is no anesthesia for this one. Quite the anti-process of amnesia happens here. Instead of forgetting, one remembers. Tiny details. So much that entire events feel little before the little nothings. Unloving takes its own sour time, and mostly with no certainty of results. 

What tempts me the most is that, is there freedom beyond these? Untethered freedom, as you would put it. I don't know. And ironically, I wouldn't want to. Either. 

Losing all hope was freedom.
- Narrator. Fight Club

Force Majeure

Nobody truly knows Anjum. Nobody cares. Nobody.

Anjum is a stout,  almost cuboidal, a person. Her braid finishes above her waist. Thinning towards the end, like a snake's tail and vanishing. She has a shiny black olive color of skin. Her lips are darker. Even, may be, probably. Nobody ever notices.

Anjum is a nurse. Has been for the last years. And years. Living with her parents in their reasonably respectable house.  A few years ago, word went around that her brother killed himself. There could have been a girl involved. Nobody knows a thing. They guess. Merely. Since then, right from the moment of the blood splattered sheets in the ambulance, from the moment of definite truth and numbing vagary of slit wrists, Anjum has taken the onus. Of seeing things through.

She meets death on a daily basis. Wrinkling by the month. Age seems to defy her. She must be what, forty now? Her parents though, don't seem to age. Thanks to hair color. And other things. Everybody considers Anjum to be a part of the walls or like a door. Like something that's never going to change, depreciate, or grow fuller. Sometimes they do greet her in the corridor. The same exact smile of years. 

I wonder. I vaguely do. Does she have thoughts? Does she wait for something that's going to alter everything about her life? 



I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that – everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.

I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.


Suddenly, I am seventeen again. There is a flickering candle by my window. The thin breeze shakes the flame a bit. Its dancing in the unforeseen darkness. I have a scrap of paper in my hands, crushed, in my fist. Minutes ago, I was writing a name on it. Some guy I was infatuated to at school. I unfold the crush and bare an edge of the sheet to the flame. I watch it catch fire slowly, I see the name burn.

Then I am thirteen, in between. My regular history teacher is on maternity leave. Her replacement's eyes shine when he teaches. He doesn't use the black board much. Just speaks, endlessly. I remember feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed. Pretty squirelly. History could be fun. I wanted the regular teacher to quit, I wish this one continued. 

I am twenty-two. Living in a big city. He brings me a coffee. I smile. We are so young. There are no promises. I tousle his hair. He likes it. These tricks seem to work. Everything feels like a fun experiment. My fingertips are new to touch. I feel the wind in my hair. And outstretch. On the way back that day, I trip and sprain my ankle.

In the end, I am twenty seven again. The time for promises has come and gone. My heart has been erased. Know what I mean. I am driven around. A lot. I run a lot, panting to find peace. I find it momentarily. Then let go, for chaos. I wonder if  anything has any meaning at all. I sob at weddings. Dabbing my fork into cheesecake after another. He asks me look up straight. Ahead. 

Celine: I was having this awful nightmare that I was 32. And then I woke up and I was 23. So relieved. And then I woke up for real, and I was 32.


Memory can free you sometimes. It's a tricky monster.

Here you are trying rigorously to walk out of a long gone love. Yearning for mighty consolation, anything. Anything at all. That could explain. In a quiet couple words, the rationale within the heart ache. Because you remember all the good stuff that love had gotten you.

Sometimes bad memory outlives good memory. But this time, good memory had erroneously outlived the bad one. As luck would have it. The heart cribs. And shrinks. Puts up ugly questions.

Then, one night, you are falling asleep. Exactly half way between being awake beginning to dream, your mind twitches, it unearths a painfull memory. Something you had subconsciously hidden, erased. And it's like God is peeking at you. Reason finds its rightful place. You feel lucky. Safe. Even, probably happy. Memory is one tricky monster.

True Calling

[22:17, 05/02/2015] dnm~: You don't answer, or judge me. Just listen. I look back at myself from the future and I am afraid I will fill with regret. For the person I am becoming. So devoid of ambitions. Or any will power. I am postponing things at some pretext or the other. I will get to that later I tell myself. It's a better job or a better city.. I just keep saying tomorrow. I am afraid I will never start. I saw a kid drive in a Mercedes today. Six years ago that wud have given me a rush. Today I looked at him and felt pale. I am some mundane autorickshaw hopper standing at cross roads waiting. Some people, by standers.. Tell me that I have so much potential. Whatever the fuck I am doing here. And I say tomorrow. Writing, which I thought was my sole calling; I don't find the time and space to write. Nor do I get the right frame of mind. You read all this and you come up with a dozen ways to make things better. But come down and lets be losers tonite. If that's okay and gimme a hug. Tighty tight.

The Poetry of Migraine

It begins as a small twitch at the temples. You don't even feel it until it gets bigger. And stronger. It, like a shrewd monster spreads to the rest of your head. It attaches to the back of your neck, refusing to budge. You pull your hair, like some insane woman. It doesn't go. Instead, it couples with all the lost shine in your life, absolutely anything and everything that isn't working out, which includes almost entirely everything, and blows into your face. That it's gonna sit on your head for hours and days, and that you may do whatever you want about it. You rustle through your bag to check for that lost bottle of balm. It's gone. Then you go looking for the pills. But the damn store was closed. Prolonged lunch break. It's only you who can't eat. You sit holding your head in your hands. You put your head down on the table, nothing subsides. You wonder if the power of your glasses has changed, whether it's that time in a decade when you should see the optometrist? Remember last summer when you stepped on your spectacles in his car and they got twisted. He took you to the shop where you had bought the spectacles, but the guy could un-twist only this much. So probably these repetitive migraines are because you are looking at the world through twisted glasses. Or it could be because you had a late lunch a few days ago? You would never know. You would never no. You can't watch TV. You start crying. You throw things in the air. Suffocate yourself with a pillow and fall asleep. Somehow. And the first thing you feel in the morning; is that migraine.


If I don't talk, I lose.
You and more.
I could as well, lose myself.
Might aswell.

Like a bee out of a bear's mouth.
In a snapshot, of continuum.
Like a particle of vacuum.
I paint a sorrow picture of loss.
Of departure, of delirium
If I don't talk.

As a child,
I assumed, I was a poem.
Comprehended to the one,
Who was adept enough to read.
Someone, who atleast knew the words

But it ain't that.
No man's too pedestrian
You've gotta sell, everything.
Nothing stands unquoted. Goddamn.
So talk, I must. F!

Don't curl 'round 'n 'round of me
Like an earthworm, or a newborn baby
I see the wrinkle in your neck
A mole on your shoulder, to the left

Don't do that, 'cause it deters my detachment
You know, that. Honeypot.
It makes me wanna shrink into your crevices too
And disappear, but that would be so inappropriate

Don't bite me, I don't wanna feel
The cringing of your jaws on my flesh
It makes me want to ooze the grief of my heart
Through the sighs of my breath
And that's not justice enough.

I wanna keep my grief. Stored underneath seven locked chambers
Like in fairytales, they do.
Lest I can't have you, let me suffer long and cause my soul to get away.
One day, 'cause that's the only way.


They made an odd couple. Like other real odd couples. Very distinct from the rest of everything. It was not just because she had grown a gothic look, or because he grew a beard when no one did. Nor was it because she swayed when she walked, like her waist was afloat over her legs, or because he was a drunk. They were odd, because you could sense it around them. When you saw them move past, or when you encountered them, uncomfortably in the corridor, or just stared at them stealthily while they were sitting at the most land-locked table in the cafeteria. It was almost impossible to get to them. And they let nothing out, either. No piece of information released about how they were doing, or what was going on in-between. Leave alone how much they loved each other and related crap. Sometimes it was difficult to assume if they had sex even, there was no PDA, none at all. Like a cold ice wall stood between them, not even holding of hands. Except that you spotted them together, and knew that they were. Together. They never let anyone take any guesses. So only naturally, they became pariahs. Both of them were iconoclasts. Like they sought each other out. They had no friends outside of each other. 

Then one day. Suddenly. Out of the blue. He died. It was a freak bike accident, On a Sunday winter morning. The fog was so thick that you couldn't see a foot ahead. Walking felt like walking in heaven. He must have been high. Like really high to be run over that bad. Everyone took the liberty to assume. That weekend was difficult. A peek into what a hell hole we were living in, and how horrible things did happen in life. They had broken up a week ago. Something must have caused that. Nobody knew what. She had gone home to deal with all that. When she came back Monday morning, the fog was still intact. The gloom had settled down on window panes and condensed into droplets of irreconcilable grief.  Nobody knew what to tell her. Or how to even begin.