Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Auburn Passenger

You see her on the train
with her auburn wig.
Neatly brushed and
carefully held in place
with a black cloth hairband.
And you see the eyebrows.
The painted twin arches
above her quiet eyes.
Giving a slightly bemused
expression to her
otherwise calm face.
You wonder what's wrong.
You wonder if her cells
are waging a cancerous
war against her.
Surely she has built
an army of her own
to fight those
impudent rebels?
But its artillery scars
the land of her body too.
The shells of medication
lay her to ruin.
The shrapnel of radiation
pierces through.
And as you stare unseeingly
at the book in your hand
you feel a little silly
to be worrying about crow's feet
and lost loves and to do lists.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Come here
and lay over me.
Head to head,
toe to toe.
The pillow of your palms
forming the perfect hollow
under my head.
Let me feel your weight
slowly sink me into the mud.
Let me feel something, anything.
The cage of your ribs,
the beat of your heart
the pebbles gently nudging me
in the small of my back,
the dew of the trampled grass.
Come, just lay here.
Your hair against my cheek. 
And keep me from floating away.
Like a fallen leaf,
a sweet wrapper,
a half-hearted whistle
carried away on the wing of a gust
on a crisp, windy day.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


बंध गयी दीवारें 
बिना झरोकों के तो क्या?
दरारों से बेहेती रोशनी
क्या कुछ कम चमकती है?
पेहेली बारिशों की 
सौंधी सी खुशबू,
दीवारों के इस पार भी
तो उतनी ही मेहेकती है.  

दुनिया की खामियाँ 
अगर ढूंडोगे तुम,
तो उँगलियों पर
गिन न सकोगे.
हर एक खोट पर 
अगर होगे नाराज़,
तो खामखा तुम ही थकोगे.

आखिर कमियों के
खालीपन को भरने से
हम क्यूँ हिचकिचाते हैं?
खुरदुरे पन्नों पर लिखे
टेढ़े-मेढ़े से शब्द भी तो
गीतों के बोल बन जाते हैं. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The poet

I bleed out on the chalk white paper.
The words glisten dark and red.
And it makes me wonder.
Is my pen the hired mercenary of my sorrows,
or my sorrows the ill-fated children of my pen?

Inspired by the life of...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A drink with friends.

Out came the plastic cups.
The chipped mugs and paper plates.
The peeling, chalk-white walls were lit up
with old fairy lights left behind by the landlords
and Chinese lanterns fit for traveling gypsies.
The couch dusted and cushions laid out
on the yellow tiled floor.

They came in groups, laughing.
In couples, with entangled hands.
Alone, carrying bottles of cheap wine
and dark rum and beer.

They sat in a circle, pouring the drinks out
gulping them down with salted peanuts,
packaged chips, small talk, dirty jokes
and philosophy for company.

There was an old guitar
and someone to pluck the strings.
They sang the good old songs
in bad voices that pranced naked
and unashamed on the night air.

He sat amidst them
and joked and laughed,
and sang and danced.
He poured the drink
and it crawled into him
like a piece of the greasy ocean.

His arm snaked into his mouth
past his swollen throat
choking out all the words
held captive there in the dark.
His hand reached in
and pushed down
his bloody, turgid heart.
Drowning it in the fuming marshes
of intoxicated oblivion.
Drown, he quietly told his
welling, wailing heart.

Suddenly he stood up.
His head reeled and he clutched
on to the fairy lights to steady
himself. The flickering pink fairy lights
from a long forgotten Christmas perhaps.

Why don't you all leave? He screamed at them.
I don't even want you here in my house, he said.

They helped him in then.
Pulled off his shoes and rolled off his socks.
He lay there quietly breathing under
the dark calm of the bed sheet.

When all the songs were sung
and all the anecdotes told.
when the bottles were empty
and the sky full of blue-red light
they left, as they had come.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


फिर सुनाई देते होंगे
गर्मियों की रातों में बतलाये हुए 
वो अजब-गज़ब किस्से.
मिचकती आँखें,  चटकते होंठ
और उस आखरी आम के बाटे हुए
वो ठीक चार हिस्से.

घुटनों पर लगी चोटें,
मानो साहस के ख़िताब.
मैदानों में छिड़ी जंग,
और कटी पतंगों के अनगिनत हिसाब.

लाल-लाल साइकिल के वो सर-सर घुमते पहीये
फिर धूप में यूँही चमक जाते होंगे.
ढलती हुई शाम में माँ से बस-थोड़ा-और 
वक़्त मांगते बचपन के खेल,
मन को ज़रूर बेहेलाते होंगे.

पैरों के नीचे से फिसलती वो समय कि रेत
मन को फिर गुदगुदाती होगी.
बीती बारिशों कि वो सेहेमी सी, सौंधी सी हवा 
बालों को फिर धीमें से सेहेलाती होगी.
लगता है आज ऐसा मुझे कि,
उन चंद आखरी लम्हों कि परछाई में,
मौत के धुंधले खयाल से ज्यादा,
ज़िन्दगी कि याद ही शायद आती होगी.

Friday, July 22, 2011


I'd write you an ocean
Gentle waves
watched over by the sky
I’d write you laughter
A song full of happy clichés
I’d write you one of those too.

I’d write you a fairy tale
With ice-cream rivers
And chocolate houses
I’d write of magic and granted wishes
Slain dragons, princes and midnight kisses
Yes, I would.
I would write of happy endings
And ever afters.

I’d write you a journey.
Winding through mountains
Covered with moss and flowers
Mist and snow
I’d write of Time
Waiting by the side of an unpaved road
Taking you along
Keeping you company.

You must believe
Don’t you?

That if I held the pen of fate,
I'd write you a life of glory.
I'd write you a different love.
I'd write you a different story.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Midnight Morning

She woke up quietly, careful not to disturb her sister sleeping beside her, even hushing the silken cover of the quilt that had the habit of rustling like the wings of a restless bird. Pulling at the mosquito net tucked under the mattress she gingerly placed one foot on the cold floor, holding in her gasp as the chill ran up her leg. Bundling herself in a shawl she flitted out of the room, closing the door softly behind her, gritting her teeth as the old hinges squeaked in the stillness of dawn. The alarm had been switched off. The dripping tap had been shushed. She needed her sister to be sound asleep; at least till she had gotten ready and left the house.  

Today was not the day for a leisurely cup of tea on the back porch. Kish-mish, the ancient family dog, now truly as wrinkled as a dusty raisin, did not get his usual share of attention. The red and yellow rose bushes were told to bear their thirst a little longer. The glitzy glamour supplement of the daily paper was given all but an unceremonious glance. Even the tall mirror in the hall was kept waiting for the everyday spectacle of a dancing, prancing reflection.

She didn’t have much time and tackled all her tasks with swift efficiency. Water was heated in the old, rusty boiler standing in the middle of the earthen courtyard like a relic from some lost era. Steel buckets were carried by feminine yet surprisingly strong arms. Steam wafted out of the small ventilator high up on the wall along with the intoxicating perfume of the latest crème and avocado soap that was being advertised as a favourite among bollywood stars. Long tresses were quickly dried and laced with a few drops of jasmine scented oil. Skin was softened with rich creams and the face was spruced up with snowy white talcum. Ittar was dabbed onto a graceful nape and translucent wrists.The kohl clung to the almond shaped eyes as lashes were demurely batted. Glittering jutis showed off their arrogant beauty under the mischievous rays of the pale early morning sun. Now there was just one thing left to do before she could run off to her friend’s wedding, being held in the most lavish hotel in the town.

She scrunched up her eyes as she braced herself against the inevitable squeak of the door. Opening it just a crack, she tip-toed into the room. She took a jingling bunch of keys off the hook next to the switchboard, deftly separating the right key and holding the others tightly in her fist to muffle their chatter. The lock on the green-blue Godrej almirah opened with two twists of the key. She couldn't help but stare. She ran her fingers over the fabrics – sheer georgette, silky satin, slippery chiffon. She took in the shimmering stars, the heavy brocade and the intricate embroidery. Then with a furtive glance at her still sleeping sister she slipped the last hanger off the rod.  Though it was still covered in crackling plastic she could instantly tell the smoothness of the fabric. It looked like she held a chunk of the midnight sky, purple-black, in her hands. The stars twinkled, some turquoise, some silver, arranged in eclectic patterns. But just as she slipped the plastic cover off, the hanger fell with a loud clatter. Her heart stopped as her sister awoke with a start.

Even through the criss-crossing haze of the mosquito net she could see the anger in her sister’s eyes. “What the hell are you doing?” her sister demanded. She looked to the ground and replied meekly, “Didi. It is Naseem’s wedding today... I just...” “So? You thought you could just steal the best thing from my wardrobe, something even I haven’t had the chance to wear yet, and run off?” Her sister seemed livid. Only if her sister hadn’t woken up, by evening the anger would have simmered down. Big, fat tears started welling in her eyes. But then suddenly, out of nowhere, her sister started laughing. “Oh my God. Look at your face. Please don’t cry. It’ll only spoil the kohl you have so carefully applied. I was joking. I know it’s Naseem’s wedding. Take it. You’ll look so beautiful in it. The turquoise sequins will set off your charcoal eyes. Mine are too hazel for this one anyway.” She stared at her sister, bewildered. “Really?” she finally managed to croak. “Of course. Why go through all this trouble? All you had to do was ask.”  She ran to her sister and hugged her, bringing the mosquito net crashing onto their heads. They burst into uncontrollable peals of laughter as they tried to disentangle themselves.

As she sat in the rickshaw, on her way to Naseem’s wedding, her fingers gently caressed the tiny, diamond like turquoise sequins bordering the delicate lace veil of her new burqa.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I wish I was prettier - said she.
Under the blanket pitched like a tent,
the torchlight pointed straight at her face.
A pale ghost, slightly cold to touch.
She was falling to pieces.
Cracks were opening up
and the world was tumbling
into her like a salty ocean.
The night was mushrooming
on her skin like pestilent clouds.
But she cared not.
She just wanted to be prettier.
For me.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


I can't write about me.
Can't put pen to paper and let
my dark blood flow like ink.
Or let my thoughts unfurl and
congeal on the blank sheet.
So I stub myself out along
with the blue-gray smoke
and write about you instead.
You seem to emerge from
those ashes slowly piling
high in the cheap white mug.
And you float like an apparition
in front of me. Revolving in the
light of the table lamp.
I make you run through meadows
or sob desperately in despair.
Or I let you make love in the bright pink
afternoons amidst dancing sun rays.
You are pale flesh with quiet
blue veins and raven hair.
You are slightly watery big eyes
and biting nervous lips.
You are the smell of fading perfume
and stale white wine drunk too fast.
You are an arching back, red
painted toes and freezing finger tips.
You are love, you are insanity.
You are art, you are profanity.
You are the face I often see
fleetingly in large crowds
Or sometimes in my crowded dreams.
And those are the times it seems,
I write, I write about us.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


दीवारों पर दो नाम लिखने तक की  ना थी जगह,
यूँ मिट रहे थे साए अपनी ही रंगत में.
दीवारों पर रची ये शाम थी इस तलक गेहेरी,
कि आसमा में सजे लहूलुहान बादल
भी पड़ गए थे हैरत में.