Wednesday, 6 August 2014

eternal horizons

Between the cross crashes of the mid-month waves
The noisy disquiet attempts to recapture,
The five tempestuous elements that have been left for dead,
Goes forth to pull me
Toward the night’s foaming, expansive exhibit of desire
… Don’t try so hard;
I’d gladly yield

Who is that?
A rhinestone ring on a rotting toe
Beams at me
The back of the foot lined,
Designed to delight an astrologer of feet
Destiny that he and I meet?
The raw boat of planks with a solitary light;
That hangs from a decomposing rod?

Would I sail into salt and serenity?
Lands of pure serendipity
Perched on a stranger,
Who nods gently;
Clothed in fossil weed,
Cloaked in the wisdom of disappointing history?
Into the land of air,

And eternal horizons?

ocean walking

The weak 6 am sunlight streams in through the ragged red curtains, transforming her brooding boudoir into a mysterious chamber of rust. And as she teeters at the edge of wakefulness, she feels herself sucked into an ocean of lust. Crows bray, donkeys caw, children cry, milk vans yawn down the road outside. Entirely immaterial, terribly mortal. The familiar cymbal-ic taste of metal spreads across her tongue; puts a silencer on her tympanum. Jazz hands, shiver, shiver, shimmy. A tireless tingling rolls down her chest, like lightly warmed wild honey; it reaches for her belly button- the holy trail of sensation. Invisible fingers trace a waltz around this powerful button- second in command in the quest for O, second only to the holy grail of ecstasy located further south. But to get there, one must cross the district where pelvic personnel hold fort, guarding the throne below with calcium caution. They allow only the purest, most persistent of passions down the valley of crevices, into the receptacles of wild oats. There they may partake of an affair that is as sweet as Japanese sticky rice, sour as young plum, fiery as hot sauce, rhythmic as a slow rumba. 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Winter fortress

All manner of riff, raff and trash
The unholy, the ugly, the unintelligent
They flock the church
In a procession of silent adoration
Hopeful hymns forming in their hearts
That never dare leave their lips

It isn’t a beautiful structure, the church
But it beguiles in its solitude, in its lack of apparent beauty
Leaves the viewer in the lurch
In a land of excess in the way of gleaming glass tower
This tome made of the earth stands like a warlock in power
Written to completion
With bricks of contradiction
Particles of dark secrets, so fine they’re almost colloidal
Collide with sterling specks stolen from the Nephilim 

Ancient gums of tempestuous love
Piece them all together
Giving the institution a stench that
Altogether cannot be ignored
Like dogs drawn to a bitch’s piss
They come sniffing greedily
Put off in the gut, turned on in the gonads

But the unholy, the ugly, the unintelligent
They’ve been deceived wholly
For, the church isn’t a church at all
It is a winter fortress
A glacial manor

Closed for renovation, go away

Tuesday, 3 June 2014


Twins they may be, with diaphanous DNA strands that beat with the same helical heart. The strands float like jellyfish- empty and packed with sting all at once- in a bloody ocean through which echoes a steely whisper, 'They are but the same, they are but the same...'. In every way an exact copy of the other. Identical, down to the purple moles on their left earlobes, the Roman noses with Parisian peaks.

Destiny has deemed their faces disparate. For, their sorrows haven't cried the same tears. Their cries haven't plucked the same heart strings. Their hearts haven't sung the same bird songs. Their songs haven't painted the same love stories.

Therefore their faces, as science insists, are but the same. Their souls, however, paint a coat of varnish across their visages. An invisible paint that trumps science. An invisible paint that is more blatant to the keen observer than the purple moles, the Roman noses with Parisian peaks.

Monday, 12 May 2014

My Mother's Magic Madness

I remember London’s cosy underground more vividly than I do its drizzly above-ground. That was the trip… the one where I started inheriting her magic madness for travel.
When I was 15 years old, my mother insisted on spending an entire day exploring the London underground. We were on vacation and the nomad-at-heart, who had long fantasised about visiting said city, declared that the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Madame Tussauds could wait. Down under before all else, she announced. So, armed with a day pass, we got into our first train. At Paddington, we de-boarded and began walking around- never leaving the station itself (we’d cleverly packed sandwiches and fruits). Pierced and patterned stray buskers vended their electronic art, two men smooched, a homeless old man sang the blues... we took photographs of them all. When we’d exhausted all the entertainment options, we got into our next train, only to jump out at the next stop, regaled by the sight of a man who seemed to be reciting poetry. On closer inspection, we found the bard was crooning loony tunes. He began chasing us, angered by his own madness. We ran for our lives and right into an incoming coach, laughing our heads off, half scared. We kept at this flighty behaviour- trainspotting and hopping- until sunset. Then, it was back to ground reality and ground level.
The adventure was not to end yet, however. As we ambled onwards arm-in-arm, we chanced upon a wig shop decorated with plastic streamers and Moulin Rouge lights. She pulled me in excitedly. At this dystopic Barbie-land, we spent a good hour trying out a series of outlandish mock manes- blue, blonde, curly, poker straight, crimped, satiny, cheap, exorbitant. She looked like the most beautiful woman in the world, in a certain black silken wig that brushed against her hips. The amused shopkeeper wanted to gift us a smart bob. No thank you, bye. Skipping, conversing, cackling, we next made our way to an empty Indian restaurant that was dying to the tunes of an outdated Hindi film song, in which my dear vegetarian vagabond asked the waiter a million questions about the peas pulao before settling for a simple dosa. Back at the hotel, she tucked me into bed and secured all the locks. Together, we made great plans for the next day- riding a red bus, tickling the royal guard, posing by the Big Ben, a Happy Meal at Mc D,  waxing eloquent at Madame T- till sleep shut us up.
Such was the average day spent with my mother. And I inherited some of her madness.
In Dandeli, where I went on a short trek last year, I encountered a poisonous cobra. I near fainted but could almost hear my mom giggle and inch closer to the reptile, to stroke it. In Bangla Road, I knew she was ready to drag me back to the hotel as I continued dancing towards a tequila sunrise. She was the perfect company on my drive to Auroville- she didn’t change the music, she didn’t tell me how to drive, she left me be. When I held the pocket-sized Olive Ridley turtle in Hikkaduwa, I felt her blowing them tickly air kisses past my ear. In Melaka, I sensed her guffawing at the young mother who had her two tots on a cotton leash. In the Himalayas, she and I had great, wordless conversations as I trudged through snow, water, mud and silence. On my many train journeys to Bangalore, she tells me stories of my younger days, just as she always has.
Except nothing is as it always was.
The travels are many, the adventures aplenty, and I’d be a fool to grumble. As long as she’s there in spirit at least, I shall resist uttering words of complaint. After all, her magic madness is forever and inextricably entwined in my own DNA. 

Faded blue hat

The faded hat was once a regal, royal blue. The faded man who wears it now was a regal, royal boy when he first saw the hat on his pillow.
He was 14 when his mother left the striking new cotton helmet on his bed. ‘Wheee!’ he had cried, spotting it in repose on his pillow, when back from school. The pages of the much-thumbed magazine in which he’d first laid eyes on the royal headgear perched on a blond model’s crown gently rustled in the sleepy evening breeze, as if celebrating with the young man. In front of the mirror, the proud owner stood for hours, taking in his newly-regal reflection. The blue perfectly matched not his deep brown eyes but the depth of his determination. To be worthy of the hat someday.
Fifty years on, the boy, now a man of 64, twirls his hat absent-mindedly, till his eyes settle on the vanishing words etched on the inside…
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
Love forever,
So used is he to seeing those words, he merely regards them as a part of the hat these days. But today, the memory haunts him.
They studied in the same college and she was taken in by his wit from day one. He took his time acquiring a taste for her, but when he did, he wanted her to be his every meal. They spent all their time together. Reading, creating, loving, just being. Seven years later, she was taken by the Grim Reaper. The pain was acute and he buried his head in his hat, weeping endlessly. That’s when he noticed the tiny inscription from his lost love. He didn’t even know when she’d written it there- lines from her favourite poem. She’d loved him in secret between the shadow and the soul; now, between his head and his hat.
The years succeeding the death of VA went by in an OH-and-ho fuelled haze. Some of the drunken nights were really not too bad. His mates and he would hit the local pub and drown their respective worries in pegs and pints. The revelry was there; so was the occasional rivalry. The rust-coloured spray on the brim of the hat was testimony to the swipe he’d taken at his best friend who’d sneezed blood as a result. It was a silly fight and the swipe was meant to be light. The stain stuck; luckily, so did the best friend. 
His buddies, most of them collected during his school days, are just as faded as he is. Jaded as he is. And to think something as stupid as a food fight could excite them back in the day. The tiny stains strung together during those chip wars now present themselves as a necklace of persevering oil beads. A chain of good memories.
A memory he isn’t too fond of… the period when he’d abandoned his hat at the back of the closet, in favour of a shiny silk fedora. He was a successful businessman at that time. With a dog, a house and a trophy wife who’d picked the new hat out for him, to go with his newly-acquired invincibility. When it had all come crashing down two decades later, the vultures fed hungrily on the remains, leaving naught but the faithful blue hat. It was in quite a state, having been fed on by all manner of pest and pet, but came back to life after a wash- retaining only a few itsy-bitsy holes.
Wearing it, he ventured right back into the rat race, starting at the bottom of the pyramid- where the perks are few, but perspiration is aplenty. The streaks of sweat decorated the hat too, in the manner of an ECG, as seen through the eyes of a drunk.
It was stressful. The hat has the rapidly-falling hair to show for it. Brown hair, grey hair, even white hair sometimes. His hair is fading. The memories seem to be fading faster. His eyesight too. And his sense of smell and taste.
He hangs up his hat. On the steel bridge beneath which lies a sea of eternal solace.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Summer is a fruit

Orbs of varied greens and varying sizes lie in a state of restless repose on hot hay, as if waiting to hatch. Hatched they are by a hatchet in a moment of thirsty rage. Large cups of watermelon soaked in Ballantine, mix and make merry in our small intestine. Pink blood dribbles down the corners of greedy lips, black seeds slip out inconspicuously and settle into the earth, hoping to be caught by a stray wheel and transported to more fertile growth zones. Thus begins the summer every year- in a feverish flash of green, red, stripes and fruit flies.

It’s like a carnival. Vendors haggle, their voices carrying way over town in musical, manic notes. The fragrance of dry hay nudges images of past summers' rustic rendezvous into our heads. Roadblocks are rife where there is an obese watermelon and a sharp knife. We are all like patients at a clinic, waiting in line for a precious transfusion of liquids. Smiles intermingle with sighs of ecstasy, as couples feed each other and kids jiggle their bottoms. There’s laughter and an unsaid communal dance in progress. Freeze the moment mid-note- when the Sustainers strum and the flies hum… mid-step- when there’s an entwining of limbs and a visual exchange of untainted nothings. The moment, all shy and gooey, is sealed by a concentrated ray of sunshine that reflects off a passing car. Laminated for a lifetime in a sweet glaze of transitory innocence.

Generous fruits they are, that give their lives up for us. The watermelons we consume now will, till the time we say our final goodbyes, remain with us, captured by our clever memory cells. We are all part human-part watermelon. Man is melon; melon is man. A great conversation starter for sultry soirees, in the midst of hubris-cloaked herbivores and uncaring carnivores, perspiring bodies and precipitating thirst. The seeds that we accidentally swallow… we can only hope that a watermelon patch may, several generations later, grow over our final resting spots. A communion that is to never break. Like foetuses that are nourished and held in place by a conduit called the umbilical cord, we too delight in being nourished by our vine-like conduits. We hold on to them and begin the sweaty trek out of summer.

Meanwhile, the sun continues to slowly disrobe, exposing us to an inch more of his harsh perfection every day. In a few days, the melas of melon will begin to rust. The heat will dislodge logic, vendors will vanish, kids will collapse, couples will breathe synthetic ice in concrete caves. Green globes will be smashed upon jagged pavements. Tread carefully, man of melon, lest you trip on the very flesh that sated you so. Be prepared to be afflicted by the inevitable seasonal jaundice that will skulk through your veins and cloud your vision. You will begin to see the world like a much-and-many-times married Mughal emperor might have gazed at his nubile lover through a cut of topaz.

Rest awhile, thirsting comrade. In a few days, the sun will ripen to a sweet slush. We can then squeeze it, scoop it, bite in, let it run wild down our hands. In our dreams, we can dance the mango tango as pulpy cords bind us to heavens of swarthy skin and fluid flesh. The saccharine scent of summer will eventually arrive to make juice out of our jaundice, and tide us through yet another season of rust, lust and daydreams of August.