The couch

Somewhere, someone must have imagined how your life would turn out. Is that why he carved your legs with more intricacy than he might have done otherwise? Is that why you have now so gladly borne the weight of  dreams,  words, those languid moments spent in absent thought, long, lazy afternoons gazing at the recklessly blue sky, nights spent setting right errant words that always seem to slip the editorial eye, those long minutes when  loneliness seamlessly morphs into solitude? Is that why you have become the most favourite place of the family to seek solace from, when all propriety can be discarded and one can lie, legs askance, head firmly tucked atop your luxurious cushions and eyes lost to some faraway event in slumberland? 

When he made you, he must have left a little bit of  his soul in you.  That is perhaps why I can listen to you speak in your many tongued languages of silence. How I learned from you the art of resilience, to never buckle under the weight of those few hundred extra calories piled on during  endless rituals of fasting and feasting, glean hope from an endlessly long night, pull away a strand of sunlight slipping past and  at the end of a long, hard day,  unburden my every pore with the delicious knowledge that I will never be let down. 

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name

Tags

,

i am no longer known

as my father’s daughter,

for when he gave me away,

i gave up his name.

 

so, all that remains now,

of umbilical love,

are bodily reminders,

quiddities,

inherited,

and some,

practiced.

 

today,

my love is my suffix,

my childhood,

metamorphosed.

 

in this world,

my childhood name

recedes

into memory

but resurfaces

every night

as words.

 

Featured in ‘Suvarnarekha An Anhtology of Indian Women Poets Writing in English’, edited by Dr. Nandini Sahu, Published by The Poetry Society of India, 2014

Brown

Tags

,

my darkness was dark enough

for unkindness that flowed

from fellow adolescent tongues,

from teachers who never picked me

to offer gifts and bouquets

to visiting guests,

even when i stood first,

in every subject,

broke into ribbons at finish lines,

danced, sang, debated and won.

 

my dark skin turned me away

from many suitors,

misguided by poetic metaphors

to moon-skinned damsels.

 

but in the end,

it was my surgeon’s hands

they all turned to

even before they called out

to their dark skinned gods.

 

 

Published in Suvarnarekha, An Anthology of Indian Women Poets Writing in English, Edited by Dr. Nandini Sahu, Published by The Poetry Society of India, 2014

death

it’s lurking.

in corners that we pass by ever so often. phone calls that we put on hold until tomorrow. the silence between now and later. empty promises of ‘catching up’, forgotten as soon as they are made.  emotions that tumble forth without rhyme. our refusal to let go. or our hesitation to pick up threads. moments spent over smartphones.  fast-forward days without pausing.  dollar bills. second hands on clocks. the pride of busy days and sleepless nights.  hopes of a quieter day in the distant future. and in our necessity to move on.

it’s lurking. and perhaps that is why we move faster, hoping to outwit it while we can.

clouds

it’s an all too familiar feeling. it’s a searingly hot summer day and yet the clouds hang over the head like the weight of an iron ball.  as the temperature rises, a disquieting feeling slowly begins to sink; tugs at the heart and gently drags it down. it’s almost like in slow motion.

somewhere past the sheer curtains, there’s the sound of water pouring down from a forgotten overhead tank. on an ordinary day, this would have triggered the activist and shuddered the poor plumber into never forgetting to turn the motor off—at least for some time.

but now, it brings back memories of another kind—fear. will the next generation ever enjoy the luxury of watching their overhead tanks overflow? what will the grandchildren’s summers be like? will they be able to pluck off the shade from a tree on the road? will they have enough water in their bodies to sweat? to cry?

the sound of children laughing and playing cuts through the lead like weight on the head and sends it plummeting down.

tears in free fall.

tears for now. the past. and for tomorrow.

 

skeletons in my cupboard

 

an explosion of familiarity

greets me as I turn the key.

the creak on the left door as it opens,

the one nail that refuses to stay rooted

faint hints of lavender sachets

and naphthalene balls that run amok

when i look for that yellow kurta

amongst the haphazard piles of clothes.

the favourite stole that is

always placed atop the pile,

bright silks and sensuous chiffons that vie

for attention when there is somewhere to go

pyjamas, deplorable,

the carry-over jeans from grade 10,

that cannot slip past my knees

and the many favourite bright silks

that I made my own

from my mother

 

amidst it all,

I chance upon

a card or two

written in a rush of love,

tax returns and receipts for gold —

gentle reminders of all

that we must do

to live tomorrow

certificates of running races in kindergarten

medals of victory, now etched in faded silver

diamond earrings in velvet pouches

coins and vermillion from temples around the world

birth certificates and wills,

albums and handwritten letters

of times gone by

 

when i am not looking

for my everyday masks,

in those rare,

unhurried moments,

I open doors

to another world.

Emotions rush,

a nostalgic smile,

a silent tear

the guilt of indulgence

the greed of want

wish lists and wishful thinking

and yes,

the sense of

belonging and

longing to be.

 

all locked in a cupboard

waiting to break free.

 

 

 

 

My Will

Tags

,

To you, my daughter, i gift my smile

Take it with you when you build those bridges,

For it will better stand the test of time.

Use it often on the old and young,

For a smile speaks of hope,

Where words and gestures fail.

To you, my little one i give my dreams

For it is they that have carried me this far

Carry them in your sleeve,

Wear them in your heart,

Drown in them each time you come upon

Unknown terrain, unseen fears,

You’ll find them handy enough to mould

Your life the way you want it to be.

To you my parents, i leave my memories

Dwell on them, each time you cry

And listen to them sing you lullabies

With time, they’ll teach you to let go

Like you have done many a time before.

To you, the one who shares our parentage,

I entrust my hopes, for it will be up to you

To carry forward the wonders of our lives,

To remind the future of where we came from,

And where we belong.

To my friends, i wrap around you my warmth,

Lest you ever feel the empty spaces where

We laid over endless cups of coffee,

Our threadbare lives.

And to you, my love i leave nothing.

Nothing save freedom from everything

That binds you to me.