Saturday, March 22, 2014

Of opened chests and unseen emails...

There was a time not-so-long ago
when an old man would die
loved ones would cry
neighbours would sigh
and time would pass by...
And after days or weeks
as thought appropriate
the house would have a visitor -
a lawyer, friend or associate
who would sit surrounded
by wide open eyes and hopeful hearts
wondering how the dead man's possessions
would be divided into parts.
And when all of it was said and done,
stuff would be moved, stuff would be sold
Some curious soul would find and open
a locked wooden chest covered in mould.
Lo and behold, diaries & letters,
moth-eaten photos with unknown faces,
cards sent on christmas and birthdays
and postcards from faraway places.
The family would sit together
excited, curious or even aghast
letters read, diaries violated,
all's fair in piecing together a dead man's past.
Summertime flings. War-time lovers
Philosophizing pals and holidaying friends
Reflections on life, Confessions in ink
Breaking Ties and Making amends.
And there in full glory,
through faded photos and musty paper
bits and pieces of many a caper
the dead man would come alive
as a devil-may-care fifteen year old
Or a strapping young lad at twenty-five.

And now I wonder
when I die
as a grumpy old lady at ninety
or a little younger at seventy-five,
People will cry
People will sigh
Time will pass by
Months will fly.
No lawyer will visit
With a letter in hand
No chests will be opened
No diaries will be scanned.
A couple of hard disks will be found
and even some DVDs lying around
But wading through TBs of photos and videos
would seem a choice unsound.
Maybe a Find would be done
on exciting, curious strings
'biggest mistake of my life'
'crazy night' or 'college flings'.
And when it would yield no results
memories would be overwritten
or renegaded to the back of a drawer
to be unreadably time-bitten.
Maybe a curious soul will search on my name
and find bytes of me shared over time
photos, reviews, statuses and thoughts
or blog poems that badly rhyme.
But undiscovered will they lie -
the drafts in my blog
the emails in my Inbox
the notes to self and recipes
stowed away in Google Docs.
None will find the emails
A friend and I wrote to each other
seeking meaning from the world
and solace from one another
Unseen will lie my chats and emails
about the beautiful places I travelled to
So when I am dead and gone
My experiences will be gone too.
None will see the story I wrote
about the child and his paper boat
or the one about the funny ghost
For I felt they were too naive to post
And there they will lie till eternity
or till the digital world would last
Unseen, unfound, all alone
the little 1s and 0s of a dead woman's past.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Wisdom in Diapers
5 life-lessons I learnt from my 1-year-old son

Last month my son turned one. When I take him out for a stroll or go visiting, I always get asked ‘oh he is one already….so does he walk, talk, do random-thing-that-babies-are-supposed-to-do? What all has he learnt?’ As I was sitting and going through his photos last evening, wondering how fast time has flown (and how stubbornly the pregnancy fat has stayed put), I realized that this little bundle of baby fat, itching-to-bite milk teeth and bum-in-diapers has taught me so much more about life than I have taught him.

I know I will never get asked ‘oh he is one already…..what all has he taught you?’ So here’s the answer to that non-existent question.

1. As a child I never shied away from asking for anything (whether a second helping of cake at a birthday party or some more comic books from my parents). But over time, society, age (sob!) and a constructed sense of etiquette taught me that asking is rude/indecent/greedy and a whole set of other adjectives. But Little Fellow has just been around for a year, doesn’t know what society is and cannot even spell or say etiquette. So he asks. When in want or need, he asks!

Propped in his pram, he goes for a stroll everyday. Everyday he passes by groups of old ‘grandpas’ and ‘grandmas’ sitting on the benches. He doesn’t even know them, but he grins at them, calls out to them in his baby-speak, wiggles his little finger to beckon them over and then with outstretched hands demands that they free him from the clutches of the pram and walk around with him in their arms. Every single day some grandpa or grandma obliges and achy-wobbly knees apart, carries him around. (while I go about wheeling an empty pram!)

My lesson: Ask and you may get, don’t ask and you will never get! So just go ahead and ask for it!

2. Little fellow has just learnt how to walk. He walks around the house, his legs spread slightly apart, wobbling like on a slightly tipsy Friday night. It was quite entertaining to watch him go through the entire process of learning how to walk. First, he would just try to lift his upper body from a sitting position. Then came the standing up phase. He would stand, he would lose balance, he would fall, he would get up again..and again…and again. It didn’t take him long to figure out that sticking out the bum is a good way to avoid falling on your face or hitting your head. It was his ‘safe landing’ trick. Even now when he is walking, at the slightest hint of losing balance, he sticks out his bum as far as he can…and then comfortably lands on it.

My lesson: Try and try till you succeed; but as you keep trying, also learn how to fail safe and land on your bum.

3. My husband and I both have a full-time job. So it is my parents who take care of Little Fellow at home. Ever since the first synapses in his brain kicked in, he started forming a map in his head of each one of us and what we can do for him. So anytime he is hungry or sleepy, he walks over straight to mom and starts tugging at her clothes. If he wants to be taken out for a stroll, dad it is. My husband is his go-to-guy when he wants to play. And I am the cuddly-wuddly bit (sigh!). Little Fellow also has a little equation worked out in his head for visitors. Women = hold you, kiss you, put you on the lap and sit on the sofa yapping away all evening. Men = hold you, throw you up in the air and catch you, take you around, let you play with keys….you get the drift. So when we have guests, he immediately locates the man in the group and goes to him.

My lesson: People are awesome to have around. Understand what they are there in your life for. Play to their strengths and your interests.

4. ‘Rules are meant to be broken’ is something that I have both heard and said oft enough. An old-school professor of mine once said during an examination ‘ copy if you must, but be smart enough not to get caught doing it’. My professor would have been super proud of my son.
He seems to have grown a new-found love for all little specks of dust, dirt, food or just about anything else that he finds on the floor. As he crawls or walks around, anything that stands out on the off-white tiles goes straight into his mouth. After doing the ‘baby please…pretty please’ nice mom thingie (with no success at all), I resorted to good old mommy’s-big-eyes-and-serious-face act. So now he knows its a rule. No eating stuff from the floor. Now comes the best part. When he finds something AND he knows I am looking, he comes over and obediently hands over the little speck to me. BUT, if I am not looking (and he checks that from the corner of his eye), it goes straight into his mouth.

My lesson: If you are breaking rules, you better be super-smart about it!

5. When he does something entirely unacceptable (like trying to put his finger, or my phone, into my cup of hot tea), I raise my voice a bit and do a pretend shouting, hoping that it will dissuade him from doing it ever again. How he responds to it is really interesting. Step #1: He shouts back at me in an equally loud voice. If I still have my big-eye-serious-look on, Step #2: He starts grinning and laughing, testing if I will budge (which, sadly for me, works many times) If not, Step #3: He comes over, hugs me and plants a big slobbery wet kiss on my cheek. (a surefire success). And if after all of this, I am still hell-bent on being a no-nonsense-mom, Step #5: He starts bawling. He shuffles around these steps depending on my mood and the intensity of what he just did. Usually by Step 2 or 3, I am a molten mom.

My lesson: There is no ‘one’ way to deal with a situation. Be creative in how you approach problems. Try anything and everything!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yellow Strawberries

One wayward wintery day
with the snow falling in chubby cherries, 
my heart took a sudden fancy
for canary yellow strawberries.
You fool, I said, strawberries are red
as red as blood can be,
pretty sure yellow there are none
not definitely the shade of canary.
But my heart did not listen,
that lubdubing hulk of a stubborn fellow,
it insisted that I try to find
strawberries in canary yellow.

Gloved, suited, coated and booted
racing through a flurry of flakes,
I made my way to the shed outside
home to oddballs and keepsakes.
There on the shelf lay a can of paint
and yellow it was too,
not as yellow as a canary can be
but to humour a fool it would do.

I brushed the strawberry layer on layer
with lemony dollops of yellow,
the more I brushed, the more it turned
an orangey hue of mellow.
I shot at it with a spray gun
a million yellowy speckles,
but red it was and orange it stayed
in solidarity with demony obstacles.
I tried and tried till there was
just a brushful of yellow in the can,
and suddenly I knew what to do,
like a flash in the proverbial pan.

I knew it was there somewhere
plunger, needle et al,
a souvenir of my tetanus shot
way back from an '80s fall.
With the point glistening in the dark
I ruptured the red fruit skin,
and sucked through the needle
a syringeful of red from within.
I drew out red juice from its heart
like a vampire on a full moon night,
I pulled, I drew, I sucked and I pulled
till there remained nothing but white.

With the red gone, the berry so white
thus spake color theory,
orange it will not be, it has to be yellow
a couple of shades afar from canary.
I pierced its heart, yet again
with the needle a menacing bright,
I spurted yellow into the strawberry
an inside-out vampire on a full moon night.
I waited for it to turn a yellowy hue
as the snow piled into the night,
but red it was, pale it turned
and it stayed a lifeless white.

That night the snowflakes swirled and fell
like a million crowds making wanton merries,
and my heart provoked, rebuked and smirked
at my failed hunt for yellow strawberries.
Why, I asked, did it not turn yellow
when I tried and tried so much,
red and yellow make orange I know
but white and yellow should be yellow as such.
You fool, laughed my fat-bottomed heart,
my whim was like the snow,
It lets you walk a million miles
but leaves no trace of where you go.
You think you took just its color
when every drop of red you stole,
but how would a strawberry turn canary
when you robbed it of its soul?

Monday, March 12, 2012

thought bubbles

something I wrote ages ago...

There was a blind boy who would sit by the plant in his garden talking to it, listening to the bird on the plant respond to his words with its own sweet song and thinking that it was the plant that was conversing with him in its own floral language. And then one day the bird flew away. The boy talked days and nights to the plant just to be met with a stony silence and a deaf ear. Not even a whimper or a bark from the bark. And he spent his entire life thinking that plants are strange moody beings….

There was a girl whose only wish was to sit in a bus…a double decker bus…more specifically, the upper berth of a double decker bus with both the window and her hair all open…the cool breeze caressing her face…her favourite music playing through the earphones….smiling away to herself…looking at the world outside just move by her window….and going across the world….from town to city to village annd back over and over again….just her, her window, her music, her bus and any and everything inside it….But she never did so….for she did not know what she would do if the bus were to ever run out of fuel….or she were to run out of songs….

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Unfinished Business

Well, its been ages since I have come face-to-face with my blog. And we aren't even estranged! So finally, after having been accused(!) of lethargy, laziness, disloyalty to blogosphere in face of zippier social networking and microblogging sites and running out of 'creative steam', I decided to take some 'action'. And since I almost always write about childhood, lost joys from the 80's and 90's and more miscellaneous blasts from the past, I decided to run through my old posts for some inspiration. But then, who wants inspiration when you can have salvation! So, to cut a short story shorter, I have decided to publish all those unfinished drafts lying abandoned among their much-complete, reasonably-commented over cousins in my blog dashboard. Open-ended stories that leave a lot to the reader's imagination are a rage nowadays. Open-ended films too! So why not open-ended blog posts, right?
I have skipped the drafts that ended much before you could even say 'draa...'. They would have been too open-ended, even for a well-endowed imagination.
I hope I have redeemed myself with this post and I shall not henceforth be accused of mind-block, writers-block or any such vagaries. QED.

15th October 2011 | Untitled
There was a 'right way' to put the audio cassette into its cover,
There was a place for stamps and 'stick-em-stones' in the top drawer,
There was a trick if the floppy disk got stuck inside,
There was a carrier for a bum-hurting bicycle ride,
There was a secret stash for summertime ice candies on sticks,
There were stars, 'v.v. goods' and neat red crosses and ticks,
There were peep-holed numbers on the phone that turned into a tizzy,
There were yarn-spinning, tale-telling neighbors who never got too busy,
There was one channel to watch morning, noon and night,
There was a wooden ruler for every hand in a class fight,
There was a fountain pen and a blotting paper too,
There was a home-made concoction for the annual bout of flu,
There was a pen friend in a difficult-to-spell place,
There was a tailor who made frilly 'umbrella' dresses with lace
There was always one more person to squeeze into the backseat,
There was a glass of 'Rasna' when you walk in from the heat,

15th October 2011 | Untitled
There he was, a raggedy old man,
with a toothless grin and parchment skin,
breath rasping and whistling with the wind,
reed thin bones rattling within.

Holding a bowl close to his heart,
He walked to where we stood,
Tasting raindrops as they trickled down our faces,
Feeling the clingy wetness of a newborn brood.

"Look my children....loooookkkkkk"
His palm uncovered the bowl just a tad bit
"Look how they lie in there....
Oh, look how perfectly they fit"

Smothered smile, hurried hush,
Heads nodded in a collective whole,
Ten eyes inspecting the invisible contents,
of a weather-worn bowl

"They were quite big once,
Oh yes, needing a sack that too,
I couldn't get them to sit still,
as much as I tried to...
They would leap and jump,
from day to night,

11th April 2010 | Untitled
Like the breeze that blows across the meadow
Silently stirring, casting no shadow
I walk alone along the street
Whistling in tune with my feet
Like the wind through a crack in the window

Like the sea touching every shore
Letting go and asking no more
I walk amidst the summer dresses
My face caressing the wind-blown tresses
Of perfect strangers I met not 'fore

Like a frivolous bee
On a springtime amorous spree
I devour the scents of the bazaar
The mundane with the bizarre
Feeling insanely happy and free

Like rain on a parched land
Satiating the hungry sand
I let the city fill me
With all I can smell, hear, touch and see
I let it hold my hand
And take me where it wants
To sights unseen and familiar haunts

16th November 2009 | Untitled
Its been quite a while since this location has seen some activity. Just like the good old ODIs and test matches losing out to their fancier sibling 20-20, blogging is also fast relegating its place to the pesky 'what are you doing?' and the naughty 'what's on your mind?' of the www world.
everything in a jiffy...hail the quickie !!! But let me not digress and stick to my original plan for this post. Actually this post is a celebration of a phenomenon that dug its feet in the ground and is braving the onslaught of the 'fast and the furious' craze that is sweeping the world. Ladies and gentlemen, presenting to you Bollywood. You may be in and out of a McDonalds with a full belly in 5 minutes...but you still got to keep that $$$ glued to the seat for 3 whole hours to watch the split-second softening of the father's face on the train station as he lets go of his daughter's hand to send her to her beloved to walk (in this case, ride) into the sunset. No shortcuts brutal edits. Just good old stories taking their own sweet time to crawl from that white screen with lots of text on it to those defining bold words THE END.
Stalking and watching the girl from behind the college wall. 3 months. Getting to know the girl's name. + 2 months. Writing your first love letter. + 1 month. Discovering your family's longstanding feud with the girl's family. - 25 years. Fighting goons, hired policemen and emotional blackmail alike. + 3 months. Holding the girl of your dreams in your arms as the police takes away the repentant cruel uncle and his hired goondas and the flowers and kissing birds cover the screen. Priceless. Laying the foundation for a sequel. + 9 months. See? Whoever proposed that the world is moving towards a faster life has jolly well left Bolly out of his calculations.

Yeah yeah....I know my account of Bollywood is outdated by atleast 10 years. The kissing birds, holding hands, family feuds are so passe...they died with the late 80s or maybe the mid 90s...but hey

Saturday, April 09, 2011


Just how long
can you hold a flight
by its wings
in the hope that
the passion in those feathers
would soon flutter and die...
Just how long
can you cup a bud
in your two hands
praying that it would
never embrace the world
with its blossoming eyes...
Just how long
can you cage freedom
behind bars
with the audacity to believe
that the spirit is no stronger
than the metal that encircles it
Just how long
can you tether to reality
the wild child of imagination
grudging it the giggles
and squiggles of laughter
of its make-believe world.
Just how long
can you put your arms
tight around a moment
lest it run away
in the blink of an eye
and be lost forever
Just how long
can you push back tomorrow
willing it to return
to the land of its origin
and never be the reality
that you wake up to.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Aren't humans boring
and terribly non-exciting
working for a living,
pushing and fighting
burying a dream or two
every passing day
one has got to be real
feet on the ground, they say!

And that is why, my friend,
I write of butterflies
masters of their will
creatures of the skies
free to soar and dip
and then rise again
gliding on wingfuls
of sunshine and rain

Aren't adults a mess
with thousand thoughts
and a million minds
calling the shots
divided loyalties
and fragmented hearts
like actors on a stage
playing their parts

And that is why, my friend,
I write of children
with minds and hearts as pure
as dew in morning sun
feeling thinking and
living in totality
knowing not what is
an alternate reality

Aren't humans mundane
with limbs that walk and hold
eyes that see no far
and fingers that simply fold
limited in nerve and sinew
and the length of our bones
fenced in by our frames
shackled by our skintones

And that is why, my friend,
I write of magical elves
wish granting fairies
and babbling bookshelves
figments of imagination
on a flight of freedom
residing on the ramparts
of our so-called wisdom

Isn't it wonderful, my friend
to be able to escape
the smallness of our being
the monotony of our lifetape
turn words into wings
and fly with the butterflies
gurgle with the children
and experience magical highs
Words are but rabbitholes
in the fence of our lives, my friend
escape routes to a world
far from a reality that we cannot mend.