December 31, 2011

A day in the life - IV

She dresses with great care, a peacock blue sari, the pallu long and ornate fanning across her waist.
She uses a little make-up today, a touch of turquoise, a dull pink lipstick.
Slowly, seductively, the aromatic molecules of fruits and flowers begin their centrifugal dance.
She feels a great relief, and also impossible grief.

December 30, 2011

A day in the life - III

She waits for something more positive or pleasant to happen, but to no avail.
Her head throbs with the rebellious grief of sudden remembrance.
Her mother appears at the door, her face creased in concern,
"Not ill, are you, baby ?""

Choking back tears, she shakes her head and disappears into the bathroom.
It takes a few more minutes, cold water on the temples, the tingle
of toothpaste, to restore her fragile equanimity.
"Only my period !" she says.

A day in the life - II

The morning is pink.
It takes her time to adjust to this.
Her hands, still clutching the edge of the sheet, are a lurid science-fiction hue.
The sheet which was pale blue last night, is now phenolphthalien purple.
It must have been those pills, she decides.

December 27, 2011

A day in the life - I

She drags herself home and greets her family with funereal cheer.
She examines their familiar faces with new curiosity - seeing in their bland curves as
many lives furled tight and secret as a cat's.
With them she watches an old film on television, Waheeda Rehman and Dilip Kumar.
The romance, palpitant with music, oppresses her with grief.
She pleads a headaces, and swallows a couple of tranquillizers in the bathroom.

December 1, 2011


For her tryst with loneliness, she prepares as she never did for her lover.
This hour away from her family - catty siblings, credulous parents - has become precious to her.
She dresses with elegance, choosing colours that attenuates her soft brown eyes.
She carries her best accessories.
Her walk is different, though she does not realize it.
It is seductive, with an oblique grace of movement that makes her look deceptively tall.
During these times, her face is secret and intent.

November 20, 2011


Once visiting her mother in the hospital, she had been drawn down an unfamiliar corridor
by a child's persistence wailing; she found herself in a nursery full of infants.
Almost all of them were whimpering in protest or sympathy,
But the wail came from one unhappy mite who was trying to reach her bottle.
It had been left at her pillow and had slipped down the crib and pulled out of range.
Her legs had got entangled in the trellis of the crib.
There was a nurse there, checking the register.
The nurse never looked up once.

The baby wailed, trusting in the world that would hear her but she only stood there staring stupidly,
until the child eventually fell asleep, with the abrupt ease of the very young.

Later, she came back to her chair, near her mother's bedside.
She looked around vaguely, for something to do, something kind and thoughtful
that would mitigate her blindness, her cruelty and perhaps cancel the day.
But there was nothing to be done, no forgiveness to be won, her mother was peacefully asleep.

The lights went out, and she sat awake, alone with her shame.

November 11, 2011


She enters her home, accepting with relief the panic and concern of her grandmother,
the soft bosomy comfort of her mother and her father's brusque kindliness.

She emerges from the bathroom, refreshed, bathed, powdered, brushed and bundled
in a soft white cotton dress, her hair braided and looped like a child's.

Their eyes brush her with moth's wing touches of love.
Her mother dabs her forehead with eau de cologne as she lies cradled in the womb of her grandmother's lab.
They speak to her baby words of endearment, too small and too precious to be shared out of doors.

November 6, 2011

Scenes from a Night

He woke up when she was in the shower, and blundered in as she emerged.
She gave a wordless cry of despair, and he stumbled out in apology .
A quick rasp of irritation sandpapered her insides.

She dressed formally, shivering at the silky caress of the sari on her midriff.
Lipstick shrugged lazily out of its dull cartridge, bubblegum pink, a pale hot skid against her skin.
She painted quickly an impressionist smile.

She poured him a drink, and they sat awhile watching a film on TV (that they did not see).
Later in bed, they lay quietly, twinned in memory, watching a late replay of passion spent -
wondering if it had been like that once or they had imagined it all.

There was nothing between them now, nothing, compared to this new communion of silence.

November 1, 2011

It is love....

You see that girl over there - the one sitting in the corner?
The one who wears that rapt look;
The one who doesn't draw her legs up in alarm when a cockroach scuttles across the floor.
That's her.

She is dreaming - with her eyes open - of the immediate past.
I guess that's the only way one dreams in the exalted flush of love.

Give her some time, you know !!
She is still bemused by the strangeness of love.
And it is raining - Rain always has something to do with love.

It hurts her lungs - this keen exhilarating mountain air of love.
It is going to take her a while to acclimate.
So let her sleep - and live her dream.

October 25, 2011

Conversation II

She entered the room to find him on the phone, talking
with a softness in his voice, she was used to hearing.
He was speaking to someone else.

Inwardly, she was filled with repugnance over this small betrayal.
To speak to another woman from her home,
another perhaps like herself,  that revolted her.
It filled her with the flat distaste one reserves for cheats.

He tried to make up for it, by being more tender than usual,
lingering beyond his customary time.
It only made her feel like a prostitute, who was today being honoured as a lover.

October 22, 2011


"I must know the truth.What is it? Why do I have to ask you so often?"
"You're getting tiresome, What do you think I'm concealing?"
"Put it in words, then! Why don't you?"

That it's over.
That there is nothing between us.
That we meet only because you know I need to see you.
That you think you need to first alienate me, before you leave me.
That you are debating, at this very moment, how, and with what measure of kindness, you will deliver the death blow.

But she says nothing.

October 18, 2011

Night II

She tore off her nightdress and stood beneath the shower, feeling the chafed skin cool down.
She dressed quickly, with half a mind of go out and feel cradled in the generous spaces of the night.
But she held back, and settled herself in a straight-backed chair.
For the moment, she luxuriated in the coolness.
The fan's indolent breeze against her wet hair, the soft cotton of her blue-and-white shalwar kameez,
clean feet, clean teeth, the clean taste of air in her mouth.
She felt safe.
For the moment.

October 14, 2011

It is going to rain tonight...

Resting one hand on his shoulders, she reaches
for the straps of her espadrilles and unties them
with the other hand. Kicking them off,
she stands barefoot on the grass, and
shielding her eyes from the glare of the sun,
she looks deep into the afternoon sky.
Having heard all that the clouds have to say,
she settles down beside him, and says
"It is going to rain tonight !"

October 12, 2011


Slowly but surely, his anger, his desperation, his guilt was giving way to pain.
And pain seemed to bring them closer.
She is no longer sure of her decision.
She fears for the innocence in him.
But then she catches herself and remembers that this is not him;
But a person softened by the forced reflection that comes with loss.
She trusts that everything that is happening, has to happen.

This is their life.

October 11, 2011


She was always in transit;
You never knew where she came from, you never knew where she would go.
You never thought to ask.
That pixel you caught was all she left you.
It didn't matter, really.
It didn't matter that you never learnt the rest of her story.
It was enough that for one eidetic moment, she had looked your way.

8 June 2004

October 8, 2011

Mammary metaphor

She opened her book, but her mind was not on the novel.
The rocking of the train usually quieted her, but not today.
She looked at the faces around her - secret diaries,
storing and concentrating the condensed milk of human kindness,
ready to spill the moment they reached the cocoons of their homes.
Not a drop shall be wasted on the way !

October 5, 2011


There was something unreal about her room, something alien.
She felt as though she did not belong here.
She only belonged to the few moments they had shared together.
From a lifetime of immeasurable years, she recollected some bare measurable hours.
All other truths, all other memories had crumbled and disappeared.
Only pain, with its tentacles, retained its powerful grip on her slipping life.

October 2, 2011


She said all those things, hoping that he would protest.
She ached to hear the remonstration in his voice.
But he said nothing, nothing at all.
And her pride swelled with the grief of understanding of his relief.
It had been pity with him all along, nothing more.
How in pity's name could it have been anything else?

October 1, 2011


Sometimes in her solitude, desire wrack her in waves.
It is like a force that draws her to the window,
scavenging the horizon with hungry eyes for some morsel of his presence.
It leads her to cradle the small keepsakes he left behind, still warm from his hands.
Her day ceases to exist beyond the shrinking dimension of their time together.

September 27, 2011

Hello ?

Her first words over the phone, seem to drip fear.
She takes his name, as if it is a sensitive quivering probe, to bring back messages.
She has been away from him for so long now.
Who knows what  might have crushed the delicate thing that trembles between them?
Slowly her voice gains in strength and laughter.
Only to become sullen with the heaviness of what she holds back, too complete to be told.

September 19, 2011


At the end of the day, as the lights dimmed in her eyes and
darkness enveloped her, a chant rose somewhere deep inside.

Sajh bhaile
Sajha ghar ghar ghume
Ke mora sajh
manayo ji

September 15, 2011


Yesterday, she had felt this urge to paint her toenails silver.
They shone in the dark now, like five silver coins.
Each of a different denomination.
Making the most peripheral part of her, a precious treasure.


September 14, 2011

Let's talk

She sits down like a much younger woman;
with one bare foot tucked underneath her and one knee drawn up to her chin.
She then picks up a hair clasp from the coffee table,
brings her hair up behind her and fastens it in a tiny tight bun,
with this clasp, which she takes from her teeth.
Pulling a curl forward to frame her face,
at last, she turns towards me to speak.

September 12, 2011


It continues to amaze her how little  it takes to comfort a child.
How little a child asks of a parent, how little a parent has to give !

September 11, 2011


She woke up last night, hot with sweat pouring down her in fine ticklish rills.
The flimsy cotton of her dress clung wetly to her back.
She threw off her thin nightdress and stood in the middle of the stiffing room.
The grey moonlight from the two windows lay around her, folded in neat triangles.
She stood there waiting to be sealed, gummed, stamped, posted.

The Arrangement

September 10, 2011


She thinks that overground trains, are the way to travel.
The train does not simply appear as it does underground.
In underground, she feels that the train should just be there, and then be there.
But with the overground, she waits and quite happily at that.
When she sees the train rounding the corner under the vast azure sky,
She smiles a private smile.

September 8, 2011


Just at the base of her neck, near the clavicle, she has this birthmark.
It is kind of small and florid - shaped like a tiny heart.
She saves up all the love she receives, in this little heart.
Only to give it back manifold, from the bigger one.

September 7, 2011


Whenever she goes to the local grocery store, she pretends that it is her first time.
She never makes any shopping lists of things to buy.
Instead she would drift through the aisles at her own pace.
Browsing, stopping, smelling, touching - in a world of her own.

September 6, 2011

The waiting Game

She always feels that loneliness is underrated.
She knows that everyone,at some point in their lives, must face their share of solitary days.
She herself had chosen a path of life, that could have turned out to be relentlessly lonesome.
But, somehow, she always manages to find company and comfort in the little things in life.
A good book.
The memory of a good joke.
A bluesy track.
She waits patiently, knowing that the best is yet to come.

Only Yesterday

September 5, 2011


Her eyes are cushions of sadness, one can sink into them; put their feet up, letting her grieve for them.
The eyes of an emotional prostitute,
His eyes are puffy, dented like lemons torn across and squeezed, dried lemon rinds, tough and ochre, curled in against the sun.
The eyes of a drunkard.


September 4, 2011


She has a soft spot for children and loves being with them.
Whenever she hugs them, she looks over their little shoulders to the parents and smiles.
She wants them to know how much she adores their children.
She speaks to them baby words of endearment,too small and too precious, to be shared with you or me.
She regrets that she can never have one to call her own.

September 3, 2011

Type of girl

She is not that type of a girl, you know.
The type who saves up to buy a bust developer and steeps herself in vitamin creams.
The kind who can't even speak to a man unless she's massaged, manicured, moisturized and epilate.
The sort who wears in her dreams a halo of hair where every strand glides disparate of the next.
The type with keratin tutored by the right chemicals in the right direction.
The kind whose skin carries the sempiternal flush of estrogen.
The sort whose mammary achievements stop just short of the bizarre.
The type whose legs are interminable and delicate as those of an ostrich.
The sort whose childish buttocks look like those that has never been sat down on.
She is much more than that. 

Fly away, Peter.


Mottled light through the raindrops on the window, make shifting shadows on her skin.
As warm thick folds of the blanket, hide wordless fingertip games.



When behind a young man on a bus, she finds herself staring at his neck.
The urge to touch it is almost overwhelming.
And then he scratches it, as if he knew.

The Autograph Man


She always associated pain with colors.
It was easier to concentrate on color instead of pain.
By now, the pain had acquired a spectrum.
The brave colors were for the pain that had her screaming, tearing at her clothes, bloody-lipped.
Earth tones were the deep aches, gnawing, cold, feral.
The pain very close to death, she felt would be very special.
Purple, the soft dark purple of velvet.
Almost black.
Color revealing itself only in the chance twitch.

The Arrangement