December 29, 2012

Inaudible Whispers

They set aside a day each month - a day for confessions.
They seek neither redemption nor the punishment of ten Hail Marys.
They confess the little ways they'd hurt or disappointed each other, and themselves.
Unlike conventional wisdom, it acts as their catharsis.

None of us are perfect - 
and when we hold others to higher moral standards,
than we subject ourselves -
we are just begging to be lied to.

December 25, 2012

Lady Writer

She retrieves a notebook and a pencil from her shoulder bag.
She likes to think of herself as a writer for whom the world,
in all its mundane or spectacular manifestations, offers up raw materials,
sometimes in huge chunks, sometimes in fragments so unremarkable
they are easily overlooked. She reaches for these offerings and
sets about arranging and rearranging the imperfect,
incomplete bits and pieces of life. She will add snippets
of her modest knowledge, apply her imagination,
hoping that facts and details can be transformed into fiction.

After all there is a writer in everyone of us !

A feast of longing

December 16, 2012

Time it was, and what a time it was (2)

It was typical of her.
She was the type of person who preserved -
pickled, jelled, marinated and bottled -
                The restaurant and the delivery receipts all had few words scribbled on the back,
                recorded in her small,precise, slightly feminine handwriting,
                marking the occasion as indelible.
All the recipes in their cookbooks were dated,
indicating the first time they had cooked and eaten the dish together.
January 23, shrimp carbonara with pancetta
March 7, ricotta gnocchi with fresh kale.

There are these and others.
They're all that's left of her.

December 11, 2012

It must have been the roses

Tonight she did not browse at the pavement stalls where colours,
sharp and pungent, stung the dark.
No stop at the florists, nor at the glass stall to look
for one perfect crystal rose to delight the eye.
Past the bookstall now,
and the rows and rows of shoes,
heeled, flapped, strapped, gleaming or lush with soft suede or velvet,
begging scurrying feet to stop and step in.

She saw the street for all that,
a long precious rug unrolling itself,
revealing pattern after pattern of recognition.

December 2, 2012

Heaven knows I am miserable now

After dinner she goes for a drive. This calls for comment,
but there is a chore luckily remembered. With some difficulty, 
she dodges kind offers of company.

The chore done, she swings into the highway. The blackness
is a comfort. The beads of headlamps swing and scatter. Her foot 
down on the accelerator, she zooms past cars, buses and bikes,
wondering how much longer the ancient car will hold out.
The only way is to plough into oncoming traffic at the lights.

But this she cannot bring herself to do.

November 20, 2012

Appropriate last words

That afternoon, she did something unprecedented.
She phoned him at work.

He was some time coming to the phone.
He was abrupt, distracted.
She was incoherent.
They exchanged words that had no meaning,
words that kept their tight masks of politeness firmly on.

And then it was over.

November 16, 2012

Quelqu'un M'a Dit

There are still
some bits of her face he hasn't kissed
some parts of her body he hasn't explored
running his tongue and nose
up and down her body.

Her flesh creases, folds and sags,
it's colour alters
But then he never desired her because she was perfect, but because she was she.
A Softer World

November 12, 2012

Time it was, and what a time it was...

There are receipts -
Bills from take-outs and deliveries,
A toothpick folded in a tissue from a restaurant they used to frequent on those warm afternoons,
Ticket stubs of movies seen together,
Debit card statements with her signed name still faintly visible,
Boarding pass of the flight that took him far away, away from her.

There are these and others.
They're all that's left of her.

November 8, 2012

Yasmin's fantasy

Last evening, she contemplated suicide.
She lingered at the station on the platform's edge,
but could not bring herself to fall dramatically before the rushing train.
She walked back home, crossing the road perilously
in the glaring eye of a speeding lorry.
But the driver swerved, cursing, avoiding her.

November 5, 2012

Dance at my wedding

She is bludgeoned by a fantasy -
In this fantasy, a man runs out of a clamouring crowd,
and pursued by a brass band,
He dashes into the busy street slap into the traffic.
In the flickering neons of her imagination she can hardly see his face,
But she know who it is.

Not him.

October 22, 2012

About a girl

Watching her, was one of his favourite occupations.
He would watch her as she walked around the house -
after her bath, when she would spread a towel on the floor, and sitting on it,
massage cream into her legs, sighing and humming as she did so.

He became a connoisseur of her body - transfixed, obsessed even;
He needed her company, her reassurance, her presence.
All day she was different, her numerous moods transforming her look,
and he followed them, indeed lived in them, as a child lived with its mother.

October 18, 2012

Anyone else but you

Wasn't it terrible that most of their energy was devoted not to doing things together,
but rather in devising ways so that they could have some time alone;
she doing the groceries so that he could go running in the park, or vice versa,
so that she could browse in a book-store and get her nails done ?

And wasn't it terrible, how much she looked forward to these moments,
so much so that even a ride by herself on the subway, was the best part of the day ?

And wasn't it terrible that after all the work one put into finding a person
to spend one's life with, even in spite of missing the person,
as she missed him night after night, that solitude was what one relished most,
the only thing that, even in fleeting, diminishing doses kept one sane ?

October 9, 2012


She remembers, as a child, her parents urging her to be polite,
and she wishes back for the time when good manners protected one
from the excesses of intimacy, when honesty was not romanticised.

October 8, 2012

Conversation III

People speak because there are things they don't want to hear;
They listen because there are things they don't want to say.

Certainly they both considered conversation a pleasure.
Sometimes they talked with their faces pressed together;
Sometimes with their backs to each other.
In fact they would go to bed early, so that they could talk.
They would take tea and wine to bed, lying there for hours,
going over each detail of their day, content in the knowledge
that they would wake up with one another.

October 5, 2012

Midnight all day

It had felt strange at first when they started falling asleep without sex,
not for lack of desire but because of the familiarity that was growing.
But then on some nights, she would feel him pressing up against her,
feel his breath and his lips on the back of her neck, his mouth finding hers.
He could be aloof in bed as he could be in general,
focusing on some part of her body to the point of seeming to forget her.
But that distance no longer threatens her.

And they say that the less one is capable of sex, the more one is capable of love !

October 3, 2012


She can be really tantalizing at times -
Almost aloof. Feline. Graceful.
Everything she does seems to have grace; some though, call it style.
Others say she knows who she is, and that she likes being herself.
Her doubts don't undermine her, but they do make her inaccessible at times.
He loves her with all his heart - but he is yet to find out exactly why.

October 2, 2012

Writer's Block

Recently, she had begun writing in bed, sometimes for fifteen minutes.
At other times, she lasted only five.
In the morning -  oh, her wasted will and the lost clarity of words in the morning -
she wrote standing up in her overcoat at the dining room table,
her bag packed, as he waited at the front door for her to finish.
That was the most she could do.
There were times when she felt badly like harming herself.
But self - mutilation was an inaccurate language.
After all, scars don't speak.

October 1, 2012

Uxorious Love

"Tell me something I don't know about you," he asks her.
She smiles her smile, and wonders how she can evade an answer.
To answer would be to admit that she had had a life without him -
a parallel life that she had lived before he even knew that she existed.
She loves him too much to make him feel as if she had two-timed him,
"I used to be fat as a kid," she says.
"What do you mean - you used to be ?" he jokes,
playfully digging into her stomach and ribs.

May 12, 2012


Strands of hair escape the loosely tied knot and
swing forward to frame her face with a gentle embrace.

Looking right into her eyes, he stretches his hand, and
gently tucks those escaped locks behind her ear.

A tender smile illuminates her face.
She inclines her head, letting the bottom of his palm
caress her cheek, with a tenderness that almost makes him weep,
and plants a grateful kiss on his outstretched wrist.

Aur woh puchti hai pyar kya hota hai.... pagli !

May 6, 2012

Echo and Narcissus

When you think of people you adore, there are usually moments you can choose -
afternoons, whole weeks, perhaps - when they are at their best,
when youth and wisdom, beauty and poise combine perfectly.

And as she sat at her desk humming and reading,
her face illuminated by the cheap reading light beside her,
a big jar of purple wild flowers on the top of a pile of library books,
he felt this was her ultimate moment of herselfness. could one not have loved her great still eyes ?

May 4, 2012


She wasn't a woman who would seem attractive straight on in a passport photo.
Hers was not a conventional beauty, with features exquisitely proportioned.
But she was lovely because her round face with the straight jet black hair,
which fell over her forehead and into her eyes, was open.
Her face was constantly in motion, and this was the source of her beauty,

Her face would register the slightest feeling, concealing nothing.
Sometimes she became childlike and you could see her at eight or sixteen or twenty three.
The different ages seem to coexist simultaneously, as if
she could move from age to age according to how she felt.
It was no wonder that he could sit for ages, content with looking at her herselfness. 

April 21, 2012

Intimacy II

He can just make out her hair in the jumble of blankets and pillows.
He stands there looking at her, wishing that she was someone else.
Without removing his clothes he lies down next to her.
There are few things in the world more desolate than
undressing in the dark beside a woman who won't wake up for you.

Is it too much to want a tender and complete intimacy ?
Is it too much to want to sleep in someone's willing arms ?

He strokes her back, convinced that she can sense his thoughts, sense him wanting her.
If only she would wake up, put out her arms and tell him that she loves him,
he will sink back into the pillow and forget about ever leaving her.
But she has never done such a thing; nor him to her.
In fact sensing his fingers on her, she moves away, pulling up the covers.


April 19, 2012


She can hardly move about her room, without encountering his small keepsakes.
The trinkets that buy the world, she would smugly tell him while accepting them.
In their time, they had done duty for other, more precious gifts.

The bottle of perfume had been his gift for her last birthday.
"You can't afford it," she had said, clumsy with love.
"Does that matter?"
Nothing did; nothing had that day.

April 14, 2012

Thoughts on Love

It is beguiling how, in good relationships, even after years,
formerly undiscovered parts of people are suddenly exposed,
as in an archaeological dig.
They are not the kind of couple, who finish each other's sentences.
With them, there is always, so much more left to discover and understand.

The thing about love is, it is very real and tangible.
You can feel it between two people, sense their depths of pleasure.
It's no wonder everyone wants this kind of love - as if,
they have known such love before and can barely remember it,
yet are compelled even after, to seek it, as the only thing worth loving for.

Nothing is as fascinating as love, unfortunately.

April 11, 2012


She liked to believe that she ignored fashion.
She responded to its teasing, however, by random attempts at changing her status quo -
her hair was too long and, on other days, too short;
she roundly rejected saris and then wore them again after months, excited by their beauty.
She would spend hours over a sewing machine she could not fully control,
trying to turn out a dress, from scrapes of chanced-upon fabric,
which once finished she would promptly hate.

In between, were periods of spinsterish calm !

April 4, 2012

A leap of faith

And so it happens, through a concatenation of like events, that
she finds herself at the most unlikeliest of places - a temple.
She carries, in addition to the votive lotus, the muddied flowers of her bewilderment.
The obese pujari, plucks the lotus from the brown stems of her fingers
and stabs, when she is not been looking, a wound of vermillion upon her palm.

She notices nothing, but the placid silver mask with it's mysterious eye of lapis lazuli -
the stern women eye that seems to look at her with a candid unblinking stare.
It is to this, she addresses her anger but hears only her own echo, in return.
Slowly the sound of rushing waves fills her instead, their torment driving out her echo.
She walks slowly in pradakshina, circling her echo.

Fly away Peter

April 1, 2012

Hiding her heart

She reflects on how unerring we are in our choice of lovers,
particularly when we require the wrong person.
There is an instinct, magnet or aerial which seeks the unsuitable.

The wrong person is, of course, right for something -
to punish or humiliate us, let us down, leave us for dead, or,
worst of all, give us the impression that they are not inappropriate,
but almost right, thus leaving us hanging in love's limbo.

Not just anybody can do this.

March 30, 2012


It often happens, when he is at a party with friends,
or when he is sitting in a bar nursing a drink,
and all he finds himself wanting, is for her to walk in through the door.
He feels that the moment she walks in, everything will be all right !

There is so much that he feels like telling her -
How no one else is as good as she is.
How their love is more important to him, than anything else.

Yet, he is also aware of how susceptible to illusions, we all are.
And the most disturbing part is how often,
we let our illusions become our most important beliefs.

March 26, 2012


When the weather is warm, she puts talcum powder in her shoes,
and when she removes them, her footprints remain on the floor,
traces of her on the carpet, which stop suddenly, like a trail gone cold.

March 24, 2012

Wishful Thinking

They were walking together, lost in their own thoughts,
when he moved close to her, stroked her hair and took her hand.
She forgot where she was, or even what time it was;
All she was conscious of was his hand in hers, his gentle murmurs in her ears.

Suddenly she had this feeling that everything was as it should be
and nothing, nothing, could add to this happiness and contentment.
This was all that there was, and all that could be.
The best of everything had accumulated in this moment.

It could only have been love !

March 22, 2012

Pale Blue Eyes

He loved taking her out to restaurants and parties, to openings and exhibitions.
He would sit and watch her looking at the pictures.
He took pleasure in her pleasure, as he led her around the city.
Wherever they went, she was his refuge, his pocket of light.

But these new pleasures extracted from her a familiar world,
and pushed her into an intimidating one - overwhelming her at times.
There was too much of him, too many times, in too many places.
We all want love, but not at the expense of losing ourselves.

March 19, 2012

The Dream

There was a time, when she had been tempted by the dream of self sufficiency.
A small flat, a cat, books, TV, music, a dope plant, friends to dinner;
A museum on Sunday, followed by a bus ride to the end of the route
with one of her nephews or nieces.
Alone, but not lonely.

She understands the temptations of self sufficiency -
the idea that she can secure everything she needs within,
that her own caresses can be as loving and as touching as another's.
But she is older and wiser now - she won't be seduced so easily again.

March 15, 2012

Summer Nights

Summer was around the corner, and she had a special ritual of getting into bed on summer nights.

She would first take a cool refreshing bath, and change into her white night clothes.
Just before she lay down, she would take a long deep breath, like a skin-diver.
Very slowly she stretched one leg, than the other, first one arm, then the next,
slowly letting out her breath in a long comforting sigh,
and then collapse onto the smooth sheets with delicious abandon.
Lazily, she would uncurl her fingers and toes, so that they, too, were completely relaxed.

"Like a cat", he would always remark, smiling, "A small lazy cat !"

- Cry the peacock

March 9, 2012

Journey II

He had spent much of his youth, reading.
In the house they now shared, he had thousands of books
and was familiar with all the writers, composers and painters.

But she couldn't sit, or read, or write or do nothing,
without seeking company,
never having been taught the benefits of solitude.

The compromise they reached was this:
when she read he would lie beside her,
watching her eyes, sighing as her fingers turned a page.

March 5, 2012


They got on the train and sat together, kissing lightly.
As the train pulled away, she took out her Nietzsche tome and began to read.
Turning to the man at her side. she became amused by his face.

Removing her gloves,
she picked shaving cream from his ears,
sleep from his eyes and
crumbs from his mouth,
while laughing to herself.

She was always charmed by the combination of his vanity, mixed with unconscious naivety.

March 2, 2012


She would lie on the floor beside his desk and watch him work.
She said she envied that he had something important to do every morning.
His sense of purpose made her feel left out.

What she never knew, was how he envied her freedom.
She would wake up every morning and wonder what she felt like doing -
Would it be dancing, pottery or a walk ?
She went to parties on the beach and in warehouses.
She played and sang in a group, and dedicated all her songs to him.
Not yet having acquired the glossy indifference of busy women in the city,
She would talk to people on the street and felt responsible for them.

If he could just let go of his ego - he, him and himself.

February 26, 2012

Women of the '90s

She is a women of the nineties and she feels somewhat ambivalent about it.
There is something inherent about them -
with their aggressive gloss and their penetrant detachment,
reflected in their self - contained repose and observant eyes.
Not the sort of women, who will go out of their way to make small talk.
Women, who will celebrate their single status, as a triumph of sorts.

They will always inspire small courtesies, but will never command the grand gestures.

February 23, 2012


She has often heard people use this word as an insult,
"That - that female."
Women spat out the two syllables with venom; men with indulgence.
It gave the word a purely pelvic identity.
It's no wonder that they say women lead divided lives -
the waist, of course, being the dividing line.
They exist above that before they marry and below afterwards.


He had never known a woman who wanted so much to be wanted,
and at the same time, a woman who was more afraid of it.
This prompted many arrivals and departures, not only on the same day but within the same hour.
She would shove all kinds of things in her bag, each time she left :
hair-grips, slides and combs; little wooden boxes containing cheap Indian jewellery;
lip balm, nipple cream; tapes of the sound of the sea or the rains;
camomile tea; old photographs and postcards;
underwear and other bits of the odd equipment necessary to girls.

And always, a little part of him.

February 12, 2012

Platform romance

"Aren't they pathetic ?" she questions and he asks her what exactly she means by that.
I mean, she says, there are so many of them - sordid, predictable and common.
The few snatched moments they have in the glare of a million eyes,
a furtive brushing of the hands and always,
always that desperate seeking look in the face
as if they're expecting to be spotted by a neighbour, a relative.
So shoddy those ten minutes contrived between trains, just enough to alibi a delay, no more !

"And how different was it for us, dear? " he politely enquires.
She is sickened momentarily by remembrance.
Long walks and even longer conversations.
The prolonged festivity of a rare moment of bliss...


The house was littered with her warnings.
Little rolls of gold and plastic surfaced everywhere.
Stuffed deep between sofa cushions, lazy winks of gilt in snarls of slut's wool beneath furniture.
Left as bookmarks, buckling cover and cursing with early kyphosis each cardboard spine.
In the kitchen, their gaping gilt barrels showed sunken gullets of colour.
They spilled from shelves and drawers, quenched rainbows, crusting and smearing their jagged metal rims.
In the bathroom, they lurked behind razors and other instruments of intimate injury, sheathed in acrylic, showing atop each crusting corona, a timid and placatory glans.

They seemed to mock him.

February 2, 2012

The Beginnings

She called out his name, in her holiday voice that rose above the rasp of the latchkey.
He, seeing her there bright with death, in tinsel delight, he too cracked with the static of her excitement.
How long had it been since they had touched like this, drawing on each other's skin at the first brush of fingertips ?

Something caught at her heart as she remembered -
those hotel rooms, pastel caves illicit and anonymous,
the white hard flesh of a bathtub glimpsed and lost,
the clock creeping unwatched like a forgotten stain,
and all the while the thought that she had never been there,
peeled away with pain.

They seperated with embarrassment.
She found a book.
He, a drink.

Let's not talk !

He kept on talking, but she did not hear him.
There was no need to listen, no need to know any more.
Her mind drifted on the ceasless tides of his words,
that beat and retreated. Could there be as many words as that?
Surely there were fewer leaves in forests, fewer blades of grass, fewer grains of sand,
than there were words in his throat.
He kept gargling them, and gargling them and spitting them out.
She wiped them off with delicate gestures, her eyes wide with an eager intelligence,
that should have told him she wasn't listening, not listening at all.

Nothing matterered, nothing seemed to matter to her any more.

January 25, 2012


She dreams dreams in colour and can even smell in her dreams.
She remembers every vivid detail, every little nuance of her dreams -
the arrangement of the rooms she moves through in her subconscious state,
the quality of the sunlight outside, the briskness of the wind;
the expressions on people's faces as they look at her, can sometimes make her weep.
So many mornings, she wakes up to find her pillow-slip wet with salty tears.
Her days and nights, dreams and real life are all interwoven in a delicate pattern;
without fail the first few moments of waking up set the tone for the rest of her day. 

January 18, 2012


The advent of cell phones, seems to have robbed her of her greatest pleasure.
She confides in him, that in spite of their closeness, she can never pick up his phone.
It seems almost an intrusion, a violation of his privacy.
She dreams about having an old land-line installed - it would be their phone.
She would dash to pick it up and say,
"Hello ! Yes, he is here.... Hold on"
'Aap ke liye phone hai !'

January 15, 2012


In the world she lives in, this is an unfashionable word.
Almost a taboo.
It's a badge of honor, that women especially, like to flaunt, this lack of expectations.
She was taught very early to throw all expectations out of the window.
"Don't be a parasite," she was often coached.
But in his case, she has made an exception.
She doesn't care if he lets her down or breaks her heart.
It is only with these expectations, can she love him.

- Rebirth

January 8, 2012


Year after year, she waits
nerves jangling every time her period is late.
But every time,
like a leaky tap,
she bleeds,
and she weeps,
but she never gives up.