Saturday, 28 October 2017

a tribute to ordinary

there is nothing about the circles of a fan, the flight of leaves, or in a bird's wings
nothing in hairy thighs, a sweaty spine, thirsty lips, and underarms
in the bumps of a road, in roti or ghee, or me
that screams of extraordinary
the only thing that screams are my insides, trying to deal with the sheer simplicity of who i am
funny, but not too little not too much
occasionally melancholic occasionally kind occasionally nothing
ambitious and lazy, lazy and driven
where do we drive to?
look at my face, i say to the mirror
so ordinary, i sigh
worried about such surface things, this ordinary mind
occasionally a flicker of fire occasionally a snowflake occasionally a dew
but more often than not, just an ordinary you
as ordinary as toothpaste on a toothbrush in my mouth
once in the morning once at night
on Monday, another face in the crowd
it could melt me away
another one at work, am i a cog in the wheel?
am i enough?
my silly typing speed, my silly ways of showing love, my slippery steps
oh, so ordinary
my fondness for black or carrots or rice
nothing that the world hasn't seen before
my words nothing but a nice shake, of everything i've ever learnt or heard
your day begins and ends
so silently
so solemnly
it comes and goes
and you sit by the window
zooming out, i see
so many others like you
if i forget you, would i ever recognise you?

Friday, 6 October 2017

An Ode to Sadness

Where does all this sadness go?
First I thought it passes on to someone who needs it more;
Then I tried forwarding it, like a Diwali gift - unopened and unneeded
But true to the nature of an unwanted gift, it found home in me again;
For a while, I wondered if it can be converted to laughter
By some scientific formula that was yet to be discovered;
Is there a recipe to turn it to minimum biodegradable waste
The kind I can use to make better things?
Or will it run and and break dance inside my veins
Till I turn to stone and crumble to the ground?
Ya phir shareer ki tarah ye dukh bhi bhasm ho jaega
Poof, and it vanishes to nothingness?

Where, dear sadness, do you go?
Tell me, for this fool does not know.
You came to me after so long, like a romance
At first I thought we shall ball dance
So I entwined my fingers in yours, and smelt the musk of your chest
Let you grab me by the waist and put on a slow song
We moved slowly all night;
Then I thought you were interesting company,
Which is rare to come by,
So I made you my partner in poetry and art,
You were more than a partner, love, you were my muse,
And out came doodles and drawings, a sher or two tumbled out between my dreams,
In all your kindness, you cuddled me back to sleep,
You held me warm all day and night, so warm, who would want to wake up from the daze?
Then you fed me your thoughts like chocolate covered strawberries
And I, I was just happy to be spoonfed like a loved child,
Ab kambaqht ye shareer ko rajma chawal nahi chahiye.

Tell me, where does all this sadness go?
Because now I feel it consuming me like a big chocolate covered strawberry,
Because in the few odd moments I wake up, my life doesn't feel like mine anymore,
Because when I eat, I can only taste the dryness on my tongue,
Because now we are here,
You, a guest who has outlived it's welcome.
You, a guest who has made a home of me.
And me, abandoned and homeless,
Where do I go?

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

My heart skips a beat and then stops at the sight of you and just as quickly
Goes back to beating normally again
My body does not know what to feel about you
Neither does my brain
Or my heart
Kyunki sometimes you are walking magic with sunshine in your eyes
You warm me up and give me light
And some days you are just too far, a fainting star even though bright
Kya kare ye dil, tum kuch bolo toh sahi
Aur bina lafzon ke yakeen mujhe hoga nahi
Do I get to hold you when we see each other
And can our lips some day meet?
Can I do to you what spring does with the cherry trees?
Bolo tum,
You potential partner
My Schrödinger's lover

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

From the Waiting Room: The Void of Romance

For the past two years, Fatima has been through a lot – she had nights of sleeplessness, couldn’t properly or think clearly, and felt restless. It is interesting that while the therapist may, after further questions, diagnose her with an anxiety disorder, our dear old Bollywood love songs may call these the “symptoms” of a blossoming romance.
Aisa lagta hai jo na hua hone ko hai
Aisa lagta hai hosh mera khone ko hai
Warna dil kyun dhadakta, saansein kyun rukti
Neendein meri kyun ud jaati?
Fatima knows it is not a new romance, she has been in pain for a while. I ask her about her story – how she started feeling this way, what helped, and what did not. Despite all my best efforts to let the conversation flow, I have a set format for these conversations (some would call this history taking). I wonder what we would talk about if I just let the conversation be. She traces back to her life, an unconventional woman coming from an orthodox family where she would only receive hand-me-downs of her brother. She speaks of studying when it was not considered important for her to go to college, and how she nurtures the dream of working once again. She speaks of a father who never valued her or her sisters and she speaks of the dreams she had growing up.
She told me how she thought marriage would be her escape - a caring family and a loving husband. Fatima could have told me a lot about her story, but she lowers her voice and peeks at her husband who is sitting at some distance and says to me - “ye bilkul bhi romantic nahi hai”.
“But romance kitna zaruri hai!”, I can't help myself from exclaiming. After all, she says, don't we all want to feel cared for. I know I do. And then I look at her husband – they have travelled 12 kms today to meet the psychiatrist – surely, he loves her, I think. Can love exist without romance, I begin to wonder…
Idhar udhar soch sochkar I start thinking about the problem with a singular narrative of romance that is engrained in our lives. Every movie, no matter about what- action or drama or horror- comes with a story of budding love. Radio par har song is about romance, and even the bachpan ka make-believe games and conversations with aunties revolved around how we would find our partners and how lucky they would be. I, myself, grew up with ideas of partners inspired from the movies of my growing up years – kabhi Rahul from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, kabhi sometimes Raj from DDLJ, and later Aditya from Jab We Met.  I kept looking for them in every guy I met. With or without movies, romance still becomes the ultimate dream – aren’t we told that finding the right partner is what will complete us?
It is troubling to me, personally, because of how gendered it is, how it carries notions of a class where gift-giving or trip-taking become the ideal ways of presenting love, it is casteist for consciously or unconsciously we fall for the people from the same background, and it is problematic when you don't want a monogamous long-term romance to be the main representation of your life. Matlab romance toh end point hai hee, but that too of a certain type. Haaye tauba!
For now, I see the pain creeping up on Fatima and many like her who are beginning to realize that some of their dreams may never be realized – the ones they grew up with. Fatima weeps for her unfulfilled dream of romance. Somewhere, don’t we all?
With all good intentions, I ask her to build a new dream - one that is not around a knight in shining armour. She doesn’t need one, she knows that. But how do you pull out the “mere khwabon mein ho aaye” and the “ye dil na hota bechara… jo khoobsurat koi apna humsafar hota” that runs in the veins? And should we? 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

National poetry month
Day 11 – why humans speak (in 50 words)

Because all noises and any sounds are better than none
the quiet would force us to listen to the beating of our
broken hearts and to hear the screams hidden in silences that are
so much easier to ignore and because words can, often,
help hide what we really want to say.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

National poetry month

Day 8 – the last line of my favorite poem is the first line of my poem

first, here is the one favorite poem i'm using today -

When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple
People will tell you that madness has finally overcome me
This woman was showing the signs all along, a pre-disposition
In behaviours and moods and rather odd eccentricities
World knows, we all like a weirdo in every group in every place
They question the lines and boxes and somehow
All of them have a sense of humour we can appreciate
But some people are far too gone, their minds too lost
Like this one, they’ll say
What kind of an old woman wears purple, a colour of youth
She’s in denial, they’ll say, with no insight, they’ll say
Of course, we’ll have to restructure her maladaptive beliefs
Teach her how to see her own self as an old woman
The old age colours will follow
Her self-concept shows an acute absence of self-awareness
And social and cultural norms seem lost on her
Maybe a medicine will eventually show her, how purple is to bright
For her now soon-to-be failing eyes
And how else are we to distinguish between her and young children
With her tiny height?

When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple
Come talk to me about madness and other things.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

National poetry month
Day 5: from the point of view of an object in the room

A poem by a laptop titled 'hope'

I've heard his pain and fears
In ted talks and spoken word and in half written diary entries he never saves
I've felt the smoke on my screen
The cough in his laugh and the scent of his breath
The letter R now malfunctions after that night of tears
S bore the brunt of a very stressed out day
And A got a little burnt by a poorly placed cigarette
Some days he just keeps pressing the 'ctrl' button
There were nights we stayed up, the horrible days when sleep betrayed him
Those days we even looked up astrology and palmistry to see
If the future looked any better
And some days he would shut me up
And just cry and cry
Later he would shut me up
And just smoke and smoke
Now he doesn't cry anymore

Alas, i cannot offer a hand to hold
Or a shoulder to lean
He makes me wish I could speak
To be able to offer words of comfort
But all I do is secretly give suggestions
To funny videos and articles on smoking
And then today he searched withdrawal symptoms
And though he shook and wept and hurt
And showed every sign on the list
The smell of smoke was gone
And I smelt hope