Thursday, December 31, 2015

Lead Kindly Light

It is not darkness
But the absence of light
Not pain
But absence of pleasure.

There are days that are dreary
Days that are sad
And I find myself looking up at the sky
And begging for the Sun
To just fucking shine.

The heart that throbbed within me once
Like cannon balls thudding around
Now lies silent and forlorn, even,
As a battle rages deep within.

What the heart feels
A poet can string to words
Through slow mellow rhymes
Silent in longing and love.
But the Shakespearean silence of my soul
I can never pen,
Into words you will fully understand.
There is no method my love,
To my madness
My madness is you.
It is not darkness that surrounds me
It’s the absence of your light,

This life’s only true delight

Friday, December 25, 2015

Long Train Journeys

Long train journeys make me sad. The gentle lyre that plays some sad Chinese melody in the background of our everyday lives, suddenly comes afore. The notes from their pathos drown me. As in a trance, I find myself staring at concrete sleepers and iron tracks, my eyes brimming with ancient tears.

I have often wondered why this happens. Maybe because long train journeys remind me of my childhood. Reminds me of a life full of beautiful loving people. Some have traveled to the edges of these railroads and faded out of sight, some have merged with these tracks and what remains of them are the sounds from these clanging wheels of an ageing memory and iron dust.

This rattling reminds me of a journey that all of us have to undertake. This long untiring unending relentless journey on iron wheels, hooting, halting, changing lanes, always running. I bid goodbyes to those who have arrived. As I hurtle towards my own destination, I take a quick look at those who i travel with. When my time comes, I hope I have earned a decent farewell. I hope I have some to wave me a warm goodbye.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Before I Knew You

Before I knew you, I did not know myself. Before I knew you, I thought I knew myself.

I did not know that a stray wind carrying in its fold a faint fragrance from yore, would make my heart miss a beat, stop time and freeze me in its eternal moment. I did not know that a laughter from a stranger would reverberate across an ocean of full of shackled memories, and huge tidal waves of your thoughts, could drown me into eternal grief. I did not know that I will catch myself so often, intensely staring at strangers in red, for red was your favourite colour.

Before I knew you, I thought I had conquered love and were immune to it.

Before I knew you, I was barely human.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Just Like When I Was A Kid

My mamma speaks of the time when I was a four year old. One day, I jumped on one side of an empty refrigerator stand, and the other side came and hit me on my face. The stand was made of iron and I hurt my eyebrow bad. I went about playing until the blood started clouding my vision and staining the floor. It was then that my aunt looked out of the window and screamed out of fear and surprise. It was her scream that scared me. I started crying as well, rubbing all that blood from my slit eyebrows all over my face.

It hurt bad. The doc gave me 6 stitches to get my brow back in shape. I still have them right there.

After the stitches, mamma says that I would play around all day and occasionally weep with the pain from the stitches. I will sing, laugh, run and fight, and then cry some as well. It was funny, watching me hop around with a huge bandage on one eye, it was also heart rending for her. I was all of four years old when that happened.

Mamma, nothing much has changed. The pain now, is not from the stitches anymore. They tell me that these wounds can't be stitched. I meet my days everyday with a  smile. I laugh, I play, I dance. And when I am reminded of her, I cry some too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Two shades too blue


I watch the empty window-side table closely. For this used to be your favourite place. Here you would sip your half cup tea and pout and look out of the window longingly. You will point to people going about their everyday lives,  and like a little princess, you will weave stories, and chuckle and laugh

Your presence had a way of making my little house
Feel full.
It was as if you filled my walls with shades
That made then come to life.
As if suddenly,
Being a dining table was an important achievement,
And that wall hanging
Would acquire a personality, and indulgently
Glare at me; as if this were its house, not mine.

I now look at the empty space besides my window.
Baby, it was your favourite spot.
And watching you
My favourite moment.

First published in Muse India, Jan-Feb 2017

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Heart Want What It Wants

I no longer live in your secret places.  I am aware that relationships change, perspectives change and so do people with it.
But the heart wants what it wants.

I look into your eyes and I don't see myself there anymore. You look at me and I know that you are not looking at me anymore.

But the heart wants what it wants.

Monday, August 24, 2015

In the Heart of Silence

Every once in a long while, I fall silent in midst of a roaring relationship. I wait for the clutter of last night chatter to subside and the noise from everyday thoughts to settle down, and then I watch how my withdrawing affects the relationship.

Most times, the silence stretches uneasily. It is as if somebody has paused a Schwarzenegger movie. It is as if an icicle forgot to drip, a snowflake landed on another and I were in a dream where the bogey man scared me to silence.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back to the Sea

I have never seen an ocean. I don't know anyone who has seen one. Growing up by the Ganges, I was in awe with the angry river that overflowed every year. I looked at Baccha uncle's marooned steamer and imagined the ghosts that lived within its iron soul.

When I first saw the sea, I also sensed the roundness of the horizon, the fullness of its brims and the infiniteness of the waves. If I were to sing on a dark silent night, l knew that my song would not reach the other shore. The sea dwarfed me into nothingness. It made me feel like a handful of water held up to the sun as an offering and then running down the fingers, back into the sea.

Like an errant stream, I run a crazy winding course downhill. But my dear, I know that when I am done, I will meander my way back to you. I can feel my rush as I fall into you. I know what awaits me, as I dive deep into you.

I too, fill you. I loose myself so that there can be you.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

So said the Sea

I see the vastness of these oceans and I look at my bare foot legs, wet with the oceans longing for me. Not that I waded into these waters deliberately, not that I heard it's call and responded as in a dream. These waters came searching for me.

As the showers spray salt shatter break breach surf and roll, I feel like the sea, rushing to lose myself among the vastness that now surrounds me.

It is time to lose a bit of me. It is time to change a bit of you. Of what use my dear are these two separate identities?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Roller Coaster Ride

I have felt your heart fluttering as my fingers made weird random design on your palm. No, you don't have to tell me what I do to you.

It's just a small bit of all that you do to me as well.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Dream Within A Dream

I had this dream. I had this dream that I was floating on a cloud and you were with me. From the mist of wayward dreams, I could feel your fragrance engulfing me. Each time I was confused and frightened and lonely and sad, I could see you pouting at me. The sun was but a glimmer and the birds were catching wind. The dew drops seem to have turned into a translucent liquid, and they were staring at me.

And when I opened my eyes. I could feel the softness of your lashes, as they lovingly brushed against mine.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Wedding Trousseau and other Short Stories

If you were to mix an Ekta Kapoor with a Munshi Premchand and add a dash of R.K.Lakshman to it, you will get an Ankita Sharma.

I just finished reading her book of short stories and discovered a very different Anki from the mellow blogger I have followed for long.

The Wedding Trousseau and other short stories is published in India by Humming Words Publishers and contains eleven really short and widely diverse stories. However, there is an invisible thread that connects them. They are all stories from our everyday milieu. The protagonists are all people you come across everyday. The frustrations, the taboo's, the deep rooted social norms, divides and beliefs and longing and mystery and laughter, these fill each page. From the abject poverty of a Chottu to the blatant hubris of his memsahib, from UFO sightings to a drunk wife beater, these stories make the ordinary, extraordinary.

My best wishes to my favorite fellow blogger.

And for those who wish to order online, it is available here or here.

You can read Ankita's blog here

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The smoothness on rock faces

What happens when waterfalls dry up? She asked me one day.

The steady deluge turns into a drip and then down below, it leaves muddy memories from the time when all was well. The parched rocks smolder and dries up the last memories of the water that once fell from above. And then there is dust and death and silence and waiting... And waiting.

Who waits Raj?

The universe, Princess. The roundness of the cavity into which water once fell, waits for its purpose. The smoothness on the rock faces nurses its hope and waits as well. The spawns and the lichens and the catfish and the lovers... everybody waits Princess.

What if water never falls again? What if the river has dried up for ever? What if it has changed its course? Will they still wait?

They will Princess. My universe will never accept that possibility. It survives on perpetual hope. Hope is good. It nurses convenient memories over generations of adversities. We hope, therefore we are.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

That time in life

That time in life
When in the heat of smoldering summer
Wild blush of spring roses
Bloom on your dimple cheeks,
When dead daisies from last season
Flower fragrant in your breeze.

It is that time in life
When life  itself
Swings to fluttering rhythms
Of a beautiful butterfly wing.
When wild flowers burst forth
A parched desert dune
And hope that lay dormant
From long years of arid ennui
Springs and bursts forth
Shoots of living green.

Live on, I say
For these are not moments that you lose
To thoughts of yesterday
Or hopes of a tomorrow
That may never come.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Crazy Poets

Who is your best friend?
What do you mean I? Indu?
No. Just I .
Don't be crazy. Everyone has a best friend. Someone with whom you can share all your secrets, all your pains. Someone with whom you would love to walk into the sunset. Someone with whom you can share a giggle, be yourself.

I do all that with myself.
I have no secrets,
I write.

Good Byes

The silences that fall over oceans
Once the Ships that set sail
Reach their shores.

The darkness that fall over walls
And curtains of a theatre
Once the play is done.

The feeling of that full stop
Which placed right at the end foretells
The End.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Every time I am with her, I am reminded of a Neruda: "I loved her, and sometimes, she loved me too."

Every now and then, from the random chaos of everyday living rises a warped relationship that is funny and entropic. I love her, and sometimes, she loves me too. Every time I hold her close to me, she melts into herself, rarely have I felt her melt into me. Those proud threaded brows, with their perfumed winged lashes flutter in random anticipation of a kiss, but those eyes don't talk to my eyes, they seem to be in deep conversation, with themselves. I know her favorite dress, I know her special days, I know her fears, her dreams, most of her desires. She knows where I live, she knows what I do, not sure if she knows my middle name. She knows I have a niece, not sure if she knows about the nephew.

Many years ago when I was frantically searching for a copy of Dr. Zhivago, I remember what our librarian Thomas sir told me, R, where these books go and hide, is a mystery. When it is time for you to make friends with a Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago will come in search of you. Until then, there are so many other yarns to weave.

I loved her. Sometime she loved me too.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Old Things

Yes Princess?
This rice cooker is not working!
I know baby. Will repair it this weekend.
How much do you earn Raj?
Baby, I don't like where this conversation is going.

Why have you not bought a new one? It's always the same, the burner of this ancient stove, the rice cooker, that ramshackle apology of a washing machine that you have... Why? Why don't you just get some new ones?

Baby, we have discussed this before. You know I won't.

Shall I gift them for you?

No Princess, these don't leave my house. I can't accept new ones.

Will you always always be so difficult?
Yes baby, always.

Cause that rice cooker has been with me for 12 years.
So I can't just chuck it.
What does that mean?
It means that as long as it is amenable to repairs, I will repair and use it. I will use it even if it costs me twice the cost in repairing it. I won't give up on it, until it gives up one me.

Do you know how crazy that sounds?
I know baby.
And you are OK with it?
That's the way I am baby.

How long have we been together?
22 years baby.
Love you Raj.
Love the cooker too baby.
Dog you are!!!
Bhou Bhou Princess.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

With the Sun in my eyes

There was a turn up ahead on the road. A turn that I did not want to take.

There are times when you don't want any further changes in your life at the moment. It was one such moment in my life in time. However, the concept of having a choice is rather overrated. If I had a choice, I would have become a deodar tree in the middle of Indian rain forests and lived quietly for a million years. Such choices are never available.

There was a turn up ahead on the road. The turn required of me to move along its contours. The turn wished of me to succumb to it's long curves and stay away from its guarded rails. Missing the turn would have meant a dive into the setting sun. I can imagine how it would have felt, a white car trying to land on the setting sun.

As the sun's saffron hue set the horizons on fire, I once again found myself on a road that leads to you.

That wife like thingy who lives with me!

I change my name when I am home. The person who cooks bakes cleans mops and goes about keeping a very clean house is not me. It is someone else living in me. Her name is Rajesh Kumari!

It took years for the beautiful girls at Spencers to believe that I am single and I buy provisions for all of myself. In India, you cannot be 40 and single. Its too strange in too many ways for too many people. A typical Indian male is an infant forever on the verge of growing up, but never actually getting there. When the 27 year old is finally weaned away from his mom, he quickly learns to latch on to the young Indian wife who is supposed to suckle him till worlds end. Most men from my generation have rarely held a knife in their hands. Kitchen was always moms forte and then it was the wife's job. Most guys don't know how to fold a vest and the brief is something which is supposed to magically get cleaned and made available by the mom, or the thingy you call wife. If you show them a ridged gourd, they might call it big beans!

Given the conditioning as mentioned above, my milkman finds it impossible to believe that that devilishly clean house is kept clean by me. My new colleague loves the vegetable Korma and asks me to convey his appreciation to the wife, my new neighbor loves the mud  cake i baked, I could not let her into the secret. I was worried that if i tell her that there is no woman at home, she might even forbid my entry into her house for being too strange.

I settled all these issues once and for all by declaring that all household chores are carried out with great devotion by my beautiful meticulous hard working patient and God fearing wife. I keep her hidden and locked inside my house and she rarely comes out. My name is Rajesh Kumar, obviously...her name is Rajesh Kumari!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Just Passing Through

I have often been flagged down
By random strangers looking for a ride..
Which way they would ask
And I will tell them,
I am just passing by.

It's a long road I have traveled
And with me on this journey
Have traveled quite a few,

These roads have been mostly kind
And in moments of rare distress
I have found strangers in my life,
Kinder than the friends around.

Don't honk too loud behind me
I shall allow you a pass without a murmur
I have been a rider on this road for long
There is really no place I call myself a home
Even as you hurry ahead
Remember brother
I am just passing through.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How high is high enough?

Would you like to have a bigger house, a bigger car and more money into your accounts? This is a question that has been thrown at me several times in the past. It is also a question upon which I have given many hours of thought.

My name is Rajesh. It is a very common name in India. Already 2% of all men, if not more, will have this name. My other name is Kumar. A good 5% of population will share their second name with me. There is nothing in my name that forces me to believe that I am either better off or worse off than anyone else. However, when my grandma used to call my name, she made it sound like the best possible name in the universe. When my dad introduces me to his friends, and ads "my son" to my name, he makes it sound like no other name. When my sister or my cousins speak of me, they make my name sound quite like a la George Clooney. When my boss calls out my name, with a string of superlatives and expletives, he makes it sure that everyone need to be a Rajesh to get the job done, no other bugger is good enough. My name is quite ordinary. The people in my life make me believe that its extraordinary.

My earliest memories of wealth are about absence of it in many peoples lives. While I and my sister studied in the best schools in Patna, the kids of our maids dropped out of local schools early and took to helping their moms earn more money doing the dishes in our homes. We were very middle-class but most of the people who lived around us were terribly poor. The schools I went to taught us to be good and taught us to pray and work for the poor. Thank you Sr.Subha and Notre Dame, Brother Cyril and Loyola for not asking us to be anyone other than who we were. You see, we were never told that is not ok to be somewhere in the middle between the very rich and the terribly poor. Nobody asked us to detest the poor and be jealous of the rich. Rich were rich, poor were poor and we were ok types. I did not grow up thinking of my first iPad or Audi. We had an Ambi and a Chetak, and that was all right.

When I stepped into college, my professors loved me. The only unsaid rule was that I go about spending time doing things I loved and that way, they were free to take their classes without me being anywhere near. The arrangement worked just as well. They survived me and I had an awesome education. Everybody loved me and claim to miss me to this day. Thank you St. Berchmans' for fostering a spirit of scholarship in me. If my Alma Mater were to ask me to become a Steve jobs instead of a future Elliot, I would have been so at sea!

My first boss asked me to go on and become a great manager. He forced me to constantly work out of my comfort zone. He never promised me an A, nor did he promise me out of turn hikes or promotions. I took his advise very seriously and went on to work for those who worked for me. I believed that I need to work on behalf of those who seek their livelihoods and success with me. They did not work for me, I worked for them. Success and hikes and promotions happened on their own. As I grew in ranks, so did the ones I worked for. Without them, I would have had no reason to exist. Without their growth, mine would have been so unfair. And life needs to be fair. It begins with me and includes the community I live in.

I don't want a two digit hike, and I love my small house and my cheap car. Those who love me don't love me for my wealth or absence of it. They love me for myself. Its a long life I have lived. They have traveled with me through long dark and lonely stretches. I have lived through bouts of insanity and mayhem, I have lived through great losses and grief. I carry within me fear and uncertainty and despair for things I have lost, or may lose in the near future. Neither the money in my bank, or the length of my designation or the brand of my phone has ever helped me get through a difficult phase in my life.

I measure my growth with how much more I can do for those around me. When I look back, I am amazed at how exponential my growth has been. And yes, I am very happy with my lot in life, there is just no other place where I wish to be.

Friday, February 27, 2015

I Do Not Love You

I do not love you
Like the way those teenagers do.
I love the fall of your velvet skirt
I love the waves
I love the crests
I love how you look at me
With that new burgundy gloss

I cannot love you
Like teenagers do.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Footprints on the sands of time

I followed your trail through the ancient by lanes of my memory. I could see your footprints span across all my remembered life. I have never really trusted my memory. I forget more than I remember.

But of this I am sure, that those footprints are not from this life. These are from every life I have ever lived.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Fiery Fairy

I love your play. I love it when you stand close enough for me to breath in your Gucci. I love it when you lean on me, your hair falling on my shoulders and parts of you brushing against me. There are fires that burn without and the ones that burn within.

I love the way you control this combustion!