Tag Archives: Love

A breathless counsel

curiosity will catch you dear for you are a writer and it is your license to startle the world with a hundred thousand words instead of a dazzling smile or those occasional winks and i don’t want to probe for after all you are renouncing all the time and i don’t want to stop you racing against life but i have been there and i have returned and i know what happens when it takes hold of a woman yes i know what happens then but i will not tell you the answers i have sealed my lips i have learnt how not to say what i must be saying somehow i don’t want to be fledging you in security for what happens with all my parenting will only be a compromise darling child instead i let you free i want you to ask the questions i want you to prick and not polish your wounds i will let you to be hurt in the face of the world i want you to learn more than what you want to learn sometimes i feel i want you to get hurt badly hurt and bleed before the world and then i shall sit back and feel my work is done for once you have known what pain is then you shall know how to preserve the fringes of happiness i want you to be alone in the ravenous world where you never know what happens next just so that you will no longer find routine to be so despicable and amidst that pervading fuzziness you shall long for an anchor for all your dreams only realizing much later that you are your safety you are your ultimate but till then you might screech and scream but when you retain your temperament you will find that life will always lie waiting like an hungry beast and at each turn you take i wish you learn the greater horrors and now i confess darling i want you hurt because i want to watch you fight and fight and fight i want you to pull together those moonbeams of hope i want you to throb precariously i want you to be living on the edge i want you to learn the thousand one ways in which you can melt the boundaries of saturation called death and the emptiness of life and the fidgetiness of what might be called love i want you to lose i want you to win but some day i want you to be free

(First published in Indian Literature)

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Apologies for living on

i am living on
because providing apologies is easy

once—

i was making choices
with insanely safe ideas of
fleeing-madly-and-flying-away

i was a helpless girl
against the brutal world of
bottom-patting-and-breast-pinching

i was craving for security
the kind i had only known while
aimlessly-afloat-and-speculating-in-the-womb

now—

i am locked away
a terrified princess waiting
for-death-and-not-any-brave-prince

i don’t dream or think
i just remember and wince
at-voices-of-the-past-smirking-in-sarcasm

once—

i ran away in the darkness
nothing beaconed me more than the
prospect-of-solitude-and-the-caress-of-a-million-stars

i ran into the arms of the ravishing night
nothing pulled me back: not even the memories
of-love-i-had-once-known-&-stolen-kisses-savoured-for-so-long.

i ran until terror stopped my tracks
for, trembling i turned and saw that the moon was
another-immodest-ogler-and-lecherous-stalker.

(First published in Great Works, UK)

An angel meeting me

and may be we will
almost fall in love. . .
I will look into his eyes,
and he into mine—
my one single eye,
(the unfortunate other
blinded by a disciplinizing slap)
and we will agree, adjust
that Love can be Blind.
And he, healthy boy
well-fed, white with his rosy cheeks,
will wonder about me,
pity my bony body, those thin ribs
and worry
and feel my twisted ears
and the scars on my hands,
(reminders of the flirtation
of my skin and a cruel cane)
and perhaps lift my skirt. . .
Before he learns the greater horrors,
I owe him the truth of me—
So, I will say to him:
“I went to school”.

(First published in Muse India)

Returning home

And you see the two-crows-for-joy-pass that are sitting on
overhead cables and the evening moon,
a mere silvery slice against fluffy translucent sky.

And the remains of your school where you spent your twelve
longest years and lived through everything.

And the bus-stand you had to draw for your art-class in yellow
ochre or asphalt grey and the emptiness that now occupies the
place where a tiny café once stood.

And the tree where they fed you lunch before you learnt to walk
back home. And I thought of my parents.

Brilliant people talking of the intricacies of their life and the corruption of
morals and the bygone days and hunger in their childhood and their deaddear-
departed parents as if to teach you what to talk to your children.

(And you are their child,
so you speak their lines.)
Still returning home,

And there are rusty mammoth girders that outline the sky like
the derelicts of lost dreams and crossed hopes.

And girls so flimsy pretty yet unsafe in the little worlds of lip
gloss and love affairs that you could have smoked them into
oblivion.

And the dry decaying dead leaves crushed with varying noises
and carrying a spent smell that clings to your hair.

And the shy forest noises that violate your fixation over sight
and sound and smell and touch yes touch.

And I thought of my lover.

A primitive man who would invade
your aloneness on insomniac nights
and challenge your assumptions of
love and your sophistications and fill
your ears with the four letter words of
his ancient language that have begun
to sound to you like earth songs to
which your body awakens.

(And you are his love,
so you listen to his lines.)

On the way home, the small
lessons you learn of life. . .
Love, or the promise of love,
its lack of choice.
This large world.
And its littleness.

We will rebuild worlds

We will rebuild / worlds from shattered glass/ and remnants of holocausts.

Once impaled for our faith / and trained to speak in voiceless whispers / we’ll implore / you to produce the list / from hallowed memories / of our people disgraced/ as outcastes / degraded / as untouchable at / sixty-four feet / denied a life/ and livelihood and done to death /

in so many ways it would take / an encyclopedia to describe and steven-spielberg / or some-such-guy to produce the special effects for a blockbuster version /

not just the stories of how/ you charred to death forty-four of our men and women and children / because they asked for handfuls of rice/

electrocuted children to instant death because they played in your well / and other ghastly carnages

but the crimes of passion/
our passion/ your crimes

poured poison and pesticide through the ears-nose-mouth/ or hanged them in public / because a man and a woman dared to love/ and you wanted / to teach / other boys and other girls / the lessons of / how to / whom to / when to / where to / continue their caste lines

and we will refresh your mind with other histories / of how you brutally murdered and massacred our peoples / with the smiling promise of / heaven in the next birth / and in this / a peace that / never belonged.

We will wipe away the / sham of your smiles / that appear and / disappear like commercials on prime time tv / smiles that flash across / botoxed faces / smiles that crease / plucked eyebrows / smiles that are pasted and / plastered to your lips/ smiles that sell yourself / smiles that seek to / sell us into soulless worlds.

We will singe the many skins you wear to the world/ the skins you change at work / the skins called castes and / skins called race / the skins you mend once a week / the skin you bought at a sale/ the skin you thought was yours / the filthy rich stinking skin you thought you could retain at bed.

Shorn of style / and a hypocrisy named / sophistication / there would be nothing for you to do but gape at our combat gears.

We will learn/ how to fight/ with the substantial spontaneity/
with which we first learnt / how to love.

So / now/ upon a future time/
there will be a revolution.

It will begin in our red-hot dreams that surge that/ scorch that / scald that sizzle like lava / but never settle down never / pungently solidify.

It will begin / when the song in the sway/ of our hips/ will lead us to dance and sing/ and stand up straight / put up a pretty fight/ redeem and reclaim/ the essence of our earth.

It will begin / as our naked bodies / held close together / like hands in prayer / against each other/ like hands in prayer / set to defy the dares the /diktats the years the terms / the threats / that set us apart.

It will begin / as we give names to our children and/ give names to our / inward anger and aches and / name ourselves / with words of fury / like forest fires / with the words of wrath / like stealthy wildcat eyes / that scare the cowards/ in power /away.

It will begin / the way thunder rises in our throats and / we will brandish our slogans with a stormy stress and succeed / to chronicle to / convey the last stories / of our lost and scattered lives.

It will begin / when the oppressors will wince/ every time they hear our voices and their sparkly silence will never be taken for a sacrament.

It will begin when never / resting we will scream / until / our uvulas tear away and our breathless words breathe life to the bleeding dead and in the black magic of our momentary silences / you will hear two questions / India, what is the caste of sperm? / India, what is the cost of life? and the rest of our words will rush/ in this silenced earth / like the rage of a river in first flood.

It will begin / that day when / we will pay /
all that it takes / for the dangerous price of love.

Love and war

two thousand years ago
our word for love
was the same.

women and men
wrote their songs of love
the intimacies of inside

and they spoke of how
love was tireless
love was a fantasy feast
love was no disease
love was no evil goddess
love was a harshness, in the parting
love was
             ‘the thing that made a girl’s bangles
             slip loose when her lord went away
             grow tight when her lord returned’
love was (they sang)
             ‘bigger than the earth
             higher than the sky
             unfathomable than the waters.’
love was.

no names were named.
you did not know
             who he was
             or who she was
             or when it was
             or where it was
only
love was.

and there were
the poems of war,
the war poetry
poems on the outside

(and perhaps
because the bards
wore lotuses of gold)

there are
the poems
where the names were named
where the kings were praised
where a bard addressed another
where the guide sang to the patron
where the poet sang to the courtesan
where mothers spoke of tigers in their wombs
where the kingdom was
             ‘an unfailing harvest of
             victorious wars’
where the old women
             ‘threatened to slash their breasts
             if their sons died in battle with backs
             turned in fright’
where the end spoke of
             ‘the blood glowing
             in the red center of the battlefield
             like the sky before nightfall’

and because it has an end
war was a history.

love never has an end.
love was. and will be.

If everything comes crashing down

And both of us become strangers onto each other
Do not worry about me.

We will look beyond eyes and run into each other
As usual, for the rest of life.

I do not know what you would
Treasure of me in your mind.

But in billboards planted
Across my fervent heart,
I will celebrate you as the man
Who made me woman.

And there are the small things that I would always remember:
Your affinity to catch colds; my rising fevers on seeing you
Your headaches, your backaches; my avowed helplessness
Your falling asleep while waiting for my reply
Your asking me to remain with you for all of time. . .
All your delicious lies. . .

Over the phone,
               the sound of your drinking water,
               the soundlessness of your yawn. . .
               the camouflage of who you were talking to
               the new meanings you gave to worn-out words

Yes, all of this.
And that once,
You called me a goddess.