Thursday, December 5, 2019


Not a leaf moves.

Not a stone takes it upon itself

To roll to a side.

Not a tree desires to sway.

Not a vehicle arrives.

Not a human decides to stroll this way

Nor a pet or a stray.

I open my eyes.

Leaves are rustling.

Trees are swaying in the wind.

Cars swoosh past,

Flinging pebbles to the flanks

Cats meow eerily

Busy dogs sprint along

For no purpose

The world moves on.

I shudder and I...

close my eyes again.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

When you scroll down...

If you are going to scroll down the pages

Know that you will encounter my Life

What you have known, what you haven't

What you have felt, or haven't suspected

What will shock you, send you reeling

What will calm you, or astound you

What will make you nod and say

I have known this all along

What will make you marvel

Or will disappoint you

You'll find philosophy

You'll find silliness

You'll find half-cooked thoughts

You'll find abandoned efforts

And promising plot-lines

That never quite made it anywhere

You'll see my dreams

Concealed well or peeping out

You'll find reminders

You'll find secrets

You'll find almost everything.

But there will still be a part of me

That I haven't written down

That's mine alone

To die when I'm gone.

They don't emerge from between the lines

They're buried deep in my mind.

When you scroll down these pages

And encounter my Life in words...

Make sure you treat it with care

Because you now hold

My living, beating heart in your hands

Thursday, September 5, 2019

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Quirk of Fate

​The only reason
You're scrubbing
The floors outside,
On all fours,
While I'm seated
Before the TV
Relishing a delicious meal...

Why you're seated
Beneath an unkind sun
Burning your shoulders
Begging for alms
While I sit in a cab
Ordering food through an app...

Why your child
Doesn't know school
Whereas mine speaks
Of higher education
And choices
And contentment...

The only reason
I'm here
And you're there
Is a strange
Quirk of fate...

Something carried over
From an earlier life?
Or someone's cruel joke?
A game of life
where some always lose?

Who decides
Where I go and where you?
Nothing I have done;
Nothing you haven't done.
Our paths have been drawn
Before we were born.

It's as though I was
Given a head start.
For reasons
Neither you
Nor I
Could fathom.

You and I are
through mutual need,
across the closed doors
and thick walls
And the chasm between us.

I'm given the chance
To give you a hand
And raise you
To your feet
Or to turn my back on you
And abandon you
To your fate.

Saturday, August 10, 2019


I opened the door and peeped in. I had gone back to get an umbrella.

She wasn't there so I called and asked aloud for an umbrella.

Still no response, but the balcony door was open so I stepped out. She was there, in her favourite chair, watching the drizzle. I had left her just a moment ago, but the face I saw was not the same.

She looked bewildered. As though the raindrops perplexed her. As though they were not supposed to be there. As though she was wondering what they were.

"Hey," I said, and explained why I was back.

She looked around, blinked and came back ---to this world.

A shiver spread through her. There was a breeze, and it was cold, but not that cold. She looked frail to me, all of a sudden. Frail and weak and... unprotected.

No, she wasn't. The shiver had given me that notion.

"Umbrella," she said and began wandering through the rooms. "Umbrella."

She doesn't have much use for one, I realised, for she rarely went out. Perhaps to the store nearby, or to get a haircut. She could choose her time. She need not go when it was raining.

"It doesn't matter," I said. "Don't bother."

But she was on the prowl and nothing could stop her. Muttering to herself, as to where she had seen it last. I just stood there, watching. Thinking. She was like a tiger in a cage. Searching, seeking, restless. In her eyes, the memory of wilderness lost, never to be found again. Wrapped in a cloak of solitude. Isolated. Desolated. Neglected. Abandoned. Forgotten. Yet living, as only some can.

She found it finally, but by that time the rain was over. It was just a drizzle after all.

She went out again and gazed at the light. She took a cloth and wiped a few drops off the railings. Had she forgotten my presence already?

I wondered if I should stay a little longer. She still had the wild look in her eyes. Just a few minutes ago we had had lunch together and she was a different person.

Now she was enveloped in this shroud.

It was strange.

But was it, really?

I had been conscious of this quiet transition. The shadow had been gaining on the light, in small steps. Today, my reappearance had brought her back. Tomorrow, she would wade into it for longer, and the next day, even longer, until one day she would pass entirely into the darkness.

We all lead two lives, a day and a night. As long as they exist in their own halves, we appear normal. For some, the light chases away the darkness; for others, the darkness shadows the light. There's an overlap that's normal; a shadow region with varying depths that's acceptable. And solitude, an overdose thereof, often lets the darkness in, gradually. We may even allow it to grow on us. The dark side is like a thrill - we know it is leading us astray, that it is shattering us to pieces, but we need its trance, if only to dampen the effects of our inexorable righteous thoughts.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

We (Must) Matter

The one thing we are all afraid of, deep down - however we try to mask it with trivial and flashy occurrences of daily life or by exposing ourselves to desperate acts - is being irrelevant, becoming insignificant. Of passing through life without achieving anything of significance, without leaving a trace behind. Of reaching the end of our journey and wondering what we had done with the time we were bestowed. What extraordinary thing had we done that justifies our time on this planet? Or even, how exceptionally well did we perform the ordinary tasks of life, if at all our life wasn't meant to be remarkable? Something must stand out. We must be content at the end - that is our expectation. We must have mattered, to someone, somewhere. Our presence must have made a mark in someone's life. Preferably for the better. Sometimes even that is not enough.

All our antics are aimed at proving to ourselves and to the rest of the world - whoever be watching, whoever be remotely interested - that we are not immaterial, that we do leave a scratch behind, deep or negligible, that a grain of sand has shifted because we existed...

If everyone shifts the same old grains of sand, our efforts become ordinary, compelling us to begin again, a short distance from where we had started, and add to our efforts to edge forward, rolling up huge globes of clay without seeming to, pushing them up the hill and letting them roll back down... often without a spot of hope. Because each life matters; must matter... we must make a difference...

Everything we do boils down to this unconscious, and sometimes glaringly conscious, dread of being moored, through the relentless passage of time. Of being motionless when the World, in its infinite hurry, passes us by.

A Fear of Having Done Nothing.

A Fear of Not Making the Best Out of This Life.

A Fear of Not Grabbing Opportunities as They Flashed Past.

A Fear of Not Having Knocked on Doors Hard Enough.

A Fear of Regretting Doing Nothing.

"The Cab is at the Door. The Letter is in your hand. All you need is a touch of Courage..." 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Death knocked on my doors unexpectedly that day. 
Let me take a moment to consider the word. 
Was it really unexpected? 
Is death really unexpected?
Don't we know we will all die?
I knew she will die. Not that I had thought of it, even once. 
Some day. (What a wonderfully optimistic word it is: "some day".)
It is an awareness. It is not a conscious knowledge.
Not something we spend even a minute on, unnecessarily.
On the other hand, it was her husband who had been sick. For whose treatment she used to borrow money.
So that's why it was unexpected. 
Subconsciously perhaps, we expected him to pass first. As though... 
It's unpleasant when we put it into words like that. We never expected him to die either.
That had not been a real thought we spent our time on, either. An consciousness, a belief, somewhere deep within.
But if that had happened, we would have nodded. Yes, he was sick. It was bound to happen, sooner or later. 
She had been missing for a few days. Gone away, we were told. Which was true. She fell sick during her final journey. A pilgrimage? A vacation? Or a final duty to fulfil?
No one really learned when the transition to a hospital happened. A surgery followed. 
All in a matter of days. 
The next thing we see is her body wrapped in a cloth. Cotton in her nose and ears. Bloated face.
A mere shadow of herself. 
Because we expect nothing to change. 
We expect tomorrow to be just as uneventful as today.
We complain about its uneventfulness, mundaneness, stagnant boredom - even when, in a way, we're grateful for it. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Primitive Art of Conversation

I have been walking around with a list for a while. Taking deep breaths every now and then. Putting the piece of paper down, and picking it up again. Fiddling my fingers and contemplating running away. You may suspect it is a list that could shatter a few worlds, or something as powerful. Sorry to disappoint you: it's my grocery list for the day. Or week, if you like, if you are a systematic person. Me? I just call up the shop whenever I remember an urgent item or two to purchase. And they deliver. I can pay with my card; they don't insist on cash. Easy-peasy. I have been calling them for over ten years. They know me now. The people who pick up the phone, if they have a moment to spare, ask about my well-being. I ask about theirs. So why am I trying to postpone the very simple, delightful task of ordering a few items which will be delivered to my door within the hour?

The answer is: I don't know. I try to put off calling the shop as much as I can. Almost until every necessary item in the kitchen has run out and there is no more escape if the family has to survive.

I have been doing some thinking and it occurs to me: I don't want to talk. Sad though it sounds, it is the truth. How much do I talk to people now? Very less. Everything happens via the phone - the very device which was invented for people to converse, is being used these days to do anything but. Almost every task gets done with enough amount of punching on the keypad or screen, not a word needs to be spoken.

Think about it: Family updates come via group chats. News from around the world pop up as messages; friends send their updates through social media. You can check at your leisure. You can reply at your convenience. Or ignore altogether, if you like. Food gets delivered, cabs line up at your door, books can be read, movies can watched - if you just know where to click. If you want to report a faulty telephone or know your bank balance, you don't need to say a word. Just dial, follow the recorded voice and keep pressing the keypad for the right amount of numbers. If you want to ask your neighbour something, send her a message and wait for her reply.

Here I must pause a moment to acknowledge people who still like to hang from their phones for hours on end, talking, talking, talking, dissecting every little detail, regardless of whether their curry is burning in the kitchen or whether the world stopped spinning on its axis. Off the top of my head, I can recall at least five acquaintances. Thankfully, not everyone is afflicted with my strange illness. (I shudder at the thought of having to call these acquaintances.)

Except for this grocery list, most of my purchases are the outcome of my punching on their respective apps. It's like magic, isn't it?? Tap, tap, type, type, click and voilà! What you seek is in your hand. (Accio Firebolt!)

The only reason I haven't moved my grocery purchase to a very inviting app (of a different shop) that does not require a reading aloud of my list, is a sense of loyalty to this shop, a loyalty which is at its flimsiest at this point of time - just because of the painful job of having to say, "Hello, I am calling from... Can you please send me..." I am impatiently waiting for my shop to develop an app: they are still taking baby steps. Perhaps it would be a clever idea for me to remind them: "Business isn't bad even without the app; but for how long?"

If this trend keeps up, people might find a method to avoid talking even face-to-face. Perhaps a technique would develop wherein we could just fiddle our fingers and the thought appears before the eyes of our spouse. We won't ever have to look anyone in the eye. Reminds me of the world of the future as depicted in the movie Wall-E.

Just as I begin to worry over the vanishing art of speech, comes the newest kid on the block: the talking / responding / obeying box of an assistant, currently immobile, but a precursor to the metallic dwarf-like creature that would soon trail after us and bring us tea. As of now, the orders are to be given via voice. Alexa, for God's sake call up the damn shop and order groceries! What am I paying you for! On one side, we are getting rid of conversation with humans; on the other, we have to parley with the non-living, to get things done. I am quite speechless at human progress. The future holds so much promise in the art of making conversation, don't you think?

Meanwhile the grocery list beckons. So what if sugar and salt and rice have run out, and the kitchen is empty, and the family starves? Perhaps I should throw loyalty to the wind and install that promising app of the other shop.

Loyalty prevails for one more day... I pick up the list again and gather courage to make that one dreaded phone call...