Wednesday, April 30, 2008

death of my mother in my head

i was in fourth standard

i wore my sunday best

my brightest smile

and when teachers asked why

i was not in uniform

i said

my mother died

word got around

like fruitflies

around a sore


pitiful glances

tut tut noises

i sat through it all

eyes looking down

so they missed the glint

it was too good to last

someone called up my dad

and everyone knew i lied

i was too young to tell them

that in wishing it

i was making it happen

for years thereafter

it was the biggest event

in my mother's life

remained the headline

anyone who came home

anywhere she went

she carried the story

hushed whispers followed me


even today it puzzles me

how come

no one ever asked her

why i wished

death on her

how come no one saw

that i was

sinned against

not sinning?

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Complete I feel

No unfulfilled


No empty


No restless


No churn

No impatience

No yearning

Not voided out









Not the calm

Before the storm





With tranquility

a bit of both

How can we be

Two different people

At home

At work


Good boss

Rolled in one?

But in one area

We are different

At home

Relationships are managed

By intuition

Because there is no

Market research data

To give you feedback

On your



At work

It is all data

And analysis

Cold logic

As opposed to


A little logic at


And a little emotion at


Might not be

out of place

the best of both worlds

Friday, April 25, 2008


Have you noticed

How dogs find


That give them a

Snug fit

Maybe they are


On a huge king size bed

Mocha will sidle up to me

All along my leg

When I move away

a big drama happens

long sighs

hurt look

resigned pout


that she couldn’t care less

she will also move

to the opposite edge

of the bed

but soon

as if she senses

the void

the empty air

she has sidled back

dogs are such

touchy feely creatures

their only

emotional expression


if they had words

would they become like us



Thursday, April 24, 2008


Sometimes they

scurry in my head



in the attic


I sit with my laptop

Mind as blank

As the screen

If I were an artist

I would probably doodle

But with words

There is a finality

You cant be tentative

Words are binary

So they form themselves

Like well-trained


And my screen comes alive

They surprise me at times

Where they come from

What brought them on

Why they laid bare

Poor unsuspecting


It’s really between them

I am just a conduit

Not inert though

It’s my party they

Are reigning on

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

not good after

You are like all others

In my life


With your own agenda

Nary a thought to me

But your style was


I will

Grant you that

It was elixir

Whilst it lasted

To bad

It had limited shelf life

cutting loose

Just as organizations need

Different types of


At different stages of


So do humans

Different kinds of parenting

As traction builds

need is for mentoring

Not micro-managing

Mollycoddling was good


But she needs to come up for air

The strangle-hold

In the name of love

Is a yoke

Not beast of burden

But a thinking



In her own right

How can she grow

If the roots keep

Dragging her down

How will she know

How bright the skies are

If she is only looking

Through your peephole

Setting free is never easy

But that is the litmus test

Letting go

Without losing

moving on

One skill

I have acquired over the years

Is to move house

With minimum


And fuss

Beautifully orchestrated

I would have called it


If it wasn’t so


In the proverbial

Blink of the eye

We have grown roots

In the new home

People are surprised

They ask

you just moved


How come

No unopened boxes

Lying around

no telltale debris

Straw strewn

Did you make

The furniture

Specially for this house

Oh but I love your drapes

They hang so well here

And we say no

The place is new

But these are our


to make any place

our home

they fit


we have become experts

at creating this illusion


home is

where we are

I love moving house


I shed all the useless


My thumb rule is

If I have not used

For six months

I can live without it

So like Alice

I will say

‘off with it’

Although I never

Intended it

This has become

A metaphor

In my life too

Moving house

Has made me

Adept at

moving on


At work I know

They said I was a

Good change manager

That does not mean

I should be so

At home

It also does not mean

I should be perennially

In the throes of change

I remember

Asking my boss

Let me put my feet up

I am tired of

Living out of


waking up in strange

hotel rooms

each time struggling

with a concept

and building

a biz around it

and he said

feet up is feet out

you will

tire of it

boredom will

drive you out

I don’t want to lose you

So castors will remain

Weird logic

To stay rooted

Keep me on the move

Home seems to be imitating work

Just when I begin to

Get used to something

The furniture is re-arranged

New curtains are hung

Paintings change places

Change seems to be the

Only order in my life

Monday, April 21, 2008

ode to the ordinary

One of my favorite games


To see me

Through your eyes

Impersonal you

No one in particular




Casual visitor

Do you judge

As harshly

Did I see pity

Flash of envy

Nice way of taking


Of your life

By checking mine

Amazing she is

So well-stocked here

My my this shelf is famine- stricken

Why such indulgence here

With those boxes deplete

My inventory management

Is not at all

Like this like hers

My priorities are different

But maybe just maybe

It might be fun

To be like her

And then again

May not be

It is nice to be


The unusual

Is too



Some of the loneliest people

I have met

Are married couples

Only their mouths talk

By habit

Words come out

Because they are tired

Of being encrypted

In the mouth cavity

Same words

Tinny, deprived

Of essence

They are

Mates imprisoned

By choice

In a 5x5 cell

Life as predictable

Martyrdom self-imposed

And know

No other life

Only hope


Is when one of them

Crosses the yard

Towards freedom

Finds a world

Full of new words

That had never been spoken

A whole new grammar

And then starts

Looking for the meaning of the word


Appalled that it means


strangers for strange reasons

Life is strange

I walked on egg shells

Around him

to the point of

Becoming invisible

Even to myself

There was no connect

Of any kind

Yet I yearned

For his touch

Never felt lonelier

Than when I was with him

And I have this huge

Connect with you

Mind heart and soul

You forced me

To find myself

But I can’t bear

to be touched

Life is strange

This economics of love

Monday, April 14, 2008


Mouse and squirrel

Look alike



Lightening speed

people look at squirrel

say ‘so cute’

and they run faster

than the mouse

away from it

such conflicting emotions

but it is

the mouse that has been

immortalized on celluloid

tom has no life without jerry

stuart little

was even adopted by human family

not too many

squirrel cartoons

nut-cracker seems

a hard nut to crack


My idea of freedom

Is having my own transport

To get away

When I want

Where I want




I feel hamstrung

Completely handicapped


My breath becomes


Just at the thought


Are a nightmare

If we haven’t driven

I like to be in control

Not surrender my will

To a silly place

Even if

It is god’s own country

Driving is catharsis

Good old Freud

Had he lived longer

I am sure

He would have

Had his say


Why car is

symbol of freedom

For a woman

Everything libidinous about it


We were standing

Near the French windows

Looking out

And this pigeon was

Pacing the parapet


She would peer over the edge

Bob her head up and down

Mutter something

Walk back

Agitated strides

Down the

Narrow length

Finally she flew away

Lasted for

Some five minutes

And to you and me

Watching it

Seemed like

It was being played out


And I said

Thank god

She decided not to

Kill herself

We both laughed

But for me

There was a

Poignancy there

How much we

project ourselves

on everything

around us

way we see things

need not be

the way they are

we have created a

human race

of multiple personalities

so we are not just six billion

no wonder

she’s losing patience

this earth


There is nothing new

In my poems

They are mirror images

Of my life

Different people

who know me

Will read


Relate to them

Even say

‘I remember when she said it’

Why write then

You may ask

I have asked too

It is not



Intent to share

Become a literary denizen

None of the above


I haven’t written them

The words

They vacated my head

Opted for a new home

Where they could

Feed each other


Outgrow me

my words are not parasites

moment of truth

As I sat reading

In my balcony

Waiting for the sun

To go down

So I can go for my run

A strange thing


The book

Was absorbing

My nose was in it

A fleeting moment

I looked up

And saw a purple hibiscus

Unlatch itself

From its stem

And dive down

It happened so


Took me a moment

To register

Was I meant to

Witness the act

Or was I just there

Wrong time

Wrong place

Or was it just one of those

Meaningless co-incidences

Like in an accident

A moment sooner


Could have averted it

Could I have

Changed the destiny

Of the hibiscus

By not being there

No way of knowing

Not my moment of truth unfortunately


The other day

Someone asked me

What are you afraid of

What is your biggest fear

I have never needed

To search for an answer

for this one

I am afraid

Of losing my

Interest in knowing things

Of my curiosity

Tapering off

Of my learning curve


Then going southward

I don’t want to live

To see that day

I don’t want to be


When my mind


The reason I enjoy



I learn so much

For teaching

From teaching

That’s what keeps

Me vibrant


People who

Worked with me

Students whom I taught

I want them all to remember me

As someone with whom

They enjoyed learning

Because she loved learning

I want that as my epitaph


When you are young

You like using words

That no one understands

Just to impress

I remember

I used to say


Instead of


it is because

You are low on content

Quality of thought

Breadth of knowledge

So you mask it

With hi-sounding words

As you grow older



Meet people


There are more suns

On your horizon

A greater need

To be understood

Less patience

With ambiguity

Hallmark of maturity


You have stood in the drizzle

When the little

Raindrops fall

You crane your neck upwards


it’s a heady feeling




may your life

be that lovely feeling

go after it

catch that raindrop

on the tip of your nose

balance it

save it

savour it

dreams are useless in themselves

it is we who give them meaning



some idiot said

dreams are

opposite of reality

they are the starting point

destination is reality

to sculpt what was just a

silhouette in your head

to let an idea

jump off the drawing board

to go after it

because that was the whole

point in dreaming, right

the purpose

what good is a dream

if one didn’t pursue

it to make it

come true

moral of the story

you can have as many dreams

look upon each as a


and one day

we will frame every one of them

put our arms around each other

reminisce about each of them

the angst, the vertigo

the footprints that looked stronger

as they climbed up

the calm

as dreams turned to


and i will say, yes baby

you are the stuff

your dreams

are made of


I have been coming to you

For twenty years now

It is interesting

Our conversation has not changed

A word in

All these years

Especially when

What binds us are


I am grateful you made

All the exceptions

With me

I was so sad

When I first came to you

To say good bye

And you said

Wherever you are

I will send you the books

Don’t feel sad

I cheered up

But I wasn’t sure

How long it was tenable

but you delighted me

On all those strange shores,

Your books traveled with me

Don’t know who said

‘those who read are never lonely’

He should be canonized

Sometimes I tell you

Sorry I have picked up

Too many books

And your only answer has been

Buy a bigger car

I will gladly fill it up

I know it’s your


But the difference you have made

In all our lives

Has taken out

The humdrum

People who love books

Can’t be ordinary

Do me one more favour

Just make sure

You go after me

Sunday, April 13, 2008


The ‘keep off grass’signs

have exceptions

The wind

Who does not know to read

The axiom

‘barking dogs don’t bite’

Makes sense

If the dog knows it

‘pearl before swine’

Is tragic

If the pearl is egoistic

Nothing makes sense

Except in its context

Mistakes too

Good and bad


Because you are trying

To fathom

their meaning

their relevance

isolated in time

meanings have a home

their own

territorial imperative

when you deprive

you take meaning out of meaning

Saturday, April 12, 2008


When the words

First rolled off

There was an urgency

Of torrent

Of pent-up release

Sluice gates

That were

Not really built for

The outburst

In fact

The gates creaked

The hinges

Had forgotten

Their purpose

And I thought


This is a one night stand

The first flush

It is more than

Three weeks now

I am still gushing

Words are still


Could this be it?


The picture of hell

Is different

Across cultures

Huge frying pans

Brimming with

Scalding oil

mutilated bodies

hanging upside down

bedeviled bats


like vultures

people with mouths hanging

flesh loose

evil in its

rampant form

as we humans see it

I find that interesting

How both heaven and hell

Have come off

Our drawing board

Our wish list is


Our innermost fears are


Never ceases to amaze me

Why we are so eager to

Do a pilot on earth

So we get acclimatized?


The purpose of art

Is extremes

You said

It should tickle

Your funny bone

Or wrench your gut

No use just

Making you smile

Or pucker your mouth

In sadness

It should make you

Get up from your seat

And roll on the aisle

Convulsed in laughter

Or it should shred

Your innards

Like a serial killer’s

Serrated knife

Milking every ounce of pathos


If it doesn’t do either

Art is purposeless

Nothing is more


Than unrequited love


Nothing is more romantic than

The illusion of the marketer

People are waiting for him

Success stories are so


So boring

Give me a failed product

Any day

And I will show you

The magic of art


Everyone has

Always assumed

That I am

The strong one

I don’t need


In office

Late night parties

They would say

Can you please

Drop the girls home

And I would ask myself

How come no one wants

To drop me home

I am a girl too

So I got

Used to not

Letting on

How vulnerable I was

I shed copious tears

But always when

No one was looking

At some point

I began to believe

In this

Super-woman act

Weak moments

Were history

Always logical

Always dependable

Always dutiful

No one asked me

Where is the surge of love

The dalliance with feeling

The swell of emotion

There was too much of it

Going around anyway


This was uber cool

And suddenly you

Turn the tables on me and

Expect me to

Re-invent myself ?

At your own peril.

Perception is not just

How you see me

But also how I make you see me


Everyone knows

you and i

share a special relationship

I guess gods

Can’t be partisan

But I like to think

I am your favorite

So many times

I have barely managed

A precarious toe-hold

Headlong disaster

Just when I thought

It was all over

You caught me

By my collar

Straightened me up

And I walked back

From the edge

A much stronger person

Each time

I call it precipice therapy

thank you

For years

I had a long wish list

He should get a promotion

She should be top of her class

We should buy the

New holiday package

To bali

Even if I hate water

It should include snorkeling

Even if the sun

Is unkind to my skin

I should look beach-tanned

Not in a spa

And then one day

We were

Three minus one

And somehow my wish list


And in its place

Came a thank you note

Thank you god

For taking care of us

For showing us the way

Thank you for everything

And ganesha said

What happened to your wish list

And I said

You left nothing for me to wish for

For years

I trained myself in

Preparing the wish list

And you stole my thunder

But I can tell you this

My thank you is

Full of smileys

My wish list

Was one long face


Sartre said

Hell is other people

I say

Other people’s emotions

I abhor them

Especially when they are

Used as currency

I will give you quarter kilo of love

for half kilo of security

give me cause-effect any day

I can understand it

Dissect it

Grapple with it

There is no nebulousness

No hidden agenda

No blackmail

I obsess with realism

What I see is

Not only what I should get

But also give

How can love be

A band-aid

How can love be eternal

Its an oxymoron

It has to have

Shelf life

It is best consumed

Within the date stamp it carries

Cold storage

Can only give you

The illusion that

You beat the date

If you are a fussy customer

You can’t fail to notice

The sour tinge

Especially when you swallow

Hint of things not alright


In most relationships

You ignore

The telltale signs of decay

You purge the

Top layer

And convince yourself that

It was just a sheen of fungus

Not gotten down to the core

And as you dig

And your nose is assaulted

You complain that

The spade is not

Doing its job

You wash it

Clean it dry

Dig again

Why is it so hard to read


They come with relationships

Like dog tags

Just a question of time

The last act is inevitable

And curtains

And even if

You refuse

The audience know when it is over

Even if the actors don’t

The usher stops ushering

Be kind to yourself

bring down the curtains

Thursday, April 10, 2008


My boss used to say

Everyone has plan B

But she has

Up to plan Z

They used to joke

Maybe no plan A

But redundancy was in place

He used to say

I am a good

Crisis manager


I am good at

Creating crises

I used to be hurt then

Now I see merit

Seeing as how

bad the last one was

seeing as how

I am less adept

At managing

Seeing as

How less resilient I am

Call it age

Or just the way

Repetition makes you


Crises crushes you

Especially those

You have scripted and acted in


I told you

I am selfish

I don’t expect

Others to look after me

I do it myself

I can never be sure

Others will follow




I know by rote


I wrote them

For years

I was nowhere

In my list of priorities

It was family



Anything else that

Hijacked my time

I remember thinking

The five minutes

I sat on the hammock

At five

Drinking coffee

Before the house woke up

And the rigors of the day took over

That was my time

My only time

That I could call my own

Slowly I started demanding

Time of me

For me

And I said

I am priority too

At least in my own scheme of things

That was the beginning of

My selfishness

Sometimes I forget

Or at least pretend

I hand over the baton

To someone else

And he drops it

And the relay is broken

The race is lost

I pick me up again

Dust me nicely

Dress up the wounds

And go back to

The start line

This time no relay please

I will win my race

By myself, thank you


I am such a coward

Run away from arguments

Especially those that involve


You said like this that day

You did like that that day

Doesn’t so much history

make you forget the


do you remember

to excavate today’s reason

in the quagmire

of all those


I’m game for a good stir-up

But issue-based

Not loaded





Inflicted just to

Prove a point

I am such a coward

I say sorry just to kill


To close chapter which

Writes itself in

Dickensian length

It is like accident

Does it matter who was at


If both died


You stopped three years ago

As suddenly and unaccountably

As you started

When I was still in school

You traumatized me

I hated you as much as I hated

The transformation that

You brought in my body

Even before my mind

Could ready itself

Not only you changed

How others looked at me

Even how I looked at the world

Month on month

I waited with trepidation

If you were delayed

It drove me crazy

If you came on time

It made me curse

but for a while

a long while in fact

we became friends

when I could use you as an excuse

we have traveled a long road together

you have defined all my moments

as a woman

you threw a tantrum

before you finally quit

I don’t miss you


The woman that you made me

The one I no longer am

Monday, April 7, 2008


It is funny

You and i

We never had

Minor arguments

Emotional skirmishes

Difference of opinion

We just had

One big explosion


That annhilated

How was I to know

I had married a suicide bomber

interrupted symphony

You are the best thing

That happened to me

You said

Besides rum you mean

It is funny

Remember I used to tell you

I like you

When you are drunk

Because it’s only then

That I see some emotion

in you

how was I to know

how many fingers of rum

you needed

before it stirred some

emotion in you

not until I caught you

tipping the bottle

at six in the morning

did I understand

what your problem was

you had already started to count the

funeral chariots

in your procession

how futile of me

to coax you

to enjoy the symphony

an interrupted one at that


I love driving

It is both cathartic

And exhilarating

Especially long distances

On highways

I love turning the music on

High volume

And sing along

He and I

Loved driving

He always said

We will share

But I should drive at least

A mile more

Man’s pride and all that

Our best vacations were

Driving ones

So much to talk

He sang well too

With feeling

And in all those years

I never felt

Travel fatigue

You and I did just one trip together

It was the stuff

Nightmares are made of

You are a

Bad passenger

Tense driver

When you said

Don’t switch on music

It disturbs me

I was stunned

When you said don’t talk

It disturbs me

I was dismayed

I thought

How will I ever travel with you

Who has

No words

No song

In him

That is our epitaph

The journey is silence

emotions or absence thereof

I expected to feel

Some emotion

When I first saw you

Playing listlessly

On the court bench

With your mobile

Bile rose

I walked past you

It’s so strange

All day I expected to feel

Some emotion

Even contempt

For the man you never were

And I just couldn’t feel


No one blinder than the one who

Refuses to see

The writing was there

On the wall

As you used to say

Bold and underlined and in red

I was supposed to be the bride

And you looked through me

As if I was

Nothing more than

A fixture which was there

Because you didn’t know

Where else to put it

I remember with wet mehendi

On my hand and feet

I came to you

Just to connect

With the old magic

And for a minute

I thought

I had come to the

wrong address

it was as if I was


sadly that’s the only thing

I can remember

About my stay with you

I told myself

You probably don’t touch me

Because I am invisible

You don’t talk to me

Who talks to invisible people

You know what

If you could make someone

As strong-willed as me

Feel so vulnerable

In so short a time

You really are


I got carried away when

You went on your bended knee

In front of all our family and friends

And slipped the ring up my finger

I should have known that you

Were as fake as the diamond on it

Anjum asked me

After I came away

Is there one reason

That makes it worth

Going back to him

And I thought and thought

All I came up with was

If he had spoken

To me even once


I would have

If he had touched me

Even once


I would have

If only if only

You lived your entire life

Devoid of meaning

Marrying me

Was just another of them

Aimless purposeless

Meaningless acts

The tragedy is not that

my things are broken

The tragedy is I can’t ever

mend them again

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Parenting is

Successful in hindsight

If your child turns out well

You can pat your back

Good job

It also involves

A lot of strategy

Motherhood cannot come naturally

Don’t listen to people who

Quote examples from the animal kingdom

Tell you how whales are natural mothers

And so are humans

Human behavior is less instinctive

More acquired

I know I have had to do

A trapeze act

Because I wanted to leave things

Neither to instinct

Nor to chance

Sometimes more was less

And less more

It is hard to dovetail footprints

Without smothering

Or obliterating

There is no short-cut

To experience

You cant simulate a tsunami

And the sheer terror

Of being chased by killer waves

And the raw, primal fear

Parenting is successful

When you can get your child

To avoid the tsunami

But that’s too easy, right

That’s what I meant

Success is only in hindsight

Friday, April 4, 2008


The first ever poem I wrote was about you

Way back in college

When I hadn’t physically conceived you

But you were very much

There in my head

The first ever song I wrote

Was your lullaby

Maybe I knew

You would be too biased to

Critique me

Rap me on my knuckle

And say stop singing

Let me sleep!

You could have said

Mama lullabies

Are meant to make babies sleep

Yours is keeping me

Wide awake

But you were always kind

You went to sleep

Inspite of

I think even then

You knew I meant well

I may not always

Serve the purpose

But my heart is in the right place

And I have only your well-being

Remember this

Because as you grow older

There will be times when

not everything I say

Is what you want to hear

You will knit your brows

You will get defensive

You will say

Mama allow me

To make my mistakes

And I will say baby

Remember the lullaby

three parts

A distance of over 2000 miles

Hasn’t created a chasm

Our busy professional lives

Haven’t voided us out

It is almost as if

We have three parts to us

Career, home,


We are different species of board room yogis

Straddling three different worlds

This is one time

you cannot say

I am the same person

You are and

You are not

Because I know I am not

It is a new me that

I keep waking up to

Every morning

Do you realize

Even people living under the same roof

Don’t give each other

As much time as we do

This is one time

You cannot say

I don’t carry anything from here

I hope you do

A new way of looking at things

At yourself

Which will stay with you

Even after I am long gone


Why are you accusing me

That I’m confused

I have every right to be

I didn’t give you

A promissory note

That I would never be

We didn’t sign an MOU

With penal clauses

Look at it this way

Atleast I accept I am

Not just accept

But revel in it

Nothing like a good

Solid confusion

To rarefy thoughts

State of being

Things as they are and

Not as they ought to be

Like I keep telling you

A good headshake like Mochy

And there is a halo of fluff

Flakes of confusion


Like the dandruff ad

But you know what

Things I wouldn’t dare tell myself

I tell you

Because the one thing we have no room for

Is pretense

In this packed space we have created for ourselves

I wouldn’t call it refuge

That sounds

Like we are running away from something

Our little forgotten corner right under

Everyone’s nose

Whose meaning we gave

Even though we don’t need to speak at all

The place is word-strewn

Remember you asked me

Will we still have

Stuff to talk about

When we meet

I think I agree with you

Not everything comes with

An expiry date

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I cant handle it

If you enjoy

Mindshare with someone

That is the magnet

You used to draw me to you

I have no problems

If you share your form

Even your heart

But your mind is mine

The well-lit corridors

The wicked crevices

The dark corners

Where a lone dog had

bayed at the moon

Where a forgotten curtain had

Flapped in the wind

The dog has now learnt its lesson

The curtain has since been taken down

I have done the interiors

For both of us to appreciate

Forget usurpers

Even guests are not welcome


I am yet to meet someone

Who is

As painfully shy

As I am

I am not shy

From insecurity

Or low self-esteem

It is more that

I am too comfortable

In my own skin

but others see it as


I liked it when you said

That such contradictions

Are what make me

Who I am

I think so too

How can I explain otherwise

A woman so comfortable in her skin

That she let you ravage it

Target-practise on it

When your skin evicted you

You are right

Such contradictions have become

A part of my DNA

I only hope

They are not mutative

I don’t want them showing up

Several generations from now

I don’t want someone

So comfortable in her skin

That she lost it

And was beyond a skin-graft


I write my name

I write your name

I tear up the paper

On which I

Wrote both the names

I shred it

Letter by letter

And I ask myself

What did I achieve

And surprisingly my answer was



I know the power of the written word

That’s how I got carried away

When he strung them into

This enticing

Crochet of what could be

I let those words seduce me

They say paintings in galleries

Hear the most idiotic things

I think even those who are

Deafened by evocative words

Hear the most idiotic things

they say to themselves

the right word is more potent

than the first touch

it singes you

and leaves you incapable

of settling for anything else

and when the tapestry comes apart

the colours bleed

the magic hangs limp

you go back to the words

and wonder why they

ring so hollow

how come you didn’t notice

their emptiness

why didn’t you see that they were strung in a hurry


riot of haphazard colours

only because it was meant to catch your eye

knowing that you are colour-blind

how could you let him seduce you with words

he borrowed


If only I was twenty years younger

On the threshold of a new career

Confidence in my demeanor

Spring in my step

Answers on my lip

Nothing is impossible

Every peak that can be scaled

Should be scaled

Challenges to be sought after

Bland is blasé

If only I could have

Started my career now

In India

This is the best time to be an Indian

Working in India

The rest of the world is watching us

Every move

With bated breath

If only i was twenty years younger

But since I am not

And since mind manipulates

I console myself

When India starts really to happen

The traction builds

And Hillary’s hysteria about not letting

A single job go out of US subsides

When India starts to cause tremors

Many of the people making it happen will be my students

And I will partake in the legacy

This moment in history

Will be mine

And I will tell all of them

You taught me to under-write my dream

It was zero-risk

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Have you noticed the way

Some people travel

Even before they have

Reached the first leg of

Their journey

They are planning their next

And the next

And the next

And they don’t even know

When the journey ended

And they came back home

And people flock to them

With questions

How, where, when, what

It was too short

Too rushed

No we couldn’t go there

Yes but we couldn’t see much

Hardly worth it

Nothing like home

We were dying for rajmah chawal

Do you know they put

Sambar powder in it there

Do you know they add coconut

To bhelpuri there

Nothing like home

Finally the question that was never asked


Why did you travel at all

But we like to travel

You get to see new things

You get to meet all kinds of people

You get to eat different kinds of food

But didn’t you just say there was no time

To see anything

People spoke a strange tongue

Rajamah chawal was not the way you make it

Yes, but don’t you know

In this day and age

Travel is the only way of

Keeping up with the joneses

It is my ticket for inclusion


You can’t take a chasm in small steps

It has to be one giant leap only

It’s not that I have not made mistakes

I can’t even say I have not repeated my mistakes

You name them I have made them all

Along with my propensity for mistakes

I seem to have also acquired a skill for

Course correction

Surgically precise



Survivor I am

Each time I challenge me

On my pain tolerance

Each time I surprise me

Raising the bar

For a physical coward that I am

I seem to feed on mental pain

For the secure person that I am

I seem to be cavalier about my self-esteem

But up to a point only

No calibrated threshold

A simple law of survival

My tomorrow should be better than yesterday

marketing motherhood

You still hold it against me

That I did not feel the surge of maternal love

When I first held you in my arms

How could I

I was too busy

writing my job description as mother

I was a prime mover

There were no rules of the game

No, correction

There was one cardinal rule

Everything that my mother never was

The right strategy to slay the wrong emotion

I didn’t want to be a friend to you

I wanted to be a mother

Who could grow with you

I wanted to be that stylus

Which specialized in north-bound learning curves

Both yours and mine

I wanted to tell you

You don’t have to make mistakes

I have made them all

Just learn from them

But the marketplace is now different

As a marketer

My role is only of the prompter

Even as I pray that you don’t botch up the lines

Sometimes maybe I want you to forget your script

So I can play my role

Most times I’m too happy that

You are so word-perfect

And my marketer’s ego just wallows in having

Created, communicated, delivered value

That’s my daughter


I think age is in the mind

I am as old as

I want to be

When I tell people

I am fifty

They think I am joking

I neither think nor dress fifty

Atleast not a stereotypical one

I owe it to myself

To care for me

How i look

Is how i behave

Is how i think

i am my biggest investment

and I expect my feel good return regularly

yes I like people telling me

I don’t look my age

But most of all

I like my mirror telling me

How can I

Enthuse my spirit

Nurture my soul

Galvanize my brain

If I neglect my body

How can I be me

I want to be absolutely

In top form

For my date with god

I want to be able to tell him

I improved upon your creation


Do you have a mentor

Yes yes yes!

A big time influence

When I was growing up

And grown up

Hammer-struck me into becoming

Who I am, how I think, what I do

A more demanding sculptor you will not find

And a more earnest sculpture you will not find

At no point did I veer away from

All that I wanted to be

And that was

Never to be anything like my mentor

My mother

Yes I had a mentor

For who I should never be


I need a good cry

What do you mean you need a good cry

For the last five months

Your eyes have been a-brimming

Your voice a-quiver

You don’t need a good cry

No those were tears for what were

For the breached promises

For the lies

For the deceit

For the excuses

For all those nights that I nursed my lonely insides

For all those hours when I just waited for a look

For all those months that I just waited

Tomorrow i want to cry

For all that could have been

For the fingers that never entwined

For the caress that never happened

For the breath that never steamed

For the anticipation that never was

For the earth that never moved

I need a good cry

For the woman I never became


They have irreconcilable differences

They want a divorce your honour

Only six months of marriage

What irreconcilable differences

Explain to me young lady

I am like a dog

I am all the time asking

What can I do to make my master happy

He is like a cat

He is all the time asking

what will this good-for-nothing

Person do to make me happy

So where is the difference

You want to keep him happy

He wants to be kept happy

I am as much tired

Of being a dog your honour

As I am of

His being a cat

Aha! That’s irreconcilable

Divorce granted


Appa you won

The way you made me

Internalize the nuances of English grammar

they stay with me even when I’m remembering pain

Bold and the beautiful and broken bone


I will always remember the first time

He broke my bone

Even as I was watching this mind-numbing serial on television

It took him longer

To break my spirit

And twenty three years later when I tell people

I still meet him over a drink

Everyone says how can you

Don’t you remember

all that he heaped on you

you should feel bitter

And I’m thinking

If I continue to feel bitter

That means I am still giving him control of my life

And if I’m willing to do that why did I make him my ex?

When I smile across the table at him

It is my victory

It is my sanity

I don’t do it because I am this

Nice forgiving woman

I do it to tell myself

I have successfully exorcised him


Ammamommy we need some TLC in our lives

Lets buy ourselves a dog

By TLC I presume tender loving care?

Of course we are both becoming calcified

Dog will thaw us

So we found Mocha

All of 37 days old

We had a choice

A bubbly bouncy boy

Or a docile gentle-eyed girl

And girl it was without discussion

Ammamommy, labradors are very friendly, gentle

Not like simba I hope

Who first bit and then barked

No no labs are good dogs around children

Its is six months now

what we have is

A beautiful, playful, vibrant

Manipulative she-devil

Who managed to jump off the second floor

Chasing a squirrel

At 40 days of age mercifully

there are no bones

So none to break

And survived to tell the tale

Now filled with attitude

Seen it all done it all

A tanker full of TLC

Trooper. Leonine. Champion.

Ammamommy we need some TLC in our lives

Of the mocha kind

To infuse faith in us

united in fear

They always fought

Or rather my mother always did

And my father was the silent martyr

Maybe he was scared

Maybe he didn’t have it in him

Maybe he didn’t know how

Sometimes he would say

Other people are happy

She ruled us all

With myopia, fear psychoses, blackmail

We were a family united in fear

Our divinity was the despot

Fifty-eight years later

Her iron fist hasn’t slackened

And he grovels more

As his Parkinson-addled brain fuels his dependency

She says I will go first

And see what happens to you

He is now too scared to live, too scared to die

They remain united in fear


She was always saying ‘I wish…’

And he always said to her ‘beware’

Remember what Rhett said to Scarlett.

She was always saying ‘I wish’

And one day he asked her

What’s the opposite of ‘I wish’

Where do you think we’ll find it

She was always saying ‘I wish’

And he always said to her ‘don’t’

Wishes are nice as wishful

She was always saying ‘I wish’

And one day he said ‘me too’

She said remember what Scarlett said to herself

Tomorrow is another day

She was always saying ‘I wish’

And he said ‘your wish has come true’

Now she’s always saying ‘I wish I didn’t’

pilgrim's progress

You came into my life

When I badly needed a friend

But couldn’t trust anyone

More so myself

You know how it is when you are

Your least favorite person

You came into my life

When I needed to laugh

That laughter of gay abandon

Mine had become corrupted

Some virus apparently

And it was anti-heal

You came into my life

When I needed me

She was lost somewhere

And a simple search key was not working

You came into my life

When I needed you

To need me

And when you said you needed me

I knew I would need me too.

You came into my life

When I needed life

And you said

I know where it is

I can take you there

You took my hand

And we have just started

our pilgrimage

I seem to have a lot of baggage

I don’t even know if I am a good pilgrim any more

I don’t think I have lost my faith yet

Wounded as I am

You came into my life

Please stay


I have a serious problem with you he said

You are such a ‘present’ person

Yesterday is not important

How can it be

When you don’t dwell on it

Suck it dry

So you learn not to make those mistakes

I have a serious problem with you he said

You are such a ‘present’ person

Tomorrow is not important

How can it be

You don’t worry about it

Plan for it

Give up your todays for it

I have a serious problem with you he said

You are such a ‘present’ person

Only the ‘now’ is important

How can it be

When you are living in it

Grappling with it

I have a serious problem with you he said

Your reality is only this moment

That you have fisti-cuffed

In suspended animation

What have you done with all the yesterdays

You never told me you were fumigating them

Why aren’t you waiting on the threshold

For the tomorrows

Have you given the wrong address to the movers and packers

the world's shortest love story

First meeting

Expression of interest

Second meeting

He said I am space-giving

She said I don’t want space

I want to be crowded

He said so share my space

Third meeting

You are a squatter in your own space she said

It is so narrow

You keep running away from it

And the door is unrelentingly shut

Fourth meeting

Was a non-starter

Just like the love story


Sometimes I think I’m a born winner

How else can I explain this elation of winning even after losing it all

Sometimes mind is a funny thing

It makes you believe

What you want to

Even as the scribe is busy

Creating a new document

You then spend a lot of time choosing the folder

The document needs home-coming

Posturing has become a way of life

No such thing as win some lose some

It’s a loser’s anthem

Sometimes I think I’m a born winner

No one knows better than me how win and I are strangers to each other

Anyone who knows losing at such close quarters

Has to be a born winner


they have precise meanings

especially when they are telling you who you are

no word is kind enough

when victim is the self-perpetrator

no word is descriptive enough

when hurt is self-inflicted out of stupidity

they have precise meanings

when they tell you what depths of irrationality you have plumbed

they have precise meanings when they are not band-aiding

you cant hide the sore from its dressing, can you?

no word is correct enough to tell you

you should have known better

they have precise meanings

when they tell you about your feet of clay

that is my tragedy

there are no words to tell me how i fell in my own eyes

how hard the fall was

how i'm struggling to get up

they have precise meanings

but no words