Of Monsoon, Mumbai and Love

Part 1

The word monsoon comes from the Arabic word mawsim

When the Arab sailors would come looking for riches in our lands

The winds of the east would change directions holding them back

Forcing their ships to wait – pining for Ihla Da Boa Vida (the Island of Good Life)

The Dutch would do the same after four months around Africa

Chasing stolen maps, they’d reach these shores only to find “moesson”

The trade winds of the east making them wait

For these clouds to change their hues

The British would time their deaths to it

Claim no one survives two monsoons in this godforsaken island

Yet they stayed – for death in Bom Bahiya – the Good Bay

Meant they were war heroes – in their battle for a British India

***

Do you ever think about me – your poet?

Everytime you look at the monsoon slashing at your windows

Do you stare at puddles in potholes

Imagining a different reflection of me with each ripple

I’m a lot like this island, you know

I’m not a part of the whole

I show my love the same way

By longing for you oceans away

You’ve tried reclaiming me from under the sea of solitude

Many times at your own expense

Yet you fail to claim me

I am and will forever be submerged in my silence

So – you wait out my monsoons

And descend with your ships of thoughts

When the clouds in my mind have cleared

You bask in the glory of sunshine

While my thoughts like stones drown me in my procrastination

Your love is a silver lining

And my love – the cloud

While you sigh at the smile on my lips

I just want to rain my words on your joy parade

Part 2

The brave they landed

The Parsis, the Jews, the Iranis – the Runaways

The British they were just a rubber stamp

This was and is an island of rejects

I often wonder how does the city not burst into flames

When every one in it is a firecracker?

Instead its lights from the sky,

Quietly guide our souls home every night

***

I like this, city keep my flames inside

Quietly burning from the inside out

While you – are always on fire

Forever warming my cold feet

You celebrate my empty rooms

Win my silence like a trophy

And I keep my longing for you packed in boxes

We will love like this forever I suppose

Blank Space (as explained by an introvert)

This.

This.

This is what my silence looks like

A dark room full of unknown faces

All of your eyes on me

Waiting for words that just

Don’t

Come.

These are my hands

Trembling at the thought

Of wading past an ocean of thousands of you

At the end of this night

Swaying me with your tides

Invading my silence over and over again

This is also my space

Empty but for my breath

These walls are my friends

All the same colour

But each with a different heartbeat

Slowly teaching me…. How to be

The space holds in it years

Of avoiding strangers like you

It’s what our mothers used to say right?

But while I was busy warding off the evil

I’ve also kept a few new souls away

It’s a price I pay and I pay it in plenty

And from where I’m standing

Silence is a precious prize

You’ll call me the quiet one

Wonder why I look scared

When you call me beautiful

Sigh when I look away each time you try to smile at me

Wonder why I have nothing to say

When you say my words have changed your life

You’ll deem me just a mystery

Intertwined with your life for no reason

“She’s just shy”, others will say

And you will wonder why I am not that shy on this stage

You don’t see what I see

You don’t see my blank space

This is also my canvas

Where I paint stories

Through relentless strokes of my mind

Stories of unrequited love and outraged fists raised in hope

Stuffed in jars like fireflies lighting up my nights

Where my realities collide

Burning through my dark skies like fire

Until my words like stars turn into dust

You may call me the introvert

Claim I dwell in caves

While I spend my weekends in empty rooms

This mind tethering at the edge of my page

You may even give up and walk away

To never come back again

But this.

This.

This thing u call a blank space

And shrug off because it’s empty

This is my whole world, my masterpiece!

And you…..are just a background.

Vantablack

Is it ironic?

That they birthed the blackest black

In a room full of white light

Made me wonder

What does black look like in a womb?

Waiting to be born, waiting to absorb all the light

They gave it a name

Vantablack rose up through the metallic flames

Anduril in one hand the Antichrist in another

The sculptors and the painters fought for the science

One won his vain war, the other asked:

“How do we SEE the absence of light?”

The poet, she smiled.

For the world has now seen and baptized

The blackest black of her mind!

A letter to my 11 year old self (when I wrote my first poem – Butterfly)

Dear girl,

You aren’t so little anymore

Those rhymes you’ve just written down have aged your soul

You are now wise beyond your years

Your tears that dissolve your words into large blue dots

Will one day become rivers flowing through your veins

Filling your heart with an innocence you thought you forgot

You write of fluttering butterflies right now

You will soon turn to werewolves and vampires

And then

You won’t rhyme at all

You will just paint pictures of your soul on pieces of paper supposed to contain class notes

The doodled angels on the corner of your pages will smile

At your childish notions of sorrow

Soon your poems will be cries for help

All that angst of teen age will turn into a knife inching into your veins

Each poem will enter your heart like a shooting star

Burn through its chambers and turn into star dust

Every night you will crumple your pages into hugs

Till the words drill a hole though your chest

In the mornings you will wake up with a smile

Those pages will turn magically into blankets

You will write of unrequited love

Of that boy who thinks you will never be pretty enough

Of that boy who loves you relentlessly till you break his heart

You will walk over a thousand such hearts

And place your words like flowers on the graves of your failed relationships

You will then wait till you are alone

And then embrace your solitude like You are all you need!

And just like that, one winter morning

The green of the forests, the growls of the wolves and the grim of the fairy tales

Will be back to claim their space on your empty pages

You will shoo them away brandishing your pen like a sword

Soon your scribbles will becomes quivers of arrows

With which you hunt down the voices in your head

Until all you will hear are the waves of words washing poems on the shores of your pages

Little girl, my friend,

That pen you hold like a laser beam

Will one day vaporise your insecurities

It will fill your heartbreaks with hot chocolate

It will teach you that remembrance is the only cure to death

It will keep your innocence neatly wrapped up and safe

In the pages of your notebooks

And plant tiny pieces of your soul in every poem

Until there is a garden blooming new words each spring

That pen you hold like a mountain top in your hands

It will find your love, bury your anger and save your soul

My dear girl,

Don’t ever let that pen go.

How to Write a Love Poem

Step 1: Find your rhymes

They’re usually hidden

In the curves of a woman on the dance floor

Only she’s not on a dance floor

She’s head banging at a show to your favourite rock band

But let’s face it

In your head she’s dancing in slow motion to Ed Sheeran

Her hair is making music in the air ripe with the sweat of a thousand metal heads

And all you can hear is the symphony

Echoing across the hall every time her head rises and falls

Step 2: Stare at her

Not in a creepy I’d-like-to-see-you-naked kind of way

But like your life depended on it

Like you are desperate to catch the words coming out of her mouth

Even if those words are shouts of “zombie! Zombie!”

Like you want to hold those words in your hands

And whisper back into your clenched fists

Like you’d whisper sweet nothings into her ear

Look carefully for contours on her face

They are lines that are slowly turning into a poem

And then look away

And find out how ugly the world looks without her in the frame

Step 3: Wait for the words to come to you

Don’t walk over just yet

She isn’t ready to hear the words that make her essence

She still thinks it’s the concert rocking the world

Instead write a poem in your head

About the light beaming out of her into space

The launch pad of your inter-galactic adventure!

And smile as you imagine her slowly turning into the very words you’ve written

Sailing away into the mosh pit

Step 4: Don’t be afraid

Don’t fear rejection

Because by now she is already your poem

She is an unrelenting muse

The Galatea to your Pygmalion

The Helen of your Troy

In your mind She has already won you the Trojan War

She is the Wonder Woman, your Amazonian Goddess

And you the damsel in distress

Step 5: Walk over

No, Drift.

Drift towards her like you are the wave

And the crowd – an ocean

A relentless force pulling you to her shores

Listen to the music raining on you like a cloud burst

And flow, just flow till the beats take you to her

And when the music stops for a second

And all you hear is the pounding of your heart

Turn to her as you turn the page in your mind

And start a new poem with

Hi!

Video performed at a recent poetry slam

Dear 2017

www.cartoonmovement.com
You weren’t easy
You saw too much
You saw the coronation of a creep in the free world
You saw him grab them by the p—— and jab fingers at innocence
You saw women march for freedom from prejudice
You saw that freedom thrown away by bosses, leaders, kings and jokers
You saw the world tear up at the borders
You still had hope
You found it in men lining up to give blood to gun shots
In the courage of millions of women who wrote #metoo
In the celebrations of love over hate
In the music that unites us
Now in the darkness of midnight
You ask me in your fading voice
“Will you miss me?”
The dark of the sky is a black hole set to swallow you
You are vary of my answer
You know you weren’t easy
I found my moments of bliss in you
When I came home to a city that changes colours every time I leave
You saw me smile without an agenda
You saw me cry at poetry that touched my soul
I know it touched yours too!
It was here in this city I had found myself years ago
I got lost in between
But in you, I found myself again
You sigh and say, “the next one will be better”
You were a friend, a lover, a sworn enemy
All rolled into one
Yes, The next one will be beautiful
But the next one isn’t you
You will be safe in my memory box
Where I will keep you like a lucky charm
I will lock you in
Saving my hurt, my joy and my love
Saving the world, all of its light and none of the darkness
And as the sun begins to let you go
I await the start of a new love, a new you
With the few lessons you left behind
Always march together so no one’s left behind
Cry when you feel like it without judgement
Find your crowd and you will never be alone
Never try to stop your fall for it teaches you how to rise
Treat your friends like wine – preserve them, love them,
Age them, consume them.

Mumbai (The Canvas)

The sky is a grey canvas

On to which you claw your arms

Desperate to paint in flashes

Longing for a place in the universe

 

Do you not see

 

That woman on the side of the road

Praying for her child’s first meal?

That man hanging on the rails of a train

On his way to earn his house’s bread?

The millions of feet wading through a murky sea

To meet an enlightened merchant?

 

No.

 

Instead you throw yourself up

Painting pointy streaks on your sky

You are Icarus learning to fly

Too fast too high

 

You do not see

What happens in these small lanes at night

Where lost children hunt their latest fix

Dreamers stand outside celebrity houses

To get a glimpse of their Moses

Where a bad day at the stock exchange

Bankrupts a tea stall

 

Black.

 

As your canvas turns its shade

You fight its darkness with your bejeweled lights

You party, you drink, you dance

Pump up the sounds to SCREAM your existence

 

How do you not know?

You don’t need a mark on the universe

You are your own universe

You are the body and the spirit

The ethereal and the real

You don’t need your sky

You are your own canvas!

Mumbai.jpg