Outrage

There is no outrage here

They came knocking on my door

Looking for it

Before going back on the streets

There is only a numbed silence

Like the ringing in your ears after a bombing

Or the haze in the air the morning after Diwali

Diwali

The festival of lights

Celebrating the victory of light over darkness

The homecoming of Maryada Purushottam – the perfect man

Our Ram

Our God

“Where is the outrage?”, He asks

His shrine coming to life

“I burnt it, alongside your judgement of me”, says His wife

“I walked past the embers into your guiltless arms

And then let the earth consume me.

That dust you see, between your idol and mine

Those are the ashes of my outrage.”

Outrage:

N. An extremely strong reaction of anger, shock or indignation

They are raging in the newspapers

Coercing outrage out of numbed souls

“Where is the outrage?” They ask

I can’t find it,

It played hide and seek with Shame when I was 10

And Shame won

Shame

The ornament of choice of all women

Across centuries, throughout Bharat, across its Yugas

Protected by gods after husbands gambled their wives away

Saved and preserved until it rusts and turns into hate

I shed it today

My snake skin of shame

I don’t wait for new skin to grow

For the outrage is flowing

In my blood, in my bones

I open my door

The sun’s red makes me glow

I stare at my bloodied hands

Make my anger into fists

Raise them to the sky

And my outrage

Turns into hope!

P.S: Ram refers to the Hindu God, he is an incarnation of Vishnu(one of the holy Trinity in Hinduism) and considered the “perfect man” – Maryada Purushottam. After he rescues his wife from the clutches of Ravana (the evil king of Lanka), he asks her to prove that she is still “pure” and hasn’t been defiled by her captor so his wife survives Agni pareeksha – the fire test and proves her purity but also “punishes” Ram for questioning her by being buried alive into the Earth.

P.P.S: Bharat refers to India as described in Mahabharat where yudhisthira the king of Dharma (righteousness) gambles away his wife Draupadi to his cousin brother. As a result, Draupadi is disrobed in presence of the full court until God in the form of Krishna comes to her rescue.

Untitled

You linger

Like the aftermath of the wine I finished last night

You said I drank too much

So after you left I drained all the alcohol

And roamed the halls of this house

I wanted to be sober for you

We poets are connoisseurs of tragedy

Yet tonight even my blank pages are no use

Because the only words that flow from this pen

Are ones that rhyme with you

You

You who smelt like the sea every time

Washing over me

Walking away and coming back like a tide

Flowing on its own time

You who never held me without an agenda

Who only dreamt of the inside of my pants

Who never once wondered what lay in the deep folds of my mind

You don’t leave

Even the walls remind me of you

They whisper sweet nothings in the night

I touch them like I had touched you

A soft rub here a dig of the nails there

They moan just like you did

They don’t wander off though

You used to, at the very start of our many conversations

“I don’t do frivolous talk”, you’d say

And keep looking for intelligence on your phone

Not these walls

They absorb every last of my words

Tonight I write on them

Desperate to draw you out

Then I stop

If you didn’t love me then

Why would you love me now?

For now, the paint awaits

The walls could use a coat

It’s got scars where it was hit by things that missed me

Like prisoners of war, these walls have seen it all

The torn up insides of our caustic relationship

The silence and the violence

The chaos after a brawl and the calm before the storm

Everyday playing out like an operatic tragedy

Not tonight

Tonight these walls are a shrine

Entombing pieces of you

Tonight you will be immortalized

I stare at you and wait until the paint’s done

Consent

I can’t speak

You swallowed the last of my refusal

You tasted it in your mouth

Did it taste like the sweet cherries you said it would?

Did you feel my throat choke on the string of words you used to “woo” me?

All I could taste was your charred tongue

Burnt and scarred by your betrayal of my trust

I can’t speak

But my hands spoke

No they screamed and fought

The only way hands know how

They said “move away, leave me be!

You were just a hero to me

A deity, worshipped in the altar of my teenage heart

My love of you was too innocent to be carved out of me like this”

I can’t speak

By now you’ve swallowed all my NOs

They’ve echoed in your gut

And convinced you I just need more convincing!

Your hands move up and down my spine

Slowly carving out my skin

And I’m just wondering how would I wash away the scars no one can see.

Months from now I will muster up the courage

Corner you in rage and scream and stomp my feet

And you will convince me

That while I tried to scream with my body

You NEVER heard a peep

And there, in the tiny screens of an obscure messenger

You will be brought down from your pedestal

By your superpower that put you there.

Your words. Your words wrapped around my neck.

I can’t speak

For no one can hear me

They will point their finger at me

“Did you say no? Did he hear you say it?

If you were fine with his hug

Then why weren’t you fine with a kiss?

Why did you agree to meet him?

Did you drink anything stronger than tea?

What were you wearing? A skirt, that’s….interesting”

I can’t speak

These days I just write alone

Friends can’t be trusted anymore

For if heroes turn out like you

What would my friends turn into

You surgically removed the one strength I had

My ability to love without doubt!

But some things are even stronger than love

My words! My awesome motherfucking words!

I can’t speak

For I will scream this to you and the world

It doesn’t matter what I wore

Or whether I loved you or not

Or if I was smitten by your words

Or what it means when at 15, I loved the works of an older man

Or if my messages to you were heartfelt

Or that you “expected” a kiss

For you may have eaten my refusal

And I may not have said no

But

I

Definitely

Did

Not

Say

Yes.

Pieces

There is a peace in this room

Tonight

A silence broken only by pieces of our lives

Exhaled

A piece of you and a piece of me

Intertwined

By the dimming twinkles of the fairy string lights

If you squint

They would look like fireflies

There is a peace in this room

Darkness

That saves itself in shadows behind packed

Boxes

Our hands don’t touch

Each other

They aren’t supposed to after decades

Together

Our life has written all it can on our faces

There is a peace in this room

Tonight

These walls are looking new to me

Each day

Your face is slowly fading further into the fog

Everyday

But here is what I know in the depths of my heart

Your pieces

Have stayed in this rusty mind of mine

There is a peace in this room

Tonight

Fact: every time you exhale

You die

Your soul waits for a moment

For takers

Then crawls right back into your skin

Into life

There is a peace in this room

Tonight

Because my soul is slowly holding on

To yours

And every time I exhale it takes longer

To come back

As if deciding, whether

It’s worth it

Ah! But I forget the piece in this room

Tonight

The only piece of you my mind doesn’t

Let go

You see when souls are together

For this long

It doesn’t matter which piece goes to

The reaper

There is a peace in this room

Tonight

My life has been lived and your death’s

Dying

With creeping breath I now know what will

come to pass

Your soul will preserve mine inside your deliciously

Ancient skin

 

The Ressurection 

It was a resurrection that left millions of his fans in tears. And when Roland Garros officials played the throwback video during the award ceremony, for a second, I was my 19 years old self watching a fellow 19 year old win French Open for the first time. Friends have asked me, why I take his game so personally and why I have over the years defended his every game with such ferocity. Perhaps it’s because we share the same birth year or maybe, I, like the many million fans, was smitten by the passion and grit that had suddenly spring on to the court in 2005. It was an year when Federer’s machine like precision was already dominating the scene and comparison was inevitable.

Soon the world was divided between those who liked the graceful aggression of a quiet, polite young Swiss and those who preferred the boxer-like demeanor of a raging bull from Spain. The traditional and classy courts of Wimbledon preferred the company of Roger’s quiet smiles and the loud colourful French crowd preferred the iconic raised fist pumps from a brightly dresses Rafa. Everything about Nadal screamed an aversion to convention. From his Capri pants (which had to be reduced in length for the Wimbledon – because – you know – the British!) to the sleeveless T-shirts showing off the flexed arm powering the forehand winners slaying scores of young women, from his obsession with his bottles on court to the countless pre-serve dribbling which tested the patience of his breathless opponents. He has often wondered out loud whether the success came too soon. He was barely speaking English in those years, but his body language spoke for him. He was here to conquer the court and any flaws that came in the way would be dealt with his trademark killer instinct.

The real prize for the world, however, was the 2008-09 season. He has often spoken about how little he remembers of that final set (6-0) against Federer at the 2008 French Open final. He was in the ever elusive “zone”, a place of complete invincibility few champions have reached in the past. For most Rafa vs Roger fans, this match was the turning point, the real coronation. He had come a long way since 2005, adapting his game, hitting flatter forehand and more precise top spins. Wimbledon – suddenly looked plausible. To all of his critics, this season was the answer, he wasn’t just content doing well on his favorite surface. He wanted to prove to himself and the world that while clay court was his kingdom, he could conquer any unknown land he wanted to. This was the year the soldier became the Gladiator. The Wimbledon 2008 final will go down in history as the greatest tennis match ever played. It was won not by talent, but with grit, hardwork and an unending love for the game. Amid rains, sweat and tears, the greatest player in the history of tennis admitted defeat to one man’s unconditional devotion to the game.

It is true his game was best suited for the dusty surface, a court that crowned him king at such a young age. This has been his castle and since 2005 when he first entered the hallowed grounds, he has never let anyone forget that. There were 2 blips in the journey, but they were exactly that, small kinks in an impenetrable armor. But he took the loss like he takes the  victory, with his usual air of humility. Working with the same coach since the age of 3, he has never forgotten his roots (uncle Toni wouldn’t let even if he tried). A tournament in Chennai in 2007 inspired him to set up his own foundation back home to help underprivileged kids in Spain. “I want a legacy beyond tennis”, he said.

“He’s writing checks his body can’t cash.” Agassi had said of Rafa back in 2005 after losing to him. We all know Agassi had never been a gracious loser so everyone took the comments with a pinch of salt. But, in 2014, the threat of a burn out became real. After injuries to left shoulder, left foot, left arm, tendinitis in both knees, both wrists, back trouble (the list could go on), he looked all but broken in 2016 French Open press conference. He was dropping out after a near comback story cruising through 2 rounds with ease. He conceded that the levels of tennis the world was used to from him were perhaps a thing of the past. It is the only time I saw him truly defeated and his opponent was no one but his own body. The fights and bouts had taken their toll and the battle scars were no longer just battle scars they were his demons. Mind you, 29 isn’t a bad age to call it quits (Borg did it at 27), he had achieved far more than his critics had written him out for.

“I can’t control how I play. I want to keep getting better. And the most important part is the head.” – he had said in 2009 in an interview to New York Times. And ironic as it may seem, for all the macho bruised hero appearance and his bulging biceps, it is his mind that is his biggest strength. It is this strength that brought him back to the finals of Aus Open early this year and led to the return to his beloved kingdom last week. He was back in the zone in the last set. There were shots where Wawrinka would just look at Rafa in disbelief and proceed back to his corner resigned to his fate.

The Resurrection of Rafa is a beautiful poetry of resilience and endurance. And yes I agree with Fedex fans that he is the greatest tennis player of all time but Rafa – is the greatest fighter of the sport of all time and perhaps his good friend Roger would be the first one to grant him the title!

Vamos Rafa!

Colours 

Reeling me into your haunting spirits

You are not the man who I await 
You are not my lover

I’m not yours to keep
Remember the colors of my tainted face?

You put them there yesterday 

You think it was a brand on display? 

I’m not yours to claim 
Magnifying your pain like it matters

To this edge of my mind

You are not my Muse

I’m refuse to write your hate
These walls are the expert witness

In the trial of our lives

You are not my owner 

I’m not a contract you negotiated 
This night will not be your ally 

Not while I walk out to the floor lights

You won’t stand on the podium

I won’t be your trophy

She

She

Hides behind

Thinly veiled smiles

Talks of flowers

And knives

In the same stale breath

Envisions a death

She

Is Athena

Ethereal and yet – very real

Is her mirror’s favorite subject

And yet in her mind it rejects

Her

Voice sounds like an angel

When its busy not sounding like a mongrel

Walk is a swift breeze

And is also an easy tease

She

Is a merciful vengeance

A heart’s cold resurgence

Runs away from affection

And yet longs for an aching affliction

She

Is a vessel brimming with hope

With who you have decided to elope

Doesn’t always swing both ways

But you will take your chance today

She

Is slowly moving away

To your heart’s dismay

She

Is looking at you

Like you are the new Taboo

She

Doesn’t want this dance

Was never hinting at a romance?

She

Wishes to unsee

The desperation for love that is – me

she