Trees

I heard a story of the trees on this island

Hiding in plain sight

Centuries ago

When one tree knew its friend is dying

It fused itself to the other

Sharing the same earth, wind and water

They grew together

Twins fused in time

Wrapped around the same dirt

Breathing the same air

Living a single life fused

Siamese twins

Sans the two minds

Wish we all lived like that

Under our single sky

No me and you

No us and them

People living together

A single all consuming organism

One Earth for all of us

All oceans under our embrace

The winds our messenger

Each soul saving another in need

For no reason at all

The House

This house is a cave

Where silence like a monster

Rests

It has been fed for years

Pieces of children’s skin on their father’s cane

Sent its way like lambs out for slaughter

This house is an asylum of nightmares

Shadows lurk in every doorway

Waiting for the darkest edge of the night

They wait for the mother to implode

And the patriarch to explode

Until they swallow both of them whole

This house was a mistake

A dream destined to self destruct

Dreamt by a hopeless heart

Put to test by toddler souls

Running scared from one dark room to the next

Till one day they elope leaving their scars and heartbreak behind

It has a caustic system

That burns down joy in an incinerator

Every year

The ashes choke the inhabitants

Until their breath becomes shallow air

And love for years has been hiding inside dusty bookshelves

It has rage for bricks

Cemented together with insults

That hold the walls together

Everyday the mother hits the walls softly

Hoping to let the anger course through her veins

At least it’d keep her alive

The father he stares at the unforgiving walls

Searching for absolution

Praying his sins are worthy of redemption

This house is her.

This house is him.

But the one thing this house is not and never was

Is a home.

Dear diary

Ever had a day when you wish you could blurt words into the diary

The way you used to as a little girl?

A day where you want those words carved into your arms

But your mind has hidden all sharp objects in the room?

I wish my mind were a loaded gun

With words on point enough to kill.

Instead I scar myself

Branding my skin piece by piece

I tell them it was an accident

The doctor wonders aloud if I did it to myself

Or did someone hurt me

I tell her I need no one to love, to hold nor to burn

I don’t feel pain

I don’t allow for it

These walls are too thick

And pain just lashes on the outside uselessly

Instead I preserve my scars

Spread open my heart and let them breathe

While painkillers worm through my blood

Hospital ceilings make for good parchments

It must burn the doctor says

I tell her it hurts but not enough just yet

Perhaps there will come a day when the levees will break

And the pain will flow in these veins along with the killers she injected

Don’t get me wrong

This isn’t masochism nor some dark confession

This is me simply acknowledging the stormy seas in my mind

Listening to the thunder and the distant rumble and bracing

My demons are on my bed every night

Awaiting my implosion

Waiting for charred skin and wounded flesh like

Vultures waiting for death

But these walls hold strong every night

Held together by the same words

That in the morning rain like knives

On my parched skin

As the sun rises, there is this fleeting moment of quiet

Where the pain and the demons don’t exist

And my mouth morphs into a smile

And my scars? They aren’t scars anymore they are old friends

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