Rukmini is about 65. She is reed thin, with a sari draped around her. Else you could see her protruding bones. She has an almirah at the end of her kitchen. Just behind the stack of steel and aluminium utensils. But she wears all her jewellery. A thick gold chain, earrings with strings going around her ears and anklets. That's all the jewellery she has. The rest she has sold. To get money to run her house hold. She began selling the brass and copper utensils first. After they were emptied out, she began selling her gold.

Her house is a train of rooms. The first room has nothing. It's almost on the verandah. It has nothing though. The second room has a bed. And a mirror in which Rukmini has seen herself grow older over the decades. From a nubile bride of sixteen. Till her breasts sagged and the wrinkles came over and her luscious hair fell off. Every single day of those several decades, Rukmini focussed on her face in the mirror and placed a thick red dot of vermilion between her brows. The third and the last room is the kitchen with a small stove and groceries stacked in the wooden shelf. Here she cooks two meals for her rather senile husband who sleeps on the single bed in the second room all day. Who screams a lot and hears nothing. His word being her command.

She is childless. Everyday, all those years in her youth when she bathed by the well in her backyard, she felt a void in her womb and her eyes filled up. So she snuggles up to the children of others. And embraces them tight till her heart's content.

She has a string of marigold shrubs around her well she tends to. And she also has a kitten. Who she feeds the occasional fish bone to. Sometimes even now, she feels the void in her reed thin body and goes on with her day.

Best of Times

May be the best of times are actually behind us. May be.
The time you fed me poached eggs on the kitchen counter.
The day I sat where the rocks parted for the sea and took a picture.
That time when I had an infinite number of drinks and slept on the bathroom floor.
That afternoon I bought flowers for myself, long stemmed gerberas with water droplets glistening.
The evenings, numerous evenings of coffee and smokes. In the garden. In the cafe. On my particular table.
The days I took off, stayed home and wrote stories during.
The mornings I walked into the river water and pretended to catch fish.
The time I bought my wedding dress.
The time I bid you goodbye. For the last of many many times.
Yes, all those.
Those times, the best of them.
Are way behind us now. Locked up in memories. Like fossils. Or like zoology specimen in formaldehyde.


The last time I saw him was at the mall. In the groceries section. I recall we were in the toiletries aisle. I was totally concentrating on my brand of hand wash when he just appeared. Right in front of me. It took me a moment to recognise him.

His was the perfect picture. His little girl on the shopping cart. Her hair tied into a pony tail. Wife in tow. A very pretty wife at that. She must have been prettier when he had married her. Now her face was rounder, hair a little disheveled, like every young mother's. But still pretty. He was the same. Lean, dark. And very terse.

There was a minimalistic exchange of pleasantries after which we parted. Then for the rough fifteen minutes that followed, in which I continued to tick items off my shopping list, I remembered that it hadn't been that long a time. Probably two years. We all lose track of time. So many many other things worry us more that there is no mathematical account of time in our lives.

Years go by and we cannot even recall what we were upto when. But it wasn't two years ago even.

The half a dozen tea breaks in the chawl downstairs. And the chit chat. Sometimes, strolls too. It was nothing. I had moved on from that nothing. And he had too.

Time, they say is very powerful. And we all must wait, if nothing else. Everything passes on.

Written for the one who has never forgotten to wish me on a birthday.

Happy 29.


She was completely soaked in the plan. She went through it again and again. The show was at quarter to three. She had to leave at half past one. The cinema hall was more than ten kilometers away. And he was to meet her at their designated pick up place. She couldn't be late. They wouldn't miss the ice-cream before the show started. He had booked three seats for the two of them in the corner of the last row. So that he could wrap his hand around her shoulder and no one would be bothered. She had made a suitable alibi at home, she was away for back-to-back tuitions and soon after she would go to the beauty parlor. She prayed hard that nobody should find out. What else could she do but pray. What could anyone do but pray. She was a few minutes late and he had been waiting. She tied a scarf so as to hide her face and climbed on to his bike, and sat clutching his chest from behind. Like they do. In a minute, they were on the main road. The wind was unstoppable that afternoon. It shouldn't rain, how would she explain at home if she got drenched. Her head had transformed into this constant alibi manufacturing machine. It didn't. They licked their ice cream cones standing in the alley behind the hall. Her face was uncovered now, and people stared on, uninhibited. In her eyes he saw how nervous she was. In the darkness, when the film played, they held hands and even plucked kisses off each other. But her heart lay in her phone, which might ring anytime. What if they found out. Nobody called, though. In the interval, he bought more soft drinks and wafers. The cold breeze from the air conditioner, gave her the chills and she snuggled as close to him as she could. He whispered things into her ears, making her promise for a few more matinee shows like that. She whispered back, asking what if people back home found out. He whispered back saying that he had his way of taking care of things, if they did. She felt both empowered and bothered, by what he had said. Later, when the show ended, the skies opened up. The wind had stopped and the rain began to look scary. They couldn't ride back in that weather. They waited and waited for what seem like an hour and she couldn't make anymore alibis on the phone. She was at her wits end and her forehead heated up.They were both soaked under their skins. She was in tears, well almost. And he consoled her with all he had. That they were going to be just fine. 

Letting bygones be bygones


When I love something, I read about it till exhaustion. And beyond. Mostly, sorrow attracts me the most. Poignance, casts a spell on me and brings me to a standstill, rather where I am compelled to explore. Till exhaustion. Once I can't feel my feet on the ground, I choose to sink deeper and deeper. Even if it means nothing. I discover the agony I have buried within myself and I cannot bring the process to a halt. It's nasty and it's involuntary. Almost like a chronic addiction. For instance, if I love a film, I read about it for days. Until I have had my fulfilment. And fulfilment is a relative word, my friend.


My friend was sitting in a bar with his friends. They were all smoked up and were having a few beers. I was back in my room, writing a poem. Or something. We were all of twenty. Or less. A very fragile age that. I was writing a poem called Underachievers Anonymous. Sitting on my bed. On my blog, back then. Mist on my windowpane. Blanket till my waist. Memories are best set in winter, I say. I wrote it in a flow and published it. He read it almost instantaneously. Yes. And my phone rang within a minute. I had barely un-blanketed myself to walk up to the coffee table. And my phone rang. And it was him. He had called to say how exact my timing was and how his gang was now going gung-ho about underachieving etcetera.


Something beautiful and terrifying I read today: Love, even if never fully expressed, somehow lasts forever.

In The Mood For Love

Imagine smoke and mirrors. Smoke, often from his cigarette and more than a couple of mirrors, facing each other at varied angles, light reflecting and refracting as it wished, without restraint, through red curtains and green bed spreads and tiled marbled floors coloured like a chessboard, printed wallpaper with chequered designs, of light blue, or deeper, a lampshade or two, a can for carrying soup, an umpteen number of bottles, spread across, the entire room feels like a living kaleidoscope, beside her fuchsia lipstick. And music playing in the background, probably, cello, or the trombone, that digs a hole in your soul. Only that, everything that is is thoroughly jaded. So as not to stand out but to merge with an oblivion, creating a subtle lust in our mind and slowing passing it down to our gut.

Just as, at times the vastness and beauty of the universe makes us feel tiny and inconsequential, a great work or art, a masterpiece such as this, decimates me beyond human imagination. I am all but flattered that I came to witness it, purely as an act of coincidence.

It is as if, by itself an enigmatic repository of memories, the actual events corresponding to which I never experienced, however, I somehow, ironically, carry those memories around. Guilty as charged, my heart full of shame and broken at that, by love that didn't last. This causes a universal amnesia of sorts. We have all been there, ages ago, in that same room of dull yellow light. And impersonated conversations, spaced out with sighs. And rainy alleys and damp staircases and singular light bulbs on the streets that have been proof of so much love, abandoned, so much love, forgotten. So many phrases, left unsaid, so much skin left untouched, unseen.

But just smoke and mirrors. Smoke and mirrors. Smoke and mirrors.

Bottom of the Pyramid

One of the toughest realisations in life is that you're going to be average. And nothing more. Mediocrity is no crime. Except it seems like one. All the time. Forget average, you might as well be below average. Bottom of the pyramid. And your only achievement would be that you survived. Lived to tell your tale. Or better, keep mum about it. Losers are my type. But more definitely when they are the quieter kind. There are always going to be the virtuous others. Who are richer, prettier and more glamorous. Fuck them. You be god damn average. Or poor, ugly and pale. With nothing to say. But just be, already. Just be. Even if it means starting your days thinking that you can't do this anymore. Even if it means laughing at other people's pointless humor. Even if it means ageing and getting fat and getting spotty skin and tired bones. Even if it means counting to the last penny. Even if it means failing at every plausible objective you set for yourself. Even if it means being ambivalent and un-opinionated. Even if it means looking down at yourself. Even if you realize, every passing day, that you are the bottom of the fuckin pyramid. And that, no matter how hard you try, you can't get any better. Still be. Right there. At the bottom. Where you are. What you are. Whatever you are.