The Middle

On the way back from work, everyday, they make the bus stop where it shouldn't. It's not a designated stop. But they scream out loud, curse. Ultimately, the conductor gives in. It's a desolate place, where they get down. And another bunch of them get up on the bus and, carry on. It seems, it's their slum. It's not a part of the bigger slum that bustles beside the desolate road. It's apart. Distant from the bigger slum, with boundaries probably. 

Initially, I used to get scared of them. They appear that way. Gaunt, half men, wrapped in shiny saris, backless blouses and the make up. Red lipstick on dark skin. Hair pinned back, plaited neater than most of the women on the bus. But gradually with time, the fear left me. I would look at them and wonder where they were going. To fleece money in railway stations, to dance in the homes of newborns. I wondered what it would be like in their tiny gender neutral community. They would live in parallel houses. Cook together, wash together, eat together. 

There would be less of this tremendous bias that clouds all our action and inaction. 

Do you know that God, himself is androgynous? Why else would he dress in saris, being a man? Why would he adorn a nose ring made of the flowers of moonbeam? Or have red lips? Because he imbibes qualities of both the father and the mother. Since, we were strictly occupied by bias, he created the hermaphrodites after himself.

Tonite I feel, I take myself way more seriously than I deserve. I bother myself with so many should be's and should have been's, it drives me nuts. I feel, I should slash the ropes already. Already. 


Whatever happens to those writers who narrate an entire life story in a sentence or two. It's quick and done with. Like, they met in college, married soon after. She bore him his first child, a brilliant little fair girl. A decade into, differences emerged and they separated. Moving on, he met his second wife at forty two. They have a son, who is neither as brilliant or fair like his half sister. But he is, nevertheless. Or, let's say: He was the unwanted third child, conceived by mistake, half heartedly. His father wanted him, mother didn't. So, he grew up with half the love, half the heart, tagged along with his older sister and brother, until, they would no longer have it. So he branched out, broke bad and became an alcoholic. Or, let's say: Ever since, she was seventeen, she wanted a child, a cute plaything of her own. But she could find no man that was a keeper. She studied and worked. Meandered through life, far from effortlessly. Swinging between depression and self doctored therapy until she met a keeper. But then it was too late to have a child, her fluids had stopped flowing. A hostile uterus, or something. Like that. So easy. So easy. So swift. Thanks to those writers, you can live the lives of their characters with such ease. 

But your own life! It is so excruciatingly slow, painful. Excruciatingly slow and painful. And fucked up. There's no way you could just cut short some of the agony. Some of this misery. Some of it. You've to roll on it, lick it, swallow it. There's no way out. Only if the writer of my fate would learn something from these on the fast track. And get done with it. 

Lovin' ye to Dust

How do I tell you, I love you to dust.
In the same exact sense, that I mean it?
I can't trust words.
Nice ones are hard to wait for.
Also, the mind acts funny.
Understands things, that were never even meant.

Of course, I could say
Rather, I love you to bones.
Your bones.
Even, malleus, incus and stapes
Both pairs of those.
I love each bit of fluid in you.
Every ounce of your mass.

But I've gotta say.
That  love you to dust.
Any substitute to that would be
Grossly inadequate. Unfair
Because, you know
Love's special
Love's all there is.
Was, or will be.

So don't get me wrong,
When I erupt and say,
That I love you to dust. Till dust.
Till time ends and space shrinks.
And everything turns to dust.
I would love you till that.
Or may be beyond. 

Time & Distances.

The big cloud stands like a mountain at the end of the sky. No matter how much further I get, I look back to find it standing just there. As if, it secretly chased me. Walking right behind me. Or probably, the distances I cover, get past are too miniscule. I often have thoughts of the illusion of motion. Wherein, we are under the impression that we are moving. But we aren't. We fake the whole thing. Birth, growth, marriages, love, children, middle age, senility, death. To be true to ourselves, we are standing still, with the big cloud behind us. And the pointlessness of it all.

But this again, disproves itself. Time is the most powerful. Change is all that is. May be, motion defines life. And that big cloud is an illusion. I am imagining it. And I am actually traversing these lengths. Stretching my legs. Sinking into depths. Experiencing these new feelings. Progressing or digressing, but under no circumstances, am I standing still. 

But am I? Why does every new experience feel like something I have already been though. As if I am hung over on a perennial deja vu. Does my life circle, only too fast. Did I grow up too soon. Did I shed my naivete too soon. 

Such thoughts swallow me, and I run away from that big cloud. Splitting the wind, wide with my hands. Lunging forward. Or backward. I don't know. Smothered in stillness, which feels like breakless motion. 


There used to be a well between our homes. Somewhere midway on the path that connected our two backyards. Scattered with guava trees and lemon saplings. The well was surrounded with potted marigold. And in the distant pond, we could hear sounds of fish plopping in the water, all afternoon long. In my little girl's mind, I saw the neat trajectories in air that those fish must take, succumbing to their wild death-wish to be without water for a few moments, the flight of freedom, indulging in something, you're warned not to.  

The sugandhraj tree that had overgrown and shrouded the air with its intoxicating fragrance, stood right beside the well. I would go there to pick up wilted flowers that had fallen off the tree and hold them making a pouch in my skirt. It was usually then that he would push their door open and ask me to come in. He was a few years older than I was. Then. Even now, I guess. Ages progress arithmetically. Anyway.

He made those noodles, that came in packets. You know, hardly anyone knew about them back then. He made them all by himself while his mother took her afternoon nap. Long yellow noodles that softened in the pan within minutes and he slashed open the packet of spices into them. We sat facing each other with bowls in front of us. There were no forks back then, we ate with regular spoons. With all the gravy spilling and blistering our thighs, he would try to dissuade me by telling me that those were earthworms. Ugh! Disgusting. 

In summer, we made a doll house with bamboo stems, very neat carpentry from his side, I must say. I carried all my dolls into it, along with all my plaything utensils, pots and pans into that doll house. We had to evacuate suddenly one day when the rains came. That season, we kept a puppy and called her Beauty. We had tied her to the leg of one of the chairs on our veranda. Slowly, it grew big and had enough of the food we were feeding her. So one day, he let her go, without telling me. I cried my eyes out. I looked for that dog everywhere. 

In winter, he made me a Christmas tree by cutting off a deodar, or something. He hung cotton balls from it, I assumed it was snow. I hung flowers from it. I was happy, really, overjoyed.

Today, our ages have progressed. We don't know where we are. I heard, he has become a raging alcoholic. His brain his shrinking at the same speed at which the universe is expanding. And I am. I am deplorably oscillating between finding a reason to live, and losing it. And wondering if life spares anyone at all. Anyone at all.  


Johny boy is asleep,
Johny boy is in a coma.
All those dreams now rest in his head
And for good.
That swollen exaggerated head of his.
Full of anecdotes,
Those of money, women, love, betrayal
Johny boy is now a stranger among the known
He senses stuff, they say
He sees you with eyes closed
Who knows, and who can tell?
The unbeknownst sciences of this dreamless sleep
And the art of being perennially undying
Johny boy is in excruciating pain!
Only he can't tell, they say.
His blood and soul is sedated..
Thank good God for morphine
Johny boy Johny boy!


A vision. Not fleeting. A constant vision. Like a motion picture. Of sheets of rain lashing on me. And I feel closer to the open skies than I am. Arms stretched out, fearless, laughing in endless mirth. The cold numbs our fingertips. Ten of mine and the ten of his. Sometimes held, sometimes free. There's no urge to go back in and be shielded. From this, one brave night of latitude. Is this June? Or July? I forget. What did I want from life, I forget. All I have is this. There's a line of emptied glasses on the ledge. Ella Fitzgerald sings in the background. Just an iron railing keeps us from death like depths. Yet we don't jump, not yet. Now we swing from the skies. I see his eyes twinkle in the light of the splitting lightening and shut our ears as the deafening thunder might come anytime now.