Sitting alone in the balcony
Turning thirty five in four years
Fifty, in exactly nineteen
A few years forth, dying, unheard of

Days go by
Nothing changes
Incessant callous waiting fill hours
Erode weeks and fortnights

Suddenly it's two thousand and eighteen
Past July
Seems like only yesterday 
Was new year's, when I sat in the balcony too

No sight of babies
Or the money
Or the glory
Or the awry badass writer of fiction 

I've nothing but this 
It's not that I don't talk to folks
But slowly I've burnt the bridges

Bridges that connect me to the outside
Nobody comes in
And I never get out
In spools of dreamy thread, entangled I lay, singular 

Too spoilt to move
Too rigid to break out
Waiting to merely age like your average human
And die out, unseen of 


My home is in major disarray. It smells. Of weird smells and squished bananas and leftover chocolate and sweat, perhaps. I can't say what more precisely. It almost has some captured odours of regret that it has mixed with real smells. Regrets that I didn't probe enough, that I didn't try enough, that I got carried away. What it doesn't recall is that there was no space to maneuver. Since the beginning, since the time I was mere stardust, I have never truely felt empowered. It's nobody's fault. Just that I haven't felt real power, over anything or anyone else. I have felt also too ashamed to seek out support. Right since the beginning I have been too weak and hapless. And since I am shy, I have never liked company per se, and people, I have been shrouded in the darkness with myself. I have shrunk and shrunk and shrunk, therefore into non existence. It's a quagmire I am trapped in. I have trapped myself. Now it has gone out of my hands. I truly cannot control how I feel, how I think, how I process thoughts and store memories. I am powerless even over myself, so weak I have become, I feel deranged. There is no love. There is not much hope. Just a bottomless hole. And I am shooting into it, into it deeper and hoping to see something, someone to hold on to, but I don't, I cannot. I sit in my smelly house in afternoons through long nights, waiting for sleep that doesn't even show up. And I don't know how to get out of here. 

Caring for Plants

Wherever I go, a tree accompanies. Imagine me, walking with a tree. It's not like that per se. But wherever I have been, a tree has been beside me. In my childhood bedroom, near the window rose a coastal coconut. I saw entire monsoons through it. Near my current bedroom, my neighbors who I have never encountered, have a coconut grow right through their house. It's not a courtyard, but almost. Tonite I see the moon through it. When I was a toddler, at my grandmother's, they had a hibiscus in the courtyard. It shot up to the roof where it mixed with the tendrils of the rangoon creeper. Red velvet hibiscus flowered amongst vines that weren't its own, but almost. Now I keep a potted jade plant at my desk, and water it not more than twice a week. I keep the plant for company, for I am a lonely lonely person. I am a very lonely person. Ironically so because alone is the way I want to be.

I have potted plants too, but they are permanently in convalescence. Never has it been that all of them are happy and fertile and flowering at the same time. Sometimes, one is broken by the wind, one is overwatered, one is yellowing in its leaves, one has forgotten to flower, one is recovering from autumn, so on and forth. They wilt and come back to life, but never at the same time. Clearly, I am not a carer. I have my own moods to handle. Sometimes I get away for weeks without a house sitter. Sometimes I just don't love them enough. But mostly, I keep losing hope. Mostly I am hopeless. That's the reason I have plants accompanying me everywhere, to keep the hope flowing. But I abandon them, they abandon me, it never goes well. It's not the mutually beneficial relationship I would want it to be. Nobody ask the plants, because they can't speak.

A sickle shaped jamun tree stood on the other shore. Of the river. Boughs of it bent on the water, like a lover. With the complicated emotions of a paramour. The boughs remained the same, except for a few leaves that fell off and the new ones that sprouted, but the river constantly changed, the water of it, changed every godamn instant. The boughs tried to remember the lover of last night in today's water and found nothing to connect then and now. Yet, they somehow ended up loving the river everyday, because they had fallen in love with her once. Back in the day. When its water had been an omniscient monsoon green and frothy, and also in spring when the water had been crystal clean and the boughs had seen their own impeccable reflection in it.

Thus, now they gotta havta love the river in summer too, when it doesn't even exist. 

Dirty Dancing

Won't you come outside with me?
I know, inside is more fun,
The lights are dimmed and disco
And we're dancing

Like there's no tomorrow
Sans any bodily coordination
We're too high to dance
Too high to stand, or sit

So, I whisper
Into your eyes,
'Wanna go out in the dark, with me?'
You push back the hair behind my ears
And whisper back, 'in a minute'

Outside, it's 2 AM
No earthly hour this
And the sea's running wild
Tides are high and water's splashing
With delirious intentions

We are squeezed in between,
Land and sea
And standing still,
But no matter how hard we try
We're shaking, shivering and dancing

You keep your distance and ask
'Now we're outside'
'Whaddya wanna do'
I say, 'Nothing'
'Let's go back in, shall we'

Suddenly, I remember
For the briefest moment
When you'd bent down to whisper
Your lip had touched my ears
And then a current passes through me


When she was a little girl of nine, her mother gave her a sliced lemon with salt every morning. She was a nauseous girl and the school bus, with its sweaty kids and shut windows and the gas fumes on the road made her want to puke. Her head rolled and her stomach turned. The lemon helped, somewhat in the forty five minute onward bus journey in the morning.

But there was nothing when she returned in the afternoon. No lemon, no salt. Nauseous and with too much saliva under her tongue, she would keep looking at the watch on her wrist and count minutes for the bus to drop her at her stop. There was no respite, but one.

There was a senior girl whose hair stood like a dense tree on her head, and she also wore thick spectacles with black frames. The school bus took somewhat of a detour to drop this senior girl home. And every day before she got down at her stop, the bus moved through a few narrow streets full of snack shops. Any street food her nine year old mind could imagine, was being sold there, undoubtedly. And more. 

Those streets saved her, those smells warded off her nausea and wafted through her nostrils into her stomach. Her mouth salivated and she waited patiently to eat whatever mother would have cooked the moment she stepped into home. She nick named it the street of spices, through which the bus traveled hardly for seven minutes or eight, but she waited and counted minutes to get there. 

Also, there was this friend who saved her some egg rolls from lunch. His mother worked with her mother and hence they were friends. They sat side by side in the library period and hence they were friends. She loved his slimy egg rolls, hence they were friends. She got him a band aid that time he scraped his knee playing kho-kho and hence they were friends. They lived nearby and their bus stops were consecutive, hence they were friends. 

Their friendship bloomed like a concomitant to the chaos of their nine year old lives. Yet she was so nauseous and she imagined, why he was not? 


I've spent quite a lot of my life in classrooms. A lot of long, very long years in classrooms, let me spare you the details. But I don't remember a single word of what I was taught. Like nothing. Only some deeply embedded basics have stayed with me. But beyond that, nothing could pervade my razor thin attention span. 

And, years after, all I can recall is the Zoology lab. It's funny because I hated Zoology. It was one of the papers of Biology, which itself I had chosen as an optional because, I  like to keep options open, I like to reduce regrets to the minimum. But I had zilch  interest in Biology. Okay, Botany, yes, I have loved plants. But Zoology was the creepiest subject, in like ever. Why would I remember the Zoology laboratory class?

Probably because the lab assistant had a real toothy grin. And her smile stretched  from one end of the mouth to the other. Like Julia Roberts. She looked nothing like Julia Roberts, but just the smile. And she smiled sarcastically, most of the time. Like when she was sure when we didn't know what the correct answer to her question was. I for one, didn't know what the correct question was, most of the time. I have no idea how I passed. 

Or it could be because, in the other laboratories, they made you stand and do the experiments. Chemistry and Physics, I stood in the labs for hours and hours and my feet ached. I literally wouldn't be able to feel my ankles. But in Zoology lab, we would get to sit and dissect a frog. Or look at an octopus or a snake in formaldehyde. But I am not sure, if merely comfort would sustain a memory so long. 

I ran into the lab assistant teacher lady a few months ago. Somewhere. At a wedding, at an exhibition, at the mall, at a sports tournament, at the theatre. Doesn't matter. I might have just dreamed her up. But it brought back memories of my Girlfriend. My girlfriend when I was seventeen and she was seventeen, we sat side by side in the Zoology lab. She was the one, oh she was so beautiful.

And I don't mean your conventional beautiful when I say she was beautiful. She had a bony face, and was rather thin (some men like to hold on to some flesh), and she always talked as if she had a mouth full of saliva. The mind remembers the most pathetic of things, but the mind is right. One day I saw her wearing a long sleeved dress and the entire sleeve, right from her shoulder to her wrist was embroidered to reveal her skin through the holes. 

Not that I hadn't seen skin before. I had seen skin before. I had seen her bare arms, probably. But I cannot say what that dress did to me, I fell in love. Even today, I can see her thin wrist with a coppery bracelet with her initials dangling from it. And  her bony hands, with the veins showing, and the mild blue nail paint on evenly filed nails. What a view it was for parched eyes, from having seen mummified reptiles for too long. And since that day, till the end of college, I was deeply in love with her and held on to every meagre idea that gave me the hope of loving her a little longer. I decided to take a deep interest in Zoology because that was her favourite subject. There wasn't much success there. 

But I helped her with her Physics experiments which I was relatively better at. Helped her solve a Math problem here and there. But in no other class, did I have the access to her, the way I did in that Zoology class. Man, those hands.