hashtag me too

glass jar, darling
it will hold the fireflies in;
fluttering wings
& blinding rings
of merry-go-rounds;
it’s not a trial to escape
(but we aren’t the judge,
are we?)
as her lean figure stretches
into impossible shapes
– ambiguous circles where you can’t make out the end
from the beginning
or sharp squares where every edge
is a dagger and every trial a duel –

the glass jar, darling
is the perfect home;
a locked field
& guarded dreams
where hopes don’t dash and crash;
the fireflies don’t fly high
enough to fall down and break
(something breaks, but green grass
can’t shatter bones, can it?)
as her thin figure stretches itself
into impossible sizes
– tiny as the dot of star trying
to blend in with the dark
before collapsing into giant holes
of empty light before everything
blinks –

a glass jar, darling
is a heart on fire;
icy cold
& frosted lores
as it breathes out another rhyme;
until your pocket knife slices it open
and your palms are streaked in black
(they don’t hide the blazing red
in your flaming chest, though)
as her fragile figure stretches and snaps
– and you, with your sewing kit
tie up the sinews and cold, cold flesh
as your sure fingers grope and grab
and caress and smack and kiss
and touch
until
the light
goes
out –

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“And me, I’m the damn fool that shot him”

“I can’t explain it to you,” she whispers, loud enough to be heard over the silence, “what happiness feels like.”

She asks her to try, for her sake, to draw happiness on the empty ground beneath them.

She stands up, suddenly, like her bones rang with the second last church bell signalling the curfew, she spits her gum, removes her gun from her front right pocket, places it a hand’s width apart from her left elbow, and sits on the warm ground. “It feels like the clouds, you know? How we imagine them- soft, bouncy, filled with enough cotton to sleep on, and sprinkled with enough sugar to eat; like the cotton candy ma used to buy us from the carnival each year? That: it feels like white clouds which line the skies of India on summer evenings when the Sun decides to sleep…. that’s all I can say, ma chérie.”

She stares at the sky for a minute, tilts her head like the Earth’s axis, trying to feel all the seasons in ten seconds at her tips, and whispers, “I wanted them to be red, but our professor says they can’t be red because water is blue. I wanted them to be red; how beautiful would a red cloud look! How nice it would be to sleep on a red pillow or eat candies all painted red: it would feel like holding the Sun in our mouths, and swallowing it. How bright we would shine!”

She allows a throaty chuckle, stretches her legs in front of her, and turns her head towards the sky, “Who says they aren’t red? They are your clouds, ma chérie, your dreams, your happiness. Who says it can’t be red?”

She chuckles, fingers playing with the bullets in her pants, and speaks, so loud that the air doesn’t even breathe, “Maybe one day, we would all spill enough blood that the water would be red.”

“And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”

His eyes were squinting with concentration, fingers firm, upper torso stoic; as he tried to make his tongue and nose kiss. “But alas! some things are not supposed to ever meet,” his sister cried, as he huffed and panted with a lack of air. He was breathless; he felt alive. The clouds were waving at him, the waves running towards him; he felt infinite, like he could stretch his arm up and taste the stuffing of the cloud- the best in the market, he presumed, but he couldn’t understand why, “Why can’t the waves run towards the clouds, instead of me?” She giggled, her lips spilling music playing symphonies on this dry, summer day, “I told you, kid: some things are never supposed to meet.”

But he felt infinite, even if his tongue could never taste the flesh of his nose, he felt infinite, like no matter how much he stretched towards the Sun, or no matter how many sand castles tumbled and settled in the hollows of his feet; he would always have more to fill.

He felt infinite, and magic was created as dried up logs crackled flames and old flames downed cold beers and rumbled with tales of ages past.

Time is not infinite, but he could be.

Kashmir

Hi. Just a disclaimer: I’m trying to write about Kashmir but it scares the shit out of me because I could go so horribly wrong. But, I tried, and if I’m wrong in any way, please correct me. Thank you so much.

crimson leaves are crushed
between rough skins
and blunted blades, claws
disfigured 
rub pricked palms on roads of red,
and evidence is tampered with-
disfigured 
homicides are called suicides,
and another skin cell dies;
science says that all scraps
of skin are replaced
every seven years,
but what if incessant knives
carve azaadi every seven days,
and all that is left
after a seven years
is dried up rivers, parched flesh,
bones hanging off loose screws;
disfigured 
skin? skin builds homes,
bones holding up tall buildings,
muscles lining flowery valleys
where petals are too often curling
under drops of red,
the walls are painted with war,
and the home is a cottage
on stilts by the line of border
where the only neighbor known
is another cottage,
another cottage,
another cottage 
another broken bone
in a sunken city
threatening to spill over
the border
disfigured 
by inconsistent climates-
too hot, too cold, too dark,
it’s too dark, light spilling
off grey kettles and his eyes
trained on the cricket field,
disfigured 
limbs beating dreams into dust,
and every grain of dust
lining the kajal in our eyes
is a breach of trust;
disfigured 
faces figuring fleeting flashes
of pain woven into rage
sold in the wool of their shawls-
it’s warm, isn’t it?
roasted palms on frozen cheeks
in the January wind,
and another year slips
from your fingers like sand
on beaches lapping frozen waves;
disfigured 
skin.

Dilli

hot bricks under the skin the heat
curves against my spine, vertebrae
curl like the tendril finding ground
of the first rain, knees bend in pain
praise drops from my lips and
the ground doesn’t burn as much
anymore, my head turned towards
the sky as the wind licks the
salt from my face, my tongue
tastes of beers on the rocks
and salted pickles my feet prickle
under her sooty breath under its
sooty breath under my sooty
breath bounces in the hallways
of my chest, and the crescendo
falls when it hears me listening,
all I can is the thump thump thump
of my own heart fluttering as she
rains, the pandemonium of our
pockets floats away on rivers
dried up: “trickles of fire peck
my flesh I choke on my own breath
my jhumkas are replaced by balls
of steel, and you think another
crack on my skin makes me bleed?
pity.”

Nuclear Catastrophe

it breathes in the fumes
and suffocates bubbling
rage hidden away in boxes
embedded with sapphires
and ruby locked away
by the pirates or the
sea, mushroom faced soot
rises like a crowned God
floating above our heads
we, mere mortals, fighting
running away from the
fungus, “don’t let it eat
my child” she screams,
“her burqa won’t stop
its teeth to eat away
at her flesh, sto-”
science is yet to find
a cure for death.

Full Moon

The clock strikes 12-

the flesh dissolves into itself
and your semblance of normalcy
fades away like mist
into the dark, blue sky lit
by the lone star bearing witness
to a beast,
the bones crack, screaming,
grinding against the skin
you can’t feel
oh you, you can;
and your muscles bite their lips
to hold back the cries of protest
booming against your chest,
deafening,
the night is silent
your limbs twitch, begging
to run away and your ears quirk up
for a sound,
the whoosh of trees, it’s the wind
and you bleed,
and the grass is dry,
and you’re free in your field

– the clock strikes 1,
and the wolf howls.

‘Dabbawalas’

“We are Dabbawala, (one who carries the box), in the Indian city of Mumbai. We carry and deliver freshly made food from customer’s home in a lunch box (Dabba) and deliver it to offices.

It may sound simple, but it’s not.

It is actually a highly specialized trade that has evolved in its current form over a century and has become integral to Mumbai’s culture.

We are about 5000 in number and deliver approximately 200,000 tiffin boxes every day.” (http://mumbaidabbawala.in/about-us/)

image

 

The Sewing Machine

Little drops of rain trickle down the glass
of the window pane looking onto the house
in construction since the past year
and a half where the hammers labour away
along the tick-tock of the clock they have fixed
on the opposite wall which glides into motion
besides the old fingers of her grandma
bubbling up with the curiosity of a child
setting eyes on the sky for the first time;
the tips of her fingers loop their way through
the holes yet to be filled with the chunks of the
stars brightening up the laughter lines on her face
which scrunches its skin when the blood underneath
those cells refuses to whisper the secrets it’s high
time she unlocked, and aah! her cheeks stretch
with the utmost delight at a thread woven right
onto the left side of her son’s sleeve on which
she knits furiously racing against her speed to weave
a patchwork of her love and his memories on the sea-
green crease to finish the gift yet again, she plans
carefully to courier to him every year on the 12th
of November, his birthday; and as the tired tips of her
fingers graze across the blunt edges of the criss-cross
section of the warm cocoon, her eyes droop shut while the
sewing machine weaves on.

Haunted House

The walls of the temple the mothers
of our house had built, a little four-walled
structure at the top of my grandparents’ room
adhering to the hierarchy along which
we worship at the altars of chaotic seas
holding nothing but peace for their devotees
in the cups of their palms and the crevices of their feet;
used to smile at the five year old me holding steadfast
to the pumping muscles of her grandfather’s arms as he
held her up grazing the stars (I imagine your grin
in the star I’ve found walking alongside Dad;
they’ve never seemed farther away.)
and the twinkling memory speeds into the old
car holding an eleven year old me worshiping
at your feet, again, with a cheeky grin, praying
for an ‘A’ grade in her exam (she worked for it,
and as Mum says, “He helps those who help
themselves.”) it was quite a fair deal for apparently
the Universe owed her love and gifts for every foot
she worked to place on the hard, dusty land
(mirroring her family, oh.) and the kaleidoscope
of memories rattles with another; of an Agnostic
an year and a half old crying at the temple she has
nurtured and built and fed and possessed for the past
fifteen years of her breaths on the mortal plane,
howling for help that seems so far away of reach
from the grasp of the fingers of a little nobody,
a child; I close my eyes sneaking a peek at the bolts
on the door of the temple my mothers had built,
and choose to delve into mine instead.
//every wall of every house screams, though.//