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.//

Ohana

(A dedication to Prajwal Chadha.)

Clad in layers and layers of sarcasm
and humour you would recognise him
by the goofy antics he would pull on stage
just for the sake of making you laugh
(and getting some cute girls to notice him)
and his larynx would spew a fifty combinations
of words meant for the sole purpose
of persuading the listener to listen,
and a one on fifteen to grasp a thread and pull:
unwinding the roll of wool floating on the sea
going round in circles mirroring the earth’s
voyage and I used to wonder if he liked the Sun
or anything close to his vibrance would be seen
as someone to defeat and how many shovels
I would have to invest until the day I hit the core
when once on a night when the stars were intoxicated
with the bubbling liquid pecking the tips of the leaves
I watched his secrets unfold before my eyes
as he gazed at the sky wondering what stories lied
in the patterns of the jewels adorning the far beyond
held far beyond the horizon our fingertips peck.

Impure

I woke up feeling disoriented,
limbs as heavy as lead and eyes
drooping shut dead flinching
at the itch at the nape of my neck
with a crossed out skeleton
emblazoned in the skin
toxins circulating in my blood
inducing a gripping fear
in my gut, where am I?
My head spun
brought to stark reality
with the touch of a fingertip
feather light on my face which
pierces needles in my feet,
caressing, slowly, gently, breathing
on my skin diffusing the scent
of paralysing guilt, fear comes next,
down my lungs clutching
at their fragile wall;
(s)he moves down my shoulders
undoing my dress and my will
to the apex of my thighs, I scream
through the fading in and fading out
vision of my brain, “Stop! Please.”
desperate pleas of mercy rain down
my lips on the intruding fingers
in my flesh poking and polluting
the land of my world rendering
it lifeless. (S)he takes
what it desires, leaving behind
knots of guilt in my hair
and my chest which heaves
with silent cries of inconvenience
caused to the bosom that fed me,
and the chest that carried me;
sincerest apologies oh,
what a foolish little girl I have been.

Cremation Ground

The flames will feed on your flesh
one morsel at a time and the fire
will bite into your skin imprinting
the marks you left on the flesh
of your mother’s wrist to hold back
the scream your nightmares induced
again, and again your heart will thump
against your ribs in the beat of the
feet you had tapped on the field
that summer night, you always had
a left foot, with the pulse in your left
hand slowing down to the mild lullaby
your dad sung to you when you wouldn’t
sleep; and so you sleep with a tightness
in your feet so well known from the
cold which had seeped into your feet
buried deep in the glaciers where
the voices of your failures had pulled
you in and your arms wring the air
and the mud you’re buried beneath
clenching and pushing to locate the grip
of the rifle your father had died with
and so your eyes clench tight
with spots of black and white fading
in and fading out, your sight had always
been partial to the grey, but drops dead
at the bullet in your head: are her eyes orange
or green?

The Reason for World War-III

The scent of the burning flesh
should suffocate the guilty;
being a psychology freak
with a love for history, my idle
mind employs itself in decoding
the workings of those who believe
that to be respected they need to
be feared and employ weapons of
violence and their mind to their
means, considering the example
of Hitler: a smart brain with
a creative streak who decided
that to cure his Motherland of the
impurity of the ‘inferior’, genocide
seems like the most philanthropist
deed (Darwin must have heaved
a sigh of incredulity) but who
decides who is the impure and who’s the
neat, who deserves to live, and whose
mortal shell should be freed?
Allow me to trace the roots of time
to a tree closer to home: the Independence
of 1947; the bloodshed on the borders
of the two young infant Nations isn’t
justified by the carefully printed pictures
in our Social Studies textbooks,
for lives lost and tears shed aren’t
empathised via pages we discard
as soon as that ‘A’ grade pops up
on our Report Cards; families were
snatched, homes were destroyed,
and the ‘collateral damages’ in the land
of Kashmir 69 years after we were freed
is a testimony to the broken dream.
An idea of the framework of the reason
for the World War-III anything other than
the greed of oil could sound pretty oblivious
coming from a fifteen year old teen, but
I would like to believe that missiles would
be shot and guns would be fired at the
borders of lands we call our neighbours
oh so diplomatically, maintaining peace in
the faces of carefully articulated treaties,
only, and only because of our ability
to hide behind façades of iron clad suits
without a single crease visible to the naked
eye: the World would go to war, because
of our (in)ability to empathise.
; the scent of the burning flesh
should suffocate the guilty,
but the notions of guilt are
limited to those who
choose to feel.

A Mother’s Osmosis

(A dedication to Shabnam Singh, mother of cricketer Yuvraj Singh.)

The iron fist of a mother
pumps incessantly to supply
fresh stocks of warmth across
the channel of tired neurons
when the rosy skin of her child
seems to dry up in the cold of
the white lined hospital rooms
and the umbilical cord connecting
her to him and him to her coils up
with the slenderness of a serpent
and ties its flesh around her neck
pressing down on her wind pipe
while she heaves for a breath
clutching her chest against her
melting heart reflecting the
greyed hope in his eyes, but what
is a mother if not the provider of
stability and love in times of gnawing
despair? ; her fingers claw
at the loopholes in her predator’s
grip pulling it away, and breathing,
for her breath resonates in his skin.