Wednesday, July 9, 2014


A scrunched up hairband, and a broken clip,
empty hangers askew in the wardrobe,
somewhat mussed bed but smooth the pillowslip,
a shaggy, lipstick-smeared cotton swab;

red, gold, maroon, green and yellow ribbons -
they float around like streamers in the room;
somewhere in the heart too they're coming undone.
Stale flowers piled with sandalwood perfume.

The neighbours ask after you and we chat -
oh, my daughter's gone to her brand new home
and blessed is the mother who can say that,
happy the days though in monsoon monochrome.

Blanked window eyes snap shut, trees drizzle leaves -
she'll always be ours wherever she lives.

For all mothers who say goodbye to their children and wear happy smiles and heavy hearts.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

No return

I haven’t stepped into your spaces, years

have passed like days, the pleated seasons swung

their skirts of springs and autumns, and austere

winters chased off summers’ trailing songs flung

down randomly. None of us the same - young,

and rarely the flutter of heart that steers

blood into obscure nooks of veins. I’ve been among

such remoteness! lost words cupped in my ears.

Yet I come back and I come back and there’s

still no return, the pathways peter out

in green resin-scented forests, stone stairs

of temples raised to complexities of doubt

stranger spaces close ranks and rude sharp glare

of sunlight and its baffled pursed up mouth.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Déjà Vu?

You know that blue of uniforms, the rough warm grain
of your chair, the whiteness of cups, the monochrome
pictures of celebrities on the wall, their fez and form
like portraits of dead ancestors you’ve never known
but familiar through mirrors the nose and plane
of forehead and vaguely the angle of jawbone;
and the clientèle now, greybeard political tone:
you know that.  Though neither they nor you can explain.

Of course you’ve never stepped here before, these dark wood
panelled walls, that frame of a young Umm Kulsoom!
Discussions mongrel chasing their own tail, what good
has come of all this?  a couple across the room
in a romance; smoky drapes of perhaps and could.
A hundred years; and you the conduit and continuum.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Disengage for victory

"The pioneer's of a warless world are the young men (and women) who refuse military service."  - Albert Einstein

The victory’s in staying home, where unsung

won’t be juxtaposed with hero and young;

the quiet of unwarlike tasks and boredom

and no empty coats with flapping sleeves hung

up in hushed closets for years. In upfront

flash of a different courage, the blunt

slam of refusal, and no engagement.

Let the lad choose what he does and doesn’t

for goodness’ sake, glory can be clawed and won

in nothing raised, not raging arms, nor weapon

just keen shoulderblades and clean, cleft burdens -

much glory but no fame in that being done.

The power’s out, so I’ve no torches to lob

take this my staunch yes and no and do the job. 

Saw that quote from Einstein floating around on social media a few days ago, and so this is a response poem.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Write...Edit...Publish...June 2014 : Romance

I am posting another re-worked excerpt from Moonlit Waters for this month's prompt at
hosted by 

(Read my earlier post from MW)

There is a prize this time for the most creative entry, so do click over. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, artwork, photographs, anything - your take on the prompt "Romance".  

I am dipping into MW again because, well, I would like to FINISH the edits, the unfinished-ness is beginning to bug me :)  And because my offline life is just a little crazy right now.  We are in the middle of yet another wedding and a relocation.  I will semi-pack up here and travel to India in a couple days, attend the wedding, then return and wait for our papers to be processed and move to our new home as they come through. All I can say for certain is that my summer/monsoon promises to be far from dull. Access to a connection might be patchy, not that I was/am going to let something like that interfere with blogging, ha.  Will catch up with you soonest I can. Happy summer/July to you all. 

Moonlit Waters II

Abeer was back again at Fayoum; this time there was no discomfort, no weighing of words to say or not to say, just an easing into a place which felt long familiar, as though he had grown up looking at this grey-blue water right from childhood.  Waded into it knee-deep many times, splashed in it and sputtered at its saltiness and fished in it on winter afternoons.  There were places like this, he came upon them suddenly without any signs or warning, strange places but intimately part of him, of who he was, or had been at some point of time, and his memories looped back and touched their own beginnings in one huge arch, silent and comforting in a sweep of timelessness.

He worked quickly, trying to get the colours fixed in his mind, the outlines fixed before the light changed and shifted the shadows around.  A cluster of children watched, their eyes boring into him. It was irksome, but he could not come up with an effective deterrent.  Eyes following his every move, they reminded him of another pair of eyes, glistening sometimes with reproach, sometimes with wonder.  They reminded him also of another vendor, with arms like  cassia branches weighed down with blossoms, but she was nowhere to be seen. The children soon got bored, at the initial stages his sketch looked nothing like the scene before them, neither the lake nor the sky, it was just one jumble of lines and only he could see the final outcome rising sharp and clear.

The afternoon passed swiftly, the light changed and he gave up trying to finish, instead captured the lake with his small camera.   As he turned he felt a fresh pair of eyes on his back, and knew that she was here.  The jewellery seller approached him a little dubiously since he was again obviously alone.

“Good afternoon, Mister.”

He returned the greeting, but waved his hands dismissively, he did not want to buy more jewellery.  The woman did not take the hint, “I have a matching necklace, Mister.  It would make the set complete.”

She held out a string of purple coloured shells, lurid enough to rub off on the skin of the wearer at the slightest opportunity.  Her face was fair and delicate, though her eyes had a resolute gleam to them that sat oddly on her.  She looked less than her age because of the extreme slenderness of her hands and wrists, her cheekbones absurdly young and beautiful. 

It was suddenly very important to him that she knew the truth, he was fed up of pretending. It seemed wrong to keep buying her stuff under a false premise.  Wrong to buy her cheap jewellery, and then to model them on a recreated, imaginary version of herself.  He was suddenly stabbed by guilt, as though there had been a breach of trust somewhere and he must put things right. 

The hesitant smile which had flared on her lips, crumpled instantly in shock when he told her; her face was flung open in a horrified agony  that seemed extreme, unwarranted.   He was a complete stranger after all, just a foreigner who had bought a few cheap trinkets from her a few times.  He was nonplussed at her reaction.

“I am sorry, Mister -. So  very sorry.  God will give you happiness again.  Both of you,” she was panting, breathless, sobbing almost.

He was annoyed, partly at her, and partly at himself.  Trust women always to be melodramatic, whether they used their eyes or their tongues; family or complete strangers, they were all the same.  He was minus a wife, so how was that her problem? He was a fool, he should have kept quiet and sent her packing like the rest without any explanations, why should he feel any obligation towards her?  An unnecessary interruption spoiling the tone of a perfect day.  His fault entirely, if he had only known when to keep his mouth shut and did not feel these inexplicable pangs of accountability towards people in whose life he had no part to play. 

But she kept standing there as if turned to stone, and when he finally looked at her again, he could see uncontrollable tears pouring down her face.  He was further unnerved, contrite, she must be very tender-hearted indeed if it had affected her so. 

“She is happy, and I am not unhappy also,” he said apologetically, gentler than before.   “It was her choice, not mine.  You shouldn’t be so upset.  I am sorry I had to tell you, but I don’t want to keep buying things for her, she does not need me to, anymore.”

She shook her head, “No Mister, no woman chooses that willingly.  So beautiful, too, she sighed and finally started to move off. “May God give you happiness soon.”

He wanted to call her back and give her something, money, food, anything, in lieu of the necklace.  He was sorry now he had not bought it, that would have been far less trouble.  He wanted to restore her composure and smooth down his own ruffled one, but knew that to call her back and offer her a substitute would be a mistake compounding the one already made.  He did not quite know what to do.  Anyway, it was over now, and hopefully he would not be approached again.  She had made a good model though, last time.  He would have liked to paint her face, but that of course would not do at all. 

The owner approached him, “Anything the matter, Sir?”

“No, everything’s okay, thanks. I need to start back, could I please have the check?”

“Certainly.  Just thought I saw one of the women here - .” The manager let the end trail off.

“She doesn't bother me. Is she your family?”

“No, she doesn’t have any family.  She’s alone, husband's divorced her. Comes and helps in the kitchen sometimes, and sells souvenirs to the customers.  Unfortunate girl.  I'll send your check.”

WC - 1000
All feedback welcome.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Flip the leaf and find out

Hope moves across the sheet glass of clear minds
like leaf shadows on a speeding windscreen,
only that the trees are left way behind
what’s unfurled and passes is nothing green

some of the leaves are known – olive and fig
the others are faintly ominous, grim
their edges, sharp saw teeth, the stems and sticks
yellow fingered tattoos on the rim

of insight; the endings dawn even before
twilit beginnings can start to coalesce
the harder the panicked foot presses, the more
the shapes rush by in films of shapelessness

maybe it’s not hope, and if the glass flips
it would show the fear in the leaves’ midribs.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The spice-seller

In some birth nested into eternity
I was a woman, and I like to think -
of noble birth, but that’s perhaps conceit;
I only know that a handsome gypsy
beckoned, and I crossed a placid sea
and sailed to a lavish stone built city
the colours of golden dust and ashen pink
and sat in a dim shop in the midday heat.
Cumin, cinnamon, saffron piled high,
the perfumes gently suffused the entire lane
and drew peasants and men from rich households.
“Eyes deceive, but the nose cannot lie,”
I called out to each passer-by to buy
the best spices that money could obtain
and they gladly gave their gold for my gold.

Deep within some dusty memory archive,
that voice still echoes as if she were alive.

A dear friend told me a beautiful story, and this verse kind of grew from there.