Monday 31 December 2018


December sunset over Tubli Bay, Bahrain.

Teach me to see beyond this horizon
to the sea beneath the sea,
beyond flames and haloes, golden icons,
where all is fluidity.
Teach me to listen with every organ
to the flight of the dragonfly,
teach me to breathe in the dust, and plankton,
with my naked skin, and eye.

You must swim the darkness and the ocean
and know true north isn’t fixed,
witness butterfly seasons close and open
knowing all is change and shift,
and everything’s a cusp and an omen;
and that a fluid core's a gift.


I gifted myself a MOOC (yes, I know. I'm addicted.) over  the festival season, which in my parts lasts from September to mid-January, well actually it doesn't end even then because, well - spring! Anyways, this text  I read over at that MOOC resulted in the above. Because I know I will forget. 

My year-end has been a bit turbulent - I'm posting this from an unscheduled trip to Calcutta due to a family health crisis. Travelled back on Boxing Day and will be here over the New Year. Things fall apart but then they reconfigure, they are on the mend, fortunately...super grateful for all I/we have received this season. 

Wishing all who stop by here a fun and fulfilling New Year 2019. May your horizons and cusps be captivating always and may you always be able to see beyond and beneath. May each day be a blessing. Happy New Year!

Sunday 23 December 2018


I could not spot one festive tree
decked out and lit up bright,
no charming tales of nativity
as I would have liked;

and up and down the streets I looked -
just a worn out sort of guy
over a punctured tyre he stooped -
nothing merry or blithe.

But then I passed a clump of palms
and through it the wind sighed
‘look hard - they come in many forms
sometimes quite well disguised.’

Indeed the clouds above me moved,
reconfigured the light
and dumbstruck underneath I stood,

And since that day I do not search
for festive trees and sights;
instead look at palms on the verge,
flat tyres, stooped men, roadsides.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 

Monday 17 December 2018

Separate windows

If I lived somewhere close enough to you
I'd go round in the evenings, yes I would -
watch the stars pin the sky to your window
if I lived near by in that neighbourhood.
Sometimes we'd play at checkers or ludo,
reminisce over the old carrom board.
But we'd mostly idle. Nothing's left to do
but sit with you, beyond all games and words.

Oh, don't you think I'm a romantic type -
I know the exact count of miles and years
that keep your windows separate from mine.
Diverging's an intrinsic part of life,
the lights that pin your sky aren't in my sphere,
neither the neighbourhood, nor the starshine.

Saturday 1 December 2018

Write...Edit...Publish...December 2018: Ribbons & Candles

It is time for the last post at Write...Edit...Publish... and to wrap up the year I have another part of the same story I posted for the last two challenges. You’ll find the previous posts here (Change of Heart) and here (Déjà vu or Voodoo) in case you wish to reread. Now, for the whole backstory of the bloodstained’s my entry for Ribbons and Candles :

Small windows 

It takes only a few years. For worlds to fall apart. For rooms to stop breathing. For windows to go blind. The climate is unforgiving. The land is too fertile for its own good. A banyan can take root anywhere. In the cracks. Beside the exposed pipes. Wherever there is a toehold.

The garden used to be fragrant with jasmine. Not any more. The squatters were here till last Monday. It took endless visits to the thana. Under the table, over the table, sunlit, bulblit negotiations.  The local AdSP finally had a word with the goons. The squatters magically left the next day. But traces remain. Ugly blue plastic awnings. The smell of stale urine and unwashed bodies. Stink pressed hard into the cracks. Bald patches on the ground. Where the lawns once were. Deep holes in the earth for bamboo. The marks of tent pegs and scaffolding. Holding together canopies of borrowed space and time.

The front door has still not been breached. It is teak gone black with age. The shutters are nearly three inches thick. The wood logged out of the forests of Burma. In some dim past when trees had solidity and girth.  And a lifespan greater than men.

But one cannot be too cautious. The sisters have got those ugly collapsible gates installed. Two heavy locks. Chains with fat links on the backdoor as well. The interiors remain secure. For now.

It used to be a happy house. Oil lamps around the porch at Diwali. Ribbons of smoke from the sugar snakes, ribbons of sparks from the Roman candles. Children in the garden messing up the beds. Paper lanterns and streamers at birthday parties. A pair of hilsa fish brought in. On the day for the worship of goddess Saraswati. The faded marks of vermilion on the walls. From the offerings to the deities. They always showed faintly through. Even after the painter's quick job of cover up. No amount of repainting seemed to help.

No-one passing by would guess. An ordinary house. Washing strung out on wire clothes lines. Pegged with wooden pegs. Little frocks and shorts gradually giving way to bigger and bigger sizes. Frocks replaced by saris.  Shorts replaced by trousers. Then a sudden fall in the feminine items. Two daughters married and moved away. No daughter-in-law to replace their presence. Only the mother’s sari flapping lonely in the wind. First in multicolour. Shading to pale pastels shading to white. A new one joined it. Both like the start of an oversized prayer bunting. All traces of red on the white ones’ borders vanished.  Then the white one vanished altogether. The coloured one billowed lonely again. But there is more heartbreak and loneliness layered into the rooms inside. The clothesline can only tell a partial tale.

The rooms are closed now. But the air stirs an uneasy dust inside.  The dining room rug has a patch of discolouration. It is an old Turkish kilim. The cleaners tried the strongest agents they dared. But they could not get the bloodstain off. The patch is quite prominent.  The sisters cannot bring themselves to throw it away. A valuable rug.  Sentimental. Brought back from Istanbul by the grandfather. They cannot agree on its disposal. But it needs to go. If they are ever to find a tenant. Or a buyer. They are not agreed on that either. One of them favours selling. The other is reluctant. 

The stories hang like the cobwebs. They are like the bloodstain. Faded but still distinct. Recognisable for what they are. No polite pretence is possible. The mésalliance. The resentment. The brother’s stubbornness. The long illness through which his wife nursed him. Losing her own balance a few times. Then the sudden heart transplant and heady hopes. Which came crashing down with the death. The killing. It was not deemed murder. She was judged ‘not criminally responsible.’ The trial was endless. So was the gossip. The family name in tatters. Splashed luridly across the tabloids.

She died later in the institution. No one claimed her body. No one performed the last rites. Given a shoddy send off by the penny-pinching government. Not exactly a tragic heroine.

The unsavoury stories still keep tenants away. Not much talked about these days. But enough to cast a shadow. It must be handled delicately. Easy to scare off prospects. Only the squatters do not scare easy.  They will probably be back in a month. There is only a small window. Always too small a window. And such a lot to address.


WC- 757

This is part of the same story I developed for Moving the Margins, a MOOC from the International Writing Program at Uni Iowa. Totally a fan. 

In this exercise I tried 'moving the margins' of my language by using parataxis. The idea was to keep it a little stark, spare. Thank you, as always for reading. 

A very happy Christmas to you who are celebrating and happy holidays/December to you if you are not. Wishing you peace, joy and love this festive season and all through 2019.

Read the other entries here and join in with your own.