Sunday 29 November 2020



It’s happened before that I haven’t put up

lamps for Diwali. The winds, grief or love

have stopped the flames and the darkness has been

my deep solace and festival enough.


It’s an odd goddess that discriminates

and does not step in through unlit gates.

Does her omnipotence flail in the dark?

Does her third eye need lights to navigate?


Surely those who could not afford the oil,

the homes left dark by personal turmoil   

have the greatest need for the gods to step in,

lift faith and fortune rather than recoil.


I’ll continue to let emotions strike

the match, the gods too may step where they like. 

Monday 16 November 2020

Star fall


Time spots the mirror and the photograph,

creates the marks and also wipes them away.

A silver moon statue, mug of half-n-half;

a much loved profile, a rather well known laugh

tapers and stills. Dead flowers in a bouquet

make their way to the river piled on the hearse

and a certain star shaped void’s our universe.


What will patch it up, make good the damage -

no-one has a clue, no-one takes a guess

the wise men proclaim so, all the poets pledge

wait for the ones to come, they’ll be cutting edge;

but now’s a gun salute, now’s a grieving mess

for every star must fall, even stars must fall.

The universe must shrink to a star shaped hole.

Monday 9 November 2020

The Heft of Memory


I think of you at odd times, the templates

are not a convenient protocol –

and sometimes I don’t think of you at all

as the mind hardly differentiates


between the minute grains, the separate heft

of conscious and unconscious memory.

Every time I return to a story

you’re in it somewhere, to the right or left


of each chapter. And the city spools in

your laughter like an angler’s line, your face

a mirage of leaf shadows, just a faint trace

of your voice when the peak hour traffic thins.


In every courtyard I visit, every square,

in every vanished landmark - you’re there.

Sunday 1 November 2020

Tar and Cement and Javed Akhtar


Go back to the stream where paper boats plied

after school, where a plume of smoke rose alone

over the wood that was the entire hillside –

that’s now a resort, every inch occupied.

Rows of crafts for water sports, mobile phone

ads, leftover hoardings from spring sales, rides

on animals and machines. The hillside’s gone.

The busker coaxing tunes from a flute - the old folk

have vanished like that single plume of smoke.


Go back to those villages of childhood

you’ll find cities settled there now, yellow lined

roads ordering your movements. Panicked, crude

graffiti in public spaces. Turn and look, you’ll find

nothing of the hillside you’d left behind.

Javed Akhtar is a contemporary Indian poet who writes in Urdu, I was listening to some of his poetry - tum apne qasbon mein jaake dekho/wahan bhi ab shehr hi basein hain - the lines reminded me of this song 

...and from there the above lines kind of diffused out. Not that I am saying ubanisation or tourism should not happen and we should all go back to drawing water from borewells and threshing grain manually and so on. Sustainable progress is what I'm after, if you know what I mean. :) Have a good November, and a great NaNo, those who're going for it. Keep safe, keep calm, keep fit.