We don’t come out clean.

I have spots on my skin,
Which run deep like an ocean,
And when you touch me there,
I know,
The water ripples in concentric circles,
And when you swirl and dive,
I know,
You sediment on me like a hairy mole,
But it’s only when you came out gasping for breath,
And receded to the shore,
Did I realize,
You did not come out dry,
as you might have wished,
The water touched the horizon,
And the skin the soul!

I won’t complain

I won’t say
that our neem
needs tending
 
or that the 
poor squirrels
have been
returning home
unattended,
 
 
I won’t
talk of the
gulab petal you
put inside
Marquez’s novel
 
which has
quietly settled
on the pages
like a newly wed
crimson bride,
 
I won’t
complain
of how long
it has been

I don’t have
half as much
strength
to twist
and turn
in pain.

 
just
look how
my poems
shrink
like a walnut.
 
 

If only

“Doing as others told me, I was blind
Coming when others called me, I was Lost
then I left everyone, myself as well
then I found everyone, myself as well”

-Rumi

It was the morning hour. The sun began to kiss the newly born sky. The pale orange swept away the darkness as if to prepare the bridal chamber for the holy union to take place; the union of sun and sky, of hope and a new day.

It was time for her to leave. She had turned old enough this day to leave her nest and fly away to mark her own skies and territories. She took the last five days to build her boat like a mother raising her son in hope that he will keep her happy for the rest of her life. Her boat. It was all about her boat. She went from corner to corner of the island to look for the best wood; she looked for the lightest wood available in the forests of her home; she approached the most experienced fishermen who could teach her how to build the most efficient boat. She spent another set of weeks in learning how to row a boat and had learned enough to take her across the horizon. Like the soaring rising sun in the sky, her eyes refused to flinch and look down. She was ready for the union; where she will become one with her own self; where her soul will finally lay claim on her fragile frame of blood and breath.

She decided to keep minimum of food for the journey lest the weight of her boat increases. She kept least number of clothes as well. It was a journey of seven days from her island in the southern part of the ocean to the continent in the east.
As the morning unveiled the sky, she stood on the shore of the island looking at people around her. Her parents, their eyes swollen with tears that wished her luck and happiness, her friends who loved her enough to wish the best success for her, her relatives who prayed she’d find what she is looking for. They were all there waiting to see this little girl enter into the boat that promised her the life she wanted; this little girl turn into a woman soon, a strong woman.

She bid them goodbyes and began her journey. She sat in her boat and took hold of the oars. She remembered her lesson well. Seeing her row the boat and leave, her parents overcame with emotions. Her friends and relatives thought she might forget them all soon enough when she reaches the horizon. They decided to send her handwritten scrolls as farewell messages that would keep them in her memory forever. She was still in sight, ofcourse. They began to write messages of love and farewell on wooden-scrolls because they knew their message will fade away on paper and drown on stones. They yelled to her and aimed the messages to her boat. They all landed well. She read them and wept for moments. Love does that to you. She decided to preserve the scrolls for she needed this love by her side for who knows if there will be anyone to love her on the other side of the only horizon she ever knew.

Because of wooden scrolls that she kept in her boat, suddenly she found it difficult to row the boat. The thrust of the water became intense and dense. Her lessons were being tested. She could still see her family, friends and relatives. She signaled to them for help. They could see her struggle. How could they let her struggle even before it began? They called the most experienced fishermen and asked for help. They knew the right tactics. They wrote it on the wooden-scrolls and aimed at her boat. They hit the water, but with her oars she brought them near her boat. She read them. It said, “Try to use both the oars in the same direction”. She thought she might need this advice for the rest of her journey. It was important. She kept it with her. But it quite didn’t work. It was still difficult, this time more. They could see it too. This time her parents had an advice. They wrote it on the wooden scroll and aimed it high to her boat. It reached it. It said, “Use the oars alternatively, one at a time”. She thought she might need this advice also for who knows what her journey has in store for her. She kept It too. But to her disappointment it didn’t work either. They could see it again. This time it was her friends who came up with a considerable piece of advice. Same happened again and again.  The relatives, the experienced old men, the fishermen, mother, father, all kept throwing the wooden-scrolls in order to help her and she thought she will definitely need this advice for her journey was uncertain.

The sun began to set and there was pallor of evening darkness which shimmered through the waves of water. With the weight of innumerable and countless scrolls, the wood heavier than that of the boat, increased the weight manifolds. She began to drown.  This time they could not even see her.

She yelped, screamed, they could not hear. All she had were the wooden scrolls all around her in the boat; too many to count, too many to read, too many to find the right one, too many to make sense of, too many to keep. Her frail arms began to lose their vigor of the day.

And she drowned.

And while the blue water entered her breathless lungs and the cold ocean swallowed her body, a thought struck her. If only there were no wooden scrolls, of love and the advice. If only she hadn’t signaled to them for help.

If only. If only. If only.

Untitled

Walking with his pen in his hand,
he said, “Love is good,
but I don’t want to write about it,
love is a luxury,
love poets a bit too bourgeois” , yes!
Our walk that evening,
was blooming like the spring
of our timed love,
just the beginnings,
revealing ourselves leaf by leaf,
imbricating petal by petal;
a certain coldness,
freezing our sweaty hands,
I warmed up, against his body,
standing under the street light
sparsely arranged at intervals,
on a busy lajpat nagar main road,
and whispered in his ear,
“To love in a world so cold,
is an act of rebellion”.
Seeing an old hawk-eyed man
pass by us, he quickly moved back,
letting a cold gush of wind
walk in between us.

चुन्नी का झूला

“माँ ने प्यार दिया , इतना
की पता ही नहीं चला,
दुनिया में और कुछ भी है,
प्यार के अलावा
एक धुंधले ख्वाब जैसा कुछ

आधे बने घर में
ईंटो, मलबे, और सरियों के बीच
मैं उसके पीछे भागता
वह डांट लगाती
मैं रोता
मेरे पैरों को
अपने फटे हाथों से छूती
एक धुंधले ख्वाब जैसा कुछ

मैं उसे मजदूरी करने नहीं देता,
माँ, ओ माँ, मेरे साथ खेलना माँ,
फिर कहीं से ऐक ऊँची आवाज़ आती
और वह चली जाती

उसे देख, मेने भी अपने
सर पर ऐक ईंट रख ली
और ठुनठुनाता किसी और का घर बनाने चला
जितना दर्द हुआ
उसका दुगना माँ की मार से हुआ
पर मैं जनता था
प्यार,
माँ का प्यार
एक धुंधले ख्वाब जैसा कुछ

मैंने जिद्द करी और माँ ने
अपनी चुन्नी का ऐक झूला
बनाके, दो सीधे तने सरियों
पे लटकाया, और उसकी गोद में,
मुझे दाल दिया
जोरों से हिलाती गयी, में हिलता गया
पेट में ऐक गुदगुदी का बुलबुला बनता चला गया
एक धुंधले ख्वाब जैसा कुछ

पर फिर ऐक अलग से किस्म की
गुदगुदी हुई, और जोर से
ईंटो की सख्ती, मेरे बदन को
और उस धुंधले ख्वाब को,
चीरती चली गई

माँ तोह दिन के 120 रूपए दिहाड़ी कमाने,
जा चुकी थी
पगली शायद भूल गयी थी
की उसकी गली हुई चुन्नी पर
उसकी जान लटक रही थी | ”