Have you ever met people
who remind you of fancy diners
by the roadside
while you’re on that perfect trip
with your best friends
your elaborate checklist
with nothing uncrossed
all your flowery dresses and straw hats
packed in a suitcase
enough nachos and chewing gum
to last an entire lifetime
a breezy wind in your hair
maybe the middle of August
the Lumineers’ Cleopatra playing
this is what you’ve wanted
sure as hell
you haven’t missed anything

but through the windshield
your friends points at the diner
exotic desserts on the display
but you love nachos
you don’t want to try new stuff
‘let’s go there!’ they say
so you pull up by the roadside
as you walk through the doors
bells tinkle like skipped heartbeats
its warm and cosy, like home
the music sounds like
a long forgotten dream
there are gorgeous pastries
on the counter waiting for you
when you lick the cream
you feel your insides melting
the caramel crackling
and it tastes like heaven
gelato and chocolate chips
the thick biscuit with
a flavour of lemon zest
you moan in pleasure
it’s nothing like you’ve ever eaten

but soon it’s time to leave
even before the chocolate
has dissolved on your tongue
you don’t want to go back
to the perfect life
your heart fights to stay
it begs to feel how it felt
in that moment
over and over again
as you walk out of the diner
the perfect road
to the perfect destination
deep down, you know
nothing will be the same again
your heart breaks into two
one half, wishing you never went
the other half, glad you did
the packet of nachos
still in your hands
feeling like a joke on your tongue now

have you ever met people
like those diners?
who make you want to fall
not knowing when the ground will hit
who make you want to step
out of the line
and be someone you’ve never been
the cocoon or the butterfly?
not knowing if life’s ending
or has just begun

I never stayed
to find out the answer
maybe the rest of my perfect trip
will be missing the taste of gelato
or maybe I have another
hot chocolate waiting
around the corner
I am not sure if I will stay
the next time around
or the tenth time around
but all I know is
I will always stop by.

Will you?


You are an ocean

when you love like a score of 100
in a world with a scale of 1-10
life often becomes a questionnaire
which asks you to fit
an entire ocean into a fist
like pouring water into a jar full
and watching it
brim over uncomfortably
and fall around the sides
slowly creating a flood
that threatens to drown you
while making you think
if forgetting how to breathe
will be a beautiful feeling

most people are rivers
slowly flowing forward
over a bed of sharp jagged rocks
and coarse silt
water streaming with contentment
never overflowing unreasonably
their love is controlled
pragmatic and perfect

but you are an ocean
overwhelming and overpowering
the kind of love
that will rub salt into your wounds
and caress your soul, all at once
and word travels around soon
of how there is a woman
with the ability to love
within her
an ocean full of it
so people reach out
from far and wide
some with admiration
others with envy
they try to hold you in their hands
as you slip away with receding tides
a few with hearts smaller
than their fists will
fill you up in small bottles
and take you to their homes
because their love is flawed
like a pond overgrown
with algae
full of insecurity and fear
but you don’t know what to do
except for pity them
because you can’t teach
someone how to love
and no matter how many drops
of the water they take away
they can never give their pond
the roar of an ocean

some have an aquarium of fishes
in the name of a love
with so many fishes bred
in the small tank
that it suffocates their breath
and never lets them feel loved

some are waterfalls
their love flowing passionately
with a rainbow amidst the fog
as the sun shines
like a rabbit in the magician’s hat
fascinating and breathtaking
but it falls
all too suddenly and swiftly
and end abruptly like
waking up in the middle
of a dream

some love like incessant rain
drops of joy
so profound and beautiful
falling and falling
until it empties the clouds
of everything they hold
and they abandon you
in the middle of a desert
float away into another land
leaving you with a longing
for another season
or craving for another lifetime
when your desert will flower again

but you are the ocean
which recognise no horizons
never letting anyone see
what exists beyond you
dangerously calm but certain
like someone
who will stay by their side

never going anywhere
an ocean defining so much security
that it is meant to be
taken for granted
when others cannot wait
for the seasons to change
or when the river has dried up
right upto the bed
or when the swimming pool’s
closed for repair
when the aquarium is leaking
you will always be there

sometimes you are proud
of your marvel
people look at you like magic
sometimes you wonder
if that’s a curse
because you let people
push your head underwater
so that they learn how to swim
your loneliness is an inevitability
for what puddle can ever comprehend
the infinite ocean within you?

you wish to be a river instead
because you see rivers
falling into the same ocean
in togetherness
and forming estuaries
ending a subtly beautiful journey
while you are here
this ever standing ocean
for which no one
is willing to take responsibility

an ocean feels like
being invited to a fun party
everyone else is walking in
with their best friends
dressed up in floral shirts
and pretty skirts
you are there standing at the curb wearing an enormous gown
with fifty layers of clothes
there is no space for anyone
to walk in with you
but you’re gorgeous
and everyone says you’re beautiful
maybe you will win best dressed
but no one wants you
everyone maintains a distance
because you can’t stand with them without your gown
stepping over their shoes

and sometimes you wonder
if you should rip off
every piece of garment
and stand naked
if that’s what it takes
for people to give you love
but you can’t
you can’t be that person
no matter how hard you try
your ocean is your identity
you will not trade it
for anything in this world
so you stay there
alone, wave after wave
hitting the shore
and receding again
over and over again
wondering if you crave
for the waves more
or for the shore
loving everyone and
getting loved back
in a proportion of
100 to 10
but it’s okay
this is your joy
your identity
your ocean
your life
more in the giving
than in the taking.

The love lost



they say when people leave
they leave the door wide ajar
and make way for
a better version of us
but when you walked out
of my shiny mahagony door
and into the gates of heaven
my house began to look
like a cemetery
with condom wrappers hidden
between roots of oak trees
thriving on a soil full of
cold blood and bitter tears
where murderers hide their sins
amidst the lilies on a grave
like confetti on the cement

my insides rustled
like autumn leaves
when a cold wind blew
sombriety that sounded
like paroxysmal sobs chiming
with the wind and singing
a funeral song
in the middle of Christmas.
my house stinked of neglect
like burnt turkey
in a cooking pot that
someone forgot on the stove
on Thanksgiving

when I started looking for
that kind of love again
I couldn’t find it anywhere
love felt like
the beautiful pair of earrings
I bought at a thrift shop once
and I can’t remember
where I placed them
and my mind says
it’s okay, we’ll buy another pair
it just cost twenty bucks
and I say I don’t care if
it cost twenty bucks
or two hundred
I will empty every pocket
of every pair of jeans I own
ransack every drawer in my house
and peel down the wallpapers
with bare fingernails
if that’s what it takes
to find the kind of love I lost

but it’s been a while now
my fingernails are bleeding
and knuckles are bruised
my house is empty now
because I pushed every
last piece of furniture
and every person who tried
to help me
out of my house
only to look for those
dangling earrings
my soul is tired
and my living room is strewn
with a pile of clothes
every pocket inside out
every book I have read
hides in corner in shame
because I have torn it
down to the very seam
to search for a touch like his

but the trumpets have been blown
announcing a battle lost
shattering my ceiling of hope
and as the fragments rain down
over my soul
my ability to love
floats away with it
like paper boats in a storm
when all of it is washed away
and the sun shines again
nothing is left of me
I am nothing anymore

and then I see you
walking past the curb
towards the door left ajar
and my eyes are
a batch of bread with mould on it
they are a camera
with no pictures
of people I loved once
I am a book in Braille
that you can’t read because
the only eyes I’ve got
are the ones it doesn’t need
I live like a 100 pieces set
of jigsaw puzzles
with six pieces still in his pockets
as he lies in his grave
and I will never be complete

you reach the door and knock
and I look at you
my eyes are empty mailboxes
that await letters
echoing with a dolour
that will paint the skies gray
so full of emptiness
that they cannot pour it out
without reminding anyone of fear
you look at me once
and you never want to knock again
because you have never known
eyes that remind you
of gray skies and rainbows
all at once
you wonder how a memory
can be the only reason
that keeps a soul alive
so walk away now
before it’s too late
before the sorrow in my eyes
drowns you too
walk away now
because if you stare for long enough
you will never be the same again

Learning How to Drive


childhood feels like
being taught
how to drive a car
when your parents
or a driving instructor
sit by your side
with the second set
of controls
and they let you drive around
in a wide open field
like a child
in a merry go round
no rocks on your path
free from a fear of failure
you are allowed
to steer the car
like making a Barbie doll
sip hot ginger tea
in a dollhouse
press brakes or accelerate
whenever you please
however you please
they teach you how
changing gears will
moderate your speed
how you should pull
the handbrakes
if hells break loose
but when you’re there
in open waters
with no shark lurking
the car is your toy
and speed is your version
of smoking weed
you’re high and
life is technicolor
because in your head, you know
that the illusion of danger
isn’t as fearful as danger itself
drowning doesn’t feel like it
until salt water fills up
in your lungs
your life is a simulation, a drill
and a wolf isn’t scary
if you’re in love with
the boy who cries wolf
because deep down
you know where
the reset button is
children like you are
blind kings who
live their lives ruling
beautiful kingdoms

adulthood is like
driving on the streets
for the first time
and you’re goddamn confident
of your skills with the gears
but then suddenly
you realise there are
a thousand other cars
so you end up
pushing the brakes
screeching the tires
the world is a mayhem
some cars are bigger
and better than yours
some engines revving
like barking dogs
heck, some have drivers
to drive the car around
while masters sit comfortably
and eat a mayo sandwich
they peep out of
tinted glasses and
you’re their amusement
and your car
doesn’t have stereo
some have been driving
for ten years now
and it’s your first day
your hand is trembling

you feel alone
you drive to nowhere
in particular
standing at the traffic signal
which takes fucking forever
to turn green
everyone is rushing past you
like you’re not even there
and the roads
aren’t always straight
they’re meandering
like rivers
cutting edges over rocks
and your skin is thick
but the edges are too sharp
it’s then that you realise
right there,
in a sea of automobiles
that ours is an unfair world
which waits for no one
they will run you the fuck over
if you don’t buck up
or better your game
you are not the king
you’re a nobody
who knows nothing
who’s never known anything
and there’s nothing louder
than the silence of denial
shattering over your head
your heart is in pieces
and you can’t even hear
it’s breaking into a thousand
fragments amidst
the honking horns
and revving engines
and you want to scream
but it is how it is
you can’t do the tutorial
once you’ve started playing
you can’t lose now
because you don’t have
three lives like Mario
and it’s not a game anyway

so tie your shoelaces
grasp the gears of your life
change your roads
adjust your rear view mirror
and watch your past
disappear into oblivion
look ahead now
and switch on your headlights
learn, learn, learn
you will ram into cars
you will be pulled over
by the cops
and parking tickets
will adorn your windshield
there will be dents
and the mirrors will crack
but remember
that we’re all
you don’t know
where you’re going
how many miles
before your destination is in sight
how many traffic signals
before you start cursing
how many parking lots
before you don’t stop anymore
you don’t know
how many lefts and rights more
the truth is
no one knows either

but it will be okay
maybe today,
maybe tomorrow
maybe ten years later
it will be okay
just keep driving
your hands on the steering
accelerate, hit the brakes
but just keep moving
trust me
it’s going to be one
hell of a ride.

(Picture courtesy-Pinterest)


How you feel when someone you love, dies by suicide.

No one is ever prepared for death, but suicide feels like someone threw a basketball at your face when you weren’t even on the court.

When someone you love has a chronic illness, it hits you hard because it alters the way you hoped life would turn out. You will have to learn to make allowances for a colostomy bag, or insulin shots in your relationship. Maybe you will have to choose medical insurance over that trip to Maldives. But most importantly you will have to learn embrace their shaking body before their first chemotherapy sessions or hold their hair up, when they’re puking their guts out on the bathroom floor, 3 am on your birthday. All of this while loving them just the same even when it becomes difficult and frustrating. You learn to cope up with an unnerving future that awaits both of you. Managing chronic illnesses consumes you. You put a mammoth faith in taking care of the person you love while knowing that inspite of everything you’re doing, the disease may run it’s course. You feed them, clean their beds when their bladders grow weaker and watch them go from the person who would go red in the face from too much laughing to the pale face with crowfeet by their tired eyes. You pray for them to get better and remind yourself of the time when you sat by the lake with your feet in water and joked about drooling in sleep, with them. But then somewhere at the back of your mind, you consider the possibility of them not being around. On nights when you cry yourself to sleep over chest X-rays and blood reports that look like omnious crossed out hopes, you reluctantly think of those Fridays when you come home early from work. You think of that one chair on the dining table that will remain empty on Thanksgiving.

But when someone you love kills themselves, it strips you off that thought process. One moment you’re driving back home with a Chinese takeaway and a catalogue of curtain designs for your new house. The next moment, you open the door and there is blood on the floor, blood on her arms and blood on your shirt which stains your heart with a devastation that will never wash away. Amidst the frenzied neighbours, police cars and the sirens of an ambulance, you watch your life fall apart. You weren’t ready for this. You fucking weren’t.

Yesterday you were buying her favourite box of cookies and tonight you’re looking for her coffin. Something sits atop your chest and thumps into your ribs until you can’t breathe anymore. The first night after, you sleep on the same bed but with anger and hurt next to you. You’re fucking exhausted. Where did I go wrong? Wasn’t my love enough? How could you leave me alone? You think to yourself. What a fucking joke, you say when you look at the curtain catalogue. You think of all the nights you kept awake so that she wouldn’t self harm. You think of every meal you cooked for her. Every flower you picked up one your way home and every night you made love to her. Every cup of coffee and the way you looked at her when she solved the crossword cipher in the newspaper, first thing in the morning. Then, she was gone.

And now everything is gone. She disappeared with the wind like the amber burnt leaves of autumn. She got up and left, knocking over the life you’ve built in 35 years like a China vase. She destroyed herself and she destroyed you along.

You’d rather it was a road traffic accident or a cardiac arrest because then you could’ve consoled yourself that there is nothing you could’ve done. You would have blamed god and the whore that fortune is. But today, when the person you love cut their wrist open, you can’t blame anyone but yourself. Bitterness envelopes your existence and you don’t want anything from life anymore. Nothing makes sense. It makes you so sad, because oftentimes the people who constitute to your happiness don’t count on you for theirs. You feel like a leech who sucks the happiness out of others.

You never saw it coming. You never saw them shattering underneath the facade they were holding for the world to see. Or maybe you did, but never thought it would lead to this. You never anticipated that the small creaks you saw were literally eating them on the inside. All the red flags planted in front of your fucking eyes. How couldn’t you see? It was your responsibility. You tell yourself all of this everyday, every night like a rhyme. The person you love had a story, and you lived into it, with it. Then suddenly they left you, and the story, unfinished. And the incompleteness of it screams in your ears with sunrises and sunsets and makes you wonder what role you played in it. You wonder how if you played that role differently, and better, they’d be still alive. They’d still be alive.

It will be difficult for years. When people come and ask you about them. What happened? They will ask, and you will have no answer. There are questions you can’t answer yourself. A lot of people will blame you, including yourself. You will play out the same day, same scenario, a hundred thousand different times in your mind, thinking what one thing you could’ve done differently. What one thing would have made a difference. The difference of life and death. You will torture yourself over the signs you missed, the unhappiness you overlooked until your head hurts, but you will never find them. Some days the memory of it will come haunt you for hours, while on others it will slip slowly in oblivion. A few years later, that story you lived while they were alive will appear as a distant dream, you cherished. But the resentment stays in your heart forever, like a flame that starts burning when you hear that song you danced to at your wedding.

After a long time, you will realise that it wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t your decision to make. The person you loved decided to end their lives and that is the truth. Nothing more, nothing less. You will have to grow and heal around that truth like a plant away from darkness, towards sunlight. Give yourself another chance, give life another chance. Your bitterness is justifiable but not acceptable. Be kind to everyone including yourself. Time and love heal everything, slowly and surely. Even though you wish with all your heart’s blood that you had saved them, you will realise that you can do so much for someone, but you can only do so much.

A Silver Lining

Once upon a time, my heart was palace full of the people I loved dearer than my self. My heart was adorned with tinkling bells and fairy lights that chimed until the day nothing was left of them. There were stars on the ceiling and oceans on the floor. All I longed for was peace and harmony. They say love is never enough to make people stay but I was a fool, I loved them until my visitors clawed at the wallpaper and tore down the curtains of my heart, never heeding my words. They passed around knives and swords at the dining table on Christmas instead of rum and raisins and never once stopped to look back at the ruin they were leaving me in. One day, they knocked off the candelabra and set my heart on raging fire. My palace was destroyed, charred with the smoke of hurt and anger. Chaos had descended and it arose from the ashes of my flesh.
Eons later, a man knocked on the doors of my heart. I peek through the curtains and see his ocean eyes expectant of a welcome. I am bitter and distrustful now but there is something insane about desire that never asks for consent. As he waits at the door, the knocking grows louder and mind you, it skips a beat. His presence fills me with a joy that smells like dandelions and daffodils in spring. I have never known a joy so profound so I run down the stairs calling his name but when I open the door, my man has long gone, and he has left Sorrow in a small cradle at my front porch. I am afraid because I remember of a time when betrayal shrieked through my corridors. But Sorrow is a baby, and it needs my arms.

He moves in as a tiny toddler wailing for his dead mother. I let him stay out of pity,  yet my heart is a cathedral trembling with the agonising memory deeper than the roots of the oak tree in my backyard. I’m nervous, because my heart has forgotten how to make bed for someone else and draw the curtains every morning.

I cradle the baby and feed it from my bosom like it were my first born. As he grows, Sorrow is mischievous, no, cunning, in his play and I am his toy. He pulls my hand too hard when we run around my mind and hides within the crevices of my broken heart when we play hide and seek. He never sleeps when I tuck him into bed and instead dances in my nightmares. He scrapes my bare skin with fingernails full of forgotten thoughts and never lets them heal. Pity, how do you heal wound that gape open with mere thoughts?

Sorrow has an insatiable hunger that I can never keep up with. He eats away through the walls of my heart and leaves bleeding vessels everywhere. But I console myself, he is my son and he has grown to be a part of me.

Sorrow is a caged bird that refuses to fly when I open the cage. He gnaws on my bones and makes me weak and hollow. The blood of my heart is beginning to  pour from the ceiling. It spurts through the creaks in the floor and I can sense a flood growing inside of me. I try to hide Sorrow lest he drowns in this incardine sea. But he doesn’t listen. He dives into the blood and begins to drown, wildly flailing his arms for breath. He asks me for help but watching him drown gives me a sense of relief that I am ashamed of. I scream in agony for what mother is she, who lets the blood of her heart overwhelm her child’s breath. But I realise Sorrow isn’t a child anymore, he is a monster who knows no mother. When I keep pushing sorrow to drown in my blood for too long, he learns how to swim.

He rises from the ruins of the chambers and catches me in his grasp. I am terrified because sorrow wants to choke me on those very things that gave him birth. The doors shake violently because they cannot seem to hold the flood in anymore. I fight Sorrow, I push away it’s icy fingers from my throat because living with him has taught me why I want to live. My entire palace is a house of cards in a hailstorm and I am forgetting how to breathe. Sorrow has almost won and I begin to give up.

Suddenly, the trembling calms down, the thick crimson seeps away leaving nothing but stains of sin and everything turns gray. In the silence of the darkness, I see something yellow and beautiful standing at the door, expecting to come in. It looks like sunlight, it looks like love. Sorrow still holds me hostage but he is curious about the visitor. As we move towards the door, the smell of wild dandelions of spring fill my nostrils, and at once I know who it is outside. Sorrow will open the door soon, he has never known the visitor like I have and that is what will be the end of him.

The visitor is the roar of the ocean and chirping of the birds. He is shy giggles and uncontrolled laughter, he is silent whispers and Christmas carols. He is warmth of summers and the wind in my hair. The visitor is the silver lining of grey clouds. His knocking at the door of my heart echoes like the melody from an orchestra, I hear it, oh don’t you?


A blanket of darkness is  wrapped around me. It covers me like a shroud, but somehow it feels like a large leaf covering it’s delicate flowers from the storm.

The tunnel is obscure in its architecture but the haunt of gloom hangs heavily. I don’t know how long or deep it is, but I can guess, the end is far. I can feel a lot of negative energy, like something is sick or dying. I can sense something that is restless and agitated. The air cringes away from my skin like the stench of rotting eggs. I have a voice in my heart, and it screams grow.

My feet, uncertain of the terrain, move cautiously at first. The ground is wet in places. I can see no definite path. The stones and pebbles are the teeth of an ill-fitting set of dentures. I fall down and granite scrapes away a part of my skin like an improperly erased drawing. I fall down several times but with each fall, I feel more confident about the place I am in. It is easier to get up each time. The voice gently sings grow.

So I do.

I walk for miles, but I can’t seem to reach the end of this tunnel. My calves ache and chips of rocks pierce the soles of my feet. Sweat trickles down my forehead like water from edges of an overfilled jug. My iron heart grows rusty and the sword of will accepts defeat. Maybe this is my fate. I will spend my entire life in a rancid drain where algae will flourish over my entire existence like a bad rash of measles. I cry, I beg, I plead. But whilst I am hoping for god’s grace to crack open this devil’s hole, each patient moment makes my faith evaporate a little more. Pain is beating on me like a drum and I wish to give up on living. But then, the voice grows inside me, like a slow growl that converts into a loud roar. It rises from the pit of my stomach like warm bitter bile and leaves only one word on my tongue, grow. But I can’t. I am done. I try to swallow the word back but it rebels like an untamed horse.

The voice chants grow,grow,grow.

So I do.

I get up and begin my ascent towards the light. Maybe it is an illusion of the tired mind, but I feel closer to the end. Or the beginning. Soon, I start hearing voices echoing through the tunnel. They tremble like teacups in an earthquake. Sounds, unclear in their tone, but firm in their approach. They tell me I shouldn’t go any further. The murmurs grow louder and say no,no,no. 

I probably shouldn’t go ahead. Everyone else is right. It is funny how the human mind is often ready to believe incongruous noises in the dark, just because they are more convenient to believe. The voices rattle constantly like ice cubes in a whisky glass and each one is a distinct criticism of my ascent. I am convinced that I should abandon this stupid idea. We are all meant to live in this hell hole, enveloped in darkness, marching away into oblivion without a cause proved just. I was a fool to believe that I could revolutionize this drudgery. Life is a vicious cycle I shouldn’t break. A path less travelled by?  It is the one that makes a difference because it is a mistake.

But this voice in my heart? It doesn’t have ears, it only knows how to speak and be heard. I lock it within the chamber of my heart, but the melodious lullaby knocks at my ribs singing grow,grow,grow. The soft music reverberates in my hollow bones until it is a tone I cannot disregard. All the cells in my body begin to resonate, chanting grow, grow, grow. I feel the sound leave my skin and hit the ceiling. I wonder if the sound alone will split the sky open.The entire tunnel resounds the blood in my heart, as if in a trance, grow. 

So I do.

I fiercely scrambled through the darkness, towards the light. I soar, sprouting through the tunnel like a seed, watered by the will of a voice that says, grow.

I reached the radiance soon, bursting out through the tiny crack like a wildflower blooming in fresh, violent sunlight. I rise like the hurricane and dance amidst the clouds at edge of the earth and the sky. I am saturated with colour and seared by the light.This earth, my earth, my playground.


Where they say you cannot, when there is no fodder for your soul. The only thing that locks you in place is the only thing that can set you free.

In fond memory of the sea. 

You stand by the sea, listening to the roar of waves hitting the shore at sunset. You watch the water from a distance, as it curves itself in despair when the sun threatens to exit the horizon. The sea, my love, is a seductive mistress in broad daylight. It draws you.The tides bind you in invisible ropes and pull you ferociously.  So, as you watch others, who lose themselves to the mighty sea, jumping, falling, drowning even, you wonder how salty the turquoise sea tastes. You will hear it’s roar in your dreams when you wish to dream of moutains. You will smell the ocean in your own words until one day, you decide to take one step ahead. Maybe one foot into the water?

The sea embraces you like a long lost lover, it’s waves hit you when you are busy looking at the sky, and you will be surprised, fascinated even,by the warmth of the ocean. A warmth that reminds you of a mother or rather, a lover. You can feel it within yourself, emerging like waves in your heart when blood hits it’s walls. You wonder if the sea in front of your eyes is the sea within you. You feel one, you wish to be one. So as your mind decides to take one cautious step into the sand, your heart leaps into the water until you are waist deep in thought. The sea is like that. It is the kind of love that leans in for a kiss but takes a bite instead. Your legs are immersed in water and you wonder if this is what you were missing. The love that appears to touch you in a whispered words but hits you like a tornado. And before you know, it overwhelms you, overpowers you in a way that you never feel you needed another. Love is very much like the sea. It drowns you and fills every space you have. You get used to the moving currents, hiding gasps beneath the waves or screaming of a story in ripples.

But then one day the waves begin to receed. You panic because you don’t understand a feeling unless the water warms your belly button or salt burns your eyes. You try to catch hold of the water, helplessly clutch at the stream in the hope that your fingers will suffice the limits the ocean doesn’t recognize. The waves receed and the sand beneath your feet slips away into the ocean where it truly belongs, while you are there, sinking, sinking, sinking. You almost want the waves to carry you along with themselves, away from the facades of a gin soaked world of joyless daylights. But it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Because mind you, however lovingly the wave embraced your body and soul, it still belongs to the sea. You wish you did too.

Your feet are burrowed in sand and a pit is forming in your belly, a void, an absence that you probably will never be able to fill again. You realize your folly, maybe the sea was nothing more than a charm that caught your eye. It is a pity of course, the kind of love that promises to cuddle but ends up choking instead. And you are choking, the sea within you rises in your throat in tides you can’t settle. You run away from the shore, climb a mountain, you build walls and castles so that no wave ever can touch you again. You sit there huddled, in a corner because the sea isn’t the saviour, it is the slayer. It threatens to drown you in storms while daring you to breathe. It is the savage and the elegant. It is the festival and the battle.

But then, love, one day, a wave will rise stronger than the ones you have seen, stronger than any you have seen. It will break through every wall you’ve built. The moutain peak will bow down to immerse you into the vast sea. Faith will overpower reason. It will overwhelm you, overpower again, and you will be one.  I cannot tell you if this wave will remain or whether it will float away like the rest of ocean in ripples and pieces that were never meant to stay. But when it comes, whenever it does, it will be the most beautiful thing you will have seen in your life. The wave will be worth an entire lifetime even if it washes away your existence in it’s realms. The wave is a world within itself, a world you are meant to live in or lose yourself to. Maybe it will come today, or tomorrow, maybe a year later or ten, but when it does, when it does my love, it will change your life.


I was eighteen, when you first placed your palm over my thigh and I bit my lip in the hint of the surreal pleasure that two entwined bodies of flesh could claim in all of mortality.

I am nineteen, at the airport waiting to fly to a strange country with heavy luggages expectant of familiar goodbye and a heavier heart that I place on the conveyor hoping for it to get lost in transition.

I am in a meandering street lane, where lamps flicker with neglect but pretend to flirt intimacy with the darkness. Twenty one, and kissing a drunk stranger at the backdoor of a bar,   overcrowded with lust but bereft of love.
Twenty two, It’s Christmas Eve, the cold winds flood the warmth of rum and raisins but snow gathers around my feet and my heart is still buried under layers of frost. A pair of snow geese hover above the glazed lakes and I somehow link a faint memory of you.

Twenty three, in a foreign land, my hair a faint mauve now. I write for a living but I like to meet new people at the park and taste wines at fairs until my throat is sandpaper. It’s spring but my heart refuses blossom. Some days, in the wee hours before dawn, I write about you.

I am twenty four,  in the arms of a  commonplace lover whose lacklustre touch teases strands of hair from my scalp wondering if they were always of this colour. But he makes me laugh and kisses me  through the laughter in my mouth while his ribs crack and we fall to the floor.

I am twenty five, and smoking pot by the fireplace, that lacklustre touch has found a brighter canvas to paint on. I puff up rings in the air and watch them disappear into nothingness. In between the smoke and cigarette I write down a poem that screams of your ocean eyed gaze.

By twenty-six I’ll have  already slept with twenty-six men other than you without wondering once if your lips tasted better.

But then somewhere, maybe today, maybe now, time will slow down.
And as you are sitting hunched down in a small town cafe, smoking your last joint, a gush of wind will whisper into your ears, words, that sound awfully lot like the steps to my front door. So, wherever you are wandering, throughout the day, I can hear your knock at my door before sunset and mind you, does it sound like skipped hearbeats?

You place your hand on my thigh but I’m not eighteen anymore or that person anymore.
And then I want to list those twenty six men I fucked on the couch but before I speak I have your tongue under every tooth of mine, tasting the lies I have elaborated but yet unafraid to push through the veils.
You breathe into me and strip me of every thing other than clothes. And then there I am, naked soul, forgiving you in words and actions I don’t comprehend. I unfold slowly, like origami, while you become
the familar face bidding goodbye at the airport . You become the narrow alleyway of farway cities you never visited and the snow flakes, middle of December, or  the amber burnt leaves of Fall gathering around my feet. You’re the lacklustre lover and the laughter in my mouth and extra peg of whisky I pour out.
You touch me and I feel the glass ceiling melt and my entire timeline collapses like Dominos and you are that flick of a finger.
But then one day I’ll be forty, with kids I may not have borne from you.
And you, with this collapsed timeline will be the masterpiece, and I, the painter.

The Life Of Soul

The intricacies of life are curious and ashamed. Life is a habit we are born with. God has a great sense of humour. He lets us grow into the life we have been gifted, merging into the very essence of everything that exists, so much so that  we begin to ignore the worth of it. Occasionally, he yanks off the blanket we have woven over ourselves and exposes us to the cold that chills us to the bones and waits for us to show the courage to pull it back over.
However, in that infinite moment when blanket is off your naked soul, you realize how dearly you want it back. It is that hope which ignites your will and renders life to your soul.
It might be the infinitesimal skip in your heartbeat when you miss a stair or that strength with which you push the brakes when a speeding car crosses your way.

You might be thinking about how the colour of the traffic policeman’s eyes matches that of your ex-boyfriend or wonder about the terminal illness your neighbour has been diagnosed with. You may be calculating the cost repairing your broken music player or the shirt you would wear for the presentation the next day. But the moment you press the brake hard, your senses jolt back to the conscious and you forget everything ,to realize how much you want to live. And that is the beauty of it. Isn’t it?

It is that birth of hope when the oncologist tells you that it isn’t cancer.  You feel the life in you heart. No matter how much you complain about laundry you have to do when you get back home, or however miserable you feel for not having enough money to buy that pair of earrings you saw at the jewellery store, you are glad. It is a feeling of pure divinity and serenity. You are joyous for the sole fact that there is still blood in your heart and wind your lungs and that is what matters for most.
You might want to yell or cry after failing an exam or curse yourself for losing a job, but I promise, if I threw you into an infinite sea, you would still hold your breath.

In a quick moment, let us celebrate the joy of our lives. Let go of trivialities and don’t let the worries of the world pull you down  because the world is a wonderful place. Celebrate your existence because it matters. You only have one shot at this beautiful miracle. Make it count.



It is the solitary pitch
of the steam engine
arriving onto a station
that smells more of hellos
than of heartbreaks
letting the joy of arrivals
like the encompassing aroma
of air roasted coffee
mask the stench of departures

it promises you
of the kind of joy
that rises like a warmth
from the pit of your stomach
and leaves behind
a smile on your lips
but never holds your hand
when you’re lost in the dark
you smile like the blooming
of daffodils in your mouth
until people begin to wonder
if your throat is a garden
and your belly a farm
where they breed butterflies

but you know
somewhere deep down
that this joy is a meteor
in a starless sky on a dark night
the streak of stardust
stars colliding, aligning
making you want to hope
to believe, and to love again
a cosmic marvel is exploding
in your heart and
maybe, just maybe
this is your big bang

or maybe
this is just another meteor
and you are just another stargazer
another cup of coffee masking
a batch of stinking bread
on the platform
as the wind blows
and threatens to steal your heart
from inside your chest
like a storm knocking at your ribs
for so long that
you almost hope
for the wind to blow it away

but it doesn’t
it never does
instead it leaves you
with a longing
for more butterflies
and starless skies

MENSTRUATION: A conversation with my grandfather


when I was young
I saw Ma sitting in a corner
three days a month
no one touched her
until she had a ‘purifying’ bath
for years I kept asking her
the secret of our household
but she put a finger on my lips
you see, talking about genitals
isn’t a conversation for the dinner table
‘I have blood in my underwear,
pass the salt!’ is not how
an Indian family runs
so women do what they have seen
other women do all their lives

when it was my turn
I started asking questions
which remained unanswered
so I broke the ‘rules’ deliberately
I touched everyone
I walked into the kitchen
when I wanted cookies
and lied about my periods
in a few years I realised that
god’s wrath never really hit me
inspite of the ‘crimes’
I had committed in rebellion
I had lived my entire life
under the illusion
that God had laid down rules
only for my gender
because men pray
with the same hands
they masturbate with
and no one calls that impure

once, it enraged my grandfather
‘god will punish you!’
my grandfather yelled
‘don’t ask so many questions!’

he asked Ma,
‘what have you taught your daughter?’
but I had had enough
‘how dare you point a finger
at my upbringing
to justify your ignorance
that the blood flowing
out of my vagina every month
is the reason why
my god won’t bless me?’
I screamed
‘my anatomy is his creation
skepticism is not my sin
your ignorance is
I do not owe you an explanation
as for why I refuse
and will continue to refuse
your redundant ideas
about my body!’

I told him
‘when I grow up,
I will cook my own food
and go to work
and run a goddamn marathon
in those three days
I will teach my kids
about the egg and the ovary
I’ll hold my girl to my bosom
the day she starts bleeding
I will not let anyone
exile me or my mother
or my sister or my daughter
and treat us like filth
because my womanhood
is not my embarrassment
I will not bleed without dignity
I don’t care if you are my grandfather
or the president of my country

time stood still for a moment
my grandfather
never said a word after that



How to make your son a rapist in 10 steps

1. Tell him all of your favourite cuss words especially the ones about his mother’s genitals. 

2. Tell him that a man guilty of rape is hot in the head in Afghanistan but he can get away with it in our country because the minister says boys will be boys.
3. Switch the news channels when they start talking about Asifa because those are moral conflicts not criminal ones, and your son has to learn the difference.
4.Teach your son that his gender is his power. Strong arms, iron grasps and fragile egos loaded into a gun like bullets, waiting for a trigger. Build your child like an avalanche, slowly sliding down the hill of conscience.
5. Close his eyes when a sanitary napkin advertisement flashes and tell him that the only anatomy that matters is his.

6. Don’t teach him consent, that he mustn’t know. Yes and no are merely words, a woman always wants it. Instead, teach him that he can force his manhood, his hands down her clothes, his genitals into hers because he is the Man. He is the Alpha.
7. He must understand that his mother is an epitome of cowardice, not sacrifice. That a woman’s only job is to glorify a man’s existence. She must throw herself at his feet, let him trample her and never squeak because that’s what she is for. He must know that the future is Male.
8. Teach him that a veil over her head should be longer than her tongue. And that he should tear out her tongue and her clothes if they don’t lick his insecurities.
9. Tell your boy that it doesn’t matter which goddess he worships, a woman is a puppet of flesh writhing naked on his bed, moaning his name like a lamb not knowing why it’s being fed and any woman who says otherwise is asking for his genitals to be thrust into her.
10. Leave out all the school prayers, just tell him to remember these words and repeat :

‘I am a man, I am a man, I’m not a human, I’m not a human..’

The Cost of A Life


I wake up in a single bed,
white walls, white noises,
needles in my arm,
a tall man stands,
at the foot of my bed,
shaking his head,
my wife is crying
like a child lost in a fair,
he writes her a note,
which bears the cost of my life.

two lakh rupees for drugs,
injected into my veins
half a crore for a brand new liver,
thirty thousand to be laid into
a round noisy machine,
and a lifetime of misery,
for the ones I love.
maybe the price of my life,
is the 860 cigarettes I smoked,
the 546 bottles of rum I drank,
at the expense of my organs,
the value of my being,
is in a weighing pan,
my daughter’s education,
my son’s ambitions,
on the other end,
and the balance is slowly tipping.

the tall man comes every morning,
to look at wavy lines on a chart,
sometimes all he charges,
is half a smile,
when I take my medicines on time
or an angry frown,
when I start coughing blood
in the middle of the night,
they say he’s the senior most,
five degrees and two gold medals,
and maybe that precisely,
is the cost of my life,
the device around his neck,
two black and white sheets,
with my chest on them,
deciding if I should live,
when they undress me,
and insert a fingers into my rear,
my shame is their fee,
and I want to tell them,
that maybe my daughter,
doesn’t know how to spell ‘cancer’ yet,
that maybe I don’t deserve to die,
but I should anyway.
because the cost of my life,
doesn’t have God’s reimbursement

They ask me the same questions,
over and over again,
how many bottles?
how many cigarettes?
promiscuous sex?
maybe the cost of my life
is a past that makes,
more sense than the future now,
but I’m running out,
of answers to give,
of money to spend,
of breaths and minutes,
and one day
my organs will run out,
of second chances,
and that day,
the cost of my life,
maybe your skills,
with knives and scissors,
on a body lying,
atop a cold metal table,
heavy with a burden
of unfulfilled duties,
and wings of pity.
so you tell me,
what is the value of my being?
and more importantly,
am I worth it?

Feminists and poems


they say feminist poems are redundant, because everyone writes about it,
irresponsibly and repeatedly,
what they really mean is that,
women experiences are incompatible, with poetry and language,

when Taylor Swift sings Dear John,
she becomes a treacherous temptress,
her music the icon of misandry,
But when Ed Sheeran sings
about the shape of a women’s body,
he goes on to win a Grammy for it,
Cleopatra might have been,
a powerful Egyptian queen,
but her Pharaonic achievements,
stand reduced to a token whore
and promiscuous caricature,
in the eyes of man.
misogyny is almost inherent,
in our culture, literature and art,
because Yudhisthira was lauded,
as the epitome of righteousness,
never condemned as the husband,
who morally erred his wife into a gamble,
because Fifty Shades of Grey celebrates,
objectification and dominance
and has people drooling over
Christian Grey nullifying sexual freedom,

and then they say,
‘we do stand up against rape!’
and it sounds like a favour,
to my gender,
but yet, yet, sexism creeps up our spine,
in pay gaps,
sleeps with us on casting couches,
and looks straight in the eye,
through the lenses of apparent traditions,
that propagates gender discrepancy
and preaches subordiancy of women,
by the unwavering patriarchy,
that has blinded our conscience,
so I tell them that,
more feminist poems need to be written,
and read over and over again,
because sometimes,
you need more than just eyes,
to see through the veils.