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mother prostitute suicides

they tell me

love is a pretty sight, darling.

like sunshine pressed on

coloured glass,

raining rainbows into my soul

that lies on a soiled mattress,

tattered and ugly

like the girl atop it;

they tell me

happiness is a carousel, darling.

a lullaby of laughter

that shirks the soul,

tracing patterns across it

like they did

across my skin;

some men and some more,

some were feathered caresses

of faceless lovers

and some, the fading purple

leftovers of monsters;

my body was

a battleground

sprayed with purple stars

that died long ago

forming a constellation

enveloping my soul

lying dead in

the rainbow rainlight

within the ugly girl;

they told me,

sacrifices pay off, darling.

that I’d smile and laugh

and fly with wings

and only the wind

and nothing else

would touch me

in an embrace;

they told me lies, darling.

pretty lies, hidden behind pretty smiles

spewed by pretty mouths

that have never been kissed

by the pretty sight of love;

so I took the sharp silver, darling.

and carved on my skin,

my very own

constellations laced in red

that begun in pain

and ended in symphony;

they told me

love was as pretty

as a songbird, darling,

and it was as pretty

as the constellation

embellishing my curves;

my my, what a pretty sight, twas darling.

in the rainbow rain,

her soul looked polished

and the angels sang

an ethereal melody

and the battlefield

transformed, darling;

the purple of the men

drowned in the red of her demons.

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Your Grey Embrace

​Dear love,

Insomnia and a slice of inspiration that descended on me as I aimlessly watched my ceiling fan rotate, has provoked me to write this down. So I looked for a pen and my mind held thoughts of a rainy evening spent on the uncomfortable seats of a bus stop: The first time you eased into the idea of lighting a cigarette in my presence. You tilted your head back and blew a thin stream of smoke. And I gazed at you and wondered, does it make you happy?


Despite the popular strand of thought, the first thing I think of when I see you pull out your cigarette is not of the day you sit me down and inform me in a grave tone that you have lung cancer. Definitley not the first thing I think of. But I won’t lie to you; it scares me that someday, I might lose you to the grey smoke you exhale.

But that is not the first thought that haunts me as I register the look of satisfaction on your face. 


I think, are you truly happy? 

If you are, then I am stumped because I do want you to be happy just not in a slowly self-destructive way. And I know you think at times that I will never understand and that I judge too quickly but do believe me when I say I try hard not to. There have been moments in my days, where I try to walk around with my tiny feet in your large shoes. Remaining in your shoes is difficult but I know that it is important. It is important to try and understand why you need the grey embrace of smoke.
I understand that maybe you have found a happy place for yourself amidst your grey smoke particles and I understand that it is difficult to tear yourself away from them. You may have gone to them on one of your bad days, when you were desperate for another’s shoulder to leave your burden on, but there were none around. You probably found a friend in the tiny roll and collapsed into his grey embrace. And he probably showed you the inward path to joy. You probably stumbled upon your friend in white by accident and thought you could flirt a little or have a fling with him. You probably thought you needed to befriend him because it was expected of you from the rest of your brotherhood.

But for whatever probable reason you acquainted with him, he seems to make you happy now or at least serves as your familiar pillar. But you probably have your days of misgivings too; where you question what you do. Your days of having to tell a new person about your friend in white and having to watch the judgement and pity flit right beneath their eyes. Your days of having to justify it to friends like me. 


So I want to make things a little better for you. Or I hope I can.

I won’t remind you of your duties to people; you have them to do that for you and also because living for other people and holding back for them is pointless and tiring. But I will take up the stance of a neutral third person and say, if this is how you truly want to lead your life, if this is how you truly want to keep yourself happy, do it. For yourself. Shun all thought of what is expected of you and think of only what you owe to yourself.

And I promise you, love, that I will not be disappointed with any answer of yours. I will always be there to grab you in an embrace when the grey ones fade or grow thicker.

Love,

Your friend outside the grey.

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The Whispers

One. Two. Three. Four.

Are you running?

Then, count!

One. Two. Three. Four.

One. You saw a boy with purple eyes

and he offered you a gold coin in return

For a story.

Two, three birds flew in the sky, their feathers colourless and

you shot them down without a gun in your hand.

Three, there was a train. And it screamed.

Screamed of blood and bullet shots.

And you ran along with it.

Four. There was a well. It swirled golden with ambrosia

and told you to come closer.


Two. Metal and Mouth.

A hole, inside which a soul-sucking metal nestles.

A trigger, and a light touch of a finger rests on it.

Poised.

A forehead. Yours. Yearns to be kissed by metal.


Three. Now you scream too.

You run. You scream.

The train has stopped at a station and you get on.

Bruised. Shivering. Forlorn.


Four. You want to dip your feet. They function no more.

Hard years they ran through.

Fast and frenzied as a deer being hunted, at first.

Then, paced and calculating like a panther in the shadows.


One. You told him a story of Four.

A politician and his wife.

A ballerina of three feet.

And a dreamer with a yellow satchel.

His purple eyes smiled. His fingers brushed yours and your palm held four gold coins instead.


Two. His fingers relaxed on the trigger.

The metal kiss never happened.

But three shots did.

Three birds died: a politician, his wife and a ballerina.

Their feathers did not have colour. Or life.

Guilt was all there was. You could have saved them.

The metal kiss was never meant for you.

Just like the kiss from the purple-eyed boy.

Who pulled the trigger.


Three. Each compartment holds a memory.

You walk through them all; some lit with sunlight, some with mild piano music.

But you take a seat only at the last carriage.

You watch: a boy with purple eyes barges into the room.

There was a gun, one long gleam of silver crafted to kill.

Three shots.

one, Daddy with his cigarette smoke breath.

two, Mummy with her dimpled smiles.

three, the ballerina with her red pigtails.


Four. The well beckons to you now.

You slide a toe in and the feeling is of heaven.

The abyss felt comforting and promised to heal.

Jump.

Jump. One. Two. Three. Four.

Jump.

Why?

one, the story you told your purple-eyed boy, died.

two, your family did too.

three, that day, at seventeen, three coins you earned for the story were spent.

four, you are a woman of twenty six, who hallucinates.


JUMP.

The abyss IS promising.

Jump.

You shall no longer hear the train thudding along or

The three shots.

Jump.

You can be a dreamer again.

Reunited with her family.

Jump.

And you will immerse yourself into an oblivion with no purple eyes.


You Jump.


A nurse finds you.

She screams,

Just like you did when your family left you,

At the facility, in tears, unable to help you.

For you see, darling,

The Shadows are Whisperers and I am so sorry that you heard them and saw them.

It cannot be changed.

But, the next day,

The headlines read:

“The Schizophrenic Suicides.”

Death sits in your closet

Dear Amma,

You want to hear something funny? I have learnt that you never really know how much clothes you have; until you die. You crib and crib and crib about never having enough to wear. And then you die. And suddenly your wardrobe is choking on your clothes.

And there are all sorts of things in there. First you have the purples, oranges, blues, pinks, greens, blacks; and then there are lavender and rose and sunset and sunrise and sky and sea and navy and blush and peach and magenta and grass and tree and dark and darker and death.

There are silks and cottons and velvets and gauze. There is some bandhini here and some polka dots there. And oh, not to forget Anarkalis and Salwars with collars, full sleeves and columns after columns of patyala pants. And then there are the dupattas. Light ones, heavy ones, patterned ones, transparent ones, new ones, torn ones and more and more and more.

Mysore, Kancheepuram, Tanjavur, Jaipur, Cochin, Hyderabad, Gujarat and Kolkata sit next to each other inside one wardrobe of one woman who decided to leave them all in my inexperienced hands.

I never thought I would be intimidated by clothes but the sight of a six foot long bed filled with them, is pretty scary. What do I know about silks and patterns and tailoring fees and war motifs? I wear jeans. I do not understand these sacred fabrics.

This should not be my job.

And it doesn’t help when eery single piece is a memory flashing through my head. My OCD won’t take over; I don’t want to arrange them by colors and size. I don’t want to finish sorting through them. I don’t want to dump your clothes in a bag and give them to some lady who doesn’t have any. I want to be selfish; make a pile and sit on top of it and not part with a single piece of cloth.

But I have done that for three months now. Not anymore.
I have begun now and I cannot stop until your wardrobe feels light again.

Until I feel light again.

I’m just letting you know that your clothes feel weird. I think they miss you too.

Love,
Your daughter who doesn’t know what to do with the legacy you left behind.

 

– 2nd November, 2017 / 95 days without you.

Postcards to Vaikunth – 14

where are the smiles? 

Dear Amma, 

Did you know that Death has the ability to wipe smiles away from the happiest of photographs. It leaves you staring at a picture, wondering how you knew to smile. Especially when the photograph only serves to remind you of your guilt, your loss, your pain and joy.

This is one photograph I keep coming back to. And every time I see it, I count the days in my head. I count the laughter, the music, the dancing, the clothes. It’s all scenes flitting in and out and all of them, happy.

The first time I saw this photograph after you left, I fell apart. Because it all fell apart, piece by piece from then onward. When I saw it, I heard the snip from the salon scissors cutting away at my hair from that afternoon. Snip after snip after snip.
Except it was no longer my hair that fell away, but your numbered breaths.

There were eight days in between.
Sunday. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. Sunday.

Saturday night I woke you up but you were too tired. Snip.

Sunday I ignored you and stayed in my room. Snip.

Monday I learnt a new medical term. Snip.

Tuesday I felt fear after you returned from the doctor’s. I wished Mittu happy birthday. I learnt more medical terms. Snip.

Wednesday, I called Anna and cried. I cried and cried and cried. Snip.

Thursday. I lied to her and said I was okay. I saw IVs and Oxygen masks for the first time in my life and felt as if I’d never be the same again. Snip.

Friday, it rained when you came home and you smiled at me, looking beyond exhausted. Snip.

Saturday. Well, Saturday I tried being normal. I told Aysh you were fine. I barely saw you. Snip.

Sunday, I sat with you on the top most stair and tried explaining the plot of Dunkirk to you. Snip.

And you tried to listen despite your heaving breaths.

Monday. I woke up. You woke up. I lived. You died.
SNIP.

Eight days was all it took. I went from ecstatic to lost. I looked through every single picture I could find but happiness seemed far away. I feel like a once completed puzzle, now scattered all over the place, struggling to find these pieces, although I knew I never will.

Because now, I have learnt to look at life this way: life with you and this existence without you. I’ve learnt that happy pictures are simply the worst. I’ve learnt that the people who can make you smile, can also not. They can only hug you, kiss you and cry for you.
I’ve also learnt that eight days is all it takes for you to feel smaller than you’ve ever felt before.

 

– 2nd October, 2017 / 64 days without you.

Postcards to Vaikunth – 11

Questions. 

Dear Amma, 

I wish someone would teach me to be happy again.

Smile, yes. That I can do.

But how do I ditch this hollow feeling on the inside? How do I learn to not be scared of everything falling apart in the blink of an eye? How do I learn to trust hope again? How do I know it won’t be wrenched from me cruelly?
How can I stop reading medical journals and not look for signs that aren’t even there?
How do I write happy again? When will I learn to love mundane things like golden ribbons and silly tee shirts again? How do I listen to all your favorite songs without crying? How do I live in this house without running away from its rooms?
Where do I hide all my sorrow and try to move on?

Where do I find you? Where do I not?
How do I read again without crying, without talking to you about the book? How do I bring myself to believe in the God who took you away from me? What about all the insults I wish to throw at him? Who do I chuck them at? How do I look at my friends and not lie to them when I say I’m okay? How do I make the nightmares in which you live and smile at me, go away?

Who do I go to with all these questions, now that you aren’t here?

Love,
your daughter with a lot of questions.

 

– 30th September, 2017 / 2 months without you.

Postcards to Vaikunth – 10

Labels

no.
you don’t
care. you lied
when you said
you wept for me
died for me,
you only thought
of yourself
and what my
eyes
words
life
breath
could do to you,
never about
what they
meant to me. what
my mind thought
of you. of your smile,
of your eyes
doling out insults
but your tongue,
compliments.
your breath smelt
of artifice and
tears tasted like
hallucinated grief,
just an empty bag
filled with
imagined drama.

if only you
learnt to smile
for yourself
to love yourself
down to the
most nonsensical flaws,
your flabby arms
poor eyesight
unruly hair
colorful clothes,
instead of picking
on mine,
i would have learnt
to love you
in return.

but you oozed
insecurity,
you delivered
only judgements
that fell like
death sentences
from your lips,
lashing at me
one second and
cooing, wooing
the next.
you dusted me
until i gleamed
like marble,
the kind you liked;
learnt to love
the idea of me
but never me.
worse:
you only loved
the idea of you
loving me.

you were flesh
and hair
and laughter
but you were
never real.
i was the dreamer
stuck within
a bubble,
i was grounded.

no.
my friend,
you do not care.
halt your proclamations.
i’m calling you
out on your
greedy lies.
you never wept
for me
or anyone.
you never
gave me love.
only labels.

Paranoia

Dear Amma,

I used to take long showers. I liked the feeling of lukewarm water cascading down my back, over my sore muscles. I used to like the smell of soap, the blue tiles and the pretty towels. I used to sing in the shower even when I got water in my mouth.

But all I hear now, are Appa’s screams.

You know that horrifying feeling creeping up on you when you shut your eyes while soaping your face? Like there is a ghost lurking nearby and it shall pounce on you the moment you open your eyes?

That feeling is every conscious second of my life now. It is present when I turn off the shower nozzle too fast, heart pounding, thinking I heard Appa scream again. It is me jolting waking in the dead of the night when Mittu yells out in her sleep. It is me urging paati to visit the doctor for a ninety degree temperature. It is the feeling of dread pooling in my stomach halfway through a lecture on Kamala Das, that something terrible was happening at that very moment, and I was unaware of it. It is the urge to get back home as fast as I can to see that every morsel of dust was the same as yesterday, that nothing else was falling apart.

I don’t sing in the shower anymore. If I sing, I can’t listen for the possible screams . I don’t take long showers anymore. The water is either freezing cold or scalding hot, to remind me how to feel, how to cry, how to not get lost inside myself. I don’t like the smell of soap, it suffocates. It reminds me of the soap I had to wash off in a hurry and rush to meet a rapidly approaching nightmare. The one nightmare that came true.

But just like how there is no ghost waiting to kill you, when the soap finally washes off,
there is nothing here either.
No screams. Nobody dying. Nobody leaving me.
Again.
All that remains, is a haunting silence and sobs of relief.

With love,
A very scared daughter.

 

23rd September, 2017 / 55 days without you.

Postcards to Vaikunth – 9

What She Said:

you said,
where do you
find your galaxies
happy places
lucky stars.
where do you
keep them?
what do they say?
what do they
look like?

and i say,
i tuck them
behind your eyelids
every night,
and at daybreak
when they
flutter open,
they smile
at me
and go,
hello gorgeous.

they look
like the color yellow,
like the shape
of your eyes,
smell like
a new batch
of freshly-brewn
joy
they look like
the fingers that
feel like home
in mine.

22nd September, 2017.

slumber ~ (n) the calm before the storm

there is a large
silence that
slumbers
within you,
do you know?
it sits amidst
waves of noise
spewed from
human engines,
patiently awaiting
a time,
a single moment
to conquer
your body.

it starts slow,
ordering its weaker
lieutenants to prod
and probe the
extent of
your joy. the
kingdom of silence
claims all
of yours. and one day
all you are left
with is a large
chunk of this
silence in the exact
place where
joy once lived.
silence is all there is,
it feels like
nothing and
looks like nothing
wearing normal’s
robes. it feels like
leaving the living.

but it slumbers again,
in days
weeks
months.
it slumbers and does
not return. it only
packs quick
and exits. so you
can finally
smile again.
live again.
breathe again.

 

all i know is silence // 4

noise ~ (n) what we are made of.

leave all your
noise at the door.
this house
dislikes it—
—it is
blessed with
silence. luxuries
like that are
hard to come by,
don’t you know?

why are we
made of
bones flesh blood
and noise. why
do we despair
amidst the chaos,
why not outside
of it,
in serenity. you
look like a candle
melting, with
a frown. hesitating,
are we? leave or
walk in but
once inside
the silence will
claim you,
there is
an odd sense
of calm
in here, you
feel nothing
i promise. no
earthly ties
bind you
to the breath
your nostrils inhale,
you will melt
much faster inside,
you can stay here
till you wish to
end your
soul.

you are going,
i see. don’t want
to walk into
this abyss,
but away. very well,
at least you
are stronger
than i.

 

all i know is silence // 3

muse ~ (n) the joy that never comes.

there’s this dance
my pen is
accustomed to.
it hovers
aimlessly
over the paper,
making doodles
of stars
and cats,
waiting hours
for emotion
to knock
somewhere within
and walk in
with a bouquet of flowers.

the problem is,
some days
the place within
is deserted,
it hasn’t glimpsed
pretty flowers
but only
pretty people
who speak
lots of
unpretty things;
nobody rung
the bell
or peeped in
through the window;
there are
rooms after rooms
holding only silence
where Numbness
and Apathy
bond over tea.

the place within
shuts down.
it breaks
at its own pace,
like a mirror
you threw
a little stone at:
slow at first,
but at the
slightest disturbance,
all at once.
the temple i built
for muses to visit,
seems lonely.
i can tell you
the story
of every stone,
every lashing of rain
it withstood
but now,
this temple dies.
it heaves and screams
and nobody hears.

drafts sneak in
but never
a muse.

it is here
i stand
on some days,
at the doorway
of this strange
place within,
shivering,
watching it pour.
at the same time,
my pen droops
over a blank paper
that uncannily resembles
the face of death
i carry within.

 

all i know is silence // 2

The Prophet

what you see
are weary limbs
singing weary songs
that fall from
cracked lips
and sealed eyes
that tried to picture
a world so raw,
so polished,
that empires
would quell
to its majesty.

majesty and might;
they said house one
on each shoulder.
innocence must live
in the kohl-lined eyes
and curiosity—
—SSSH. don’t say it.
it will bring bad luck.
let your mind
remain as empty,
as hollow,
as the insides
of our hearts.

place the grace
in your hips
and let the music begin:
beat the drums
DUM DUM DUM.
walk princess,
parade yourself,
chin up!
but not too much.
chest up!
but not too much.
voice up!
but not too much.
you are a respectable woman.
one with decency.
flaunt,
spin,
flirt
a little,
cry a little
die a little,
but never question,
not even
a little.

princess,
they never told you,
did they?
you cannot wish for love.
real love.
the love of two souls.
it is the working of the devil,
don’t you know?
didn’t the teacher
who instructed you
on the ways
to curl your eyelashes,
teach you that?

to love is to sin,
dear princess.

and sinned you have.

someday, you will
walk under
this bridge
and seek me
from its darkest corners.
you will demand
once again,
where the perfect man hides
and i shall tell you a tale.
the tale of me.
the tale of
just a little beauty
and exorbitant brains,
that never heard
the drums
or carried majesty
in her pocket.
she built
a library instead,
a world of her own.
a world so raw,
so polished
that even empires
like you
bowed to,
slipped money to,
to hear an ageing woman,
sing weary songs
from weary limbs.