love

love ~ (n) all the little pieces of a person.

 

love was the suitcase i packed

on a winter’s morning

to share your couch

and my heart,

ice cream and sheets.

 

love was the painting i once bought,

silly and too bright

for a three year old

with hair that grew curlier

at every second glance;

just like her old man

who played the martyr

in a war they called politics.

 

love was the milk that boiled over

and your mother’s hand

mopping it,

with all the culinary superiority

she possessed

shining through her cheeky smile;

love was the sigh i heaved that day

and the grin i returned.

 

love was the loss of my mother

in a land between

terrible fear and pure relief;

it was the tears i wept to no end,

the numb that refused to leave.

 

love is me,

thin bones, bad hair, invisible scars,

looking into a mirror:

crying.

smiling.

whispering to myself,

“Do it.”

 

//Questions of the Curious Soul – Pt. 1//

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Barmecide

barmecide ~ (adj) illusory or imaginary and therefore, disappointing.

 

there once was a boy i knew,

back when i was tall enough

to reach my father’s knee:

he ate his beans,

spoke in feminine tones,

tucked shirt, cheeky smile,

reciting the vedas by heart.

 

“charming”, they said

pinching his cheeks,

kissing his head,

piling his four year old shoulders

with dreams that could not

fit inside any universe.

 

he grew to 12 and 17

with me,

laughing at life;

but after every birthday song,

cheekiness packed its bags

and left for good

at 21,

under the shower nozzle,

water and blood dripping down

hand-in-hand;

 

it was unfortunate truly,

that the more he grew, the looser his shirt became;

and longer the sleeves.

 

and no one noticed the skinny boy

in the oversized shirt,

not till the day he disappeared

inside it.

 

he told me he wanted to fly a kite.

he told them so too.

they smiled,

handed him his dream,

and snipped the string.

 

and thus,

the boy i once knew,

who smiled like he truly wanted to,

who held the illusion

of a dream he dared to make reality,

left.

 

and the day after they pulled him out of the bloody shower,

i flew a kite

and wailed

for buried dreams.

Apricity 

apricity ~ (n) the warmth of the sun in winter.

 

there is a flower here that

grows pink and pale

like my winterkissed cheeks.

every morning i

watch it from our

balcony that smelt of

potted plants, detergent

and you.

 

the sun slants,

missing my face

as i remember

a large, warm finger

wrapping around my pinky;

the cuddles, the tickles,

the laughter you drew from me,

dispelling the cold

for it belonged

to the sleepy realm of winter

outside this balcony;

inside however,

spring blossomed

from our loud giggles.

 

these tiles knew only

the warm patterns

your feet traced,

these walls

hear only the

highs and hushes

of your lullabies;

and me,

i knew the warmth of

your lap and arms and heart and smile

and a smiling memory of

a pink sweater vest.

 

i’ve outgrown that now.

as have you.

 

but that matters no more.

the frost

on these tiles

bit into my skin,

when your soul snuck away,

without even the

whisper of a goodbye;

the walls,

too wet to lean on

rung only with silence

not song;

and my soul

she dimmed,

waned,

too grey to smile.

 

winter reclaimed

her tiny piece of land,

or what was left of it:

for there is nothing here

except clothes that never dry,

greens that bend

their spines to the cold

and the echoes

of a dead song;

and a dead woman.

 

and so it shall be for years to come:

there is a flower here that

grows pink and pale

but i,

i do not touch it.

for come the morning after,

my affections

would have let it die.

the sound of moving on. 

when our bones break

i do not hear your screams,

i hear only the laughter of a lazy afternoon,

trickling in through the pain,

comforting me

keeping the tears away;

 

Away was someplace i ran to,

for i was too small in loving.

too small for your big hands

and bigger heart.

too small to look up at the stars, at you

without hurting my neck.

too small to fit into a love so big that

i ran away

rather than dip a toe

into that enormous emotion.

 

it wasn’t a duet we sang, was it?

we sang of breaking hearts,

we begun the first chords

and all we wanted

was to change the track

when our song

was only halfway done.

halfway was all we ever had,

it was our best deal

and we took it;

 

so when our bones broke,

we didn’t hear the screaming,

the crying

for the rest of the song.

darling,

we could never have written it down,

never have imagined it,

never found the tunes for it;

 

when our bones broke,

when we both jumped off this

high tower of love,

we only laughed:

 

liberated. out of a love that never was. singing an incomplete song.

 

when our bones broke,

we woke up on the concrete

and learnt to sing

a new song,

with another heart.

the warcry of cowards 

no,

we writers aren’t a brave lot.

courage does not sit well on our shoulders.

they were only meant

to bear

the weight of words

about four syllables heavy;

 

no,

we cannot be brave,

we cannot act or stab or cry or run—

 

—actually.

strike that.

we CAN run.

 

we run and run to a place we reserve

for the shades of our minds

and let our pens do our fighting,

let our pens do our crying,

stabbing,

acting.

 

no,

our title does not lie amongst the brave.

it lies amongst the runners:

the cowards in the mobs.

 

no,

do not glorify us,

we are only

the soldiers who chose to fight this war with ink,

for blood repulses us,

it brings in fear;

for after all

we are only cowards crouching behind a pen, aren’t we?

 

yes,

we writers are not a brave lot.

 

but, 

aren’t you too?

definition: death of a mother. 

“what is it like? losing a mother?”

 

~ it’s okay.

 

it’s like a thousand little needles

on your skin,

drawing blood and screams

from a thousand different parts of you

that you didn’t even know existed.

 

it is like the horrific idea

of never feeling the warmest of hugs

or the tiniest of kisses

brimming with a love

unique to the laws

of maternity.

 

it’s like all the memories

you didn’t know were locked up,

presented to you

on a golden platter,

drenched in your tears and blood.

 

it is like eating dinner in your room,

separately,

to avoid the vacant chair at the table

and the portrait of a dead woman hanging

on the wall,

laughing like your mother would.

 

it is like eating food

that does not sit well on your tongue

because it tastes like home no longer;

it tastes of difference,

a meal

cooked by a broken man

for his broken daughters.

 

it’s like seeing death everywhere

with your two eyes,

all the little things

in nooks and crannies

that were invisible before,

knowing that they held

the potential to ruin

a home forever.

 

it is like feeling the needles everyday and getting used to them,

everyday;

it is like never feeling the warmth everyday and making do with that of others,

eyeryday;

it is like sifting through the memories everyday

and washing the blood and tears off your hands,

everyday;

it is learning to sit at the table everyday,

forcing the food down your throat everyday and watching these little possibilities everyday

and doing nothing about it,

every

single

day.

 

losing a mother is like all that.
but,

 

it’s okay.

 

– 25th August, 2017 / 26 days without you.

Postcards to Vaikunth – 8

A conversation with morning 

mornings are the hardest, you know; apart from waking up to a reality without you, i spend them on the terrace and look toward the sky trying to talk to you, trying to tell you things which words can never do justice to;
i mull that day over and over in my head trying to remember details: like how happy i felt that morning and when i will be able to have it back,

like what the last thing you said to me was;

i cannot remember it.
and just like that, the sun dims, the birds cease their song, my heart gains a weight and all i’m left with is one broken morning stuck on repeat.

 

– 24th August, 2017 / 25 days without you. 

Postcards to Vaikunth – 7

dedicated to disappointment 

do you remember all those times i cried over petty things and you would tell me to quit it, put my chin up and face the world? well, those words did not reach my brain. because i did not follow your advice.

didn’t follow it when i saw my worst nightmare unfold in front of my very eyes and stood by doing absolutely nothing. i did not a single thing. i screamed your name over and over and cried and let you slip away even as i was holding your fingers.

it has been 23 days and i’ve tried the hardest i ever have, with every power that i possess, to banish my last image of you. because it wasn’t you. you were beautiful. but you took it away with you when you heaved those final breaths.

you took away your beauty.
but you are still beautiful to me.

you always are.
and even now, i am failing you. because i can’t ebb this pain. not one bit. and the moment your fingers slipped away from mine, Amma, and every little thing came crumbling down,

i knew. i knew in that moment that i had disappointed you.

massively.

 

i didn’t quit it.

didn’t put my chin up.

didn’t face the world.

i just stood there

and died a little.

 

– 22nd August, 2017 / 23 days without you.

Postcards to Vaikunth – 6

the grief pallette 

grief is a funny emotion, Amma.

you spend the days before it hits believing that it paints our lives in monochromatic shades,

but no; you are left with a set of color pencils wondering what shade your grief will take;

 

my grief is a different shade every day.

 

my grief looks like a rainbow on a clear day, unfathomable yet just there;

it looks like the inside of your wardrobe,

overflowing with peacock and mango motifs;

it’s the bad print photo albums that i look at

and smile

and ten minutes after, cry over;

it is the rangolis that we no longer design;

the red painted walls closing in on me as i sleep;

my grief looks like all the lights i leave on because i cannot face the dark;

it looks like this black and white colouring book that i fill with color,

that i need to fill with color. 

 

my grief carries all the shades that you showed me, Amma;

all the shades you were made of.

and today,

i chose to colour it green.

 

– 19th August, 2017 / 20 days without you.

Postcards to Vaikunth – 5

eulogy-in-progress 

on the 1st of August, 2017, a day and few hours after you left, thatha walked up to me and asked me if i’d write you an eulogy. i did not think it possible for my heart to shatter any further than it already had, but it did.

he was smiling, just like i was; for the sake of appearances, for the sake of survival. but i knew different: behind that smile, a part of him was dying; just like i was.

but, i told him i would. i couldn’t bring my lips to say anything else. 

it is now 13 rotten days since the tip of my pen touched the top left side of the paper, but it will not budge from there. all i seem to succeed in is blessing the paper with an abundance of salt water.

i can write you tomes of praise with my tears, Amma, but they will never be enough. i can never contain you within my fancy words or verses. i can never do enough. 

so for the 13th day in a row, i let my shoulders sag, i cap my pen and imagination, leaving behind a white sheet of paper dotted with wet traces of my grief.

 

– 14th August, 2017 / 15 days without you.

Postcards to Vaikunth – 4