Wednesday 25 October 2017

[Poem] On killing a Tree

On killing a tree

So, they fell like leaves
In the sadistic Storm
The men the women the children
Swaddling babies
Captured by deceit, coercion 
Smoked out of hideouts
Caught before they could flee
The branches, leaves of the Ethnic Tree

Bundled into trains
Carted off to feed
Every burning pyres
Or flogged
Till backs broke,
Spirits and bodies fell-
Pell mell

Their belongings piled
Mounds upon mounds
of suitcases, footwear,
Clothes, toys --
Rotting leaves
Awaiting release

Has fancy names
Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing
 Attempts made time and again
To expose, exterminate, expunge
Entire communities

There is Survival
So, it is never done.

On Killing A Tree

Saturday 12 August 2017

[Poetry] Picture Poem

The poem was written in response to this picture.

I will walk into the tide

Break and fall upon the waves

One by one I have undone

my hold upon the world

The world is a blue void

The sky above the sea below

The sand sinks softly under my feet

Soothing calluses earned

From thorny pathways tred

The sea would fall

Caressing, lavaging the pits

And undo it all

The world is a blue void

Hearts with love devoid

Man, a trampling humanoid

With every fall

No hope at all

The race is lost

Before the start

The relentless waves

break hard against the shore

With a vigorous uproar

The sound and the fury

Of infinity

The salt from my tears

Blend with the spray

I blend a finite life

Of petty woes

Pitiful throes

I find my peace

I find my cure

In this azure eternity

Thursday 10 August 2017

[ Short Story] Afternoons in Childhood

Amrit threw down the pencil in frustration.  Doing fraction sums on a half empty stomach upon a Sunday afternoon was neither easy nor desirable.
His stomach growled.
He should not have protested so strongly about the beetroot curry. He went into the kitchen to see if his lunch plate was still there. His mother sometimes left it covered, knowing that he would return, even adding an enticement like papad or a small bowl of sev.
But today, she had been particularly annoyed.

He tiptoed into his parents’ room to see if they were asleep, then he crept out of the house, wheeling his bicycle to the elevator.
His lived on the fifth floor of a 9 storey apartment block.

He pedaled to the back yard to check if any of his friends were playing.
No one was about.
The summer sun hovered threateningly above, shoving
wanderers indoors.

Crows waddled about, pecking at food droppings from over flowing dumpsters their feet half buried in the soft-top soil.
He chased them on his bicycle. They rose cawing furiously; some flew threateningly above his head.
He soon grew tired of this pastime.

He circled the building and through shaded eyes scanned the monolithic column to see if any of his friends were playing in the balconies.

Suddenly, the smell of potato bhajjis roasting in hot oil, assailed his nostrils. The hunger he had kept in abeyance, rose again.

He took a couple of listless turns around the building.
He hesitated. Perhaps, it was time to go home. His mother might relent or, would she?
He made his way irresolutely towards the elevator.  

He left his cycle in the corridor and rang the bell.           
Lalitha opened the door; her right hand was caked with flour.
 He saw Vipul at the head of the table, his cheeks bulging with the bhajjies stuffed hurriedly into his mouth.
Vipul glared at him, shaking his head vigorously, signalling him to leave.

“Aunty, I wanted to see if Vipul wants to play…” He gave her his winning smile.

She nodded and let him in.

He smiled triumphantly.

He had been right about the house.

Thursday 13 April 2017

[Poem] The Woman in the Woods - An Ekphrastic Poem

                            Painting by Sushmita Gupta
I spied her among the forest trees
Her soft humming echoing in the dusk’s stillness
A forest nymph swathed in green georgette
Hiding her long lustrous hair in a tight oiled coil
I lost myself at the brink of the deep swirl of her liquid eyes
Evocative, their power moated by kohled rims

She plucked a hibiscus and struck it absently in her hair
I knew it would remain there
Secure – much like her fastened thoughts

The stark vermillion mark on her forehead
Was it there, to ward off advances
Or was it a symbol of her own confinement?
I wondered…

For, her lissome beauty
Would enslave all that she surveyed

Even the modest beads swinging from her ears and neck
Shone in borrowed glory

Yet, the downward curl of her lips,
The angry red spots on her cheeks
Invaded my aesthetic ruminations…

I drew closer.

Dear woman, you are no Ravi Varma damsel with bashful eyes
Life had visited you Time and again -
You bear its marks
The angry red streak on your forehead, perhaps sustained from a fall
Your cheeks roughened by vicious assault

Yet you go on
Defiance burns in your eyes
And in the firm set of your lips
Life’s attempts to break you fail
You fight back
And sport with the dragon flies

Saturday 11 March 2017

[Poem] The Curse of Modernity

This poem was written in response to a contest conducted by Dr Saantosh Bakayya, who took the above picture. It was declared as a winning entry along with four other poems, in the literary group The Significant League. 

Please click on this link to hear the audio recording of the poem

When did my world begin to change?
Frozen in a dizzying time warp,
I stand nailed to the ground
Feeling a a giant train blast through me
Littering my world with alien debris

The television came
With it, the advertisements
That bid to change with the times
Oh! the relentless bombardment
Day after day
Day after day

Watching shadows, I could tell the time
Unlearnt it - to own a watch
My spun cotton no longer trendy
I spend a better part of my earning
On clothes that no longer fit
In pantaloons badly stitched

The local grocer changed his ware
Traditional was passe
Potato silvers, biscuits, soft drinks in the display
We ate that too, because the advertisements told us to

The rich own the world
They always do
They get the best slice of the consumer pie
We get the crumbs
 And call it nectar

All this talk of organic farming
But we have always been organic
Till the pesticides came on the scene
Our water ways on the verge of pollution
The village air
Toxin free for now
I dread the sick world
Which is my child's inheritance

The local shaman has been shamed
 By men in white coats
He has not the wherewithal
To fight diseases of the modern world

The city - a tantalizing temptress beckons
Dimmed- the senses lie, in the bright lights
 But I have come not to drown in her pleasures
Disease is a demon at my back
And, I have come gathering  all that I ever owned
Fear compels, so does hope for a death postponed

The giant shark waits
Its mouth wide open, fangs exposed
It swallows all
And hungers for more
My money, my dignity, even my footwear
My life is a study in despair

I await the word of the shaman in a white coat
Little realizing that he is but a sham
I squat here my defilement complete
In a shabby road unkempt
The corporate shark has sucked
My life's blood
Barely have I, anything left
for a meal or even a bottle of water
A hotel stay is but a pipe dream

All around me vehicles blare and hurry past
Men and women move fast
Hurrying towards something
I am all alone
In a loveless world
Shorn of everything
I squat in the filthy street
Dreaming of the green fields back home

Friday 3 March 2017

[Poem] Temptress- A Feminist Reading

                          Image source:

The Virgin and the Temptress
Have always been here
Since Creation

Born and reborn in myth
Only, the Temptress
Siren Eve, Shurpanaka, 
Time and again
She is a courtesan
A dancer, musician, an entertainer

The temptress today
Unveil her many graces
In celluloid
As voyeuristic cameras
Explore her in the minutest detail

Men will of course call her a goddess
worship her in the silver screen
Gape at her posters
Salivate in private
Call her

Neither goddess nor nymphet,
She is
A mere puppet
In the (film) Maker's hand

Tuesday 14 February 2017

[Short Story] Many Tales to Tell

Arjun sat on the sofa, agitation written all over him. Every few minutes he changed the songs in his play list, tiring easily of each one. Either he didn't know the whole song, or the lyrics were bad or it was too tough.

He felt his mother's touch on his shoulder and saw her looking down at him in amusement.

'What is all that frustration for?
You are going to break that iPod today.
Don't think, your father will buy you another one all that soon.'

Seeing her laugh only heightened his anger.
He plucked the headphones and flung the iPod along with it on the sofa.
'The cultural programme at college is starting tomorrow.
The music competitions will happen day after.
The seniors said, that they are banking on me.
And I am not even able to decide on the song yet...'
He gave her a blank stare.

She sat next to him, and gave him a hug and he slumped down on her lap, even letting her ruffle his hair, which he was very protective of, ever since he joined college.
'Oh! you remind me ever so often that you are still that little boy, whom I desperately wanted to grow up.
But, it is nice to meet him, every now and then.'
He sat up suddenly and glared at her.
'Ma, cut the crap ...
I think I'll go out...'
She jumped up and stayed him.
'Hey, calm down...

I have saved some of the new songs ... you know... those that you haven't heard ... I am also sure you will find something interesting...'
Mothers know their sons best and he did find that magical song.

The beautiful love song, sung in his earnest voice moved almost everyone in the audience.

'My nights grow listless without you
My heart grows agitated with out you
My peace deserts me without you...'

Every girl there felt, that he had actually sung the song for her.
He was the most popular guy in college from the next day.

The song helped him meet and marry his future wife.


Arjun stood in the kitchen, cooking an elaborate meal of dhal and parathas. He fortified himself with a steady supply of tea that simmered on the smallest burner in the cooking range. The kitchen was an absolute mess, but he had won the cleaning lady's heart with his generous tips and his kindness.

Now that he was alone, he wanted to make the best use of his free time. ‘Freedom from bland cooking!’ he shouted or rather sloganeered as he slathered more ghee over an already soggy paratha.

His mind kept reminding him of what lay in wait that evening.

Marriage, he agreed, was good yet there were many sacrifices, some of which, he missed terribly- like his friends or the late night parties with them.

He hated having to behave so responsibly all of the time.
‘Come prepared with some songs…’ his friends had ordered, they were equally eager to meet him. They specifically requested for a song that was taking the Internet by storm.

It was a song of joy, a song of liberation, a song of celebration.

He worked up the mood to sing it with the right amount of gusto.

He sang it loudly and experimented with a few moves that could go with it.
In his enthusiasm, he failed to notice the generous drippings of ghee that had enriched not just the paratha, but the floor as well.

He felt his feet slipping and fell with a thud, the song turning into a whimper in his lips.
He could never recall the events that followed clearly, but he found himself being helped by a contrite tearful wife, who looked at him, her eyes brimming over, with love.


Years later, when her children grew up, she would tell them her love story animatedly. How her husband, their father had loved her the moment he set eyes on her and how he had wooed her with his song at the college cultural show. She would tell them of their first fight and how, when she had returned home plagued by pangs of guilt, she had found him slumped on the floor, crying his heart out for her

‘Oh! my wife has gone away to her mother’s…’

She would also tell them of her firm resolve to never leave his side, ever again…

And that, my friends, is how myths are born and propagated.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

[Poem] Hymn to Defeat

                                  Image was found at

I walk this road
Beastly foliage
with bare hands
If I fall
I crawl
With the insects in the dust

I walk
Clawing at cobwebs
Mummified in grey tendrils
A noose gripping my throat

In dark caves
I cower 
Fear laughs
And swings from the roof
Or hovers
Overhead, leering
Waiting to taste despair


There is no turning back
There never was
Will each trudge
Towards the Promised Light

The landscape shifts
Paths become roads
Roads turn to ruin
Dust powders buildings
Rust and grime reign tall

[Translation] ஆண்டாளின் நாச்சியார் திருமொழி - கற்பூரம் நாறுமோ

    What form does bhakti take? In deep veneration it evokes intense spirituality. Can one express romantic love towards the divine? Great s...