Saturday, December 26, 2015

These days I listen to Farida Khanum on repeat

These days I listen to Farida Khanum on repeat
We sit together in the afternoon
Eating cashews and almonds
Mum bursting with news, Papa reminescing
Goldy wakes up at one, even though
we spent the whole morning trying to wake him up
We dressed him up in Papa's trenchcoat,
My sunglasses and a hat.
He looked like a regular CIA spy.
These winter days are so miserly with the light
It is evening too soon, and I have barely woken up
Alice Munro enchants me,
I am beginning to think I should
start with short stories first,
Canadians seem to be my current favourites
From Margaret Atwood to Michael Ondaatje
And ofcourse Justin Trudeau,
who makes me weep with joy at the things you do,
I can't get over the swag with which
you are changing the world.
I get my daily dose of poetry from Akhil,
resident poet of Dilli
Took a little bit of my heart that time you read out
your poem in JNU,
You write so beautifully
I wish we were friends
And through you I heard of  Farida Khanum
who sings divine, even more so with age in her voice
"Aaj Janne Ki Zid Na Karo",
I blanket myself with the immensity of those words

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

In the seven months till she saw him again

In the seven months till she saw him again,
 Meira had  turned 16, felt desperate to see him again,
 concocted stories in her head about his life,
 tried to innocently ask her mother about him
 to which she wasn’t very helpful apart from
 the obvious fact that he was in her MA class and a bright boy,
 tried to forget him because he had never come back 
to return more books of her mother's, figured out that
 he probably saw her as his proffessor’s daughter and nothing more,
 had her first kiss with a boy in her school who she felt
 was much prettier than her, then told him very guiltily 
that the kiss didn’t mean they were going out as he might
have assumed, devoured dozens of books, decided that life
 was meaningless and inherently unfair, castigated the books
 she read for making her see, think and feel more than 
was necessary for survival, sobbed a few nights into her
 pillow as she felt an acute pain in her heart at all the beauty 
and all the stupidity, punched a boy in school for calling 
her ‘chinki’, had been summoned to the principal’s office
 for her aggressive behaviour which had surprised everyone
 because she had been such a wonderful student, 
had always done well in school and hadn’t exhibited 
any antisocial behaviour till now, tried to bring up the fact 
that the boy had provoked her by using a derogatory term, 
her mother had been summoned, Naina was indignant that 
her daughter had to suffer because of a stupid ignorant boy,
 had fought on her daughter’s behalf but decided to brush up
 the matter because she didn’t want her daughter to be awarded
 a disciplinary action, Meira had cried her heart out
 on the way back, Naina had felt helpless and heartbroken
 that despite all that she had done to bring her up in what
 she had considered fair, never letting her daughter feel 
any less of a person because she was a girl, she had completely 
overlooked the fact that she looked different from her, 
different from the people who inhabited this part of the country,
 who called her awful names, and thought she was any less 
beautiful because of that. For the first time in her life, 
Naina wondered if she had done the right thing
 by leaving Manipur and bringing Meira here. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

And you looked for me all the way to Kanglatombi

I am beginning to realize how small Imphal is
How I can probably go from one end to the other
for a nice long walk and not even get very tired
When I was younger I thought you lived so far away in Singjamei
Back when we were younger
and when I was in love with you
In that crazy way only fiveteen year olds love
You know that pure unadulterated amplified kind?
And laughed about crossing Konungmang a few minutes before you did
Or when you saw me at Sekmai and I didn't.
At twenty two I am revisiting that time five years ago
When you promised me we would spent more time together
when we get to Delhi
By then I had so many other people in my life
And you marked my life with your stubborn absence
Borne of hurt and hate
Now we have settled into some kind of friendship
Not as close as we once were
But still holding on to each other
Dull ache of a love
Our names reveberating from Kongba to Nambol
The places we sought each other
Caught glimpses of
Wrote fervent letters to
The kind of love that went unfulfilled
and then dulled into something akin to friendship
Sometimes I can feel the connection return
when we talk but you were never the kind to confess
All those years I spent trying to unravel you
and you never said a word.
We parted ways at Chingmeirong
And you looked for me all the way to Kanglatombi.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

By a cruel joke of history

I am not knee-deep in grief
Except once in a while
When personal tragedies occur
The kind which makes you question
If you will ever amount to anything
Existentialism, solipsism, you name it
Been reading too much
Fardeen got a friend who I kind of stole from him
We get depressed together sometimes
and she says things like-
"Life? Two stars. Wouldn't recommend it".
So even sadness is still kind of funny
It sounds really sad only in poems.
Though getting dengue got me pretty paranoid
About mosquitoes and other buggers
So much so that I plan to become a climate change refugee
Suddenly I have realised that I live in an inhospitable
live-threatening tropical country
Though I am mostly genuinely sad
When I read about nations
And the atrocities committed in its name
(Deeply suspicious of words like nationalism)
And about all the refugees who have no place to call home
and the people like the Kurds  who got divided into
four countries by a cruel joke of history.

Friday, November 27, 2015

And they can't reach you

It's back again
That dreaded dark feeling
Which has wound itself around your heart
And in this dark cold winter night
It has found you
What else can you say?
That you crave words to sustain you
Clutching at stories which are not yours
Your hunger so vast, so deep
And the people who appear again in your life
And then fade away
What is yours? you ask yourself
No place to call your own
Just this page.
And some jumble of words
A language not yours by birth
But the only one you know enough to write in.
Because you have begun to wonder
How this goes
How you return to this dark place intermittently
Because there are people you love
But they seem far away tonight
You are stranded in another planet
And they can't reach you.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The people who don't belong to the country they are born into

As a child I never thought of myself as pretty
Even now I am unsure of it that I was
Uncertain, surprised, even guilty
when someone at a party told me
I was beautiful.
And I expected him to burst out laughing
That ofcourse it was a joke
But he didn't.
Because how could I
with slits for eyes,
my petite frame
Be mistaken for beautiful?
You see, I grew up among people
who didn't look like me
And they only complimented each other
For their thick wavy hair
and their big brown eyes
Smug at the knowledge that
They would never be mistaken for aliens
 in your own country, or called names which
 made you cringe and ashamed for looking the way I did
And I think about us, the people who don't really belong
To the country they are born into,
Who grow up believing they are not beautiful.

Albeit a stranger who writes divine

You waltzed into my life
with your poetry and your joy
Making me wish I had known you
all my life
And I know this is not love
But it has been a while since I felt
This camaraderie with a stranger
Albeit a stranger who writes divine.

Monday, October 12, 2015

And what good is that?

There is nothing left to do
except crawl into bed
 and never wake up again.
So this is grief, you find yourself thinking
With your heart gauged out
Your eyes heavy lidded,
Unwilling to open and see the world again.
So this is how life marks us
With our first failures.
The crying hasn't started yet,
maybe it will, maybe it won't
Maybe this time it will wander off on its own
and not bother you except maybe
when you hear your mother's voice
and only when you are reading your own poem
years later, wishing to save you from yourself.
Newly twenty two and a failure already
Newly twenty two and love is no longer enough
Newly something, already a nothing
A non-entity, a non-person
And then nothin, noone.
A one-time someone
Now no longer anyone.
A has-been.
A writer who cannot write.
And what good is that?

Friday, July 31, 2015

I don't know if I was meant to read what you wrote
But you don't mean that
You are not heartless
Whatever you are going through
I hope you work it out
Remember to love and take care of yourself
The rest will fall into place.
The world is better than you think it is
Don't stop believing.
Always wishing the best for you.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I try to kill Poetry in my heart

I try to kill Poetry in my heart
I tell it to stop growing
It has too long been associated with a single person
And that person has gone
So I tell poetry to go too
I dont know how to write about anything else anyone else
Just becoming her makes me feel frail
But Poetry is stubborn
It smiles wryly at me
As I sit listlessly, my legs
dangling over the railing
It is there holding me
That night when I succumbed to crying
My heart hasn't been spent yet, it points
To the flames erupting outside
My world besieged by history
And I am to be a marker of it,
The observer, the writer, the participator
The person who breeds poems in her heart.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

You don’t know me anymore
 Except in names of places.
As you drive down to Serou
So many hours away,
There is my lingering absence,
 My maps to trace.
I don’t know you anymore
Except when I pass by
 The neighbourhood in Singjamei
 I had addressed
 Four years worth of letters to
 In Palel we miss each other
 By a couple of hours,
 Or lesser.
You had missed the turn
 In Kakching Lamkhai
 We must give it to Fate
For driving us so close
 Only to let us miss by so much.
Life grew on her like vines
 Twisting and Turning, leaning on her
People didn’t come back in her life

They left without saying goodbye.

Monday, June 8, 2015

And I weep
Over all the lines I wrote which didn't turn out
as beautiful as I imagined they would.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The illicit concern of people who once loved each other

Having said goodbye 
You had wrapped it around your head 
That you weren't wanted any longer 
Not even the trickle of words 
And life consumed you 
And took out the sting of bitterness 
Except that they underestimated old habits
His name still figures in your late night prayers 
The illicit concern of people who once loved each other 
They are curious to know how they are getting on 
Especially without you 
They start with nondescript hellos 
Cautious how have-you-beens 
Not asking too much, not revealing too much 
You are a bit disgruntled that over the months and the years 
You have been reduced to a few character traits
As though the marks you get and the books you read are the only sole markers of you 
You grudge them their presumptuousness about you 
As though they can still claim to say you are such and such
As they once knew you, Foucaultian chains
The grounds have shifted  
You find that there is no more the compulsion to smoke
 As it used to be when you were younger and hungry for love 
But you are still touched 
By the illicit concern of people who once loved you.

Friday, May 8, 2015

You can't help but laugh
At the absurdity of tears
The madness and the heat
The falling ill, the recovering
When you stayed up shivering all night
Wondering if you were dying
Like that time three years ago
The same time of the year.
Deja vu.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Fardeen made me take the inkblot test.
One of the statement said - someone you loved has decided to let you go and move on.
So I guess I knew.
You didn't have to write so much of what you didn't feel like writing.
you could have just said goodbye.
I would have understood.
Goodbye, fare thee well 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Birthdays are strange days

Birthdays are strange days
It's stranger how
You will never be same person I knew
With each passing year.
You will grow up without me,          
You will experience the world sans me by your side
Which breaks my heart a little bit
I can't help it, it does
But whatever we had, I still have
The years, our shimmering youth
And maybe I will learn to let you go without always wanting to stake a claim in your heart , in your life,
Always wishing for a bit of you.
The usual- tears and cigarettes
It's almost hilarious in its tragedy. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Out of nowhere

Sometimes while watching a movie
And out of nowhere
Out of the blue of the night
I miss you
I thought it wouldn't come back again
This tightening of the chest
The burning the plummeting the longing
The past coming back in waves
Some with more intensity than others
Was it in another lifetime I used to come walking to your place on early misty mornings,
So full of love I thought I would burst into flames.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Walking in CP
In search of a Marlboro advance
Many cities away from you
I am reminded of the city in which you lie enclosed
Even those days when I spent discovering it on my own
Initially overwhelmed by the newness of it, the strangeness, the surging never - ending crowd like waves after waves
And then stumbling upon the joy of travelling alone
I felt my fear and apprehension slipping away
And the gripping realisation that I would be alright
We manage we will survive
I wonder if this is how you felt in your first days

And that I can do anything, go anywhere , be on my own,
That I am stronger and smarter than I  thought myself capable
And then the delight of seeing you at the end of every day
Always a bit pensive
Sometimes so animated
Other times so wary and hurt
Over connections and disconnections
Over so much and so little
The audacity of our lives
Intertwining once again
Just for a little while
And disbelieving,
The intimacy of being enclosed in your  house
The familiarity of your old clothes
Of your old bones
A dream I remember with a little ache.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hey you,
Bad internet, yes.
Liked your posts from Papa's phone.
Wrote so much but couldn't get myself to post them.
Too sentimental, I think later.
Too much everything.

I love it when you blab though.
I spent 20th a wreck, crying myself to sleep,
You still have that hold over me,
Even after all this time,
After so many sobbing goodbyes.

It's lovely to be back home though
I haven't seen everyone in so long
I spent the last 12 days reading.
I haven't read so much in so long.
I wish I knew how these people write so staggeringly well.
Makes me want to weep at the beauty of it.

I hope you get a chance to wear the jacket.
Even I am looking forward to a nice drink and a smoke
Once I get back to Delhi.
Climbed the same old hill I used to climb.
I feel so ancient somehow.

It's always always always lovely hearing from you.
Even if it means a torrent of feelings come  rushing back.
Not just feelings though, much more than that.
People go.
But people also stay back in those who loved them,
 Still love them. Always.
Have a great year ahead you. You deserve so so much.