Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What is a girl to do?

A sickness pervades my being,
I can feel your absence spreading
through my blood, slowly, pain-
stakingly meandering its way
to my heart, even the air that I
breathe hangs heavy and contorted,
suspended in its wake because
you are not around, this sickness
wounds its way to my wrist which
you last held, your touch is
imprinted in my bones.
I can trace the onset of this illness
from my lips which you last kissed,
its aftertaste still strong in my mouth.
My heart is full of you,
what is a girl to do?

Look how we have disassembled each other

I don't want to love you
if I can't be with you.
It's as simple and complicated
as that, because I don't want to
carry this ache around with me;
this irrational illogical desire
for you, I don't want you
just as forbidden fruit,
I want you accessible, real.
You say you love me,
and I am in love with you
but is that the same thing?
But to say it would be
sending it out to the universe,
to say it would be making
a promise and I don't want to
make promises I can't keep.
How did we get here, you and I,
so soon so fast, would it last?
Look how we have utterly
disassembled each other.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Look what you have done.

How did we get here,
you and I?
You, with your infectious laughter,
carrying an air of being at home
anywhere in the world.
And I, who smiled for the first
time when we met after
 a year of sulking around.
You, with your terrible jokes
that make my stomach ache,
the easiness with which you
hold my attention, my hand, my mouth
And I, with my acute awkwardness
at anything to do with feelings,
and my obsessive desire to kiss you,
as persistant as a toothache.
So there I was
being perfectly miserable but now
you have changed everything.
Because here I am,
missing you and longing for you;
not even a bearable once-in-a-while
thing, but this awful reminder
of your absence, like a sickness.
Look what you have done.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A thing of wonder

It feels strange to be so utterly
happy and contended when I am
with you, as though the world has
been set right somehow, stranger still
because we both know it isn't so, not
in this place we call home shimmering
with discontent and misgivings.
But I forget that when I am with you,
I can only think of your hands
holding mine and how it falls
perfectly into place, and that I want
to kiss you everytime I look at you,
sometimes I don't even care if
people are looking or judging.
When I am with you, I could
sit for hours and we don't even have
to be talking and I would still
be smiling to myself counting the
black dots on your hands, and suddenly
the most mundane matters of existence
would become a thing of wonder.

Friday, July 7, 2017

When life tells you it is time.

You were greedy and you wanted
all of it, all at once;
In the height of your giddy youth
you forgot the element of struggle,
Your foolish heart thought
it would be satiated with
just your ability to dream it up,
you thought life would just knock
at your door and introduce itself,
now you know better,
now you know the life you want
takes time, it doesn't call you back
in the first instance, it makes you  wait,
it makes you despair, it breaks your
swollen heart a few times, it makes
promises it can't keep, it wears you down
But imagine this- you wake up
one early winter morning, life
brings you newspaper and a cup
of chai, life gives you a long long kiss
and tells you it is time.

Is this the life you wanted?

Always this reticent heart
trying to retreat into itself,
Always this doubt when it comes
to loving, being loved.
Life is happening too fast,
too soon, how do you get a
grip on it? You are accustomed
to life moving slowly, all you
wanted was to write and have
a house by the sea; but what 
I have now holding in the palm
of my hands, this terrible beauty
you and I, this bewildering
 transition in my life and 
here I am asking myself-
Is this the life you wanted?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Light- headedness

You are getting to me, I can tell
 because I can barely stop thinking 
about kissing you, barely contain
this light-headedness I feel around 
you, and I am thinking when
 will I get to see you next, 
and I am thinking even though
 I burnt my tongue drinking coffee
 due to sheer giddiness the last time
I was with you, it is as though 
I am back to being a sixteen 
year old and this is happening
for the first time.

Sunday, July 2, 2017


Our goodbyes aren't punctuated
 by hugs, but with an awkward 
detachment hanging midair;
You, with caution,
I, with propriety in mind.
because the air between us feels
so tense that I am conscious
of even the slightest of movements.
I laughed so much last night
when you mentioned that
I might be averse to hugs
because you don't know the half of it
and I am not sure I am willing 
to tell you; and if I sent you a poem
would it confuse you further?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Poems as prayers

Halfway through the year
and how you have changed since,
here you are now
offering poems as prayers.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

All I want

All I want is to make it
till the end of this year
without breaking down.
A year in this place is getting to me
it's turning my blood toxic and
my heart all twisted up.
How awful it would be to die
not having lived much,
it makes me sick just thinking of it
I long so much for freedom,
after all these years still struggling
for it, after all these years dreaming
the same dream.
What a dread life is without
the freedom to love, to feel,
to make mistakes.
What a relief it would be
to be holding a cup of coffee
while sitting across from you.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Meeting at the coffeeshop

Our laughter lingers in the coffeeshop;
I hardly went to one before you,
Our voices mingling with so many others;
Strangers who are now
serving slices of themselves
to the human warmth of living
before death gets us all.
How absurd, how insignificant
this day might seem in retrospect
that you would drive down all
the way just to see me for the few minutes
that I could give you.
And how our lives have been rearranging
 themselves this whole time
based on random chances;
a word, a message, a smile.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hoping that writing would hold me

My swollen heart is aching again,
it loves too easily, it sinks all too often
Sometimes life feels like a minefield
of anxieties and I think I stepped on one day.
I am always waiting for my life to start 
Today it felt like its a long time coming
And anxiety, my old friend, came back again
to sit beside me, shaking me out of
the lull of everyday life. 
Old fears came to haunt me again,
what if life is but endless hours
of dreadful mediocre conversations,
and fullfillment of duties,
mechanical loving and working?
Whatever happened to great passion?
And am I truly living life on my own terms?
Weaknesses stepped out,
looking to hold me hostage,
So here I am,
asking for small miracles,
Hoping that writing would hold me
so that I won't break into
tiny little pieces I can't glue back.
So here I am,
hoping for the strength to return
and keep me company
while I wait for the despair to subside.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Time doesn't stop for us

Time doesn't stop for us,
it accelerates and swirls
We maintain an unbearable distance
between us, for propriety's sake.
We still catch each other's glances
and smile from across the room,
always heavily aware of each other's presence
even when we aren't in each other's
line of sight; the secrets that lovers keep
And whenever evening draws to a close
my heart sinks like that time in school
when Sunday outings used to end
and there was the unmistakable
dread of the drudgery of Monday.
Our hearts sink in perfect congruity.
And you ask me if I am alright,
like you always do.
I leave with a whispered goodbye,
my heart breaking as I turn away from you;
no goodbye hugs and kisses
 for lovers like you and I.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


The first flush of desire
is akin to a toothache,
you are constantly running
your tongue over it,
fixated on the acute pain.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Humming of your heart

What we want from lovers
is their stories, all the details
that make up the person we yearn for
We want to know the first time
you scalded your knee, the first
girl you fell in love with,
even that distance you keep with
your father, and were you loved?
We want to know
how you appeared in my life
and changed everything even by
the most mundane of encounters.

We want to know the feel of your skin,
already our hands lying in proximity on the table
before us seem to shoot electric currents,
we want to know how it feels like
to sink into your world and then swim up again,
we want so much all at once,
it's as though we set ourselves
up for disappointment,
Sometimes we think the whole damn world
is contained in a person,
in lovers who aren't yet lovers,
What we want is as incoherent as this
poem, full of fits and starts,
of restless waiting and longing,
the whole world suspended in the wake of
the whirlwind of whatever-this-insanity-is.
And what I wouldn't give to be beside you again,
on the road to somewhere, nowhere,
leaning against you, listening to
the humming of your heart.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Grief is intimate

Grief is intimate in a way
joy can never be,
It chokes you out of breath,
It carves rivulets of hollow-nothings
in the cavity of your chest
By now you know one can
grieve for oneself, selfishly, childishly.
Grief lurks in waits for you
when you are hanging onto\a mugful
of tea one uneventful afternoon
to take possession of you,
to make you realise the gravity
of your loss.
Even that rage you carried
with you all of last year,
it dissipated like everything else,
lost, irretrievably lost,
shedding parts of you
that you thought you couldn't
possibly live without.
It's as though the world has finally
opened its gates for you
and you are hurtling
in a pace and direction
you can't quite control.
And those mental images that
you still hold on to somehow,
Childhood relics that haunt you,
asking you if you really found
the great adventure you were looking for?


Saturday, May 13, 2017


We started with awkward smiles
now we are asking about dream houses,
City or countryside?
Collecting intimate details
as lovers do(but we aren't lovers,
not yet)
In this little town, admidst rumblings
of history and misfortunes,
we have somehow found 
in each other
a reason to stay.
I could love you
But you are settled in your ways,
I am still forming myself
And haven't really decided on
the life I want.
So I tell myself
not to be swept away
by the storm of your arrival.
I could love you
but these are years of my life
when I will always put myself first.
You tell me that you haven't felt such
desperation to come home as you do now,
But home is not where
I imagined I would be in my twenties.
I still let myself have an alternate 
storyline though,
one in which we could have ended up 
together and I wouldn't be so worried
about rushing into a storm
I can't control.
the one in which
you asked me to stay
and I did.

and I did.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Oh it does

Maybe that is how life chooses you,
when you are reading a book
wondering how to turn your life around
And it does,
Oh it does.

Sunday, May 7, 2017


You are always going away
Somewhere, inhabiting a life
I know so little of,
And I am always retreating a little 
into myself.
I could say a number of things
For instance, I have often wondered 
how it would be like to kiss you,
but there is so much at stake.
We are always surrounded by friends,
a precaution you have made a point to take
at a place like ours;
small-town stifling atmosphere
where people talk
and anything can be a fodder for scandals.
I long for you even as I sit next 
to you in the car,
the air tense with our mutual desire;
I wonder if other people can sense it too.
Some days you give me hints,
But for all your years, you seem
As bewildered and confused
On where we stand.
By now it has grown into a fever,
consuming me like cancer,
By now you send me notes,
all along your travels,
probably missing me a little.

Friday, May 5, 2017

What remains of us

What remains of us?
Not the unaccounted-for-love,
Not the devastating fights
Just plain wonder
at how it had overwhelmed us,
Struck us like a disease in the beginning
and left us so drained in the end.
I am no longer searching for you
in other people
and that is something.
What remains of us;
a worn-out pair of shoes,
a few drops of perfume,
and something that could pass for kindness.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Claim on a story

You've been thinking of claims that people make
The love for a land which is not even theirs
You wonder how that came about
this righteousness, this strong emotional
rumbling you hear everyday,
You claim nothing, not even your dreams
You've been thinking of love
and home, that after all these years
of being scared out of your wits
to come back, you are really back
and it hasn't scared the hell out of you,
not yet; a part of you wants to stay here,
be a part of a story the way you would never
truly be a part of anywhere else,

Sunday, April 2, 2017

What love is this that feels like breathing

Because I should have written on the day
you left, now I am already used to your departure,
a dull ache has settled by now, the rawness
has lost its edge.
I can see our lives stretched out till where
 the ends of the earth meet the sky.
We are little more than children still,
finding happiness in propinquity to each other.
What love is this that feels like breathing?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The change of language

Somewhere between last month and now
You are grappling with a change of language
and with it the attendant feelings
of how could you have ever loved
in any other language, and how sweet
and melancholic everything seems now,
And how easily you love
the old which is now new
and how when he asked you
to come for the thabal, you had
smiled and said you would. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

You need to get out of here

You need to get out of here
before you get too comfortable,
already you have reverted to your
old tongue and it has embraced
you with open arms,
the prodigal daughter that you are.
Already you are drowning in
the sweet dullness of this
place which keeps no time,
It will engulf you whole
if you stay too long, you will forget
the days, the months and years,
Do not give your heart to this
place because it doesn't keep
its promises, it will offer you
so much and take it all away.
Already you have begun to love
the rhythm, already lulled into
a love as ancient as the hills.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Not even a little

Yabane Adum you say,
That's how you learn languages,
I think, from lovers.
Though you aren't mine
but another's.
Hayengdi emannabagi luhogba ama lei
Anything mundane inflected with your voice
registers as though a poem
over which I could weep.
You are not mine to claim,
I tell myself
You do not see me
 the way I see you,
Manakta leiragasu henna thapchaba
But we are singing songs over coffee and tea
Koina paiba chekla ni
This is madness, I know,
this soaring and sinking of the heart,
this licking of wounds, this thwarted affection,
this lingering sensation that I cannot get rid of
and the unfairness of it
that you don't think of me at all,
not even a little.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Atleast let me forget you

Don't show up like this
with the smile in your eyes,
and your big heart that envelops all.
Don't ask me for anything,
because I would inevitably say yes
to the words rolling off your tongue
and I suddenly see how it works,
how our language is supposed to be used.
I know I am not the one for you,
your eyes look for someone else,
your poems dripping with love for her,
But suddenly after all these years,
I have found you, a reason for staying.
Wouldn't you one day wake up
from a dream and see me in a new light?
Wouldn't you one day long for me
and write me a love poem?
I write this partly as a spell,
partly to exorcise you,
Because if you are never mine,
atleast let me forget you.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

How you brush past these lives,
none of which you fully owned,
just watched longingly from afar,
and at times like today you feel it so close
you could reach out and touch it,
and love like a cancer running its course,
Maybe not even love, just a boy
and his smile, and because you don't 
know him at all, he is everything
you never had, and how would
 you hold this life if you got it?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Lets never go back

Looking at you I think maybe I could
even have a life here, finally stop running,
Because I see you now with that
smile in your eyes, and I think we
could have the whole world.
All these years we lived across the road
from each other and never met;
even then we were lost in other people.
I read your poems and I think I missed
out so much, would you catch me up?
What life separates us, what literature
brings us closer, maybe you will
never know because you never asked.
But we are on the road now, the
evening light frames you as though
you were in a movie, smoking a cigarette,
And I am thinking, lets never go back.

Friday, January 20, 2017

And how incredible is that?

There are no stars tonight. the cold
has enveloped the world you know
The world shapes itself back,
it creaks, its breaks and you suffer too
You are halfway between heaven and hell,
How do you know which way to go?
Yesterday you heard a Simon and Garfunkle song
in a movie, today you looked back a little
to the past few years,
in the evening something gripped you,
a feeling of wonderment at your own life,
so insignificant but still your very own,
and how there have been times when you
have despaired, but somehow you got here,
a little bruised but otherwise intact,
and how incredible is that?

Monday, January 16, 2017

The perennial question

The question you asked me,
the perennial question really,
probably asked by millions of people
who left behind the home they grew up in
But I haven't left my home, not yet,
merely found myself in a country
that doesn't belong to me.
So how do you identify yourself?
Is there a dissonance?
For that I would have to trace myself
all the way back to the summit of Koubru
where we once dwelled,
because everything else was a vast
expanse of water, when the water retreated
we stepped into newly formed land,
leaving behind our abode in the clouds;
and then the oft-repeated story, sung
as songs, the filling of the swamps,
the clearing of the woods, the sowing
of the seeds, of Gods and their mortal lovers,
a love that didn't last.
But facts are scarce and far-between,
I make myself up as I go, string bits
and pieces of stories together,
One in the long line of the witches
that elude, breaking down the old
with our laughter, creating anew
with spells wistfully whispered.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Its been a while so first there is the
awkward laughter to get past, then ofcourse
the relief at the familiarity, the filling up
of the lost years, like sand slipping through
the fingers, and the disbelief in your voice
that my life did not mirror yours,
a guarded distance now, a fractured smile;
you had been in love only
with the idea of me anyway.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The art of leaving

The wintry winds have brought with it
 the ancient lores Abok-Ahanbi would tell you
 to ease you to sleep
The story of the seven wise men of yore
Who shapeshifted into birds and flew away
When the king gave the decree
 To burn all our ancient books,
There is an art to leaving,you are thinking,
Because sometimes that is all there is left to do
Because partly hardly wildly
you are still looking for a great adventure
 to set out to and in your heart of hearts,
 in your dream of dreams,
you know this is not where the story ends
So you leave with a spell whispered
Because wild hearts can never be tamed,
Only loved, only craved.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How you still read my words
the way I want to be read
We got a lot of things wrong,
but this strangely stayed
And even though years and kindness
separate us now, I am always
so touched when you tell me so,
Always tell me so.

Because partly partly partly...

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sharing a book with you, courtesy Frank O’Hara
 who must be quite mad at me for borrowing
 his opening lines ever so often,  is more fun
than going through a whirlwind of parties and after-parties,
partly because we had written similar
dedications to each other, partly because
at my age, which is not all much really but I do feel quite old
but not too wise, I have realised how precious
female friendships are, the ones premised on
“saving the world” if you will, one person at a time,
one book at a time,  .
At this stage of my life when I seem to have outgrown most
Of my friends, I am so glad we are exchanging notes
On our lives, the way I used to when I was younger
and had a best friend who I have now seem 
to have lost to time and distance.  
And I would rather share this Delhi winter afternoon
having  a conversation with you, flitting from one topic to another,
to keep rolling the wheel of discourse is the endeavour.
By now we are giddy on wine and ideas, 
and planning backpacking trips through Europe(a cliche?),
also terribly inspired that you have taken up painting again.
And here we are, taking a respite from our newly adult lives,
faltering, bruised but laughing till our stomachs ache.
Because not every poem needs to be a love poem
Nor every muse a paramour.