No Man’s Land

We’ve shrunk
the no man’s land
now it looks like
a thin red line
and both sides
want you to redraw it
fresh, with your blood
as a token
of your membership,
and there are lines
long, tiring lines
on both sides
of people out to prove
their allegiance
to their one truth,
timeless, even self-evident,
with a drop of their blood
drawn out with
a sterilized syringe
bravely enduring
the harmless little prick,
and intent to paint
the line red
again, and again
lest we forget
the wrongs,
of the other side,
and the line
doesn’t ever dry out
or change color,
on both sides,
the color of blood,
and the color of rage,
is the same red.

We’ve raised
our fences
made them formidable
tall, and strong,
with spikes on them,
electricity flowing
through them,
and menacing reminders —
the skulls,
of erstwhile fence-sitters,
naive idiots,
who couldn’t take sides,
adorning them,
and there are watchers
on both sides, watching
intently, your every step,
weapons ready,
just in case,
you climbed the fence
but they needn’t bother,
because no one,
wants to sit on the fence

Featured Image: Church Behind a Fence by Atul Sabnis

Unbearable Lightness of Silence


These awkward silences
don’t feel sorry about them
they’re just a reminder
that we need to tune better;
that awkwardness
is just a discordant note
a note misplaced.

if at all
we should be awkward
about forced conversations
we’ve been trained
to feel natural,
comfortable about

the two of us
we need to practise
our timing
of silence,
that is all


Who are these people
who leave a thank you note
on your doorstep?

are they “your people”?
are they us or them?
do we even know?

they’re not trying
to be kind
because why would they?
it’s not like they know you
or you them
they just stopped
at your closed door
and left a bunch of flowers
because they cared
about something
you said, or did, or made
something that touched them

not because you are
their brother, sister,
friend, teacher,
so I ask again,
are they,
“your people”?


The unbearable lightness
of silence
of power failures
of no network access
of a book forgotten at home,
it weighs on us
because in that moment
when it happens,
we’re there,
in the moment

what really is weighing
us down —
the information noise
the constant agitation
petty debates
allegiances to party lines
substance free addictions
warning sounds of distractions
need to belong
need to be seen liberated
the dogmas and the isms
tyrannies of loves and hates —
isn’t unbearable
because we’re never
in the moment
to feel it

Stardust Memories

Yes we’re all made
of stardust
but it’s the stardust
that is tired
after traveling forbidding
cosmic distances;
that’s long since cooled off,
robbed on the way
of the last bit of energy

that’s a forgotten legacy
of an exploding sun;
the residue of a failure
glorious in death,
but glory does not survive
the cold inter-space travels
on dull, semi-dead comets
and uninhabited planets
a game of pass the parcel,
changing form
without will
without ambition
without a plan

we aspire to be stars
but we’re afraid to burn
the stardust that made us
only remembers
that a star is as ephemeral
as a flower
when one looks back
with hindsight
of a cosmic scale;
that star-ity
is a humble reminder
of near-permanence
of failure

Yes we’re all
made of stardust
but we’re not stars
we’re cold, calculating,
and immensely lucky
arrangements of stardust
on improbable islands
of cold starstuff,
who need someone else
to burn
to shine
to explode spectacularly
just for us to be born


Title is lift-off of Woody Allen film that I’ve yet to watch, strangely.

Photo Credits: Atul Sabnis.


To Tale or not to Tale

Is it better
to let a tale
be left untold
if telling it will
leave a scar?

Or is it better
to tell it
to a point
where the pain
of withholding
is no more severe
where it doesn’t exceed
the pain
about to be unleashed
by the tale

But if you kill a tale
before it’s told
to the last dot,
what you killed,
is it even the same tale?

Then again,
isn’t every tale incomplete?
because a complete tale
will never end
branching off infinitely
lingering on,
in a borgesian eternity

Can a tale be retold?
or is it reborn,
every time someone
attempts to retell?

Do you own the tale
you gave birth to?
or does it own you?
does it see you as a medium
and nothing more?
and when it dictates
do you rebel,
put your foot down,
and make it mend its ways?

Does it play you
as you play it in your mind?
does it try your limits?
or do you, test its?
and when,
the negotiation is over
and you lie down
happy, and tired
does it lose sleep
over its future?

Or does it believe
in its immortality
because unlike you
it knows,
it is created
from the same magical dust
of the remains
of the echoes
from that day
in distant future
when the first tale
was let loose
to enjoy its moment
of eternity?

The Song of Tomorrow


We’re ashamed of our imperfect bodies,
but never, of our penurious souls,
our ill-gotten wealth,
or even how, we don’t care, anymore,
about where we’re going,
what we’re doing,
and what we’re not doing,
the thoughts that we think,
the dreams that we dream,
and the dreams that we don’t
because someone told us
it’s too late for all that
we’re too old
but we’re never too old
to look at our bodies critically
to worry, to argue, to fight
about all that should have ceased
to matter
long ago


Age was supposed to be a two way street
of losing some agency, some agility
some enthusiasm, some urgency
but gaining wisdom, patience
weaker eyesight, but better vision
of knowing when to let it go
being immune to the petty
but, lately, the street
seems to have turned one-way
we worry about wrinkles
and grey hair, not grey matter
and slowing metabolism
and lost muscle tone …
accumulated years
as if, they are a liability
not an asset


We could just as well
replay the notes
in the back of our minds
our memories, weak as they may be
hold on to those notes, and chords,
and strange rhythms
our memories are darker,
but richer than of those
just starting their journeys;
our notebooks
messy and yellowed,
our maps, personalized
and dated


But, we just want to go back
and re-live the same life
as if maps are enough
to move across space and time;
maps just reassure us
of a possibility of finding
that which could be lost
but lost, it is not, what we are searching
it’s just frozen, irrevocably
and that’s a good thing
for, when we try to thaw it
it always crumbles —
the moment time is turned backwards


The best way to preserve maps
is to never use them
and keep them folded
in the glove compartments,
in the old wooden cupboards
or just tucked somewhere
in the attics …
then they become records
of things worth living for, once


We’re ashamed of our imperfect bodies
instead, we should be ashamed
of trying to go back
as if there is nothing
to go forwards, marching
into yet uncharted lands
with a calm acceptance
of disappointments on the way;
for our memories are rich with ‘em
that we still tell the tales excitedly
is the testimony to those maps
which we want to destroy, unwittingly


The young, they need a lot more
to go on
they are building
the wall of memories,
don’t envy them that
you have tasted it all,
and more,
now you need less, and less
because you know the paths
that lead to dead ends
secret paths to sanctuaries,
you’re not worried about
getting lost
about being around
and being relevant
of sanity
of pimples and Ayn Rand


You know
that, some relationships never last
some people you thought
you cannot live without
never make it with you
meaningfully far,
and you still survive;
you know how to pick up the pieces
to stash the hurt,
to nurse a wound,
to weather the storm
that cliches are underrated
that everyone changes
including you
and that,
it’s a good thing
after all …

The Revolution Will be Tweeted

The revolution will be tweeted
quoted, retweeted
bookmarked, pocketed
plastered on the wall
liked, shared, pinned

No, you can’t
the revolution
not now
but it could be
upvoted or downvoted
questioned, and answered

The revolution will be trended
will be #foodporn’ed

The revolution will have
its fifteen minutes
of fame
and if lucky,
it will survive
as a buzzfed

The revolution will be whatsapped
it will bring a smile
to your otherwise dull day
a chuckle, or a shudder
if you are an intellectual
but it sure will be forwarded

No the revolution
cannot be deleted
once it is,
it is forever
relegated to obscurity
after the few hours of fame
there will be no epitaph
no grave, just a timestamp
revolution will live on

The revolution will not be attended
it will be delivered to you
in any way you choose
push or pull, even digested
it will bother you
as a notification
in the right hand upper corner
till you’ll take a look
do the needful
without taking a step

The revolution will be branded
angel funded
Revolution will be irresistible
festive, unprecedented
it will be your last chance
while the stocks last
and if it doesn’t suit you
it can be refunded
hassle free

the revolution will be monetized
taken over

the revolution will be changed

it won’t be the change
it will just be
commented upon …

The Streets That Won’t Take Me Home

I’ve followed these unending streets
searching for their destination
but they run longer than our years
I’ve searched on
for that one illusive ally
in this stranger of a town

I’ve waited a lifetime
demystifying the labyrinths
to find a way back home
in vain, I see
those streets, they have
closed the ranks

8868: Energy Express

I’ve looked up to the skies
I’ve searched for rainbows
through my misty windows
the condensed droplets
ready with their promise
to multiply a rainbow
into million tiny ones
but I just need one

To believe in you
in your love for me,
no, it’s not reciprocation
that I look for
you cannot reciprocate
to everyone
with their contradictory loves

And so I roam
these treacherous streets
following the your echoes
distant in time and space
for I know
I will find home
where I find you

Image Credits: Atul Sabnis (flickr) (blog) (photo blog)

Idea Credit: Ek Akela Is Shahar Mein (Gharonda, 1977) (First stanza)

Obituary of Words

Once, I had hoped
my words will outlive me
outshine me
outsmart me

Once, I had hoped
my words
will be my license
to immortality

Now I’m ready
to write their obituary
shed a tear
have a drink
and move on

Unbidden We Live On

Unbidden we live on
seeking beauty

we pick an excuse
and then another,
just serendipitously,
sometimes doggedly,
because it seems
to live on
without one

when we look back
we see
we can go on living
without this, or that,
or all of
this and that, even

and we question
if it was really
unbidden —
the living on

Ethics of Unhappiness – Part I

She looked at him with exasperation. He was not childlike — as she used to believe, in the early days of their courtship, with the conviction that only those  who have just fallen in love seem to find a way to muster — but rather a complete child. How can he be happy about that, she wondered.

She could never be happy about such things, she knew. Was it her conscience? That cliched concept — invented and abused by society, which was responsible for banalities like “being able to look at oneself in the mirror” — was that the source of all this unhappiness she was carrying around? Unlike him, who could be shamelessly happy?

Was it better to be a good person and be unhappy, or be a horrible person and be happy?

“You can’t be happy if you’re not at peace with yourself”, she had tried to console herself with the pop wisdom many a times. Yet that peace was just peace with one’s conscience. But wasn’t this conscience itself cultivated? Or was it programmed?

As a child, she could remember being cruel,and happy. She remembered how she used to severe legs of ants, till they couldn’t walk, and would leave them out in the sun, till they died a painful death. Was she unaware of the pain? On the contrary, she was well  aware it. In fact, that pain was the leitmotif of the exercise. She never really believed in the mythical innocence of kids. Kids were cruel and happy. Just as he was (maybe, that ability to be naturally cruel was innocence, she wondered at times).

So was it better to be a good person and be unhappy or a bad person and be happy?

That bloody conscience, she thought. Should people who have an underdeveloped conscience actually bother developing it? What was the point, if unhappiness was all they could expect as the result of that development? If he were to be a better person, more circumspect, more aware of the moral context of his action, would he be childishly happy, like he is? And yet, was this shallow happiness really happiness? And who was she to judge?

Is conscience just a way for societies, and religions (or societies through religion), to make people conform to an idea of goodness? For societies won’t function without such a concept internalized by most members.

And what about the defaulters?

“What are you thinking”? he asked, as he lit a cigarette as they lay in the bed.

She hated that. She hated him smoking anywhere in the house, but she positively loathed it when he smoked in the bedroom. He, on the other hand, loved to smoke in bed — especially after sex. It was a kind of romanticism for him. It’s genesis, no doubt, was in teenage impressions; something he had watched his one time favorite Hollywood actor do in some movie. He had even offered her a smoke the first time they made love, knowing fully well she didn’t just not smoke, but hated smoking — the very idea of smoking.

In those early days of their relationship, he had stopped doing that when she told him how much it bothered her. He did not do it because he really cared about the fact that it bothered her, but because the fact that it bothered her killed all the romanticism of that imitation.

Now, however, it was the barometer of the health of their relationship — his doing or not doing it. Like today, for instance, it was so bad, that he needed to take refuge in his pulp romanticism.

“Nothing”, she said.

“You’re always thinking of nothing these days”, he said, trying to humor her in his post-coitus high. Something he didn’t bother with, anymore, otherwise.

“Well it’s better than thinking about some things”, she retorted, regretting it instantly. It sounded childish. And she had no wish to compete with him on that front, of all things.

She hated how he could always bring out the worst in her these days. But then had he ever really brought out the best in her? Even at the very beginning, she wondered, was it him, or was it her habit of living up to the best in her.

Whatever it was, it couldn’t be sustained for long. And now even she had resigned to the decay.

Maybe, I need the worst in me — it may let me be happy, she thought, turning her back on him — literally.