Sunday, September 11, 2011


I itch to write something
About what I am still not sure
The quiescent urge is prodding me today
The bygone months having passed in frenzy
Packing and unpacking bags
The pen lying cosily in my white purse all these days
Only crawling out to write mundane to do lists

What can I say about my mind?
It is still in its state of slumber
Needs a desperate jolt to even start thinking
Ideas playing game of hide and seek
Probably searching my new address
Maybe the desert wind blowing outside
Will send them patting my brown wooden door

Ideas need not even climb the tiled stairway
My ground floor any easy access
The blue pen and the white paper are ready
And so is the hot Arabic tea
I now wish for their everlasting companionship
When I hear the knock I will let you know
Until then it’s adieu from me................

I just moved to Middle east couple of weeks ago. Trying to settle and get back to writing again. These are the few lines I wrote after I moved here. I hope it makes some sense. With all the travel in the last few months, shifting across countries, I never found time and could not get into the right frame. Hopefully I get back my mood to write as I find writing very soothing. So need lot of support from all of you.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I first saw a picture of castle in fairy tales
Where witches lock princesses
And handsome princes rescue them
To take them to beautiful lands

I first time saw real castle in tourist places
And in visits to Disney land
Never ever built a real castle
Or stayed in one

I first time built sand castles on beaches
But the waves washed them away
I tried building castles in the air
But they got blown away

I first time wish not a castle for myself
Because I am an ordinary mortal
But I genuinely wish a roof
For every homeless child in today’s world

Friday, May 13, 2011

A flight of fantasy

A post written for Short Story Slam

She smiled. Her hand and the hot air balloon on the paper both were full of colours. Her roomies in the boarding hostel were absent-mindedly reading from their books. She pondered for a moment. She wanted to fly in the hot air balloon she drew.
She added her own picture in it and titled ‘The flight’. She wished to fly away somewhere and create a new land. The new land would be a place where she and her friends would rule.

All teenagers like her would be decision makers. All matrons would be woken up early and made to jog at least 10 rounds in the shivering cold. They would be forced to drink milk and eat veggies at every meal. No teacher would be allowed visit to tuck shop to buy colas, chips and ice creams. All teachers would be denied access to iPods, laptops and mobiles. The teens would check each teacher’s cupboard to ensure that it is clean. Timely inspections would be done so that teachers don’t paint their nails or style their hair. The teachers would have unlimited study hours.

She and her friends would have a different set of rules for themselves. Well, they were the rulers of the new land. They would sleep as long as they wished in their cozy beds. Their colourful world would have no books. They would only have the latest gizmos with them. They would listen to songs, download movies and eat chips, drink fizzy drinks and chat online for hours. There would be no vegetables cooked for them. Cheese pizzas, burgers, chocolates and French fries would be the food served. Their beds and rooms would be tidied by their teachers, who would be assessed. All these young girls would style their hair as they wished, do nail art and wear low cut jeans. All teens would visit shopping malls whenever they wished and have fun.
Her smile grew deeper as she imagined. She stuck that hot air balloon on her wall and shared her fantasies with her roomies. One of her roomies drew faces of few adults staring at the hot air balloon. She said the faces were of the teachers requesting these girls to give them a ride on their hot air balloon. These girls imagined flying in the balloon, leaving the pleading teachers behind and had the last laugh.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


How does it matter what colour I am
Hope you unlock your inner logjam
Please don’t turn me down
My heart will have a breakdown
My chocolate brown skin
Your lily white chin
Red is the colour oozed
When either gets bruised
My brown or your white
Nothing is finite
Both suffer similar wrinkling
With each passing spring
Even the multi-hued rainbow
Would take a bow
Because my love knows only one colour
And that is to care for you forever.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


The drizzle tempted me
I stepped out in the balcony
To be greeted by the cool night air
The tingling drops tickled my senses
What a delight to be under nature’s spell
Glued to my rocking chair
I watched the remaining night show

The dark clouds resting
The overworked moon and stars
The splashing rain creating
A symphony in the still night
The downpour descending the sloping roofs
Whispering drops sliding from tiny leaves
Ovals glistening in the lamp’s reflection
Each scene a marvel in itself

The soaked earth and showered leaves
Beckoning me to get drenched
The chill on my arms snuggling me closer
To my loved one for comfort and body heat
Hours passed but my eyelids refused to droop
Lest I miss the charm of the bursting clouds
A memorable night of my life.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


My eyes halt
At an alphanumeric piece
Lying on the road
Amidst splintered glass
A disfigured car number plate
Black painted on white
My mind still wondering
About the unlucky travellers
My sneakers then feel a poke
A stained pink hair clip
Mistaking me for the owner
Maybe a beautiful little girl
Wore to match her outfit
Little did she knew
That the day was a mismatch
Few strands caught in the clip
Her curly hairs deserved more
A blur in my eyes
Back of the palm still moist
Another mate in grief stares
A swaying water bottle
The lipstick mark still intact
The lingering kiss leaving
The loved ones in anguish
The cupboard in the room
Waits for the clip
Lifeless legs drag me home
I still have many mornings to walk
But a last journey
For someone unprepared.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Oh! The power and pleasure of words
Many kingdoms fallen
Many hearts won

Consonants and vowels
Forming new alliances
Expressing different thoughts

Some words do not leave me
Some do not befriend me
All cajoling tricks in vain

Some words just edge themselves
On the tip of my tongue
Toying when to spill on my sheet

I get lost in this voyage
They play hide and seek
And time just flies by

The hunt for the apt word every time
Naked feelings frantic to be cloaked
Where will I get the right yarn to wrap all my thoughts?

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Did you not travel with the cool evening breeze to caress my cheek?
Did you not wink at me along with the humming stars and moon?
Did you not leave your footprints in the swaying green meadows for me to walk?
Did you not entwine hands with mine on sun-kissed beaches?
I try to feel you everywhere.

I lost count of the winters that passed by
The tiny sapling we planted now touches the sky
I search for you everywhere, but you decide to be your elusive self
I am no less obstinate, I wait for you at the bend where we last bid goodbye
The bend is still there and our song still plays.

Monday, April 18, 2011


The fun to own each nanosecond
The freedom to ignore ringing phones
The bliss of not answering mails
The thrill to become obscured
The elation to detach from all
The longing to be insignificant
Is this the start of a new journey?

Innumerable friends, few memorable faces
Wonderful memories, endearing associations
Few agonizing moments and moist farewells
The highs and lows of each relation
But, I seem to have had my fill
My bruised heart and weary soul
Gasping for space amidst the choking muddle
Is it some deep pain yearning to heal?

Waking up with an unhurried pace
I now let the day sink into me slowly
Watching the sparrow pecking my front glass door
Catching the rays forcing through the curtain slit
My eyes seem in no rush to wander around
Noticing the intricate patterns on the amulet on the wall
Emoting the painted characters on the tiny Japanese fan
Does the day melt into night so impeccably?

I desire to live in the moment
And create my own world where everyone's trivial
The bliss of being in this self created nothingness
I choose whom to converse with and when
I expend energies on one task a time
My sine curve moods figuring how to even out
Isn’t my mind seeking some solace?

I no more despair handling this vacuum
Silence has many voices
Our moody vibes evolving a pattern
Vacuity overwhelming my senses
I spot a shape and turn around
It’s my own silhouette against the fading sunlight.

For the past couple of months, I perceive a need in me to distance myself from familiar ties. The urge is getting stronger day by day. I feel an inherent pull to withdraw from most relations. My time and energy suddenly seem so much precious to me and I do not feel obligated to share them.This wasn’t the case even a few months back. Having been a people’s person, I have always looked for ways to just step out of the house and explore avenues to meet people. Staying indoors was never my cup of tea. I used to pride in initiating conversations and maintaining friendships. Age, sex, status, looks were never an impediment. The enthusiasm to be amidst innumerable voices would goad me to stretch myself.

I find it very easy to smile. This natural instinct helped me break barriers and form friendships. This has been my way of life for many years. I found it hard to believe, that people found conversing and socialising a difficult art. Mobiles, mails and social net working sites seemed a blessing in disguise to me. All these connecting tools saved me from being marooned. An exhilaration set in me for linking me back to my contacts.To go that extra mile for someone would raise my spirits high. My ego would get the much desired boost. Some relationships did bruise me though. However, I swallowed my pride, since all that mattered was the joy in having them. Added to it, the toughest bit has been to say ‘No’ to friends. The thought of disagreeing with someone would emotionally wrench me and so I would go with the flow.

Thus this inner change comes as a surprise to me. These days I do not wish to step out of my cocoon. The very thought of meeting someone and indulging in small talk, all seem a waste. In fact, there’s a strong itch to keep away from certain people, whom I have been tolerating for long, for the simple reason of courtesy. I do not have any enthusiasm left when it comes to friendships. Investing in any sort of relationship seems an emotional drain. I have no idea what has brought these changes in me. But I feel so much at harmony with myself. I do not wish to offer justifications to anyone. I would like to keep myself away from anyone to whom I am accountable. Earlier, I used to dread handling loneliness. But now I started appreciating the value of tranquillity. All the inner turbulence is springing to the surface and is getting released out. Mind is more clutter-free and has fewer thoughts to brood about. Solitude is so blissful. I am discovering a part of me that had got lost in the chaos of life.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Roads fenced with stretches of foliage
Nature wrapped in a sheet of green
Rafflesias, orchids and towering palm trees
Whispering brooks in tropical rain forests
The sheer beauty of tropical rains
Sprinkling drops on rambutans and durians
A healing caress to every mind and soul
The black hornbill flapping its wings
The lazy iguana crossing the road
Fisherman setting out for the shrimping catch
With families stretched on picnic mats
The enthusiastic golfers with caddies in tow
Flinging lumps of green with every blow
The river awaits its turn each morning
For offshore guys in colourful overalls
The office goers drive with their fog lights
On roads obscured by forest fire haze
The South China Sea spilling on road
Warning the dwellers to stay indoors

A desire to soak in this landscape forever
But each day a harsh reminder
Of cherished images fading into a distant horizon.

My husband informed that he got a better opportunity in Middle East and we would be moving in few months. The new place does not have a single natural water body and is a complete desert. The thought of leaving always saddens me, but I had never imagined in the wildest of dreams that there would come a time in my life when simple pleasures of life such as the touch of green grass, sight of cascading rainfall or smell of beautiful flowers would seem a luxury.

I have tried to express these feelings in the poem.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Euphoria of entering a new phase of my life
Finding the pleasures of being alone
Lazing on the bed the whole day
Basking in the sunlight shadowing the walls
An innate happiness of soaking in the silence
And breaching the rhythm at my will.

Enthusiastic to explore the unknown roads
Excited to watch the late night shows
Thrilled to ride at breakneck speed
And getting drenched in sudden downpours.

Delighted in the power to commit mistakes
And feeling exhilarated for not being observed
Discovering a joy in conversing with myself
And enjoying the resonance of my voice
Reinventing myself each day
And falling in love with my own self.

I felt elated when I moved to Hyderabad to do M.Phil. I rented an apartment close to the institute. This poem is a firsthand account of my feelings as a girl, when I first tasted freedom. Prior to that, I had never lived alone.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I spot her from a distance

Shriveled skin, crouched gait
Silver mop, bow legs
Short stature, tiny frame
Who is this stranger on the road ?

Old clothes, her only pair
Scorching sun, her constant friend
A rattan basket, her permanent sack
Why do we cross paths ?

Blistered feet, cracked soles
Stretched ear-lobes, wrinkled nose
Stooped neck, skeletal arms
What a fragile sight ?

I come closer
She gives a toothless smile
A smile so warm and  genuine
She is so beautiful !

People in this part of the globe, usually commute by cars and walkers generally restrict themselves to beaches and parks. But being a lazy soul, I prefer walking in my neighbourhood on the main road. My only companions are the speeding cars.

So I found it quite unusual, when I once saw an old lady walking on the road I use. She appeared very poor. Her slippers were worn out and resembled a crescent moon at the back. Her basket was heavy, but she stubbornly refused any help from couple of  four wheel drivers who stopped by to offer a lift. When our eyes met, her sagging mouth opened up for a wide grin. I felt so happy. She initiated the smile. My instant reaction was to embrace her, but my inhibition stopped me. Many people have smiled at me before, but she had such a loving smile for a stranger. She seemed to me the most beautiful person I have ever come across. Her smile lingered on my face for a long time even after I crossed her. It was a precious moment for me. I have seen her walking couple times after that and every time she smiles, I find it infectious.

I am trying to capture that moment through a poem.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rules are meant to be broken

A typical day at my parent's house would begin with every one rising early in the morning. This practice was followed even during holidays and weekends. I do not remember ever having woken up after six, till I got married. Seated around the dining table, sipping  cups of filter coffee, my parents would wait for us with mugs of  hot Bournvita. The underlying rule was everyone had to shower  before heading for the dining table. We all then would merrily chat and drink together. My mum would then proceed to do her pooja while my dad organised breakfast for all of us. He loves to cook. He would prepare chutney, curry or any other accompaniment depending on the breakfast and wait for mum. In the meanwhile  we would tidy up the house. After her pooja, we  all would have our breakfast together.

Dad used to leave house at eight and come back at twelve for lunch. We would while our time playing with our friends or helping mum in the kitchen or reading a book during school holidays. Since ours was a small town and communication wasn't so good in those days, newspaper used to arrive around lunch time.  Dad would have lunch, read the paper and leave for office, only to be seen again at six in the evening. All meals were eaten together. We would play board games in the afternoon. Mum would retire to her room for her  siesta. Sometimes even she would join us in playing  some games. One of us took turns in preparing the evening tea. She would then cook dinner and all of us would  eagerly wait for Dad to come in the evening.

Evenings were my favourite part of the day during holidays. We had a huge terrace and all of us would sit there watching the moon or gazing at the stars, listening to melodious Hindi songs on Vividh Bharathi and Binaca geethmala. We chit-chatted and had so much fun sharing events of the day. Every task involved collective effort.   If we too sisters were ever seen gossiping with my mum working alone, my dad would immediately remind us to help her. It seemed  like we were all linked by an perennial  thread of warmth amongst us. We two children basked in their warmth. However all the warmth came along with some discipline. Ground rules were made very clear. Being girls we were never supposed to be seen without bindi, bangles, anklets and a chain. The official permitted language at home was only Telugu. Sleeveless dresses, short skirts, unplaited hair, lipsticks, nail polishes and boys were an absolute no - no.

Having grown in such an atmosphere, I presumed most middle class families fell in the same pattern. However life had surprises in store.  I got married into a family full of boys.  My husband did not have even a single female cousin on either side. He had two younger brothers.  Being based in Vizag, many of his cousins would come visiting and it would only add to the male head count. I never had seen so many boys under one roof. I felt my privacy was being invaded.

Marriage literally turned my world upside down. Rising up early, bathing, looking prim and proper were alien terminologies for these  boys. Brushing was done minutes before breakfast and bathing couple of minutes before lunch. Newspaper occupied the central role and the sports supplement was the most sought after. After  waking up late, everyone would just settle on sofas grabbing  to devour each letter in the newspaper as if appearing for an exam. Magazines were a substitute if  newspaper came late. No one was questioned about anything. My mother-in-law was so happy pampering the boys and even me. She had many servants and kept herself occupied with them.  There was nothing to do and I found it difficult to digest this new found emptiness. The most complicated bit was no one talked much. They talked only when they needed something, like a second cup of coffee. The only other time their voices could be heard was when they discussed cricket, politics and bikes. I wondered how these guys could go on speaking on such mundane topics and get excited about it. They bonded so much over cricket. Even old five day matches were watched with undying interest.

It was a totally different world for me. I felt so lonely in the midst of  everyone. I missed my home, my folks, the caring and sharing. I was dying to talk. Even my husband was such a quiet person then. I sometimes felt like conducting a class on spoken skills to everyone. But I did not voice my opinion. It took me  quite some time to adjust to this new pattern in my life.

Slowly time brought a change in my perception.

Though I initially resented absence of any discipline, I started liking it over a period of time. I realised that heaven does not fall apart if I get up or shower late. I also discovered that it is not a crime to talk to boys.  Leaving my hair open and walking around without any jewellery is absolutely fine. It took me a long time to alter my opinions on all these matters.
Both families got connected with each other over marriage but are two complete opposites. Each of them adapted values what they thought was right for their kids.  Today, I still juggle between these two worlds. But, I have learnt and am still learning some valuable lessons of life. The most crucial lessons being,  never look at life with any pre-conceived notion and there is nothing right or wrong in this world. The essence of life lies in being  happy in whatever each of us do.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


The train leaves our small town station. Both of us seated adjacent to each window in the compartment eagerly glance at our parent’s watches, counting minutes for the next station, Rourkela to arrive. The journey from our town to Rourkela is only thirty minutes, but for us two, eight and nine year olds, the trains seems travelling at a snail’s pace. If we had the strength, we feel we could have pushed the train. We utter loudly each passing station’s name and as the train slows, we shriek with delight. Our eyes wander eagerly to locate the A.H.Wheeler book shop on the left side. “Daddy, Rourkela station has come” and we force him to get up from his seat even before the train comes to a halt. Both of us have been clutching our two precious, round, metallic coins of one rupee and twenty five paisa, the cost of one Amar Chitra Katha comic. The comic is our pastime till we reach our final destination, Vizag.

Our roving eyes eagerly scan all comics displayed and we quickly pick one comic each and hand over the tinkling coins to the shopkeeper. Each of us is allowed one comic for one journey. For both of us, train journey means Poppins, Amar Chitra Katha and roasted peanuts though not necessarily in that order. Each train journey adds to our individual treasure of comic collection. The deal is returning the copy in proper condition to the other party after reading. We both sisters jealously guard our little comic treasures.

Many a time, both of us have grabbed the same comic at the book shop and given dirty glances to each other. My sister would hate those moments when my dad would say ‘Let Chinni have it first, she is younger to you’. I would have a victorious smile on my lips for having the power to read the disputed comic first. We both would write our names the moment we got into the compartment. Sipping their matka chai, seeing us engrossed, my parents also would even wait for their turn to lay hands on these comics.

Each comic of Amar Chitra Katha with its colourful pictures and engrossing tales transported us into a world of its own. Amar Chitra Kathas were our first introduction to the world of Indian mythology, history and culture. I just loved reading stories of various characters of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Tenali Raman and Birbal were my all time favourite characters. Tales of Supandi, stories of Hitopadesha used to keep us kids in splits. They played an immense role in moulding our reading habits. I am positive that no Indian child born in late sixties and seventies can deny their influence as these were such easy reads.

I was fortunate to read them again after many years when I bought them for my daughter. Dasavathara and Ramayana were her preferred bed time reads. She used to rattle names of all the avatars next day morning. They still adorn her book shelf even today.

All of us have moved on in our journey of life, but these journeys would not have been so pleasurable without Uncle Pai. Watching a television quiz acted as trigger for Uncle Pai to launch the first Amar Chitra Katha comic. The kids in the quiz were able to answer questions on Greek mythology, but did not know Ram’s mother’s name.

The nation mourns the loss of Uncle Pai, who died last week in Mumbai. It is indeed a paradox, such immense contribution from a person who himself did not have any children.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I detested the first day I saw you. You had failed that year in class eight and joined us. We had been informed by our class teacher that there would be a new addition to the class and we were strictly advised not to ridicule you. What I remember most clearly was you entering with a beaming smile on the first day. You had a victorious look of having achieved something special. The teacher had seated you in the last bench since you were the tallest. You just slammed your school bag on the desk and dragged the bench with a loud screeching sound.

During one of the breaks you had enquired our names. The day ended and I still remember mentioning to my parents that evening about you. My sister, who was your previous classmate, clearly warned me to stay away from you. Her first comment was Oh! Naresh, eeks. Our fathers were friends. So my parents chose not to comment.

All the class felt intimated by your towering presence. The only exception was your sister, a dear friend of mine. She felt so let down since you were now in her class. I vaguely recollect, not even a month has passed by and you started having quite a fan following among the boys of our class. New tricks of catching frogs, eating from girls’ tiffin boxes, naming school teachers were slowly getting added to their repertoire. They were turning into pranksters.

No teacher could discipline you. I still vividly recall the day; our Mathematics teacher had decided to punish you. She was fed up and wanted to pull your ear but couldn’t reach since she was very short. You just picked her up and placed her on the table. Her being the school Principal made no difference to you. Everyone was astonished, but you found it very amusing and even offered your ear after lifting her. This was the most talked about incident of our school.

The following months had more bizarre surprises in store. One day you caught a snake in the school grounds and started twirling it in the air. Many children started shrieking seeing you holding the snake. You had the nerve to come to school driving a tractor. You were always attracting attention for all the unnecessary reasons. You had even bleached your hair once. Your parents were summoned to school twice. But you had decided not to mend your ways. The word fear had no place in your life. Even deep gashes, fractures did not deter you. But the worst was yet to come for me.

One day as I just walked in the class, you started singing an old Hindi movie song "Madhuban mein radhika nache re ". I gave you an angry look and kept quiet. I was a thin petite girl and I did not have any courage to retort back. I had never realized that would be the last day of my happiness in school. After that, every single day as I walked in, you would sing that same song loud. I had no clue why you had singled me out for teasing. Your sister told you to stop bugging me, but you were defiant. I even screamed at you one day, but that only prompted you to croon even loudly. I grumbled at home that evening. My parents advised me to ignore you. I hated your guts. I wished that you would fail again and that you would be expelled. I desperately wanted to get rid of you. But you scraped through the exams. Next year had more sufferings in store for me.

Our class image was getting tarnished. The ninth class teacher had decided to separate the boys group. Till then the norm followed was boys would sit on one side of the class and the girls on the other side. But now, each girl had to share her bench with one boy. We girls were being punished for no fault of ours.

I was the unluckiest of the whole lot. I had to share my bench with you for the whole of ninth class. I was upset. I decided to keep my school bag in between both of us. You were persistently irritating me with that song. I loathed even looking at you. You took my pencils, pens, compass box without even bothering to ask my permission. Every day at home, I wiped anything that you had used during that day. I did not want any trace of you on my belongings. But you were the typical rugged Punjabi boy who was getting braver. You tried every means to make my life miserable and accomplished it by end of that year.

I was an ardent Ravi Shastri fan. I used to collect his posters. We girls used to carry a picture of our favourite cricket heroes in our school bag and rave about them during lunch hour. One day, during the class time, accidentally Ravi Shastri's poster fell out of my bag. Before I could bend to pick it up, you snatched it. I was too shocked to react. I pleaded but you refused to listen. The moment the bell rang, you showed to all the boys. That was my little secret and you had revealed to everyone. I was deeply hurt and tried to grab from you. The poster tore into pieces. I couldn't control my tears. I just walked out with my school bag. I feigned headache and came back home. That was the last day before the winter break. I started disliking school.

School re-opened in Janauary and I requested the class teacher to change my seat. She agreed and I felt relieved. I never wanted to cross path with you again. But I slowly observed a change in you. You had not mended your ways in general, but you had stopped troubling me. I continued ignoring you. Another year flew by. You did make couple of attempts to talk, but my answers were mostly in monosyllables.

The D-day arrived. We all had dressed in our best for the farewell party on the last day of the school. All of a sudden, I saw you approaching me. I started getting nervous. You walked up to me and said SORRY. I was speechless. You then gifted me a picture of Ravi Shastri. I stood like a statue transfixed to the ground.

We moved on with our lives. I used to get updates about you from your sister. Many years later your parents came over to invite us for your wedding. You sent a seperate invitation for me. I decided to attend the wedding. The moment I stepped in the wedding hall, you played this song "Madhuban mein radhika nache re". I could not stop laughing. You introduced me to your wife as the most tolerant friend you had ever known. I was touched.

All these incidents of our school days seem so fresh. It was a mail from your sister Meena, few days ago which brought back all these memories. The mail brought along tears in my eyes. She had written that a brain hemorrhage had snatched away your life a month ago. Naresh, 'Even those days when I hated you, I had never wished for you to die'.