Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Evil Chromosomes

Pained and shamed, parents looked at her
an enormous burden, not their lovely daughter

Her brothers were fed milk and cream
she tasted them daily,but in her dreams

Boys were sent to school with uniforms and books
she stayed back, scrubbing and cleaning dirty nooks

Still a child,they hastily arranged her marriage
too anxious to relieve themselves of the baggage

She weaved her new life with patience
head hung low always in obedience

Soon she learnt she was pregnant
‘Baby’ the word felt warm and fragrant

Dreams of the baby filled her nights
already hugging it in her arms tight

Showered with unprecedented care and love
she couldn’t thank enough the heavens above

They took her to the clinic that ominous day
“It’s  a girl”, she heard the doctor shamefully say

An acrid potion was forced brutally down her throat
Female feticide is still rampant in lands remote

Published in BrownGirl

Saturday, December 10, 2016

What can I say

The man to be the common people’s President
Of gold palaces and shiny villas, he’s a resident
Mockery is whose first impulse
Claims to feel a sufferer’s pulse
Aren't his duplicity and chicanery more than evident?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Tall tale tummyache

Just moved to this lovely sprawling house
Eager to explore each nook like a mouse
Before I could breathe, came cruel morning
With “Get ready for school, darling”
Conjured up an intense tummy ache
Hoping for the clock to move past eight
“Don’t know what I ate last night
My stomach is wound up so tight
Forgot to wash my hands before dinner
Don’t know if something captured my liver
Last week my friend caught a sticky bug
That lived and fed for days in her gut.
Can hardly breathe, can hardly talk
Don’t think I will ever be able to walk”
“Let me find you Pudin Hara” said mother,
“Go back to bed until you feel better”
Minutes later, off the bed I bounced
“Was just some gas that passed”, I announced.
Happily skipped from room to room
Pretending to help clean with the big broom
I was flying, feet floating above the ground
My ebullience just knew no bounds
Until Ma called for lunch
Just a slice of bread to munch!
“Eat light today, just like a sparrow
And get back to school tomorrow.”

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Thursday, November 10, 2016

First Word

Let ‘Love’ be the first word kids write
On dark slate, with chalk bright white
They're always taught ‘Apple’
Of which the world has ample
Ain’t enough love, not in my near sight

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Dupatta Warriors

Bereavement is the heaviest burden humans are forced to bear and there is no escape from it. Each one of us has to haul it, sometime or the other. And there is nothing in the world that prepares you for it; there is no rehearsal or a curtain-raiser to that event. No cut or gash even comes close to that searing pain.

My father passed away and I, my sisters and brothers could not console my mother. How do you face a woman who has lost her mate of 50+ years? What do you tell her that she does not already know? We were helpless: shoulders crumbled under the weight of grief, eyes unwilling to let up. Wouldn’t God provide some cushion to muffle the crash? Some unguent for the suppurating wound?

And then they started swarming in, easily settling in spots like they were pre-assigned. A hive of bees-each one knowing her mission. They held our mother within the folds of their dupattas, offering words or silence as needed.They know where the pain originates from and the salve needed to alleviate it.Thankfully, she eased into the lap they created for her, ensconced in palpable camaraderie. Slowly, bit by bit, they contained all of her.

They addressed my mother as baaji (elder sister), bhabhi (sister-in-law) or called her by name. I recognized some women from the hazy corridors of childhood, some I had never met before but all were angels from God. Together, they filled the unrelenting night with purpose and activity. They brought in thermos flasks of hot tea and biscuits, chapattis, curry with paper plates and cups. They forced tiny morsels greased with love into my mother’s mouth. They lay down with her, adjusting her pillows, covering her feet with blankets. They poured tea for all of us and made sure we ate something. They held us to their bosoms, wiped our tears with their dupattas or let us soak their shoulders. They held us and prayed with us all night without a wink of sleep. They were the Godsend sponges who helped absorb our pain.

I can’t help marveling at the nth dimension of every life event: women.The are the upholders of traditions and rituals that make us human.They adorn themselves in shimmering outfits an jewelry, sing and dance in exuberance to accentuate weddings and births. Then they swathe themselves in somber dupattas, assume a divine aura and work as God’s sentinels to hold and lift those paralyzed with grief.

What we would have done without them? We couldn’t have survived that night without the scaffolding they built for us. Such masonry is only the forte of women. The design and the bricks are laid out by love and compassion that reside in their hearts. The obduracy of grief is such that it ebbs and rises again. It does not lie vanquished, but raises its head again and again. A special army is needed to combat it-one that’s not clad in clunky armor, but draped in soft dupattas. They are the soldiers and the masons; they are the rock and the sponge.

Eventually,we had to return to our lives but we left our mother in the hands of the capable troop. I salute and hail the warriors..

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Her shoes are drenched;grief soaks her soul
Running helps keep those nerves in control
Her love left her without a reason
He’s getting married this wet season
She runs till she can’t hear his wedding bells toll

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Life was dark

She looked at herself, desolately, in the mirror
Sunken eyes, skin paled by the advancing cancer
Thought of him in someone else’s bed
She couldn’t shake off her weary head
That night, she plunged into his chest- the dagger!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Flowers at the door

The doorbell rang. She crawled out of the warm quilt, wound up her hair in a quick ponytail and felt the chill of the naked floor as her feet scrambled for slippers. Yawning and rubbing her eyes, she ambled towards the door and unbolted it. Outside, in a glass vase, secured by a silk ribbon, sat a bunch of red roses. She glanced at the date on the newspaper that lay beside: the 14th of February. But—had he preordered them? A mélange of emotions usurped her: confusion, suspicion, disbelief and then the one that dwarfed them all—grief.

Red was the scourge of her life; the crimson of the roses was exactly the same as the color of blood that gurgled out of his mouth and spattered on the bedroom floor on that cold, foggy night in January. Horrified but composed, she rushed him to the car and drove frantically to the hospital, with her hand on the horn continuously, and her feet pushing the accelerator to its limits.

Doctors with their masks, nurses in impeccable white, the air laden with smell of antiseptic, the gleaming floors all sped past her. Her eyes were fixed on his ashen face and his eyes that were spilling out life instead of conserving it. In the ICU, they strapped him to hundreds of monitors and IVs. The Adonis of her life lay entangled in tentacles of monstrous machines feeding on various parts of his body.

She watched stone-faced the rise and fall of monitors, her heart pleading to God and her mouth pleading to the erudite doctors. Someone, somewhere, just one miracle, just one blessing is all she asked for. Alas—God, man or machine did not hark and the monitors beeped flat. Oh, the cacophony and the hustle—more doctors, more nurses with another smorgasbord of equipment arrived. They pounded relentlessly on his heart, applied shocks and pressures but the monitors were still an obstinate, straight line. He coldly refused to wake from his slumber. Her mind told her heart that he had left her without a squeeze or a hug or the playful wink of his eye.

One glance at the red flowers peeled off the still-soft scabs from her wounds and they started oozing warm blood again. Undammed tears gushed out of her eyes and she shut the door tight on those flowers, buckling down on the floor, against the door.

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Thursday, September 08, 2016


Those fairytales were endearingly heartwarming-
Life’s a dream after you marry Prince Charming
Reality- we work from dawn to dusk
There’s no time to inhale love’s musk
Honeymoon is over friends,without giving a warning

Thursday, September 01, 2016


I trust you,driver across the yellow line
To help me reach home,safe and fine
If you’re consumed in the phone
We’ll both be engraved in stone
Drive responsibly, for your life and mine

Part of Mind and Life Matters Limerick Challenge 35

Friday, August 26, 2016

Every Girl's Story

I wanted to asphyxiate it, so I concealed it in a distant nook in my cerebrum where oxygen could never reach. But it did not die, not that day, not in tens of years. It still unabashedly appears in front of my eyes, startlingly explicit and vivid in its detail. I am letting it out today in the hope that it becomes less abrasive once it inhales the air outside the confines of me.

This is the story of a young girl just on the periphery of puberty who was undergoing physical changes in her body as dictated by nature, but was mentally still a child, hazardously turning around the bends of life with no deceleration.That summer this 11-year girl was on a long train journey with parents to visit her aunt. School exams were done and she was carefree, happy, excited and animated. Sweat that ran down her hair and back could not dampen her giggles and motile excitement at watching the green lush fields and the thatched huts nestled in their midst.

It was a passenger train that stopped at every nondescript station to pick up passengers. Our girl ran down the train at every platform and then hopped back in when the train threatened to leave. That particular station, a sea of people was boarding the train and the girl was sandwiched between bodies compressing each other while inching forward. And from somewhere a hand, big and rough, reached for her almost indiscernible breast. Searing tears flooded her eyes as she managed to push forward and reach her berth.

There she sat, silent, wounded and shamed at her own body. She abhorred her skin, her sky blue dress with its little polka dots and the white frills that ran though the center. She blamed herself for wearing the pretty dress, which she ached to tear away and burn at that moment. All her ebullience evaporated as she realized that the journey of life as a woman was not going to be easy. Sparks of revelations started illuminating her young mind, the light of which would guide her life forever. Fawns trotting the woods came to her mind and she wished them to be vigilant of predators and hunters.

Her teething started that summer afternoon in that sluggish train. Little did she know that salvo of incidents later in life would sharpen those fangs and solder the armor she could have to build around her body. A barrier, she would learn to build using her book bag or purse or elbows. She would learn the power of herds, the safety in numbers. She would learn the finer tricks of survival and defense in the world of disrobing stares, ribald tongues and assaulting hands.

But that savage day, through that mortifying ride, she sat deflated and tethered to her berth, no more frolicking around—feigning exhaustion from the summer heat. And her elbows were tirelessly crossed over her chest to hide her womanhood even from herself.

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’
Prompt:‘A Story Yet Unwritten'

Thursday, August 25, 2016


How automatic things will be in future
The thoughts lead me to a dazed stupor
Cabs driving on their own
Pizza delivered by a drone
Humans scarce, we’ll talk to self or computer

Part of Limerick Challenge by MindandLifeMatters

Friday, August 19, 2016

Kitchen Calendar

Lost in the picture on my kitchen calendar
My buoyant mind floats in the pond yonder
What if you and I were those geese?
My unmoored thoughts begin to wander.

Basking in the sprawling lap of nature
Soaking in curative warm sun’s rays
Waiting and looking out for each other
Turning our necks with easy natural grace

I'd follow keenly your step and wade
Wanting nothing but your presence
Enamored with the haven of your gaze
Pure love would be my life’s sole essence

On water, land or the limitless air
We could float away on our whim
And when furry goslings came along
We could teach them how to swim

Adrift in the sounds of my mystical island when
Whistle of pressure cooker mutes the quack
Naked cold of granite bites me hard
And once again reality snatches me back

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

You,my friend

You, my friend make me a child again
Unlocking the silliness I hide in my brain
No dirty jokes, I tell my kids
With eyes firm under the lids
But laughing at your poop jokes, I can’t restrain

Posted for Mind and Life Matters Limerick Challenge

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge #107

she tastes pie and cake
in the darkness of closed eyes
thick street dust bites lips

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Too late for sorry

I want to apologize for my burden of wrong
To your ears where my penitence does belong
I lingered in vain, the gray swiftly took hold
Now my contrition will stifle mute and untold

It is too late now and you don’t even know me
Again, you urge me to call your kids and family
Little amused, little astounded you skeptically stare
As I try to get your attention without stirring scare

Like a stranger, you introduce yourself and ask my name
Oh, the one you gave me, I still carry the same!
I keep on trying to say- I am sorry, father
But you insist ceaselessly that I stay for dinner

Earlier, I failed to muster the courage and word
And feared that it might feel a little too absurd
Should’ve tried harder and sooner to turn myself over
Instead of forever yearning and smoldering for closure

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Sunday, July 24, 2016

I always wanted to....

In my humble opinion, the career garb that a person adorns for life is governed by three elements—the time or era one grows up in, the encompassing culture and personal strengths. I grew up in a time when science and math were the spotlight subjects on the stage—the heroes, while language and other arts languished in anonymity as supporting cast. A student who could not excel in math and science was regarded as a heinous derelict. An average student stood at tines of a fork, that lead to either Engineering or Medical Science and I was no exception to the rule. I knew I had to pick one though neither resonated in my heartbeat.

Next element that paints your destiny is the culture you inhale. I grew up in a small town, known for its renowned engineering college and little else. Private coaching centers for admission tests flocked the town like rain mushrooms, all promising to churn up engineers under their tutelage. Engineering was blended in the air like hydrogen in water, utterly inseparable. It entered our nostrils, lodged into our lungs and then pulsated through our veins. I succumbed to that ingredient of my breath and so did most of my friends.

It’s time to ponder about the third element-personal strength and choice.Being academically strong can never hurt anyone. Acing all subjects at school is an accolade, not an impediment by any imagination. Teachers are proud of versatile students and parents earn bragging rights for their lives. In my case, versatility and excelling in a multitude of areas actually muddled my path. I was the only student in my school that passed with distinction in all five subjects-English, Hindi, math, science and social studies. Too many spices brewing inside of me masked my true essence. I was a conundrum to myself, a rudderless ship that just drifted with the wind. In my heart of hearts, I was smitten by English language, enthralled by the rivulets of words, literature and poetry. I was drawn to the written word like a bee to nectar, a moth to light. My parents could not afford books outside of the curriculum, so I took little sips from the small pool of the school library to quench my thirst. I pored over newspapers and devoured every word, without choking or spitting. I read my elder sister’s English textbooks for stories—and sheer ecstasy that brought me. But my love was ambiguous and uncharted, with no lucid path or destination. My parents had humble means but an unwavering faith in education to challenge and mold life to betterment. I and my siblings did not have shiny new shoes every year but we always had the books/notebooks we needed. I knew I had to chart out a career, muster a job which compensated well—and literature, as enticing and soothing as it was, was not a step towards that goal. If I did not fare well in other subjects, I would have married literature,my only suitor,but I had other graces, so I never whispered my love to a soul and doused the flame myself.

An Electronics Engineer, I was destined to be. Years down, I am an IT professional with a respectable job that pays my bills and keeps me afloat. I am grateful to Almighty for the blessings I have and I cannot ask for more. I am still a voracious reader who can chew words in any shape or form—printed ads, descriptions of entrees in restaurant menus, ingredients of packaged foods, Tolstoy’s novels, Keats poetry and Dickinson's essays. But I confess,at times, even after multiple readings of some passages and poetry at controlled, variegated paces, I fail to grasp the finer meaning the author or poet is alluding to. I ache to understand the nuances of Frost’s, Keats’ and Eliot’s poetry. I want to imbibe the hidden meaning of Shakespeare’s lines.

I always wanted to study literature and poetry and I still do. Once the business of life ebbs a little and I have hours to fill, I wish I can take a degree/diploma course. Who knows, I might be grayest student in the class, maybe grayer than the teacher, but I have no inhibitions about that. At least,I have none today, as I bring my closeted ex to light.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Friday, July 15, 2016

My Wonder Woman

Hard work, year after year without any respite
Incessant demands of children and husband—
A woman like me might have taken a quick exit
Not her—simply because she isn’t human

Small and slight, stands just five feet tall
But the immense power and strength she packs inside
Could crumble an imposing mammoth wall
Or make an ancient baobab move

Fasting in Ramadan from sunrise to sundown
Rolled a mound of dough into chapattis for us
Helping us with homework without a frown
While fervently shelling peas and chopping onions

Sweaty and exhausted, she waited till all of us ate
Making sure everybody had a bellyful
Then watered down the curry while ladling her plate
Offering her share of mango to the youngest fave

Brimming with such talent, she had to be a conjuror
Wielded prettiest dresses from modest pieces of cloth
Saved her own occasional new clothes for use later
An iota of luxury for self was unacceptable to her

We knew and immediately reached for a thermometer
Her in bed, wasn’t a sight we saw everyday
Taking a nap or resting the back wasn’t her
“I’m fine” she would sweetly lie to convince us

Years down, now, dad lies sick and confined to bed
She is now his mother, wife, sister and lifeline
Tirelessly nursing him with faith and patience undeterred
“Its God’s will”, an aphorism, you can always hear her say

Wonder Woman, they ask? I know for sure, she is one
There might be others I don’t argue or dispute
 But such purity and selflessness is alien to human
God, please always be with the miracle you sent us

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’