Melancholy

What a beautiful word to describe drowning.

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I saw the lights blinking goodbye

As my plane started off from Mumbai

They looked like lit up rivers bordering

Deep, murky, blue tracts of land.

Then the plane carried me higher up

Now the lights were golden and silver stars

And I was watching galaxies twinkle on earth –

Or maybe they were startled fireworks

Frozen for eternity in an upside down sky.

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Then the lights disappeared, the dark sea was below.

I could feel its depths, I could hear it moaning.

I trembled with the knowledge that in a moment of agony

Its arms could submerge the lights.

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I felt the ocean within me

Its rage settled beneath my frail ribs

I was drowning in melancholy

The lights shone still.

 

A Place Called Home

There is a place called home

In a country marooned by still backwaters

And a gentle wind waltzing with trees

Under the eyes of burning sunsets.

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The flavours of this land strike you

With its colour and music,

Wherever you look, the bustle is endless.

Move with the crowd, and turn right

To reach home in a country which rose out of water.

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In this grey and smoky world

I sometimes forget the way home.

The colours and music seem lost

As I drown in rivers, failing

To find my way back.

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I do not know when I will find my way again

To the place called home

In a country half drowned in lakes –

Only the dream of what awaits me there

Reminds me to turn right, always.

Crazy Women

Why do we so easily call a woman crazy?

Maybe I am writing this in the aftermath of watching The Hours, and recollecting Mrs. Dalloway and the brilliant, depressed and suicidal Virginia Woolf, which led me to remember Sylvia Plath as well. Maybe I am crazy too, for letting dead strangers and books affect me so much, yet again. But that my mental condition need not diminish the question: why do we so easily call a woman crazy?

Is it because all we see are images of happy women everywhere? Women with straight set teeth and shining hair laugh as they ride a bike, eat a mango, apply face wash, buy a bathroom cleaner, use a new brand of pads – why are the women on billboards and TVs so happy? What is so exciting about a masala powder, so painless about menstruation, so exhilarating about an air freshener that the woman smiles without pausing?

Is it because women are supposed to forget themselves, all the time? Women are the ones who balance career and kids, a woman nurses her husband when she is sick, patiently finds a solution while those around her lose their heads. A woman is always a hero, but one that disappears. She is essential in the background, in the margins, as a shadow in the lives of others. She is supposed to see this position as a privilege; her life of service is happiness because she makes others happy.

So, when is a woman called crazy? When she isn’t happy. When she realizes being selfless isn’t being complete, isn’t love.

And why is this woman called crazy? Why should her unhappiness, her anger be quelled immediately? Because this woman is dangerous. So, her actions are termed irrational, her feelings hysterical, her words emotional. What is wrong with irrationality? What is wrong with hysteria? Why deny emotions? What is life without all this?

What is life if I am not the crazy woman, at least once in a while?

Let me crazy, for a while. It might be reckless, but I am happy. I can almost taste life.

I can never access the genius of Woolf or Plath. But let me have a taste of their madness, oh let me revel in insanity for a while.

Without Your Arms

Your voice sounded like home

All at once, I remembered hugs

In which I was completely folded

In you, your arms holding me so tightly

I almost believed that cliched love stories

Existed, and that I was the lucky one.

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If you are here, I would easily fall

Once again, into the comfort of your arms

And believe I can live free of my thoughts

As long as I can turn and see you looking at me.

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But you are not here now –

And there are no arms to keep me from my thoughts

I think of how long it has been since I saw your eyes

Shining, when you saw me smiling at you

When we last had a conversation where the I love you

Stressed more on the love than the pronouns.

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You are not here now, and I feel

Maybe  can teach myself to love myself

When I don’t have your arms around me.

It rained today, the water dropped gently

On my skin, I felt my heart leap.

The waters caressed my skin –

I felt I could learn to love my body

Without needing your warm arms

Today, I felt I might love myself again

The way the rain does –

Slowly, silently and utterly.

 

Loving the Night

You never understood why I love the night like I do

Maybe you never thought about things I love –

Only what I could and couldn’t do.

And the nights were definitely dangerous,

You had decided.

Soon, I started avoiding shadows for you.

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Now I discover myself again in inky skies

The stars kiss parts of me you never saw

And I smile, because I can never explain

The allure of obscurity to one who glows

Under the gaze of the sun.

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I, who wait hungrily for sunsets,

How could I have dared to love

The prodigy of the sun?

I, who am wrapped in darkness,

How could I have thirsted

For your burning touch?

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Tonight, a cool wind

Strokes my bare arms

My burns are fading now,

But I wonder, if you still shiver

In places I touched with my cold hands,

If you still secretly yearn for shadows

And long to return to the cave of my embrace.

Don’t Call Me at 4 AM

Don’t call me at 4 AM

The thirty seconds of that call

Will fill up the hours of today,

And I will think of you more often

At a time I’m trying to forget.

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You’re friends with strangers now –

They don’t call me when you want help.

Or maybe these friends aren’t to blame –

Maybe I am not the one you think of

When you are drunk, or want when sick.

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I had turned invisible, I know that now.

You found pleasure in white and blue lights

On your lap that reflected in your eyes

While I sat next to you, hoping

My smile could light up your eyes again.

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Don’t call me at 4 AM.

I used to draw a list of things

To tell you about – little events

That would be consequential

When I shared them with you.

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The lists lie unopened –

It doesn’t matter.

I cannot read their contents anymore.

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Your number stopped lighting up

My phone’s screen or my face

A long time ago.

It was more of an emergency number:

Call when sick, suicidal or dying;

Expect a response only when my tears

Can hold you hostage before they dry up.

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Don’t call me at 4 AM

When you couldn’t call me every day

Or at 9 PM twice a week.

The phone didn’t ring, your voice

Never told me to stop waiting.

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I don’t wait any longer.

Thirty seconds should not fill

The hours of today with regret

When an entire year lies naked –

Covered only with memories

I had to stretch to every corner.

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Don’t call me at 4 AM

My sleepy voice isn’t for your ears

You cannot fill up today’s hours

Before you cover up for an entire year

That lies too cold, clinging to a past

Which no longer means anything.

How to be Shady

Walk around in sweatshirts that fit your boyfriend

Arriving for a lecture, your classmates must question

If you’d been down with dengue, or better yet,

Who the hell is that person?

Sing passionately while you walk down the streets

Stare back at those who look at you

Don’t post on social media, but stalk

All those who splash their lives onscreen.

Haunt places no one goes to, gaze lovingly

At the dull glow of your laptop.

Earphones must be plugged on at all times.

Avoid eye contact. Widen your eyes.

Get semi naked at home and groove

To songs by artists who’ve committed suicide.

Write a bit of sorry poetry –

Sleep with a sinister smile plastered on.