A Short Phone Call

She dials the phone tentatively

He picks up. “Hello” in unreadable tones

Her reply is a calculated, controlled “hello” back

(“I love you. Can’t you see why I’m mad? You’re not supposed to be mad at me; you’re supposed to understand. Please”.)

“Why did you call?” he responds,

She wonders when he started asking that.

(“Aren’t you happy to hear my voice? I was dying to hear yours, though when I imagined it, you were softer. more loving. I think I’ve forgotten how to make you happy”)

“Simply”, she replies. She can hear him

Drawing his breath in annoyance

She asks a question before he is angry, yet again,

“Did you eat?” So silly, but she had to know.

“You don’t have to talk for the sake of it” he is

Angry now, his voice is loud and distant

(“I am not! I worry about everything you do, I can’t take care of you, so at least comfort me by saying you ate, you slept, you didn’t get tired”).

“I am not”, her voice quivers just a bit, she

Hides it quickly. He won’t hear me cry.

“Anything else?” he asks, now waiting

For the phone call to send.

“N-nothing. Sorry for calling”

(“Nothing, nothing at all. I didn’t sleep at all yesterday night after you hung up angrily. My tears flowed so freely that I feared I’d forgotten what it’s like not to cry. All you’ve got for me now is hurtful names, a list of the ways in which I mess your life up. I couldn’t breathe yesterday, it hurt too much. Do you know that? Do you know what it’s like to have your self-esteem crushed every day, by someone you love too much for your own good? Remember the time I told you that the worst point of my relationship with a person is when I stop feeling? That means I’ve stopped caring, I’ve become too tired and given up. Well, I’ve reached that point with you. And I can be saved, if only you try, if only you show you still care and value me. But you will never know this, and I will never tell you, because what is the point of my words when I am just a fake to you?”)

She hangs up quickly, breathes painfully slow.


The first time you heard me cry, you gently kissed

The tear that slid down my eyelash.

The last time you did, you swore in annoyance.

I was weak to you, you scoffed at my tears,

Said anybody can cry and be emotional:

You asked me to talk dispassionately,

Like you always do.


So I promise you,

That was the last time you heard my tears.

For you, tears are a sign of weakness

You’re sick of how easily I cry.

For me, crying in front of you was a sign

That I trusted you, believed in your

Ability to care, your will to comfort.


But for a person for whom my tears

Are a mere annoyance, I promise you

I will follow your definition of strength

The walls that I crumbled down so easy for you

Aren’t difficult to build back, this time they’ll be

Much stronger. Good luck breaching them.

I may cry for you, but you will never know

For you, I will be a cold, emotionless person:

Your definition of strong;

And you will never know how much you’re missing,

You’ll never find where I am really hiding.


There are so many things that you would never know about me

Simply cos you would think to ask, or would never care to listen

It wouldn’t be important to you, and I wouldn’t tell you when I speak,

There are some things which I can express better writing, or better yet,

By silence.


I love letters. Few things are as happy as a pages of handwritten words,

Mostly nonsense, mostly trivial, just for me.

Most relationships I measure in terms of the letters I’ve written.

The truth is, if I’ve written you a letter, I have loved you.


I wish you were the type of person who loved words like me

We could read poetry to each other, and write long letters

We could talk about our favourite phrases, the best words.

But you’re not in love with words like I am,

So I fall in love with other things about you:

Your eyes, your smile, the changes in your tone

And I try to ignore your words when you throw them around.


You would never know that my favourite afternoons are spent

Reciting poetry, letting the words drip slowly from my bottom lip.

You’ve never seen how my fingers quiver when they run over

A beautiful line, or an old, greying book. You don’t realize

How much I love walking into book stores, and just smiling

At the tall shelves and shiny volumes, all the different colours.


You don’t know what words mean to me, how they make my every day.

So I forgive you when you’re not careful with them,

Words aren’t the same for me and you,

And I will love you despite this.

Growing Old

My soul is growing tired.

I am young, but I have aged so.

The more we fight, the more words you call me

My vision clouds and makes it impossible

For me to speak, like my teeth have fallen out.

I am so tired. It hurts everywhere.

When I breathe too deeply, I bleed.

Give me gentle kisses, and softer words.

Hug me tightly so that I can finally sleep

When People Move Away

When people move away, and you’re still in the same place

The same place turns into something strange:

It feels new because you seem to know nobody,

But it is still new because the new place excitement just isn’t there.


When people move away, you finally realize

How your mother felt when you left home.

The phone calls are rituals, obligations,

Like a habit which when stopped hurts the other.

They don’t depend on you so much any more,

Don’t tell you what they do, and leave out the details.


It sometimes scares you, always makes you sad

Do they not remember any more, the little things

That made things work? And sometimes, you wonder

If you’ll be the first they call, like they always did,

When nothing is going right, or they just want

A bit of love, a taste of home, a long hug…


Or would the geographical barrier have succeeded

In separating them from you? Will you be strangers

Who smile uncomfortably at reunions,

And make small talk about separate lives?


What makes relationships last, things work?

What makes the distance go away, so that

When you finally meet, it feels like home again?

Like the most comfortable love in the world?

What I Want

“What do you want?” you ask me, right

Before you hang up. “Nothing” my mouth

Says, We both know it isn’t true, but

It is time to hang up. So we both lie

To accept my answer as the truth.


All I want is to have a long conversation,

Instead of a rushed one about everything significant,

Followed by your attempts to fix me in a single phone call.

I want to talk to you about the insignificant things:

The song i heard that reminded me of you,

The different teachers I have, why I love myths,

I want to say I spent seventy rupees on food I regretted,

That I like walking alone because finally, finally

I am at peace with myself and the nightmares have ceased.

I’d like to describe my ordinary day to you,

Down to every boring, forgettable detail.

This time, I hope you’ll listen, I hope you’ll be just

Talking to me, and that your mind is here,

In the few wasted moments we spend together.


But I know you have to go. I know

If we talk, your mind won’t be with me.

So when you ask, “what do you want”, right

Before you hang up, I say “Nothing”,

And hope you can listen to the everything

In that final word before you hang up.

A Love Song

I can still smell you,

On the sweater you left behind,

At the rim of the cups lying unwashed,

The last dregs of the too sweet coffee you liked,

On the bed that you slept in,

On my skin.


I feel like I’ve woken up from a bad dream

And forgotten how to go back to sleep.

Though my eyelids lure me into darkness,

My mind tells me I cannot sleep without

Your lips grazing the back of my neck.


All the spaces you’ve left keep distracting me;

I watch my life pass by from a distance.

I am too numb to run with the others

When all I can think about

Was how close your mouth was to my ear

As you sang to me, again and again.