Tuesday, July 20, 2010


During rush hour
We are just an hour away
By train either way
Yet we do not keep count
Of the number of times
We visit each other
Telephone, borrow or lend
We never measure ourselves
By our mutual usefulness
Never take offence
As none is intended
Know where the borders are
Never violate our sacred spaces
Listen, never judge
We laugh at ourselves
Admit our mistakes, illnesses
Never talk down
Or say you should have done like this
Wiser after the event
Often remember our teacher
Who taught a comedy
Like a tragedy
And was fond of saying
"Life's a dark comedy!"
Maybe, but we also keep reminding ourselves
"The curtain falls!"
"There are no curtain calls!"
And we do not know when we exit
Or what cues we'll get.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I want to go back
To the time
When I sat on the porch
Watching the raindrops dance
With the radio playing some heavenly song
The aroma of the wet earth
And my favourite dish cooking
Filling the air
The very thought
That there was no school tomorrow
No homework to be done
No tests to come
Made things near-perfect
Then your day was made
When your father brought you
The sky-blue pencil box you had wanted
To go with your uniform and ribbons.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

An old student

If you can give
Why do I need to ask?
If you can open doors
Why do I need to knock?
I sit on the porch
Of the college chapel
With no prayer,
No service is on
All students have gone
Home, for vacation.
The gulmohurs
Bursting into flames
As if on cue
Intone the legend
Above the library entrance
"Purificatus non consumptus!"
They do not mind me
An outsider now
Without a roll number
Just stopping by
With a sigh
They do not ask me
Why am I here?
Sitting with a tear,
Thinking of yesteryear,
When there was someone else near.
They keep on the chant, only I can hear
"What cleanses, consumes not,
What's lost was not meant to last!"

Friday, July 2, 2010

Utthamar Gandhi Salai

This is a city
We are both unacquainted with
As we walk down this road
Named after the father of the nation
And lined with shopping complexes, boutiques
Showrooms of exclusive ready made wear
Non-vegetarian restaurants and star hotels
All oozing opulence and excess
We try to catch up with the past
Two friends meeting by chance,
Swimming through the flow of strangers,
Comparing notes, talking of losses and gains
A few lies on either side
Fudging salary figures, marks of children
Harping on how long it has been,
"Must be, more than 15 years, isn't it?"
"Ah, just a few more years, then my duties will be done!"
Both looking forward to a peaceful retired life
Swapping lists of books to be read
Films to be seen
Temples to be visited...
We stop for tea at the roadside stall
Suddenly we slip back into the temple city
Sipping tea outside the college campus
Laughing riotously as only students can
Tomorrow waiting deferentially in the distance.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


The dead do not come back
But as ashes
Even that has to be returned
To the elements
Leaving behind a howling wilderness
As if a twister
Had ripped away the roof and the walls
Showing you at whose pleasure you existed.
You can keep awake all you want
You will not hear anymore
His stealthy footfalls after a late-night movie
Or feel anymore the gentle tap
On your shoulder as you pretend to sleep
Accompanied by the secret whisper "mother, I'm hungry!"
The hockey stick rests impatiently in the corner
He will not pick it up anymore
To practise his dribbling skills
Inside the house
Ignoring his father's usual admonition
"Go out and play!"
Why can't we be still waiting for him to return
From a night out
Like an earlier day,
Undo fate's gaffe
At culling someone in his prime
By using some restore point,
As in the computer,
Not be staring at the wall like this
Knowing he cannot return
Knowing he drowned and has been cremated.