Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fire worship

In the puja room
The lamp is lit
With a prayer,
When it is time
To put out the flame
No one talks
Of dousing it,
The teardrop of fire
Is calmed with a flower,
There is no need now
To carry over
Ash-sweating embers
For next day's meals,
However, yesterday's rage
Is never extinguished
It flares up elsewhere
Flashing in wronged eyes
Which once brought a king down
And torched his iniquitous city

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Do not count the steps
That have to be climbed
To reach the shrine
Counting will make it harder
The distance covered
Pales before the distance
To be covered
Eyes covertly envy
The feet going down
As the path gets
Steeper and steeper
It's the vision
Of the deity
Seen in the dream
That drives me on
The hand
Holding nothing
Signified something
The shorn heads
Glittering with sandal paste
Returning from the temple
Seem happy to have kept
Their end of the bargain
I do not believe in barter
I do not want gold
All I want is to be told
Nothing matters
Before or after
Here or hereafter

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I've not seen for long, the sun rise
Like this, before my sleepy eyes
I had almost forgotten
It could be as red or as swollen
Or as fiery, stepping out of the horizon
I almost want to stand like the boy
In the textbook, looking with joy
At the east, arms stretched out
Like one who has no doubt
Which pointed north and south
I still do not know one from the other
To get about here all you need is the right address
Get into the right bus
Be able to tell left from right
Find the nearest landmark
I cannot see places
In terms of the four directions
I do not believe one brings luck
And allows anyone to escape from life
Though I like the west
When the sun at journey's end rests.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


What is it I'm panting after?
A spotted deer, a peacock's tail
A secret cure or the holy grail?
Sometimes, there's only laughter
Only eyes that cannot be looked at long
Only a smile that strings one along
A toddler's footprints, unearthly fragrance
Words in a strange tongue, a mere presence
Sometimes a name kept up like a chant
Soon sounds like the rant
Of those who have gone before
But see now neither sea nor shore
Was there anything to hunt at all?
Or was it all meant for somebody's fall?
It's all coming back; a deer full of lies
A false cry from a false prey
The lone guard lured away
And desire coming again in disguise

Sunday, December 18, 2011


It is getting harder and harder
To take leave of people,
Shake hands, perhaps,
For the last time,
Say goodbyes
Turn the back
On a home of yesteryear,
Friends on their last legs,
A town raised in
Fading like a dream
Often the feet refuse to turn away
Like a rejected lover
Tarrying at the door
Hoping to be taken in
And all sins forgiven.


The feet grow weary
As the distance grows
Between dream and reality
The peaks grow taller by the day
The more you climb
The farther they are
The queue grows longer
With privileged pilgrims
Joining the stream midway
The shrine is stepping back
The roundabouts are as clogged
As the direct roads
And the city lights
Are still not in sight
The head and feet
Keep moving away
And the envious god
Who will go unworshipped
Is still soaring
And the flower is still falling
The fragrance yet to spread.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


The faceless mob is near
This land we thought was ours
Begins to slip from beneath us
The words we were born into
Have been held against us
We knew what was coming
When once-friendly eyes stared at us
As if we had grown horns and fangs
And the lies feeding on lies
Soon made monsters of us all
We could no more speak our tongue
Flaunt our god we opened our eyes to
Or wear clothes that showed
Where we came from;
We looked at the mirror,
Hated what we saw
Rued the telltale complexion,
The locks of fate
Wondered which side
Of the night would hide us,
The women and children
Cower in the corner
The ears faintly hear
The dam burst of hate
Heading this way
We are like trees,
We cannot flee
When you try to tear us away,
You'll know how entwined we are
When together we bleed.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Illuminated paper stars
Dance joyously
Above a few doors,
Heralding a birth
That conquered death,
Just a few nights back
We put oil lamps
Along the steps
Often cupping the flames
Against the wind
Nursing hope
In adversity
Knowing how soon
They will be calmed,
All the while
Praying to be one
With the six-faced son
Of the immeasurable one
And end for ever
The searing dance of desire.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


In my house
Someone has
Assigned a place
For everything
Footwear without exception
Cannot cross the border
Of the shoe rack
There are hooks
On the wall
For bike keys
The teddy bear
Is allowed to wear
The ID cards
Round his neck
Through the night,
The driving licence
Has a box to go into
In the morning
As the clock starts ticking
And the search begins
For things not found
Because one was too tired
To put them back in place
The previous evening
It is the things
That are blamed
For somehow disappearing
As if wanting
To see chaos reigning

Friday, December 9, 2011


You shall not
Call Rambo a dog
He is like a son to us
Next time you visit
Bring him something
Nice to eat
He loves badam halwa,
Ice creams and colas
You shall not shoo him away
When he jumps on you
That's how he shows his affection
You will have to learn
To enjoy his attention
You shall not call on us
In the afternoon
When he snoozes
On Wednesdays
When he has to see the beautician
On the fifth of every month
Between eleven and twelve
When the vet comes for check-up
On Saturday evenings
When we take him for a drive
If you know of a good groom
For our daughter, let us know,
The only condition is that
Rambo will come with her
And he must not grudge his expenses

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A queue with a view

Before you start waiting
Do not ask the others
In the queue
What they are waiting for
Like you they may have made
A virtue of standing still
Joining a line
That does not look like moving
Preferring the one
More serpentine
Than the others
Flowing outdoor
Offering a view of a peepal tree
The frenetic road
And weary feet
Wanting to join
A line that never moves

Sunday, December 4, 2011


It's the same old story
Being told and told again
The characters
Seem different
Born in different climes
Set in various milieus
Yet saying the same things
In different words
Mostly complaining of life
Of dreams floating
Out of reach
Of smiles disappearing
Before they catch the eye
Of man-made misery
Masquerading as fate
Of death coming early
Like winter's night
Of things
Taking wrong turns
Like a story writing itself
As you watch helplessly,
When the tale
Is told and without lies
You know it's
The same story everywhere
Priests terming truth heresy
And rewriting stories
In people's blood