Tuesday, February 28, 2012


This is a different kind of sleep
Where the eyes are shut in prayer
Like those of the ancestors
Standing with tears before the family deity
Day after day, year after year
Begging for a day without indignities
And a night without a nightmare
Yet waking with a start and sitting out
Looking blankly at the treetops
Dancing in the darkness
And praying for a night
When the heart is so happy
That one doesn't want to sleep.

Friday, February 17, 2012

No fly zone

No wintering birds
Will come anymore
They know they hate wings here
Anything that flies away
Not too keen to stay
Keeps two homes
Follows the sun
And knows its way back;
Though the sparrows are back
Fed by willing hands
As loving eyes watch
The fidgety birds twitter
Peck and fly, peck and fly
Dart about, worry over something
Unable to tell you where they've been
Wanting to tell you what they've seen.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Before the moment disappears
The words somehow appear
To string the moon, to the tree,
To the kite, to something breaking free;
Before the feet turn away
The eyes have spoken and the smiles stay
On the lips like a dessert flavour
That can be savoured even light years after;
Before the lamp is lit without murmur
Yet again before the destroyer
Travelling from one sleepless city to another
Yesterday's prayers beg for an answer;
The kite doesn't belong in the tree
It is kin to something that wants to break free.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Telling it straight

Everyone likes me here
They call me the most
Beautiful girl
They've seen
In a long time
With the lightest complexion
In all eight blocks
Of our apartment complex;
They cannot believe
I am not a vegetarian;
They say my husband
Is lucky to get
A bride like me
Though he is dark-skinned,
Bony and slightly bald;
I told him
That we only wanted
A good man like him
A government servant
Without any vices
Though we had offers
Of alliances from doctors,
Engineers, even milk barons;
He believed every word of it
And was so pleased
That he wanted to buy
A silk sari for you
Mother, I had a hard time
Dissuading him from doing that
And offending our in-laws;
He seems to be fond
Of his sister and parents
I hope to wean him soon.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


All I ask, he said
Is to be spared
The shame of having
To beg for food again
The pain of leaving
A house that I have
Fallen in love with
The loss of friends
With whom I can
Walk back
Asking Time to stand by
All I ask, he said
Is to be able
To put my feet up
All my chores done
The prince's dusk song
Playing in the ear
With no longing
But to disappear

Friday, February 3, 2012


I returned unhappy
From every visit
To the hairdresser
The elder cousin
Who accompanied me once
Gave his own instructions
Ignoring my protests
Then laughed all the way home
Looking at my near-tonsured head
Even when going unaccompanied
And giving my own order
The result was the same
The face staring back after
From the mirror
Looked worse than before
Now as the crown thins
And cannot be hid anymore
It is the young Facebook face
You want to keep looking at
And want to carry everywhere

Thursday, February 2, 2012


When you are
Willing to die
Hearing the kuyil's
Ethereal call
Do you think
Of the nest
It stole
The brood it killed?
When you listen entranced
To the song
Fragrant with jasmine,
Rain and wet bark
Do you recall the way
The composer barks
At his orchestra
And insults the musicians
Playing the wrong note?
When the revered seer
Speaks of the oneness of the soul
Can you forget his remark
Discriminating between head and feet?