Monday, July 23, 2012


Creases fill with warmth,
and promise.
Limp dampness
takes on new form
guided by

Steam billows into the air
in slow motion puffs,
doing a dance
for those who are watching.

Silently I smile
as I begin to feel
and a little moan
as the warmth embraces me too.

The pleasures
of freshly ironed clothes
on a rainy day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cross Purposes

Her eyes open in bewildered wonder.
Her light eyes and fair skin
wouldn’t be out of place
in any gossip tabloid about town.

She watches as I sit
Nervously smoothing my kurta –
“Hand dyed in organic colour,
Wash in cold water only”.
I smile as she stares,
twisting the ends of her dupatta
dyed by the sun, winds and the rain. 

She listens intently, her head tilted,
mouth in a twist, eyebrows meeting,
trying to make sense of the words
as I tell her this and that
in my urban effort
to “make a difference”.  

I came to tell her
that she should be in school,
filling her head
with facts and analyses
and sing-song times tables.
She smiles in response,
hoists the crying baby  in the corner
onto her hip,
and wipes it’s runny nose
with a mother’s love. 

She smiles a slow knowing smile –
one that tells stories of things
that I cannot understand.
I realise she’s smiling at me,
and I suddenly feel a weariness
 beyond my years.
I stop talking,
and my words trail off.
She begins to talk
of family and
finding a place
in this world.
And I’m caught,
an orange lizard
in the green shrubbery.
And I slowly return,
to my world –
of hand dyed kurtas and easy truths
while she stays
with the sun, wind and the rains.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mango Showers

The warm wind blows,
ripe with warm sticky memories
of childhood summers -
scraped knees, marbles and kites
 and elbows dripping golden yellow
mango juice.

I lie sprawled –
half on–half off
the couch,
feeling a lazy caress
as the air sluggishly drifts
from corner of the room to another.
The Hindu flutters briefly,
the pages fighting a losing battle
against the humidity.
And then it too lies limp
letting the heat wash over it.
On the front page,
a bespectacled man smiles and waves
sporting a coffee cup halo

Dry leaves rustle on the concrete outside,
the crunch competing with the sound
of the tender coconut vender -
“Fresh and Tender”
“Full of Juice”
he claims.
“Beat the heat”
he promises in a fit of sales talk fancy.
His voice is soon drowned out,
by the man who pushes
a blue hand cart
piled with baby mangoes
waiting to be sold by the kilo
and pickled
by many a household
in anticipation of
a time without mangoes

With a jerk, the fan stumbles to a halt,
filling the room with a sultry silence,
and making no difference to the breeze
who does as she pleases,
and keeps her own hours.
The outside cacophony
competes with
the silence inside,
as I escape this heat
to the summers of my past – 
where the winds were never this warm
and the mangoes were always juicier.

Monday, April 16, 2012


We wove together the threads of our life,
We did,
And made a rainbow coloured tapestry
Of our lives.

We wove violet velvet
For the royal way you treated me,
And for fairytales,
And other dreams
We had.
We splashed in some indigo,
For all the industry
In our lives,
Blood, sweat and tears,
That we mixed together.

I pulled in some silken strands of
Summer sky
For the way you make me feel -
Calm and sheltered,
And like our love,
Extended as far
As the vast sky.
And for the way
I made you feel rooted
You found some green threads
As well.

Yellow and orange pieces of cotton, for
The days we lay cuddled
In our own warmth –
Too content to move,
Smouldering with muted love
And finally,
Thick ribbons of red,
For passions – ardour, anger.
That defined us

But then I looked again,
And saw us for what
We are -
Weavers of an illusion.
A rainbow coloured illusion.

Friday, March 23, 2012

29C Sagas

The green-with-white-stripe
rattletrap buses,
have been replaced.
By the white, and yellow, and orange
buses that come and go,
or better still,
the hiss of the pneumatic
AC buses.

The conductor’s hands,
occupied with coloured stubs
of tickets and
a jangling change purse,
now holds
a black box, that spits
impersonal white vouchers
for exact change tendered.

Gone, are the navy blue rexine seats,
that, on a hot summer’s day,
made you think of swimming
and ice golas.
The hand painted signboards
in yellow and white,
announcing if it would stop for you,
are things of the past as well;
ushering little moving dots
of neon orange lettering-
via, Adyar, Mylapore, Gemini.

But then the old lady from Mylapore gets in
and without losing a beat
of the sloka she’s chanting,
takes a seat near
the wizened lady, with the gold nose stud
and the black tattoos
smelling of fish from the beach.
And in the back rows,
a flower seller, continues to weave
flowers – dreams, hopes, love –
in a thread - for sale
to those who care to look.
And the two men discuss,
their boss and his nasty love
for horrible meetings.

Two young men get in,
With their low waisted jeans
And their gelled hair,
Laughing and discussing
The latest football games,
Drawing looks from the
Middle aged man,
In his pinstriped pants and tucked in shirt
Who had watched them too.
And the college girls sit together
Giggling, and jingling their bangles,
And fixing their hair,
Not caring if anyone sees
But hoping all the while that someone does
Much to the amused stare of the lady
With the vermillion in her forehead
Who’s already made two calls
To “chellam” –
“There’s thayirsaadam in the fridge”
she’d said.

And the conductors voice
Adyar Signal yerrengu
Adds to the symphony of
the traffic and the horn
the chatter,
Someone’s radio,
93.5 “Suryan FM”
“Keep listening”
And the smell
Of the fish and flowers
And sweat and tears
And temples and
Fancy deodorant

And then, as
someone hands you two coins and a note
and asks for a ticket
that familiar feeling hits you,
as you jostle for space
and make your journeys;
you know
that despite the odds -
Nothing has changed.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


She had kept the blue pebble with her for as long as she could remember. It hung around her neck, a shining blue on a coarse black thread, nestling softly into the hollow that formed at the base of her neck. The stone was an object of beauty – it was the colour of summer skies and sun kissed seas and it lay there, unpretentious against the smooth brown of her skin. It shone with a polished intensity – the kind of colour and gleam that only time could impart.

She leaned into the breeze, letting the drafts play with her hair, breathing deep and letting the tang of the salt in the air settle on her tongue. She could hear the waves breaking on the shore, and she was sure if she just opened her eyes she could see the moonlight reflecting off the water, but she didn’t. She shifted a little bit; the threads of the wicker chair were biting into her. She frowned as the breeze stopped and leaned back against her cushion, with her eyes still closed. She’d settled for the time being. The night grew still around her and the silences grew louder still.

She grew drowsy, the breeze and the heat lulling her into a trance – a half way place between sleep and waking. Her hand drifted to her pendant unconsciously and she began to fiddle, worrying the knot that held the stone.

Her thoughts strayed to him like they usually did. And she could see him like she’d seen him that night, from the night her life had changed.

She’d met him on the beach. She’d been sitting at the water’s edge, letting the waves crash over her toes, and watching the moonlight glint over the swirls of the water like she liked to. And then he’d shown up. Out of the blue. Literally.

He’d made himself rather comfortable beside her, wordlessly burrowing into the sand near her and settling himself down. At length he let out a long sigh and then turned and looked at her, still not breaking the silence that had enveloped them comfortably. She’d been the one to smile, and he had reciprocated, breaking into a beam.

That smile had broken her guard, had helped her relax, and she could still remember it – the wrinkles of his nutty brown skin, the smooth contours of his mouth against the alluring contrast of his slightly crooked teeth. She shifted in her chair and smiled.

They had spent that night together, sitting in the sand and talking, about things that mattered and things that didn’t. He knew that her favourite sundae was three scooped – one strawberry scoop, one mint chocolate chip scoop and one French vanilla scoop, all covered in chocolate sauce. She knew that the small scar on his back was from playing ‘Cops and Robbers’ as a ten year old and getting caught under fencing that had torn his shirt clean off of him. She knew that he was terrified of dying alone and unloved. He knew she was petrified of being alone and unloved. She knew he wasn’t ticklish, he knew she hated purple but found mauve perfectly splendid -the distinction escaped him. They both knew that this was something special. And so they had gone on, telling each other everything, keeping back nothing, baring bit by precious bit of themselves to each other. And when the sun rose from the distant horizon, casting its fierce burning glow over the sparkling blue of the water, they sat in silence, knowing that they had said all that there was to be said.

They got up little by little, stretching and working out the kinks of spending the night sitting curled up in the sand. He put out his hand and she slipped hers into it with the familiarity of time. They walked away from the water’s edge. The little dunes of sand that formed around them overnight began to shift and move with the water, some vanishing completely.

They had walked quite a distance when the blue had caught his eye, winking merrily at him from under some sand. He had bent over and found this, a stone, so blue it had startled them both. They stared at it for a while, the blue of it cupped so perfectly in his palm, and then he’d given it to her, hers to keep as she liked. They’d walked on and had parted soon after, with promises of meeting again before long.

And she had kept it. The cerulean blue stone and her memories of him – all she carried from that night. And the pain of never seeing him again.

She shifted in her chair again. The beach had never seemed the same after that, she mused. Then again, neither had she. The breeze died down, she sighed and shifted once more. In the distance, she heard a few waves break, and she slowly dozed off – a dreamless, man-less beach-less sleep.