Wednesday, November 2, 2011

you brought me me

You brought me books
of poets and lovers
of wind earth and sky
and all that it covers

you brought me thoughts
from the lands of war
stories of love and loss
from territories within and far

your brought me wonders
as simple thoughtful gifts
how easily you understood me
an old book as one sifts

you brought me expressions
of what love can endure
of longing's heartfelt cry
of tears deep and pure

you brought me a person
unbiased and true
love, romance and friendship
unexpected, out-of-blue

above all you brought me
love - full and free
your acceptance of me complete
you brought me me.

Quco!

There’s a new product in the market. Quco.
It makes your hair smell good enough to make men consider you f$*ckable.
The advertisement doing rounds for Quco is incredibly insane. A diffident young girl walks down the corridors of her college with diminishing confidence as boys (and girls) remark disdainfully on her face: ‘Isko pata nahin hai’. Moved to the point of tears, the near-harassed girl beg...ins to wonder what’s so monstrously wrong with her. She hesitantly begins her own inspection by smelling her armpits, when suddenly, the crusader-of-solutions, the harbinger-of-hope, the seller-of-love, the buyer-of-freedom…the super advertisor asks her to STOP! “The smell is not there baby”, he reassures her. It’s your hair – he points out.
Once the girl gets to know the secret of lubricating male gonads, she is seen happily (and guess what, even confidently) strolling arms in arms with a guy.
The mission of her life accomplished.
In normal circumstances, and not in a marketing/ advertising warped time of ours:
1. The girl would have shot back at her snickering colleagues asking them to go home, and smell their socks.
2. She would have known that her worth was to be determined by the depth of her character, the width of her knowledge, the quest of her soul…and not by some perfume/ dress/ make-up that anyone can buy off the counter.
3. She would continue to live her life happily and confidently even it meant a little grime and some dust here and there, if that be the cost of her freedom.
4. She’d know that any man who intends to ‘customise’ her or doll her up is anyway not worth having.
5. She would spit in the eye of the marketer of this entire farce of de-odorised, hairless Barbie version of women; for she knows too well that the bugger is trying to manipulate people’s preferences rather than merely responding to them – all at her physical and emotional cost.
6. She’d throw the notion of conventional ‘beauty’ down the drain, knowing well that if she acquiesces silently to this dangerous ploy, one of these days…they will come to her selling pills to perfume her shit and magic potions to colour her urine.
Quco – The new level to which our marketers have stooped.
Oh! Ayn Rand! Is this the kind of capitalism you fought for?
Tell me not.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The House

There is a huge House (read organisation).

Different people in the House are responsible for different functions. Someone takes care of cleaning and hygiene, another person looks after all the purchases, a third is responsible for maintaining the kitchen and taking care of the nourishment of its residents, another one tends to the garden and sells its produce, someone for upkeep of library…and so on and so forth.

There are way too many people in the House. To accommodate them, apparently gainfully, each person is headed by a series of bosses. The work is still done by the same person to who the job is assigned, but added to her burden of work, is the pain of reporting to and acquiescing with the whims of her seniors. More often than not, it involves writing lengthy reports, making powerpoint presentations, and creating complicated excel charts for most commonsensical things. After all, the seniors and the seniors of seniors need to do something!

Alienated with the real taste of field work, seniors of the House have no idea about executing the work they head. Sequitir, the super seniors know even less. Fancy reports, loaded jargons, petty egos and pastime politics make way into their heads, bloating them up like hot-air balloons, flying high and full of gas, prone to shrink and fall at the slightest prick.
All in all, it’s a perfectly systematic (if not efficient) House that runs on dint of tradition.

All is well until change happens.

The person responsible for cleaning, Ms X, informs her bosses that the existing maid’s term of one year has come to an end and she needs to hire a new one. Ms X is happy at the prospect of getting a new maid, since the current one barely does the needful. She swans around all day spitting on the same floor that she is supposed to clean. Ms X can’t fire her because Rules of the House are painfully stringent. In the time and energy Ms X will invest in firing her unruly maid, she will herself clean the House ten times over day after day for decades to come. Ms X puts up with the old maid, doing all the cleaning herself, waiting for the D day to happen.

By now, Ms X knows the contours of the House like the back of her hand. Having dirtied her hand in cleaning, she understands what it takes to be a good maid. She researches about the work of maids in other Houses, talks to scores of maids and their employers to understand best practices, discusses the needs of other working people in the House and spends days toiling to raise the bar to such a grilling level that only the best can fit her bill. With all her energy, love and passion, she floats an advertisement for a new maid.

Guess what?! The impossible happens! A maid with flawless credentials turns up for the job. Ms X can’t stop beaming! She is sure that the new maid will take care of the cleaning and leave her with enough time for other Household chores.

The story begins here.

The fact that Ms X has done something good and important for the House leaves a few of her seniors feeling emasculated. Though she has consulted her line of seniors, at least ten of them, the seniors of OTHER work areas aren’t too happy. They are angry. They want to talk. For that is all they do. How could Ms X not take my opinion in this job? Is the question that affronts them. They know that they know nothing about cleaning. They also know that Ms X knows that they know nothing. But then, opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.

Dying to find a topic to ventilate on, the seniors catch hold of the advertisement floated by Ms X for the new maid. Slavering at this new found opportunity, they talk to their gut’s satisfaction. They talk till their constipation is cured and insomnia subsides. They shout on top of each others voices setting benchmarks in one-upmanship. They tear apart the old advertisement to pieces, and float their own improvised (read preposterous) version of the ad. Based on that, they choose a maid. They sigh with relief. The same kind of relief that people get from breaking wind. Content with their doing, they drink and dine their way back to their secluded air conditioned balloons.

One month later:

Ms X is now a haggardly woman, no longer an enthusiastic young lady. She is bent over all day over the floor, sweeping and swabbing it. The new maid comfortably sits on a sofa, sometimes also on Ms X’s back, and hogs bananas. For fun, the new maid often stands on a table and aims to piss at the farthest corner of the House. At this, Ms X sobs, but can’t do anything more than clean. Much to Ms X’s consternation, the new maid often plants a kick on her ass when she tries to remind her of her job. Gulping tears of frustration, Ms X goes about cleaning the House with the same efficiency as the new maid craps all over it.

Seniors in the House are too busy to care. They are busy breaking wind over the gardener’s job these days.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fear

It was the second time I felt it of late. That four letter word. Fear.
I was reading Disgrace by JM Coetzee. All I knew that it was well past 11. I know this because I was quite sleepy, but determined nevertheless, to finish off the last few pages. Absorbed in the scene where Lurie is injecting deadly needles in the veins of hapless animals…I first felt it was some sort of a stir within my mind. That’s when I heard the bed (on which I was sitting) thudder against the floor. Damn it. It was an earthquake. I immediately stood up, a little unsteady. Sounds from kitchen, clink-clank of steel utensils shifting to find a new balance, corroborated my fear.

My first instinct was to run and wake up my parents. Save them. The blood in my legs curdled. They felt like trunks too heavy to move…no longer a voluntary body part…oppressingly adamant.

In the few seconds that the quake lasted, I imagined waking up my parents and rushing them downstairs to the open park in our society. As if I was their parent. Curious, how crisis brings out the parent in us. But wait, what was I supposed to do with my 92 years old grandmother? Someone who barely walks. Who can only manage a doddering few steps to the washroom leaning on her walker. Images of I and papa mounting her on a chair and struggling to carry her downstairs crossed my mind. Thinking all that, in split seconds, my body had stiffened and my heart was drumming so hard I could feel every tremor…both inside and out.

Seconds later, the quake died, but the feeling remained. An overpowering sense of helplessness. A question looming large: What if?

-------------------------------

Another incident. Far greater in severity. Nauseating in effect.
I came back home around fifteen minutes from 8. Excited to see the kids. Didi was home with her two little devils, and I couldn’t wait to mess with them! Too bad, they were out to the market. Later, I was to thank life for not keeping them around in that hour.

Washed clothes, took bath, and got ready for dinner chores. Began serving dinner. Seated in the drawing room, as usual, were papa, bhaiya and aaji (my grandmother). Glued to Discovery channel. I was getting back to the kitchen when papa and I started chit chatting about something…as always, he was making some witty remarks (he has the best sense of humor in the world!), and I was laughing away like a neurotic when the disaster fell.

With no prior indication, no sign at all, with a crudeness and suddenness ranging between outrageous and tragic…the huge glass chandelier of the drawing room fell. Since I was the only one standing behind it, I saw it falling. An earth-stopping grand sight it was. The shiny glass structure, with multiple ornate lamps, coming down in its full shape. More like descending than falling. As if on will. Call it reflex action, I stepped back in horror. Till date, I don’t know whether to be guilty or feel fine, because if I had not stepped back, one of the arms would have hit me. Cut me. I know I could not have averted what happened…two seconds are not enough to strategise a reaction…but if I had dared to change the path of that mammoth structure, it might have landed on my skull.

This is the justification I give myself for not being able to help Aaji. When the darned thing came down (I swear I had vehemently argued against buying one, just like I had argued against getting tiles laid – both to no avail), so when the chandelier fell, one of its five designer fangs hit my aaji’s shoulder. Barely escaping her head. Time froze. We froze. When the structure hit the floor, it shrieked in a most indescribable way. The floor turned into a sea of shimmering mess.

Aaji let out a brief yelp. That’s when we realized that she’d been hit. Dodging glass pieces, we rushed to her. We saw no cuts. And then, in a perfectly synchronized manner, blood started streaming from places all at once. Her neck, her shoulder and her middle finger. All on her right. In no time, drops of squeamish red started painting her tunic. The rusty smell of blood filled the room.

Without exchanging words, action began. I ran to find dettol and cotton…first went to the bedroom, then bathroom, then bedroom, then bathroom…dammit…I was losing my head. I went to the bathroom for a third time and picked up the kit with trembling fingers. Got cotton from ma’s almirah. An unusual calm started dawning on my head. I wanted to cry. I wanted to act. I wanted to move faster by my body betrayed me. My stomach was a knot and my heart was all lump. I remember how my head was spinning and how I thought I will faint. ‘Be brave…be brave…it’s time to act and not cry’ is what some alive part of my subconscious kept telling me.

I kept my balance holding aaji’s chair, staunching the blood on her neck and shoulder while bhaiya worked on her finger, the nastiest of all. All the cuts were bad. Puffs after puffs were getting drenched in blood. I thought I will puke and pass out. I sat down on my knees, while still holding on to the wound. Thinking of rushing her to the hospital, I called a doctor cousin. Explained to him as best as I could, in a cracking voice and dizzying sense. He explained me the course of action in clinical clarity.

Clean the wound with dettol. Staunch the blood. If the cut is deeper than some millimeters (he specified a number I cant remember), then rush her to a hospital. If she gets unconscious with pain, hospital again. But if she is talking and blood gets staunched within half and hour (half an hour? she could bleed herself to death I felt like saying…but he knew better) then treat her at home. Apply some cream after that. Wash with some solutions. A few more instructions along with all that. My memory of that day is an ugly blur. I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember every turn of my innards.

Over with the call, I sat down holding my head, on the brink of an implosion. Then got back to business as usual. Tried inspecting the ‘depth’ of her cut. Thought I will faint again. But I guess we are more resilient than we think we are. Within twenty minutes, blood had stopped. Aaji was going to live. A glow of relief swept our house. A strange mix of fear and euphoria. I observed, ma, papa, bhai and i…had our eyebrows knit in the same way.

Later, we collected shards of glass from unreachable corners of the drawing room. It took me days to collect my own pieces though.

Fear of death. The worst, maybe the worst, of all fears.

Friday, August 5, 2011

दिल्ली में बारिश

दिल्ली में बारिश
मज़ाक सा लगता है...
ठीक वैसा,
जैसा कभी तुमने मेरे साथ किया था

आए थे,
तो सिर्फ जाने के लिए

मिले थे,
जैसे एहसान जताने के लिए

जितना सुकून दे न गए
उससे कहीं अधिक
बेचैनी बढ़ा गए

तन तो गीला कर गए
पर मन सूखा छोड़ गए

बिन मौसम आए
बिन मौसम बरसे

पर जब मन से पुकारा,
जब दिल से आह भरी,
जब हाथ जोड़ कर बिनती की,
जब आँसू तक राह देखते थक गए,

तब
तब ज़ालिम
तब

तुम न आए

दिल्लगी करने के लिए कुछ और न मिला था क्या...
जो मेरी तमन्नाओं के साथ खेलते रहे?

तुम्हारा मज़ाक
दिल दुखाने वाला मज़ाक
ठीक दिल्ली की बारिश जैसा लगता है...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Wait


There's a shiver in my spine
something slips in my chest
my mouth is going dry
i can't relax or rest

my knees are a lil wobbly
& my stomach is making sounds
all i see is blur n haze
is it something i lost, or something i found?

i've always been impatient
to hide you in my soul
& now that you'll be here
i seem to have lost control!

thrill grips my limbs
as i hear the coming of my mate
toughest, maddest, longest
are the last few hours of wait.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Allow me




Allow me to be your child
and roll into your arms

allow me to be your pupil
and drink from your palms

allow me to be your heroine
and cavort around you

allow me to be your lover
and kiss you red n blue

allow me to be your mentor
and show you the source of light

allow me to be your friend
and paint your world bright

allow me to be your parent
and pour my soul into you

allow me to be just anyone
who can help you to be true

allow me my friend
to partner you forever
to fight for you, stand up for you
and desert you just never.

हवाएँ हँसती हैं




तुम साथ रहती हो,
तो हवाएँ हँसती हैं

दीवारें खिलखिलाकर पूछती हैं मुझसे
'तो मिल आई सखी से?'
साथ चलती सड़कें
पलटकर खड़ी हो जाती हैं
और गुदगुदाकर कहती हैं,
'बड़ी रौंद है आज तेरे कदमों में...
वैंडी से मिली थी क्या?'

कॉफी शॉप का तो पूछो ही मत
उनकी आत्मा तो जैसे
मेरे पैरों में गिड़गिड़ाती हैं
फिर ऑर्डर करती हैं,
'जा, माना ला उसे,
ज़रूर तूने मायूस किस होगा'
बाकी सब दुकानें
बगावत में साथ हो जाती हैं,
फिर धमकी देती हैं,
'सोच ले, तेरे बिस्कुट-चॉकलेट
सब धरे के धरे रह जाएँगे'

तितलियाँ भी न जाने कहाँ से
आ गालों पर नाचती हैं
जब जब तुमसे मिलके
दो-चार बेदिमाग बातें करके
कई और भले बुरे ताने सुनके
कभी सद के, तो कभी लड़ के
पर हमेशा प्यार से
जब वापस घर जाती हूँ
तो वो पीली तितलियाँ
भूल से मुझे फूल समझ बैठती हैं

गर दिन में तुम न मिली,
तो शाम मज़ाक करती है
उपहास में कहती है,
'मूड क्यों ऑफ है तेरा?'
रात भी उंगली करती है
'बात कर ले वरना नींद नहीं आएगी'

ये सब - ये दीवारें, ये सड़कें
ये दुकाने, ये चौराहे
ये तितली ये जुगनू
सब जलते हैं,
मेरी-तुम्हारी दोस्ती से
मेरी खुशनसीबी से...

क्योंकि तुम भले ही,
खुद को दुत्कार लो,
मुझे तानों से मार लो,
अपने आप को second citizen मान लो,
कुछ भी कर लो,

पर ये सब गवाह हैं,
की तुम मेरी सच्ची
मेरी प्यारी
मेरी अनमोल
सखी हो।

इसलिए तुम साथ रहा करो,
हवाएँ हँसती रहेंगी

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

my Home



Scores of people i could meet
entire world i could roam
but return to you i must
for you are my only home

your arms are pillars i need
to hold on to when weak
your chest is the pillow i use
to dig in my face and sleep

in the pool of your eyes i jump
for some frolic and fun
in the small of your back i hide
when for solace i run

i drink the elixir of your lips
you are my nourishing food
you're also the kitchen in binge in
to kill my bad mood

to cry and crib in peace
i get cocooned in your embrace
your face mirrors my heart
it's my living room, my own place

my sanctum sanctorum is your body
my room for love and prayer
i cleanse n confess myself there
derive strength, love and care

pain, tiredness & boredom
you absorb them in like a foam
you're the only place in the world
the place i call my Home.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Don't Rain



Skies, don't rain.

no no no
don't you show me the color
of darkening heavens
don't spurt the smell
of earth that leavens

don't rain, oh! please don't
for rain reverses the scene
wounds that time had dried
rain opens them green

it's not that time ever healed
it just hid behind the crust
the pain the longing the love
moving on is time's lust

all is well, I've taken it
accepted that flowers won't bloom
that land of my heart will be barren
that silence will ache in gloom

so don't rain, oh! cruel you
don't show the possibility of hope
Rejection - I've handled so often
that Love - I won't be able to cope

I wanna tear apart, you clouds!
I wanna howl and shout in your face
I'm creature of the wilderness
don't need your rain and grace

Hardened thickened scarred
i can play with degrees of pain
my edifice shatters, my base is bored
when falls the first drop of rain

lemme live, lemme survive
oh! don't drive me insane
beat me or throw me in hell
do whatever, but please don't rain

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How i feel for You

You wanted to know
how i feel for you
so lemme show you things
lemme prove it to you

your finger in my hand, run with me
to skies unknown, clear and blue
don't you read it on the wind, written in bold
that i'm your fan, that i'm mad about you?

arm in arm, let's stand in the rain
face up the sky, the lash of pearl
don't you hear the drops, sing out aloud
that i'm your lover, that i'm your girl?

in the thick of night, let's go to the woods
feel the sway of trees, hear every sound
don't you see them paint, through shadows of life
that forever i'll be, that i'll stick around?

shut out the world, dig your face in my chest
bind my soul to yours, with an intangible chord
don't you feel my body, whisper in your palms
that i love you like life, that you are my god?

you wanted to know
how i feel for you...

don't you hear the world talking?
don't you feel it in the sky?
don't you taste it in the air?
don't you see it in my eye?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

One-Person World

When you're dished out by life
a shoddy deal
or people cause bruises
that do not heal
when life's in a mess
and you see no end
i'll hold you back from falling
& i'll be your FRIEND

where neighbors are nasty
and colleagues scheming
when your eyes grow tired
and they stop dreaming
i'll teach you lil tricks
i'll make you a pro
i'll cheer from the audience
& i'll be your BRO

when choices confuse you
and you need a second view
i'll fish out the best
that suits right on you
and when you get decked up
i'll plant you a huge kiss
i'll be your best fan
& i'll be your SIS

wronged by your weakness
if you get bitter and hurt
i'll scratch and see the reason
as to why you are curt
i'll know the words to speak
and where to get them from
i'll understand your silences
& i'll be your MOM

lost, if you ever are
and you need a hand to hold
shaking, if your heart feels
and you need to get it bold
i'll remind you of your worth
i'll help you get better
i'll enthuse and motivate you
& i'll be your MENTOR

need hug? come to me
i'll kiss and cover your face
need strength? look in my eyes
see life's gift and grace
i'll be your shield against odds
i'll be your caring cover
i'll dissolve your body in my soul
& i'll be your LOVER

within earshot within eyesight
i'll always stand by you
i'll worship, love and raise you
with trust pure and true
you'll always find me close
my fingers and yours curled
deriving love, mirth and character
i'll be your one-person world.

i long for you



i long for your eyes on my face
i long for your hand around my waist
i long for our shared little laughter
i long for your passionate embrace

i long to drink from your lips
i long to lock my finger with yours
i long to touch you with my hair
i long to absorb you in my pores

i long to talk out my soul
i long to show you my dance
i long to see all your colours
i long for naughty play and prance

i long to capture you for me
i long to have you at leisure
i long to walk the path with you
i long for your pain and your pleasure

Friday, May 20, 2011

and then you came



Transfixed by cruel twists of time
i stood like a picture in a sepia frame
when slowly, things came alive
flowers bloomed, and then you came

vagrant by nature, bohemian by calling
mine was a soul i was trying to tame
till it found a string too good to be true
faith took a flight, and then you came.

hope had gone extinct, excuses were galore
powerless before fate, reasons went lame
but where people are good, chances come to roost
chances brought me here, and then you came

running for a cover, i sobbed in my hands
tears of love, and tears of shame
gained my own ground, loved back myself
took rein of my life, and then you came

Monday, April 18, 2011

an Ideal Sunday

Woke up to a misty morning. Got lovely dovey with ma. Went for a dip. Swam for over an hour.

Came back. For the tenth day in a row, gyrated the hoola hoop in the hope to master it someday. Could manage only 7 hoops at max. The same as yesterday. But I remain stubborn.

As if trying to make my Sunday, the weather gods decided to rain! Aah...rain for me...like dope for an addict. Inevitably, got drenched again :)

After the rain, went for a pleasure stroll with ma. Hand in hand on the wet roads of Dwarka. Ended up buying veggies and milk...anything for that walk with ma.

Took out my cycle for repair. Gladly parted with Rs 20, the cost of fixing tyre puncture. Tried to remember which part of my car costs as less as that? Couldn’t recall any.

Went for a leisurely cycle ride. Something was wrong with Delhi weather on this Sunday. It was unimaginably good. Kept reminding me of Bokaro.

Came back home, and put the CD player on full volume like a brat! From kailash kher’s soul stirring songs to rehman’s classics to downright dirty bollywood numbers...danced on all till I nearly dropped. Was dancing even while bathing.

Had fresh fruits for breakfast. Got lovely dovey with ma. And slept like a log after that! A Sunday without morning sleep is incomplete.
Raajma-bhaat for lunch. Seems that I look emaciated to my mother (there is movie like this...where the boyfriend of an elephantine girl actually sees her as slim...cant point the movie’s name...but I think my mother has a similar syndrome). Ma added a pinch of salt and dollops of ghee to the bhaat. In front of my eyes! I swear I (feebly) tried resisting. Ate with my eyes closed. Making orgasmic sounds.

Picked up the book I’m reading these days. Bhagat Singh’s writings. Got drunk on a few lines. Ruminated on them. Talked to myself. Talked to Bhagat Singh.

Had a cousin uncle coming as Sunday guest. Dad suggested I should wear pyjamas instead of my usual shorts. I pretended not to listen. Sunday without parents’ barbs too is incomplete! I might also start enjoying it soon.

Come evening. Comes the lovely lovely rain. Comes the wind laden with the mind-blowing smell of wet earth. Comes back my desire to play with water.
Decide to go swimming again. This time with my brother. In a different pool (my pool guys already think I’m some sort of a jerk. The pool manager asked me once...after I did 100 odd laps, “maidam, aap kya khaate ho?”).

We went on his bike. From Dwarka to RK Puram. Needles of rain drops pierced my face, neck, arms and legs. A few kilometres down the road, and I was dripping! Gusts of chilly wind made my shirt billow on the bike. I let my hair loose, stretched out my arms, faced the lightening thundering clouds, drank in the raindrops...pure ecstasy.

A dip in the pool now felt warm. With my brother around, doing anything serious is impossible. Except fun. So we had serious fun. With diving. Diving is his area. His expertise. He can dive in at least 20 different ways. None of which are proper or prescribed. Think of proficiency, he has named them all! In some, you dive like someone has planted a huge kick on your ass. Or your gut. In a few others, you dive like a curled up worm. Or a curled out worm. Or dive with your body rotating side-wise...which according to him is the way bollywood villains fall when heroes drub them. Innovative, I have to admit. In a long time, I had not done such spectacular fooling around. It felt GREAT.

Came back on the bike. Brother substituted for the car stereo by singing aloud. Despite that (or maybe because of it) the journey was fun. Rain got louder and better. Got home, got dry, got lovely dovey with ma....and drank Tang! I could almost hear by body shout for salts by then.

Helped ma in the kitchen. Can’t see her working alone. At all.

Had sattoo parathas for dinner.

Scalded my tongue on steaming hot coffee (strong and sweet – my way) after dinner.

Read Bhagat Singh again. Got lovely dovey with ma. Kissed her good night.

Went to the terrace to a dreamy night. Cool winds, the fragrance of rain, the gleam of near full moon. Sang a few moon songs…remembered the moon of my life…talked to some sweethearts…and slept like a baby after that.

Ain’t it an ideal Sunday?

PS- come to think of it, an ideal week too. Monday working, Tuesday off. Wed working, Thu off. Fri working, Sat Sun off. Why can't every week be as good as this?!

On Parole


“It took my sister-in-law nearly 12 years of backbreaking service, of relentless forbearance, of putting up with all kinds of humiliation, of disproportionate sacrifices of her desires and personality...to finally get her in-laws’ mellowed down. In all this while, she did not raise her voice even once. She bore their atrocities with a straight face. In the end, she won them with love”. Said one friend of mine. An unmistakable hint of pride in her voice.

The conversation started with the lachrymose context of TV soaps and saas-bahu serials. Meeting this friend after quite some time, we talked about the weather, regular office work, interesting holiday options, Cricket World Cup, and finally, movies and serials. Being daily subjected to the saas-bahu drama in my home TV (my granny has the remote), I had a clue of how these serials worked. A mere glimpse at the characters of these serials and earful of lines, and you could figure out the entire context. Women are shown to exist on the extremes. While some of them live the life of archetypal Indian bahu – a docile cook, a faithful ever-forgiving wife, an obedient daughter-in-law, a giving mother, a diligent worker and a sacrificial lover. On the other hand are the exact opposites – tyrannical mother-in-laws, scheming wives, cunning daughters, plotting sisters, conspirational workers and destructive friends. Either white or black. No greys. The ‘white’ ones would be seen either smiling happily or crying inconsolably. The ‘black’ ones would either have their face twisted with malice and eyes gleaming with derision, or a threatening glowering look on their faces.

So I joked with my friend about the farce being shown in the serials, saying, that these extremes existed only in reel life. At this, my friend grew pensive and somewhat serious. No Sonal, she said, these characters are everywhere. I have known of families which make their daughter-in-laws sit on the floor while they are perched on the sofa. I have seen it with my own eyes – happen to my own sister-in-law.

Shocked by the vivid portrayal of this domestic shame, I could not find words to say. I didn’t have to. The topic had set her talking. “My sis-in-law is made to wear a sari every day, irrespective of the weather, with the aanchal draped neatly over her head. In that uniform, she’s also supposed to perform all domestic chores such as washing, cooking, sweeping, swabbing etc. And if, by mistake, her aanchal gets out of place exposing the skin on her back, her mother-in-law swiftly pinches her there to remind her of her dress code”. I could imagine the scene – an overworked voiceless woman also trying to prove her chastity to her mother-in-law by covering every square inch of her body. Being made to work like a house maid, and also follow detailed prescriptions laid out by her in-laws.

It revolted me. Boiled my blood. How could another woman – mother in law or whoever, touch me without my permission? Let alone pinch me! How could anybody else tell me what to wear and how...more so when I am taking care of their entire household?

I could not resist. I blurted out, “Just who the hell gives these in-laws the right to dictate terms?” I could feel the sweat on my palms. The shoes of this sari draped woman were too thorny to endure. To this, my friend dejectedly replied, “I’m not even talking of rights Sonal, I’m only saying, that if you don’t like my skin showing, allow me to wear salwaar-kameez”. Her eyes begged for a solution when she said this. It was a voice ringing with subservience and defeat. It was a statement of bargain. The bargain for justice that women have been pleading for centuries.

If not clothes of my choice, at least salwaar-kameez?
If not education of my choice, at least intermediary level?
If not groom of my liking, at least a meeting before wedding?
If not profession of my knack, at least a part-time job?
If not independence of movement, at least one visit to my parents?
If not freedom to speak my mind, at least pretend to hear me once?
If not a life of my decisions, at least a mute witness in it?


This is how women have bargained for justice. Trying to achieve their rightful due in crumbs and morsels. Never quite having the courage to snatch her freedom off the clutches of her exploiters.

It’s so unfortunate that lured by temporary reliefs, women have not adopted the zero-tolerance approach towards her limitations and feudal fetters. Her protest has remained limited to some obsequious pleas of grants...as though she was a criminal out on parole.

When will this woman stop bargaining? When will she grab the reins of her life in her own hands without bargaining for allowances, claiming her rights as her own? When will she know and understand it too well, that there are no victories at bargain prices?

The exploited sister-in-law of my friend, and many other such women, should read the lines written by great martyr Bhagat Singh, in his essay he wrote while awaiting his execution in Central Jail, Lahore:

"Don’t ask for rights. Take them. And don’t let anyone give them to you. A right that is handed to you for nothing has something the matter with it. It’s more than likely it is only a wrong turned inside out."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

don't we belong?


talking after ages

don't you feel at home instantly
don't you feel at ease
doesn't it feel very right
doesn't it leaven and please?

tell me baby,
don't you belong to me
the way i belong to you...
the way i belong to we...

sitting by the setting sun

don't you reminisce our times
don't you feel my presence
don't you crave for my body
don't i echo in your silence?

tell me baby,
don't you belong to me
the way i belong to you...
the way i belong to we...

watching a story unfold

don't your thoughts wander past
times, spaces, things we touched
doesn't your heart brim over your eyes
for love intact, but for dreams crushed

tell me baby,
don't you belong to me
the way i belong to you...
the way i belong to we...

mere thought of someone else

doesn't it bode something ill and wrong
doesn't it it send a chill through
doesn't it lead you into a closed nest
shut out from the rest - only me and you?

tell me baby,
don't you belong to me
the way i belong to you...
the way i belong to we...

Monday, April 4, 2011

कसौटी


तुम जो दिल लगाकर चले गए
तुमसे बस यही है गिला
कसौटियों को इतनी ऊंची कर गए
तुम्हारे बाद, फिर कोई न मिला

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring's back


Flowers are back on the branches
fragrance is back in the air
back is the spring in your garden
back are your memories
but you are still not there...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Many Men


Streets go empty
excitement in the air
Pak versus India
the World Cup is here

will India make it to the finals
the men in the house worry
women worry for feeding those men
hot chapatis and curry

he stops all work, is glued to the TV
bites his nail and perspires for the game
her day unchanged, she cuts cleans and cooks
her routine of drudgery, all the same

home-maker she could be, or a coporate lass
but it's on her the responsibility rests
of keeping the house clean, supplying nourishing food
and children's school work and tests

men remain engrossed, in tall wordly matters
at leisure and convenience, they indulge the kids
women remain absorbed, in zillion homely work
and when their baby craps, men don't clean the shit

he gets the car serviced, he even buys his clothes
for such little work, he praises his own knack
the wife has no time, from his socks undies and ilk
she toils through out the day, almost breaking her back

freedom has brought her, car and communication
now added to house-work, is outside shopping
her man's freedom however, is in gadgets and playstations
he's plonked on the sofa, while she does veggie-chopping

worse than the modern woman, is her village counterpart
fetches water from miles, tends to cattle and field
but man takes the pay, for all her hard work
she endures his drunken beating, to his abuses she yeilds

visiting her mother, is her occasional solace
much to the objection of the man and his parents
men of course are free - to drink, dine, and roam
they decide unlike women, how their time is spent

"cleanliness is your concern", say men to avoid work
they deserve to be left with cockroaches and rats
but she bears it all for the sake of children
"why should kids pay for their dad's lazy ass?"

"women prefer petty work", men often say
"since intellect demands reading and research"
but women know too well, that for big and bold work
you cannot be trusted if you leave the small in lurch

painfully but surely, she climbs up the ladder
through talent and toil, of management and maturity
while men scheme of being, catapulted to the top
fraught of inexperience and full of insecurity

hardened by injustice, steeled by disregard
she's stomached everything thrown at her face
but the day she resolves to give up on her chores
the world will stop, it'll be the end of feminine grace.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pissing Off!

The road from sector 6 to sector 4 market in Dwarka, New Delhi, like most Delhi roads, is wide and smooth. That is, for the cars. For the pedestrians, it is, what you can call as an ‘olfactory nightmare’.

In between the two markets runs the famous ‘naala’ of west delhi, an age-old landmark occupying a prominent guiding position in Eicher maps and Google Earth. For the uninitiated, the far-reaching smell is indicative enough. The naala oozes with gut turning muck in the middle of towering concrete structures. Nature’s way of saying – the shit has hit the fan.

Offering a passage above this naala (no matter how nose-burning) is a short bridge. Almost every evening, I cross this stretch on foot to reach home. Day before yesterday, I risked an unusual response to a usual phenomenon in this part of the world.

I saw him from far and close enough to figure that he was peeing. With men, the pose tells it all, actually. What angered me was that he was pissing bang in the centre of that cruelly narrow footpath on a very busy road. I agree that men (and women) can’t be expected to control their bladders in a city with abysmally inadequate public utilities…but they can at least be expected to use some discretion? I mean, the man could have urinated a few meters ahead or behind that point where there was some space for human and excretion to co-exist. But no. He will piss wherever he feels like. As if it’s his dad’s road. As if others are his piss bearers.

I just HAD to give it back to him.

I timed my steps such that by the time he zipped, I was close enough to be in talking range. Once he did, I stepped down from the footpath, and said, “ये लोगों के चलने की जगह है भाई”. Honestly, I wanted to give him a piece of my mind…but there I was, on a rather lone and dark delhi road…accosting a man for something that can hurt his pride. So that was all I could and would manage.

Unexpectedly (you are expecting the worst while doing any dare-devilry), the man almost fainted. He immediately sidestepped and said, “गलती हो गयी मैडम, आगे से नहीं होगा’।
Strange. Almost innocent. No, foolish.

As I went back smiling to my home, I thought…if more and more people, especially women…started being more open and reasonable with the pissing habits of men, the world might just become a cleaner place to live in.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Usher Girls

They stood there wearing cool black t-shirts and red mini skirts. A picture of the modern disdainful beauty – thin figure, out-of-bed hairstyle, kohl lined eyes and sulking demeanour. They were what they call in the PR/ Advertising/ Event Management lingo as the ‘Usher Girls’. Dissatisfied as they always are with the outsourcing agencies, the only one thing that the entire Client side agreed to, was the fact that these girls did everything but ‘usher’ the guests in!

Why? I keep wondering (I also wonder why I ask so many whys?). What’s the need of these usher girls? As a concept, per se, it makes sense for lean organisations to hire temporary manpower for one-off events to do the sundry jobs. The entire outsourcing business owes its origins to this reason. But only because most of the world is going for outsourcing, does it become obligatory on big organisations, with more than enough (and potentially good but abominably underused) manpower to get into the same rut?

All said and done, even if you have entered the rat race and got hold of some sassy looking girls to do the ushering job, what exactly should be their work? It’s an important question, especially for the one who pays through one’s nose for hiring these girls (but many employees even from the client company don’t give a damn coz it’s the company’s nose, not theirs, after all). Either way, one would expect these girls to be briefed about the event, and also learn a word or two about the company they seemingly represent. It wouldn’t be asking for the moon to expect these girls to guide the guests in a warm and meaningful way. One is not asking for puppets, one is only asking for a little smile and a little sense. Is this combination impossible to achieve?

One more point. Age-old of course. Do young, slim and merely good-looking girls automatically qualify as hospitable? This question has been thrashed thread-bare in the airline industry to no real conclusion. But let’s look at this through common sense. What are we trying to offer to our guests/ customers? Helpful people to best address their queries or eye-candies to double up as aphrodisiacs? Most event management/ cosmetic based industries will put up a staid defence to this question – why can’t you have both in one? There comes my exact question – what’s the need of having aphrodisiacs in events? Are we assuming that a majority of our audience has roving eyes, or are we trying to influence our audience’s tastes by presenting them with this omnipresent option? With whatever little experience I have, I think the latter is true, since it goes on to be the sole raison d'etre for so many organisations. ‘Your potential horniness is our bread and butter’ – is the undercurrent. So why not feed those instincts and quadruple my profits! Pretty simple equation, isn’t it?

I will stomach even that, since this is the age of freedom. Only wonder if and when those girls will stop commodifying themselves.

Recently, I was present at a typically high-society event liberally splashed with its share of usher girls. Hardly out of college, the girls merrily chatted among themselves, stood as gate-keepers during the assigned hours (the chatting still going on), and hardly greeted any guest. They joked and ate and quipped while the guests groped for directions. Detached in spirit from the hustle and bustle of the event. In one word - Cold.

I happened to pass through the door of two such girls. Giggling, one of them chortled, “oh! That guy?! He f@#$ing pisses me off”.

A rather uninviting way to usher people in, no?

Silence replaced You


Everywhere I go
everywhere I prevail
a silence leads
a silence trails

I do what I love
I dance and read and write
I sing I play I travel
with silence as my guide

my friends are my darlings
and family my resort
but silence is what stays
in my actions and my thoughts

I shrug it off in music
in things that make me proud
but it returns with a vengeance
a silence – clear and loud

silence flies all day
in nights it comes to brood
my mind is its nest
my heart is its food

it’s found a hole in me
it lingers near and close
it resides in the vacuum
in just the place that was yours.

अबकी सावन फिर आया है


अबकी सावन फिर आया है, बताना उन्हें
दिखाना उन्हें,
वो सड़कें जो पत्तों से ढकी हुई हैं
वो टहनियाँ जो फूलों से लदी हुई हैं
वो सुबह-सुबह कोयल का गाना
वो भीनी सी खुशबू का हर पल आना
वो झरने की रिमझिम तरंग
वो दिल का उछलता पतंग
वो प्रेमी जोड़ियों का मुग्ध संग
वो प्रेम के धागों से जुड़े हुए अंग
वो दिन की ज़रा-ज़रा से धूप
वो धरा का खिला खिला रूप...

अबकी सावन फिर आया है, बतान उन्हें।

एक और गर्मी बीत गयी,
उनके पसीने की ठंडक को छूए बिना
एक और बरसात टल गयी,
उनके जिस्म को आप में घोले बिना
एक और पतझड़ चला गया,
उनके साथ एक लंबी सैर किए बिना
एक और सर्दी पार हुई,
उनके बाहों में सिकुड़कर सोए बिना...

अबकी सावन फिर आया है, बताना उन्हें
याद दिलाना उन्हें, कि मैं आज भी जीती हूँ
उनसे दूर बिताए लम्हों को, उँगलियों पर गिनती हूँ...

बेरंग


RED was the colour of seduction.
of sizing you up with dark eyes
provoking you with casual lies
of inciting you with clever tricks
of love that fights, bounces and kicks…


GREEN was the colour of envy.
when you spoke of another
woman with praise
I’d clutch on to you
my heart ablaze…


BLUE was for our after-fight mood.
lying on the same bed
apart and aloof
waiting for another
to make the first move
and as we got a chance
which we just wouldn’t miss
we’d put our heart and soul
in a mighty giddy kiss…


WHITE was the colour of peace.
holding hands on a busy road
snoring and sleeping in your arms
gazing at your face- wordless & quiet
soaking in love and its charms…


PINK was the colour of joy.
joy to love you
joy to tease you
joy to take you for granted
and then,
joy to appease you…


ORANGE was the colour of our dreams.
the flame that glowed behind us
that guided and held us
that found and smelled us
that inspired and charmed us
that strengthened and armed us…


PURPLE was the colour of our nights.
stars lit up the sky
to celebrate our coming together
and full moon shone with glory
in nights that lasted forever…


the city I live in, celebrated holi
the festival of colours, of everything new
my palette laid there-barren and empty
you took away all my colours with you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Animal Instincts


Today is my day
and I will have you at my sway
I will thrash you with love
and soak you in passion
tingle you with words
in an all new fashion
I will singe your fingers
with delicious little flames
and play with your ears
defeat you at your games

I will bring you to your knees
make you do as I order
I will serve me on a platter
your delectable fodder

I will intoxicate with my lips
as I wear down your patience
suffocate you with my body
merrily destroy your balance

I will drench you with desire
trap you in my snare
I will slip out of your arms
till you beg me to be there

I'll mush you I'll crush you
and I'll bring you alive
your goddess and your bitch
your slave and your wife!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NOTHING LIKE YOU

there's nothing, no sweet
no honey like you
there's nothing, no richness
no money like you.

there's nothing, no fun
no play like you
there's nothing, no hope
no prayer like you.

there's nothing, no song
no pleasure like you
there's nothing, no catch
no treasure like you.

there's nothing, no time
no hour like you
there's nothing, no possession
no power like you.

what i am, i derive from you
from you i'm born, i die for you
you're the one, and you shall remain
for there's nothing, no love...
no life like you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I LOVE YOU

im young, im fresh, im untouched
i love you

im young, im hurt, im learning
i love you

im young, im crying, im missing
i love you

im young, im battered, im broken
i love you

im not-so-young, im grieving, im waiting
i love you

im not young, im starved, im lost
i love you

im greying, im numb, im knowing
i love you

im old, im seasoned, im so much above you
and yet, and still, my love
i love you

सखी

i talk to you
everyday i do
it's not so much
to update you
as it is
about keeping myself
pure and living
honest and true

strange it may sound
but it's true all the same
if i don't talk to you
i'll become insane

you are an anchor
you see me to the end
you save me from tripping
you make me me, my friend :)

एक नयी सुबह की तलाश

पता नही क्यों,
एक नयी सुबह को दिल तरसता है...

पता नहीं क्यों,
ये जगह ये घर ये चेहरे ये दफ्तर
सब एक सन्नाटे में
धुँधलाते जाते हैं
उस दूर दुनिया की ओर
जहां सिर्फ मैं हूँ
एक बार फिर बच्ची-सी
जहां न तुम
न तुम्हारे प्यार का हारा ये दिल
न माँ-बाप की किच-किच
न दोस्तों की सलाह
न रास्तों की बंदिश
न यादों की चिता
न पैसा न कौड़ी न कुछ

जहां सिर्फ मैं हूँ
और मेरा बचपन
हँसता खिलखिलाता अटखेलियाँ करता
एक नयी सुबह में

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

SHE


she meets the world with elan
she stands out from the crowd
she makes hearts flutter
oh! she makes me so proud

she walks with long steps
befriends in an easy way
she does what she believes
she's no doll who'll sway

her words could crown and throne
for the true, kind and just
the wrong, foul and shadey
she turns them into dust

she's pretty as a picture
a thing she hardly cares
she's busy honing her mind
her talent, hobbies and flair

her confidence is as startling
as contagious are her smiles
her maturity of one aged
her gaitey of a child

her dance is silent poetry
her voice rings like metal
her talent too many to count
she's a woman of some mettle

she's got a thing for perfection
she leaves no dirty ends
quality is her benchmark
there, she doesn't bend

she showers her love on me
a melting wax in my arms
she shows me how to live
she inspires, oh! she charms

so, heads turn to see her -
a marvel in the crowd
it doesn't make me jealous
but very very proud!!

जी ले


जीवन के रोज़मर्रे से
थोड़ा वक़्त निकाल
बैठ खुद के साथ आज
कर खुद पर खयाल

कब था वो आखिरी समय
जब हँसते-हँसते भर आई थी आँख
कब लगाया था एक दोस्त को गले
कब उड़ाई थीं मस्तियाँ लाख?

बैठा है तू जिसके इंतज़ार में
वो सही समय एक धोखा है
कहता है तू मजबूरी जिसे
उसी ज़ंजीर ने तुझे रोका है

क्यों मन इतना उदास है तेरा
क्यों हैं तेरे गाल गीले?
पुकार रहा है तक़दीर तेरा
मौका मिला है, जी ले

किस डर के बोझ में झुका है तू
सपने क्यों पड़ गए हैं पीले?
देख आइने में प्यार से खुद को
मुस्कुरा, और जी ले

तान के सीना चेहरा उठा
दिन ढले जब कंधे थे ढीले
नज़र गड़ा मंज़िल पर और
बढ़ा कदम-कदम जी ले

ये करारे दिन ज़िंदगी के हैं
इससे पहले की सीलें
रख दिल पर हाथ, उड़ान भर
लम्हों में सदियाँ जी ले