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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

29 March, 2006


I am joyous water
rushing down a mountain
water reflecting
the deep azure
yet scoop a handful
and blue is replaced by
the color of your palm

So easily stained -
crimson with blood
yellow ochre of turmeric
muddy brown
in rain puddles

Blazing heat my salvation

distilled into
my true self -


my true self
so elusive
even to me?

© Alaka Yeravadekar


28 March, 2006


with intent lush,
i’m leisurely climbing,
creeping up
the wall (of your defenses…)
spreading my silken self
over you,
embracing, wildly
flooding your senses.

stripping you
scale by scale
of your fuzzy pretenses…
cheekily offering the drupe fruit
evoking the blush
as you acquiesce,
putty, conceding
your friable defenses.

~They call me poison ivy~

*Poison ivy causes skin reactions to those with the oh-so-sensitive dermis. Urushiol, a chemical in the sap of the plant, leads to rashes, blisters, and severe itching. Beware!


The Sound of Caferati

And now *fanfare* for the first time, those of you who couldn't be at the last Bombay read-meet can hear some of the readings. The number next to each link is the file size in bytes.

Prema - Yati Doshi 1216512
One of them Princess Stories - Rohinton Daruwala 1495040
The Dating Game - Jane Bhandari 102400
Mr Anonymous - Archana Sankaran 90112
Little Girl In Red Frock - Mukul Dutta 251904
Life - Aditi Sharma 256000
I Kissed Her - Ravi Abhyankar 2338816
Fate's Design Suniti Joshi 2177024
Erotic Afternoon - Tejas Datta 149504
Cliche - Mukul Dutta 165888
The Performance - Rahul Mitra 2598912

And you can bookmark (or point your feedreader to  for future reference. Will use that space to upload more media files in future.


27 March, 2006

Kiss of Phantasm

Dark clouds had gathered on the horizon even as she looked from her balcony. The ominous clouds without any caution, had stormed the cloudless, blue sky, without as much as offering it an opportunity to take guard or shelter its pristine body. She quietly watched the dark swirling, the rampant outrage.

He put his hand on her back that faced him. She felt the familiar touch, the stirring, and smiled to herself, as she turned towards him. Was he supposed to come back tonight, wondered she as her eyes caught the elfish look in his eyes.

“Heyy,” she muttered, playfully running her fingers through his hair. “Your hair’s grown, sweetie. You so need a haircut.”

“Hah, who cares?” He mumbled thickly as he drew her to him.

She slid closer, her lips on his, softly yet firmly, as she heard, rather felt the dazzling lightning kiss the clouds again in the illimitable skies.

26 March, 2006


Each time I pull the quilt over me
it’s like slipping within a question mark
that hangs over my bed
prodding the false warmth
with which I sleep this cold winter.

But I know nothing of winter.
I see it only in news clippings of cold waves
or in the shivering of a mendicant
pressed against my car’s window
or in the vaporous breath of an illicit lover
exhaled across my married face.

© Dan Husain
December 23, 2005


A reply to Dream On

A little over a year ago, I sent James Tate's Dream On to several friends. One of them sent me this reply, which I reproduce here with permission, but no, sorry, I'm not allowed to reveal the poet's name. Comments are welcome, and will be delivered.

And some people
Write poems every day of their lives
But not on the page, not on the screen...

In the kitchen for friends
Who dropped by just like that
They slice green limes open
And squeeze the heart of summer
Into tall glasses (add sugar, and mint,
Crushed lightly
For the scent, and stir)
In those cool heavy glasses, inherited from
Their mothers or bought at a crafts sale
From the man with the mole on his face,
they carry out a clinking tray
Of sonnets.

And some men
Write poems as they teach
Their children to swim
To step up to the high diving board
Alone in a world of watery echoes
To plunge from that point of stillness
Into the depths of the pool
With chlorine prickling their eyes
And their father saying
You can, you can do it
Come up for air
Now, they hear the slight tremor
the pride and the worry
In the voice of a man learning
to dive into the strange rushing waters
Of parenthood, they hear
the trembling alaap and how it
will suddenly
Swell into a raag.

And some women are poems;
They can't help it,
As they wipe their hands
Briskly on a corner of that
Tatty sari pallu, as they
Push the hair out of their eyes
And poise their hands over the keyboard
Ready to disappear
Into stories or charts, statistics or art,
You recognize in the way
They hold their heads, to an angle,
Curious and measuring,
The way they flex their wrists,
A dancer's movement lost on
The chopping board where garlic
Diminishes into precise slivers,
The way they let their laughter
Travel out of their bellies
Into the world,
You see in the many lines
Lightly etched on their faces
The hard-won freedom
Of blank verse.

It's not just the page
That contains a poem,
It's not just the words
That make poetry, but us,
Listening to the slow cawing of crows
Against the lonely dinosaur
calls of the trains at night,
Watching the local drunk stagger home
At 3 a.m., singing old Raj Kapoor songs,
feeling the touch of freshly washed
towels as they tap politely on our backs,
knowing that these, too, are poems.

The sunbird might live in an empty lot
or might live in the trees
or make his home among the dahlias
in the far corner of the garden--
So long as we can hear the rustling
Of his feathers, feel his little urgent darts
In our veins.


24 March, 2006

The Other Woman

Now that she has even her all she would need to erase the traces of the offering made
She will have to make the words spoken evaporate into thin air
She will have to remove the musky smell of togetherness from the sheets and curtains
She will have to clean out the tell tale stains of coffee spilt on his bed and her toothbrush from his bathroom closet
Playing the pretend game she will lock it all up in her dream box as if it never really happened
As if she was never really here or anywhere
As if she really did not exist.


22 March, 2006


Absalom to the King

There is no light here. Strange, I see fire,
Dark fire blazing, burning a black sky. Why is blood black after dusk?
There is a tree here. Strange, I hear its soul beg,
From its captive hairless acorns to its spreading roots.

Here are my reasons:

For one filled with words and songs, why do you
Choose to be tone deaf to my voice?
For one so blessed, why am I
Chosen to be your darkest punishment?

Oh how the mighty have fallen, from rooftops
To bedrooms to killing fields, leaving
Slaughtered minds, bleeding wombs, dead sons
And ravished daughters.

Old man, wear your scars proud,
The moon tonight hides her face in darkness
Reflecting my naked rage
As I defile your house that was once ours.

Oh how far the young have run, from cold hearth
To alien lands to burning fields, running
For the glimpse of a face, ravaged by guilt,
Yet yearning for forgiveness.

Old man, songs of remorse do not give
The right to vengeance, so sing another tune,
Remain still, be still and know,
My rage is your sword that will smite you.

This is my revenge.

There is no light here. Dark corners of rage rise from the pit
And ask you this Father: Do you still not fear the death vale?
For you will see me forever, burning forever,
Burning for you for you did not burn for me.


21 March, 2006


But who would believe
how much is invested
in this routine of word-building?

This routine of putting –
a U after a P,
and a double TT after the U;
then, quickly sticking on the i-n-g tail,
so it becomes an animal that waffles through white spaces
of the soul,
making it a thing of meaning.

This need to put – P before U and T before T,
just so fingers do not stiffen...
just so tap-tapping fingers do not stop their tap-tapping symptomatic dance of life –
so that L comes before I, properly followed by an F and E...
just so things stay as they should be.

But who would admit
how much is invested
in the routine generation of sentences?

The little games of metaphorizing,
the predicament of predicates,
verbs, in transit,
positioning the preposition
(never at the end!).

The lax luxury of stripping adverbs,
the primitive frustration of the present tense
mutinying against the calm decadence
of a has-been vocabulary.

But who would admit
how much is invested
in such rioting with grammar?

Across the breathing corpse
of a poem,
in everyday revolts
against a familiar tap-tapping –
when putting a U after a P,
crossing a double TT...
Who would admit
how much is invested?

(C) Annie Zaidi
October, 2005



Come back, come back, come back.

Haunt my silence, break through
The roar of voices whispering
‘Move on’ and ‘Let go’

Come back, come back, come back,
Come back to me, don’t leave.

(Who cut the guitar strings?
Who burnt the pages of my black diary last night?)

Be my private wind
That fans the fiery fumes of my memory,
Scatters the ashes of my alveoli,
Breathes, oh god, breathes

Come back, come back, come back,
Come back to me, don’t leave.

(Did I cut them to be part of your silence?
Did I burn them to kill my voice?)

Be the teardrop in my black sky,
The wail in my silence;
Remember me, remember me,
Breathe, so I may return to you


20 March, 2006

A Private Play

As the curtain lifts we are on a bed under the stars. The bed is in the center of the stage. In the background are fields of corn stretching to the horizon. There is no light anywhere except for the soft moonlight.

[The night’s shadow comes to rest between her breasts. She looks at me with eyes full of an erotic rage. An eroticism that never fails to make me swell with the lust of a love waiting to take shape between her loving hands. It is a gentle violence between us. The playful nipping, the sudden bites, the pinpricks of soft slaps, and the twisting limbs fighting for domination in a game as old as Gaia’s wet lips.]

HER: Do you think we can go on loving like this? This intense urge to devour everything the other has to offer. Won’t this burn and scar us forever?

ME: Nah, I do not think so. But even if we burn, isn’t it better to burn like meteors, painting a beautiful nude across the night sky rather than spend a lifetime trying to stoke the fires of a dead passion?

[She thinks about this. But before she can answer I pull her closer and wrap my mouth around the nipple of her left breast, my favorite one. I love how the nipple tastes in my mouth. She sighs with a wet longing, a long and deep sigh coming from the depths of her soul, smelling of a love she wants my mouth to smell and my nose to taste.]

HER: Darling, how many lifetimes will I have to suffer before I encounter you again? For that random instant where I’ll be waiting with a raw hunger for you?

ME: I could fashion my answer into a verse that would be the greatest love poem ever written. But my dearest, words are ephemeral, lasting not for an instant in the eternity of our souls united by a love for which words have not been discovered yet.

HER (smiles): You and your poetry! I could rip out your organs one by one but you will still want to write poetry with the blood that is gushing out.

[She slides down and bites me on my chest, next to my right nipple. I gasp in recognition of that subtle mix of pain and pleasure that always comes as a surprise. I grasp her slithering hair and pull her up. She cries out but before the cry can escape the confines of her throat my mouth is on her’s. Her tongue shoots up into my mouth like a diver coming up for air. We kiss like it is the last kiss we will have before reality chases our unbelievable dream away. We stop after only a minute but which feels like our collective lifetime.]

ME: I want to rise and fall inside your perfect depths. I want to taste you as you explode like a star going supernova. I want to lay my head between your breasts and feel the gentle rise and fall your breathing makes. I want to whisper my dreams into your ear while you sleep and somehow feel that you dream those whispers as telepathic poems from my heart. I want to cleanse your every fear with all the love that is seeping out of each and every single pore of my body.

HER: I wish I could dissolve in the glistening wetness of your eyes while you say these things to me. I wish there was some way to tattoo these words onto my heart so that they will always be there as guiding lights through our every lifetime together until even eternity breathes her last.

[She hugs me tight, squeezing me as if wanting to feel all the love that we have for each other at once. I kiss her hair and hug her back, wanting to crush her between my arms and thereby distill the love we have into the purest liquid the universe has ever seen or tasted.]

As the curtain falls we are still interlocked, blissfully ignorant of the bright blue of a slowly advancing dawn to the east.

18 March, 2006

Just Dead

This poem is featured in Esther Morgan's short list for her Poetry Workshop for February in The Guardian UK. The link is here:,,1724956,00.html


So this is what it means to be dead.
Not much to it, save a certain lightness,
a vague nothing to get used to,
with the day an uniform whiteness
and nights not black but reduced to
a nondescript grey, the colour of lead.

But I know that’s wrong, even as I use
the settled nomenclature of the living.
Those quotidian certitudes must yield
to softer lines, an idiom more forgiving
of imprecision: nascent word revealed
in inchoate thing. And so I cruise

in this otherworld where meaning
makes no sense, without a name –
for ghost after all is earthspeak
like all the rest, and it’s not the same;
while time lies still over this bleak
landscape, beyond hope of a greening.

It suits me well, this strange vacuity
of place and purpose, my only quest
being one of definition: for words
are cognates no longer here, at best
fickle fingerposts pointing towards
a fooling spurious continuity.

Reason fails in this uncertain light,
and language gropes with tenuous roots.
And all the fixities that life defined
are no more than extinct truths,
an irrelevant construct of the mind –
and I’m not sure that mind is right.



Strange Poet

I remember how it used to be, at one point of time. You would send me messages on my phone, and I would suddenly stop, paw at my phone like an excited child with an unexpected Christmas gift that was not there under the tree earlier, and i click on the arrow keys to see your message. It would be something silly, as a rule. Some silly joke, some silly comment, and I would love it all the same, and send back hastily composed poetry to you.Poetry. God, you made me into a poet for those split second-moments when I was trying to tell you how much you meant to me.

When I was on the bus during those days, and the road rolled ahead of me, ochre and green and burnished, and the sky yawned loud overhead, shots of purple and gold and angry grey, I could almost feel the tiny sting of the raindrops, and put my hands out, as far as they could go, to receive them. I think it's true, what they say. You get creative when you're in love, or when you think you're in love. Which one was I? I thought I knew, I thought I knew.

Silly little trips made swiftly back home from work, where I would see you waiting on the curb. We would take that last twenty-minute walk down the avenue, to my doorstep, and discover ten thousand things each day as we strolled. How the roach arched, how the fabric shimmered, how the rickshaw swayed, how my lips creased, how your eye brows twitched, how painfully long that road seemed to get, as we got closer and closer to our destination. So was it about sex then? Was it about that instant attraction that we knew was there, the first time we met? But if it was, how on earth did we spend six-seven-eight hours that time sitting on the abandoned car at one end of the galli, and talking...? We never even held hands that time, but it was so clear in my mind, the longing, the despair - maybe, the two should not have been there together - maybe it should only have been longing (less complicated), maybe it was too personal... how many more maybes can I add to that?

God, you made me a poet. I can never get over that one.

I can remember your little gestures as if you were still here. I can remember the subtle nuances of your voice as they ranged from mild disapproval to utter annoyance. I bled you to death - you worried for me ever so much, and yet, somehow, none of that mattered to me. What mattered to me was the now, the present, and I guess I never worried about the future, like you did. For me, it was enough to run my finger down your arm, to kiss you softly behind your ear, to brush your hair back, as I licked your lips. Was that my problem, the fact that I was too much involved in pleasuring you, I wonder, but if sex was all there was to it, would sex compel me to write a sordid tale of an affair to remember? Would sex alone make me remember you tenderly, and hate you vehemently when you told me never to call you again?

More importantly, how on earth, would sex make me a poet?

But you broke your promise to yourself the other day, when you called me. You said, you came here, only for me, to speak to me, to hear my voice. I felt angry at you then - why on earth would you do this to me now, why on earth couldn't you let this snarling dog lie asleep, and let me just go as I was… But I said hello, and I asked you how you were, how your job was getting along, the usual kind of crap that nobody ever cares for, but say nonetheless, and you answered in that quiet tone of yours, slightly hesitant, and I could actually picture you jerking your head slightly, voice slightly cracked... did you have a cold, I asked, suddenly concerned, and when you said no, all my hostilities returned - how was HE? I asked, and I heard the much-hated and much-expected reply: he's well, I’m well, we're good together, we’re happy together.

Fuck off, I roared.

How nice, I said. I kept on staring ahead at the computer screen, the words I had been writing. They were opaque, and all I could see was you, you, you, wringing your wrists, talking about yourself, about how you were 'happy' with him, but called all the way from your city - our city - to tell me that you missed me. To tell me that you had broken your promise.

So you spoke, and I listened, and I remembered that night in Delhi, when you called unexpectedly and heard music in the background, and asked, where it was coming from since I had told you I was going home early. So I lied, and said there was nobody there, that I wasn't going to cheat on you and that you should trust me - if you love me, then trust me, don't put me through this because I can't handle it, I roared then - and you believed me. I won. I won. I lost. I won. So, no - you stay there, where you are - in our city - away from me - you stay with him, and you stay happy, but please, please, please... miss me, I thought. Miss me, please. That was when you said goodbye, and I said that too, and you said you'd call me later.

That was when I swore I'd never call you again, though you made me a poet for some fleeting moments, though you made me think about you, hate you, love you, possess you, cheat on you. Now why on earth did I do that? Poets do funny things, even though it's momentary.

09 March, 2006

You and I


the space
between us


an aberration
on a normal graph,

a knot
in the thread
to be passed
through a needle.

© Alaka Yeravadekar


08 March, 2006

Peace & Its Discontents*

Here! Right here!
Let’s draw a line
and reach an understanding
albeit hesitant
that we will not
step across it
but then who is to decide
what is righteous?
The loose ends, the cul-de-sacs
in the labyrinth in our heads
often spill on to the other side;
barbed spaces
where our tolerance resides.
And then the discontent,
fermenting underneath with gnomic intent,
like Azaan at the crack of dawn
will pierce through this uneasy peace,
shattering it
long after stillness has settled
in our clattering teeth.

© Dan Husain
February 11, 2006

* The title is not original. It is the title of one of the books that Edward Said wrote on the Israeli-Palestinian Peace accord.


06 March, 2006


Part one.

Summer was unending this year. Temperature kept rising every day. Every day people looked hopefully at the sky, waiting to see a dark patch which promised rain.
But the days remained dazzling bright and evenings poured bright merciless colours all over the earth, yellow, orange and fiery red. Slowly the green turned yellow and then arid ochre and then brown. Wells went dry, and rivers turned into parched sand filled wasteland. Cattle started chewing dry grass and thorny bushes.

"Too much sin... in high places" the idiot sitting on the temple steps kept muttering to himself. The flower vendor listened intently and nodded wisely. It was believed that God spoke through the simpleton. The flower vendor made a note to himself to discuss this matter with the priest later. This needs looking into. Meanwhile the sun kept pouring fire from the sky and air was heavy with dry dust.

Ujhaali sat next to her father's dead body. There were no tears left in her eyes. Her mind whirled with questions about her future. Her husband still had not come to fetch her. She had waited long enough for him. She was sure there were things which must have kept him occupied, like looking after his people to whom he was God. To Ujhaali too, he was God. She must go to him.

She laid her father's body neatly in the centre of the hut, gathered her meager belongings and with a burning torch set fire to the hut and stood there watching it burn to cinders. Her entire existence was going up in smoke before her eyes. She had known no life other than the one here in the forest with her father.
Bidding him farewell with ache in her heart, she asked for his forgiveness. She couldn't afford any last rites beyond these. Then with one last look at the burning hut she turned around and walked down the path that would take her towards the city. She would never come this way again.


'What is it that you claim? That You are our king's wife?' The minister from the king's council had asked her with an incredulous look on his face. She stood before the council with her head bowed and told them her tale, unperturbed by the disbelief in their eyes. Her simplicity and sincerity touched a few, but they were soon silenced by cynics in the group.


A year ago, in a heavy rain storm, a horse had stood outside Ujhaali's hut in the forest. With her father's help she had brought the rider inside. He had remained unconscious. They had made him as warm as they could. But there just hadn't been enough warm or dry clothes for that. As the fire in the corner had died down, Ujhaali's father had said,
" My daughter, only you can keep him warm."
Ujhaali had stared at her father, stunned and not understanding.
"Your young body has the warmth which will help him live through the night."

And closing the door of the hut he went out, leaving her with the unconscious man.
Looking at the sleeping man's face she had wondered, it is so easy? Giving yourself to a man?
With a sigh she went to a small idol in the corner, prayed deeply asking for God's blessings for what she was about to do.

Then removing her clothes she had joined the shivering man on the tattered mattress, engulfing him in her young warm embrace, warming and calming his twitching body.


"And what happened next morning? The grateful king made you his queen of course." One councilor asked with a slight sneer in his voice.

"I didn't know he was a king. Not then. He was just my husband. I had married him before God. That was the only way to save his life."

Ujhaali tried to explain in some confusion, not being used to city folk's sophisticated speech, while the councilors watched her intently. She doggedly continued with her story.


At the break of dawn, the man had opened his eyes. His colour had come back to normal. He still had shivered with cold, but had been clearly out of danger. He had looked around in surprise and seen a simple girl sleeping next to him. Sensing his movement Ujhaali had woken up in confusion and covered herself with her Odhani.
Ujhaali had told him haltingly about the circumstances which had made her take such measures and the man was filled with gratitude and admiration. Promising her to make her his queen the King had gone away. He would come back later and take her with him, he had said. She must enter the city like a queen. He had gone away, leaving behind memories of one day of bliss. And that had been almost a year ago.

Part Two.

The King sat watching the whole proceedings from the inner chamber. He remembered the whole incident and the generosity of the girl. But make her his Queen? He had rejected princesses who were far more beautiful than her. She was just a young uncouth woman who lived in forest. It was not as if he had seduced or raped her. He had been unconscious for God's sake, where as she had known what she was doing. She was clearly out to trap him. His head was throbbing and he was finding it difficult to think straight. He didn't remember summer heat as bad as this.

The prime minister silently entered the inner chamber to ask him what should be done about the young girl.
" Just see that she doesn't create any problems for us." The king said impatiently. Prime Minister hesitated a little, found himself dismissed by at a wave of hand, and silently went out with a bow.

Outside the councilors were still cross-questioning Ujhaali.

"Girl, this clearly is a trick! Do you think it's so easy to trick a man into marrying you? Are you with child ? Who put you up to this ? Tell us."

" And there are no witnesses to this, of course! Your father is dead, that leaves only God! Do you care to call Him to intervene on your behalf ?"

Outside the window, she could see the merciless glare of Sun which hurt her eyes, blinding her momentarily. She wiped the perspiration from her face and tried to focus her eyes on the old councilor talking to her in earnest. The words fell on her ears like a buzz. It was like a collective sound of the city, rejecting her.

"Go girl. Go away. Our king is kind. He will give you money if you are in need. Do you need a house? We can arrange for one, with a big garden. If you are in trouble, we will help you find the father. But don't slander our good king."

"You are young and not bad looking if I may say so. With money and a house you should not have any trouble getting a husband," One councilor suggested a little cynically.

But Ujhaali was persistent even as she faced the barrage of questions and insulting suggestions.

" Find me a husband ? But I am married, Didn't you understand ? I am married to the king. He is my husband. Let me meet him. Why doesn't he meet me ? He will tell you that I am speaking the truth." She refused to budge and soldiers were reluctant to use force on a girl.

Seeing that she would not move from the palace, the King emerged from the inner chamber and stood looking at her with haughty, remote eyes. He looked so different from the tender man she had met & loved.

"You do not remember me Sire ?" She asked eagerly.


"I am Ujhaali... That night.... in the forest..." She faltered when her eyes met the cold glare from the king's eyes. But she resolved to state her case.

"I have never seen you before in my life and if you insist that I am your husband, you are lying."

Finally after half hour's pleading and cajoling, she ran out of all she had to say. The king stood looking at her with impassive face and watchful eyes.

She stood erect before him, looked him straight in the eye, and said,

"Maharaj, I do not want gold or money from you. Reject me if you wish to. I know now that I shouldn't have come to meet you here. But in front of this august audience of respected councilors, do not make me wrong, nor deny your own promises. It will be a grave sin. Let it not be said, the king broke his word to a humble girl. Just say once, you remember me, and you had made me a promise. Say that and I will go away."

The king refused to remember her and continued listening to her without a flicker of emotion on his face. Finally after ordering the guards to show her the door, he retired to the inner chambers.


Ujhaali walked the molten streets bare feet. She neither felt the burning earth under her, nor sun pouring fire from above. Her mind was in turmoil. She realized how unequipped she was to cope with the world and people. It all was so different from the forest she had lived in. That had been His promise and as the old man at the court had said- only God was her witness.

With dry unseeing eyes and numb mind she roamed the city. People looked at her with pity and curiosity. The story of the young girl from the forest who claimed to be the king's wife had spread like wild fire. Even in the noon day heat people followed her to see what she would do, but she was blind and deaf in her rage and misery. No one dared to talk to her or stop her. The simpleton followed her everywhere, muttering to himself.
"Sin... grave sin..." People tried to hush him.

She kept walking all day long unaware of everyone and in the evening reached the seashore. For a long time she stood looking at the sun. People thronged on the shore, curious to see what she would do.

All day long King's spies kept bringing him the updates about her activities. He was secretly worried she would take her case to people, and then he would be publicly denounced. Looked like she had no such plans. Spies brought the news, she was now on the sea shore and could be seen her from the terrace of palace. The king hurried to the terrace. He could see her clearly.

There she stood, unaware of the crowds around her. She stood there like a statuette, gazing intently at the setting sun. At long last, just as the sun was about to set, she turned around, looked directly at the king standing on the terrace. The brilliant rays of setting sun lit her, turning her briefly into an ethereal being, an avenging angel. The merciless hot wind carried her words to the king clearly.
"My husband, remember, we will meet in heaven three days hence."

And turning around she entered the waves. People watched with bated breath, no one even dared to stop her. There was a murmur of sorrow which was quickly hushed. King wanted to order the guards to stop her, but stood paralyzed by the intensity which she exuded. Ujhaali kept walking till people couldn't see her head above the water anymore and the last rays of the setting sun blazed brighter as a pillar of fire rose from the sea. People gasped as they watched the unearthly scene. They waited for some sign of her, but nothing was left behind except an acrid smell of ashes in the air. Men were silent, women started to weep.
"Sin... grave sin..." the simpleton was chanting loudly now. In the mournful silence his was the only voice heard clearly.

The king went to his apartments, filled with dread and remorse. He wished he could undo what he had done. He called his ministers to ask for their counsel. None had any advise for him except - wait and watch. After telling him vaguely to be careful, they all went away.

The king tossed on his bed. Longing for the elusive sleep and dreading it at the same time. He kept seeing that the strange fire every time his eyes closed. The heat was making breathing difficult. He went out on terrace, hoping for some respite from heat and stood looking pensively at the sea.

Next day the king sat on the terrace, staring at the sea. Maids fanning him, offering him glasses of chilled juices, sprinkling rose water on him, but he still burnt with heat. The sky should have been heavy with dark clouds by this time, he thought as he scanned the sky with anxious eyes. Was there any truth in what the idiot had said? That it won't rain because someone in high places had sinned? Had he sinned?

The raj vaidya gave him medicines to bring down the fever, but finally gave up. For two days and two nights the king lay in bed, tormented by rising fever and heat. All over the kingdom people prayed for the king's recovery.

The king kept mumbling Ujhaali's name again and again in delirium. On the third evening, as the sun was setting, the king breathed his last, his eyes fixed on the spot where Ujhaali had vanished.

And during the night the dark clouds gathered in the sky, with thunder and lightening the rain arrived, filling the wells, streams and river, soaking the barren fields, quenching the thirst of the earth which had waited for a long time.


It’s not the distances
and I know,
you sit smug in the know
all too well.

As our souls wrench
to inch closer,
the chasm, corporal,
keeps splitting wider
(at this point, life offers me
her wide, weary grin.

The stripped truth
writhes in cold sheets
even as reality whips her
harder than before.

Hopefully, pelting sense.


03 March, 2006

Tenebrae - Songs of Darkness

Consumed by Fire

*Deus, in adiutorium meum intende. Domine, ad adiuvandum me festina.

Every word an eternal fire
And yet you think I have forgotten
All dewdrops that fell from your lips long ago –
Oh but I merely long
For litanies, to alchemize these to icicles,
That I may burn my memories in this wilderness
With your light.

The Death of Fire

Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, mine acquaintance is darkness.

How desolate this place is
Yet no more than the space I left behind,
The fires lit by others I kill blaze by blaze -
Oh but I merely wish
Forgetfulness, to throw your face in shadows,
That I may quench all hopes of resurrection of lust and longing
In your light.

Broken Music

Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? Shall the dead arise and praise thee?

The canticle melts into the darkness
And the notes fall like tears from the night sky,
Lonely, gasping, torn asunder from the word –
Oh but I merely desire
The death of voices, to silence expression,
That I may hide behind veils, stone walls, and my eyes
Without your light.


I have come into deep waters and the torrent washes over me.

The words I longed to tell you breathe their end
They drown in the tears you held in your eyes when I left,
They flit in the space that I imagined was you –
Oh but I will delude you no longer
There will never be a turning back, a return to you,
That I don’t repeat this loss, this dying of music
In the murder of our light.

*O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me.


01 March, 2006


Where does compassion for a subject in one’s novel begin and desire to finish the story end? Is it right to use actual people to write something and hope that they will die soon so that you can finish the book? Do we as a society have the moral right to take the life of another human being even if that person has killed someone? Are we capable of realizing how momentous and irreversible death is?

Writers, I think, are highly selfish people. They live for their craft and characters and usually interact with society insomuch as it often gives them ideas for new stories. To them nothing matters more than getting a story down on paper and most importantly finishing it. They have to maintain a unique relationship with their characters. They have to be honest and caring but detached enough to not get personal and impose their own view on the people in their books. It is this conflict that Capote struggles with as he writes ‘In Cold Blood’, arguably his most famous work.

On one hand he is a narcissistic man in love with himself and on the other hand he has a compassionate heart. He is unable to detach himself from the people who form characters in his book. He wants to finish the book but for that to happen the protagonists have to die. So he vacillates between not helping them find a lawyer so that their appeal against the death sentence cannot go forward and hating himself for being so self-absorbed.

He cannot help himself from developing an affectionate bond with a person who has murdered one whole family in cold blood. He begins to care for him. He wants to help him delay the inevitable. But deep within all this affection is his selfish desire to be done with the book, a book which he has proclaimed, even before he has written a word of it, as his best. So he struggles to find a moral center, a justification for what he is doing, and he fails.

Philip Seymour Hoffman justly deserves all the praise he has been getting. His is a sublime performance and is one of the best I’ve seen in recent times. He achieves the rare distinction of slipping so much into the character’s skin that you no longer see the actor; you only see the character he portrays. He carries the film solely on his shoulders and never falters. The moment near the end of the film when he truly realizes what is about to happen, the way Hoffman breaks down made my eyes water with genuine empathy for what the man was feeling. It was a supreme achievement. Praise should go to the director Bennett Miller as well. It is hard to believe that this is his first feature film. To show the internal conflict Truman Capote underwent when writing one of the most important book’s of the 60s in such a brilliant manner; Miller can be proud of the perfect jewel he has crafted.

Abstracting Love

It's been so long since I posted, I forgot how! :-) No, really--I wandered around the blog and then suddenly light dawned, and here I am.

This is cross-posted on Ryze.

Abstracting Love

Let’s elevate the discussion right now.
Let’s talk of high-minded things.

High-minded things such as, perhaps,
Love—the whole rainbow range.

The whole rainbow range—to coin a cliché—a spectrum,
No less—which will you take?

Will you take sister-love, maternal, same-sex?
Will you make-your-own-hyphen or take it straight?

Take it straight or talk it direct
It doesn’t really matter—

Matter, mind, blood and bone,
Sweat, semen, effusion of verse—love’s

Love. A mistress whose eyes
Are nothing like the sun, or the hero—

The hero who said he could not love me
Loved he not honour more.

More or less in degree, and for long enough now, they
Have snatched the words from my love.

My love is claiming the words
That have been so long gone now.

Now is not the time for high-mindedness
Or ways to elevate my soul.

My soul is learning to find the caress
In the touch of this new tongue on mine.