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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

31 December, 2006


The key to good flirting is confidence. If you have that, even the corniest of pick up lines will not let you down. And of course, he knew it. He'd been doing this forever. He was a player. Keen and sharp, with a seductive smile on his lips that all the candidates who met him here for coffee would ache to reach over and kiss, but would hold themselves just back. He knew how he did it, even though they didn't. This was his place. He thought of himself as a decadent Austin Powers and this place as his mojo den.

For all intents and purposes - other than his - the place was a coffee shop.

Amber glow and warm liquids and friendly voices, and he would conduct his interviews here. One by one, day by day, evening by evening, over cups of coffee that ranged from lattes to mochas to the cheaper 'house specials' that the barista knew he would ask for. A grin, a wink, a polite "And what will you have? These guys make great coffee", and they would be hooked.

But of course, it would depend on him, whether he would reel them in or not.

He was finicky. Not in the sense that snooty people are. His detractors and friends always said that he slept with anything that walked. He would smile and agree. He was a player. If he played you right, and you responded to some degree, he would be equally hooked. After the three hours or so it took to satiate him, he would ask you ever so politely to leave his apartment, just a block away from the amber coloured coffee shop. And his chemistry was such that, you would probably call or sms him a couple of days later, asking for a rematch, even though you knew he was never the kind who repeated his tricks.

So he would make it a point to reach the coffee shop fifteen minutes before the appointed time, and settle into his chair, the table which overlooked the road outside, and grin at the barista for his usual - a cheaper 'special' to tide him over till his trick arrived. Sometimes, he would run his eyes over the rest of people in the store, and if he saw a specimen that turned him on, he would stare fixedly, till the object of his gaze would look up, and he would smile. Just like that. Sometimes it helped to fix another date for the next day. Sometimes, it would result in nothing at all. But that was ok. He was familiar with the rules of the game.

Rule One was that nobody wins all the time. There's no such thing as a perfect run, and he was game for that. He was game for the thrill of wondering whether he would win or not. And if he lost, he never took it to heart. Because he knew, in another day, week, month or year, he would be back in front of the game, he would smile in a new avatar, and the game might not be that resilient. Sometimes, he loved the fact that his friends thought he was terribly cold. For his part, he couldn't understand how they could be so... restrictive.

There was the first candidate, and his eyes would grin at him. He would make a mental note and approve of the open shirt, the speck of tanned skin at the neck that looked amazingly delicious. He would move his hand forward and touch a forearm in a pretense to get at the sugar packets. They would laugh, and he would move his chair in closer. The joke would be silly. Something about how dumb the hero of the latest Bollywood flick looked while performing his Spiderman moves, but there would be something terribly charming about how the player made his move that made the game laugh. And blush, when the player made his own pleasure boldly apparent.

Rule Two was that everyone likes being flattered on a date. That's the easiest way to get them to take off their clothes.


But then clothes are terribly over-rated, she thought, smiling at the prey sitting opposite her, trying not to look at the horrendous zebra print shirt. It's what I want underneath the clothes that’s important, she giggled to herself in a fit of girly sluttishness, and flushed a bit in a move that was calculated to get the prey feeling a tad hot in the air-conditioned coffee shop.

Clothes are terribly over-rated in the sense that she never bothered to dress up too much for her tricks. She was meeting them evening after evening, coffee after coffee, because she wanted to, and a girl can't get dressed up all the time, she reasoned. So she would walk over from her office which was a short walk away from the coffee shop, play with her hair, undo the jacket, apply some brief gloss, and she would be perfect. It was the way she handled herself. The confidence, the poise, the combination of good girl and bad girl that made men turn their heads when she walked by. The elan when she crossed her legs, when she arrived at the coffee shop fifteen minutes before the appointed time, at her favourite table that was closest to the barista's counter. That way, she could look clearly at everyone who entered the store, and she could amuse herself by flirting with the barista in the meantime. They played a game, she and the barista: he would pretend to know her name, and she would pretend to give it to him, but of course she would change it every day he asked her. She wondered briefly, when she saw the barista flush and dimple, whether she should get a trick with him sometime, but then abandoned the idea: it would unnecessarily complicate matters.

Rule Three was that a player's arena must be a neutral zone. The player cannot toy with any of the original elements therein, as that would lead to complications. The perfect playing ground is hard to find - it can't be too empty or too full or too remote or too prominent or too dim or too lit up or too open or too closed - and once a player finds his or her ground, the player tries not to fuck it up by messing around with the neutral elements.

So she would flirt with the barista, smile at him, touch his wrist when he would serve her coffee, but then never look at him afterwards, be suitably sweet when paying the bill but always leaving a tip and never giving him the opportunity to ask her out.

The flirting had additional advantages. If her Trick Of The Day was a good candidate - good shoes, great clothes, great smile, good build, no bad breath, with a car and a place where they could be uninterrupted for two hours - a brief flirting usually got them further intrigued. Men love slutty women. Men love to have sex with slutty women. And she used that to her advantage. The idea was to be a classy slut. The idea was to smile just so that her trick would think, she's going out of my hand right now, if I don't take her for a drive in my Merc right now, buy her flowers, and o god I want that ass! And the flirting was a great diversion in case the trick turned out to be disappointing and she had to ditch him: the server is my boyfriend, and I didn’t think he’d be working today but he is, so it's best that you leave right now or he'll smash your brain to a pulp.

Rule Four was that there is nothing like the hint of competition to get a man exceedingly horny or exceedingly scared.


But of course he had noticed her for a long time now. Sometimes, when he would come in early and survey the crowd, and there she would be sitting, legs crossed, flirting with the barista, and he would smirk to himself before looking out the window again to search out his game. Sometimes, while talking to his game, his eyes would linger on her, where she sat, and they would appreciate her long tanned legs, and the stilettos that seemed to make his heart beat faster. He would smile absentmindedly, especially if his game for the day was boring, demented or just ugly, and somehow, looking at her with her tricks, he would be inspired to come up with great excuses to dump his depressing game.

My boss just called, there's an important contract I have to prepare back at the office.

This coffee tastes like shit, I think I'm going to be sick now.

Do you mind if I visit the loo?

I'm feeling hungry. I think maybe I should ditch coffee and have lunch. You've already eaten, right?

My flatmate is locked out of the apartment and is waiting for me to go and let him in right now.

That was my mum on the phone - we have unexpected (but important) guests at home, and I have to rush right now.

Rule Five was that you never looked too closely at a dumped trick's face when you made your excuse: you flailed your arms, looked a bit lost and disappointed, gathered your bag, paid your half of the bill, and rushed out. Pronto.

Of course, other than the great inspiration she provided him with, he didn't fail to notice that she was with a new trick every day at the coffee shop, and he would grin to himself. She's a player, like me, he would think, and he would feel something that was a weird combination of the sexual and the non-sexual titillate him. It was difficult to put his finger on it. And he would look at her. And her loser tricks. And her hot tricks. And he would go to bed with his hot game. And dump the lame ones.

Rule Six was that Darwin had it abso-fuckin-lutely right, and the Creationists have lousy missionary style sex.


Rule Seven was to make the tricks and games of the world think they're this Someone Special for the player, who can get the player to perform strange and profound acts of tenderness. Licking chocolate out of a fork, while doing so, usually helps.

So now, while her trick gaped at her and declared that experimenting and free sex were definitely the order of the day, week, month and year, she leant back onto her chair, uncrossed and recrossed her legs and smiled gratefully. He... understood her. He would also understand if she wanted another expensive frappe, wouldn't he?

Rule Eight was to make your move fast, she suddenly thought, when she stumbled on her heels, but was caught by the grip of the man who was coming over to the counter to ask for the cheque, and distinctly felt the fingers squeeze her lower back where they touched her. She knew it was the player, even before she turned around to thank him for catching her. She knew because she'd been noticing him for the past god knows how many days and weeks, and she'd known that his grip and his squeezing fingers would feel like that. She smiled to herself, and to him, when she saw the flicker and spark in his teeth and eyes when she turned around, and the rest happened like clockwork.

"Thank you. I'm fine now."

"You're very fine."

"That was - "

"- an insane compliment."

"I wanted coffee."

"Maybe you wanted more than that."

"What could I want?"

"I live nearby."

"Let's go."'

"I've paid."

And while his game and her trick remained seated at their tables, bewildered at the brief conversation at the barista’s counter, the two players strode out the glass doors.


"We should have made love like animals," she smiled, stretching herself, poking her long legs out of the printed coverlet on his bed.

"I always make love like an animal," he replied, as her fingers traced an absurd pattern on his chest.

"You have such curly hair here," she giggled, her player mode kicking back in, "I feel like I'm in a Mills & Boons novel here. Maybe you'll turn out to be a big hairy knight or something!"

"You already met the big hairy knight," he grinned, taking her hand down to his groin.

"Hairy, at any rate," she teased, squeezing him, and he started laughing now, too, letting go of her hand.

"I should be going now, anyhow. My boss will start missing me," she sighed, stepping out naked from underneath the coverlet.

He looked at her lithe body, as she stepped into her panties, and grinned again, "Is that your favourite excuse? I usually go for the Urgent Family Call!"

She laughed again, and threw one of the Hare Ram printed satin cushions strewn on the floor at him, which he ducked. "Did I tell you how much I love your place?"

"No, you were much too busy ripping my clothes off," he retorted, pulling his drawstrings on now.

"That's because I wanted to make love like an animal today. I was so completely in the mood," she sighed wistfully.

He rearranged the thrown cushion on the divan below the bed, and his eyes twinkled when he spoke, "You knew who I was, right? I mean... How could you not know... ?"

"O, I knew, all right," she nodded, grinning, and plopped down on the bed to step into her stilettos now, "But I just didn't care. I thought - there are sparks, so let's light them. And you thought the same - otherwise, you wouldn't have brought me here!"

The player nodded in turn, and kneeled at her feet. "I like you. There's chemistry."

"There’s chemistry," she agreed, "We're both sluts."

His smile broadened, "I love the way I am."

She ruffled his hair, "I love the way I am, too. So it's just perfect."

She got up now, picked up her handbag, and turned back, "But I really have to go now, and since you have my number and I have yours, let's catch up this Friday for drinks. I'll introduce you to this bunch of friends I'm going dancing with."

He grinned broadly and nodded happily, and she headed for the door. Looked back at him in his drawstring pants and ruffled curly hair, surrounded by his satin printed cushions, and beamed, "I love gay men!

27 December, 2006

When We're Dead...

When we’re dead
strange people crawl into our intimate spaces.
I see the aunt who spewed venom
washing utensils in a kitchen
where once we chopped coriander and cucumber
with other assorted vegetables
for a salad that I fussed and you fretted upon
but in the end we did relish eating it
over a meal of courgette and prawn.

And there is this uncle,
weeping profusely next to my mother,
who always thought I am good for nothing;
A wastrel who lived off his parent’s deeds.
He once said he had a job for me –
a sales executive in a respectful company –
but we knew in his motives he is suspect;
He only intends to oblige, to humiliate.

Oh! There is this beautiful cousin,
who once was besotted with me,
washing her lovely daughter’s nappies
in a bathroom where once I washed
our little girl’s clothes and yours too
when you lay nursing after a painful birth giving.
And as I rinsed them dry
you smiled through the slit of light
that fell across the bed,
your lithe body, your blessed face.

And there they sit, my friends,
huddled around my forlorn father
who only shakes his head and sighs –
If he had to die
why did he take his life?
Why didn’t he also perish
in the same car accident
that snatched his wife and lovely kid?

© Dan Husain
May 5, 2005

PS: This poem was written after a tragedy in my extended family. An uncle of mine lost his wife and daughter in a car accident and then 20 days later died under unexplained circumstances. I wrote this poem on his day of funeral. This is my humble tribute to the lovely family of Shakeel Abidi, Deeba Abidi and Sara Abidi (She was only 16).


25 December, 2006

Shanghai Nights

Cliff Martinez - First Sleep

(First posted here. If possible, please listen to the song above while reading the story below.)

A phone rang in the background. People trying to reach others on the edge. I observed her from the other side of the room. Her polite smile. Her naughty laugh. The way she drank a shot, so elegant and sexy. It was raining outside. The whispers of so many strangers mingled with the drumming of the raindrops on the roof. I wandered through the crowd to get a better look at her. The seat next to her was empty. She turned and glanced at me with a half smile around her lips. I slid my shot across and ordered a fresh one. We drank.

“Can you resist an impulse?”

“I don’t know. It depends.”

“On what?”

“On what I’ll gain out of the impulse. Will it give instant gratification or do I need to persevere? What about you?”

“Oh yes! I always give in to my every impulse. You know that is why I’m talking to you, based on such an impulse.”

We went out to sit on the porch and watch the rain. In the distance, landing lights flashed. Planes took off and landed at regular intervals. The warning lights on the airport radar blinked cryptic messages. There was that special smell of wet earth.

She went in to get some food. It was a Chinese dinner. She came back with two bowls filled with lightly spiced egg noodles and two pairs of metal chopsticks.

“I do not know how to eat with chopsticks.”

“Neither do I but I like the way chopsticks feel in my hands, especially these metal ones. Let's keep them as souvenirs.”

She smiled and started picking up noodles with her fingers. She was quite good at it. It was not messy at all. I tried to emulate her as best as I could.

“You know, I lived in Shanghai with my parents when I was a child. It was a different city back then. No high rises. No glitz. No sleek highways. I remember this old fisherman in the fish market from whom we always bought our fish. He taught me how to eat noodles without chopsticks. It was funny how I ended up talking to him. He spoke very good English...”

She trailed off into a long silence, reminiscing perhaps of the old Shanghai. She finished the noodles and wiped her hands and lips on a napkin. I followed suit after about a minute.

“...I never did ask him where he learnt to speak English like that. He liked Indians a lot. Apparently, he had fought with the Indian soldiers against the Japanese in the Battle of Imphal. You know, I never thought about this before, perhaps that was where he learnt his English.”

She suddenly reached out and held my hand, squeezing it gently. She withdrew her hand slowly.

The rain had slowed down to a drizzle in the meantime. The wet grass glistened under the lights. It had been a warm day but the rain and the breeze had cooled the night. She got up and looked at me.

“Let us take a walk through the garden.”

“But it is still raining. I get irritated getting wet in a drizzle.”

“Come on, don’t fight your impulse. I know you want to. I can see it on your face.”

She was right. I did want to walk with her through the light rain and feel the cool breeze brush against my skin.

“You know, there is a fragment of a poem that I really like. Nights such as this always bring it to mind.”

“What fragment is it?”
“"Hope" is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –”
“That is beautiful. Who is it by?”

“Emily Dickinson. She is one of my favorite poets.”

We walked to the edge of the garden. The rain was only a pleasant short term memory by then. The land dropped below us into a small open area densely covered by shrubs. To the left, below us, was a small lake, half lit by the lights from the houses behind us. On the far right, some distance away, was the airport.

There was a small bench where the garden ended. We sat close to each other. Her hand slipped into mine. She stared at the rippling waters of the lake while I looked at the landing lights turn on and off at irregular intervals. A song could be heard faintly from one of the houses behind us. We spent the rest of the night, huddled together in the cool night, talking of Shanghai nights in the past, good poetry and ambient music, until the first rays of dawn gently kissed our brows.

23 December, 2006

Sunset at Bundi

A cold evening
Drifts down from the Aravallis.
One ear is warm.
Science would insist
That it’s a cheap phone
heating up.
I know what it really is:
You called
To share the sunset.


Bombay 1

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. *whew*
Way too many syllables
To fit into a haiku.



Writers writing about writing.

Isn’t it cool
To be able to use one’s only skill
To describe one’s only gift
And call it art?

The only thing more vain—
Not to speak of self-indulgent
and probably easier—
Would be speakers speaking about speaking.


New Words

Teach me,
Teach me new words;
Mine are all worn out.
They buy, they sell,
They build and knock down,
They have been weighed out,
Measured, counted, timed,
And sold.
I’m out of stock now,
So, teach me.
Teach me new words.
For I have run out of love songs.


I left some poems in a cab today

If I was trying to make a living out of poetry
The title would have read:
I left some poems in the train today.


12 December, 2006

No one can split bullets like Rajinikaaaan...!

“Noor daram chonna maadhri!” chorused the audience. I sputtered lemonade all over my shirtfront. I turned to Hamsini, who sat next to me, smirking, “Isn’t this the premier show?” Her eyes were glazed, so I tapped her shoulder and asked again. Maybe the whistles and claps had drowned my question. So I asked again, “How do they know the dialogs?” A bald man sitting in the row in front turned around and smiled, “First timer-ah? Wonly Rajini is Sooperstar. Watch, watch!.”

I watched, speechless. The projectionist had paused the film. A few lights came on, the entire audience rose to their feet, and there was a deafening applause. I wondered if the movie stars were present and were to be garlanded. But the bald man turned around and explained, “Sutti podu…how do you say in your North, ‘nazar utaarna’.” I watched as they performed the ceremony to the paused frame with my jaws touching my knees. They stayed that way for the rest of the movie. In fact, after fifty-three of his many hundred movies, I probably need medical help from a glazed eye and surprised jaw specialist.

I know now. I am in love with Rajinikant movies. He makes a better entry than Sly Stallone. His sambaar kung fu is far better than Steven Segall’s. He dances, sure, he does. But not once do we forget that he is very mensch (well, the moustache helps). He is Sooperstar!

At first, my gal pals, who have seen me drool over Johnny Depp, thought I was playing a huge trick on them. The boys, who have patiently watched me rewind Bruce Lee flicks to the frame, thought I had lost it.

“Rajanikant?” they exclaimed, “Are you serious?!”

“Yes, yes, Rajinikant!” I corrected. “His Billa makes Shah Rukh look like a sad imitation in Don.” At this point, several girls of the Shah Rukh fan club, found me unworthy of presidentship, left the party. The husband checked if I had imbibed more than a fair share of the Green Island Rum. I read his mind just as Rajini does in Chandramukhi, and told him I’d had but one glass to drink.

I continued, “Even Helen chose Rajinikant over Shah Rukh, she dances the equivalent of ‘Yeh mera dil’ in Billa! And his sneer iz faar more yeefective…” The boys ignored my rapidly thickening accent were persuaded to watch Billa on DVD. Then Ranga, then Muthu, Veera, Annamalai, Dharamayudhdham, Chandramukhi, Padikkadhawan, Thee, NaanMahanalla, Naan Sigappu Manidhan, even Dhalapathy…

Rajinikant is one of a kind. (Sorry, that’s the understatement of the decade!) When he drives an autorickshaw in Baasha (that’s Manik Baasha to you!) he makes heroes out of the little people. He just has to swish his little hand towel back and forth around his neck to make madras checks fashionable. I lost my fascination with the nun chaku after watching that swish. Oh come on! Don’t tell me you’ve seen any movie star light cigarettes the way Rajinikant does. Well, perhaps Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns, but give me Rajini’s taair-saadam fueled fights any day. He flicks chewing gum in the air and the whip-the-sunglasses trick for kids. He walks through hoards of baddies with a smile on his face as he makes his trademark entry in Chandramukhi (I am still searching for sneakers with red sole, by the way). He sticks his hand into a snake-hole and conquers Ramya and Soundarya at one go in Padaiyappa. Who am I to stop him from becoming a part of my DVD collection?

Of course, you can look him up on the Net. No one movie star has more sites dedicated to him than Rajinikant. Rajinikant runs faster than the electrical current to save his lady love. Rajinikant brushes the dust off his shoes (after beating scores of villains) by jumping into the air and clicking his heels. Rajinikant throws a Muruga spear and splits the bullet into two (yeah, you’ve heard about that one, but have you seen it?!) He wears satin green and red and black churidar kurta with matching Lawrence of Arabia headgear, and still gets the heroine to sing, “Style, style da!” There are temples and fan clubs in his name. He’s the only super star to have Japanese fans create manga comics and collectibles in his name. Politicians quake in their veshtis (and sarees) with the thought of Rajinikant entering politics.

If I could I would simply release his films everywhere with Hindi subtitles (or for that matter in any language), even the morning shows at multiplexes would be filled to capacity. He rules YouTube.

No more lusting after Johnny Knoxville’s lower abs, or Matthew McConaughey’s torso. Rajini’s churidaars are tres cool now in my book. And his sooper dialog delivery, accompanied by a half smile and a cocked head. I shall unashamedly watch Padaiyappa again and again and repeat with him, “En vazhi, thani vazhi!” (“My path, is a different path!”)

(by the by, i am verry haapi to be posting this on the superstar's birthday, december 12!)

Idli Worship

Crossposted from my blog

As the sun breaks over the Bay of Bengal, temple bells ring throughout Tamil Nadu in India. Even as they do, households from the myriad villages emit a mixture of religious verses, wood smoke and steam. The lady of the house now sits down to her daily chore of preparing breakfast.

The rice batter is ready. Yesterday she pounded it in her family's ancient stone grinder built into the corner of the kitchen floor. She then threw in a measured volume of lentils. Once the batter was ground to a fine grained consistency, it was scooped out and left overnight to ferment in a large covered stainless steel vessel.

Now the steam cooker is hot. The dimpled steaming dish is covered with an oiled cloth and set in the vessel. The batter poured into its wells. It is covered, and allowed to steam over the wood-and-dried-dung fire. Five minutes, ten minutes.

The idlis are ready. Idlis, the staple of Tamil Nadu, are prepared this way every morning. A seemingly simple dish; it takes years of observant practice to perfect. Undercooked, they taste of flour; overcooked, they're so hard that they have been used as weapons during riots. A woman's culinary reputation in Tamil Nadu rests on the softness of her idlis.

The grinding of the chutney. A few cut chillies, grated coconut, and lentils. No easier than an idli.

Then the preparation of the coffee. Stew ground beans in hot water for several minutes, then filter slowly through a percolator. Add sugar and hot milk.

The joint smells of idli and coffee waft through the household. The children rise, then the man of the house. Go quick, wash hands, feet and mouth. Switch on the radio. Joyous streams of Carnatic music, Raghuvamsa sudha for choice. Then settle for a sumptuous feast.

This is breakfast in Tamil Nadu, and I have eaten it for twenty-five years without ever losing its charm.

03 December, 2006

Diabolic Diabetes

First, I felt a pain in my glute. It was a sharp sort of pin pricking pain. The kind you feel when you have a pimple on your face. "Don't tell everybody where exactly your boil is," hubby said. "Tell them it is on your upper leg." I nodded. Like my buttock is not a part of my anatomy.Then the pain grew in leaps and bounds. On day three, it became too much to ignore. At office I heard horror stories of people who had to get 'cysts' operated on. "Every body in my house had to get theirs operated," a well meaning friend warned. Horrified, I returned home and called the diabetes doctor. Hubby hates hospitals, but offered to accompany me. He could see I was suffering and there was no way I could drive there on my own. On an empty stomach, I arrived at the hospital, expecting the blood test and a doctor's appointment to set the draining cyst right. But, providence had other plans. "Stay and meet Dr Vasudevan, our surgeon" the student doctor requested, even though I wanted a lady doc.We had to wait more than a couple of hours. Surgeon was not in. Finally we managed to meet a 'lady' doctor. Without even a cursory glance at my 'draining cyst', she sent me right up to the surgeon, again. Looked like my destiny was sealed.My derriere was bared. A man of few words, Dr. Vasudevan, the middle aged bald scapula and suture happy surgeon asked, rather abruptly "Where's it?" Like baring my bottom in front of surgeons was a hobby I liked indulging in. I was insulted, but his nurse obligingly pointed it out to him, and he left the room. A few minutes later, after I was modestly dressed, I found him deep in conversation with hubby. "It has to be operated on right away. If not, it will spread, causing dead tissue to form gangrene. Diabetes, you see," they both shook their heads while hubby looked grave. I was stunned into silence. I did not want this. We were to fly to Mauritius the following week, and if I was operated on, the trip would have to be cancelled. Our third cancellation in three months. First we had planned a trip to Thailand. Just as we were about to get our visas stamped and pay for our tickets, we had to cancel because of the coup there. Hubby recommended we go to Malaysia, but I did not quitefancy that trip, instead I thought Hong Kong would be good. That got shelved as hubby's sister had just returned from there and wasn't raving. In fact she recommended we cancel. "Its very expensive, and simply not worth it. Singapore is better." "Not Singapore," I said. We had been there too often. So, we settled on Mauritius, and I was euphoric. The planning and the build up to the trip were exciting.Till cyst happened. Instead of paying for the holiday, he was paying hospital bills. I sobbed, uncontrollably. Loudly and as heart wrenchingly as I knew how. I hoped the heavens would hear me and take the stupid cyst away. Was not to be.We went to the reception to book the room. "I want the best," hubby said. Like it would replace a holiday. "Oh, sir," fat man at the reception exclaimed, "we have five bookings before you. All waiting to be admitted." "Well, this is an emergency." "All of them are emergencies." I felt like I was going to be let to die without a room. So I stepped in, uninvited. "Your doctor said this is an emergency. If you don't have a room for me, where can I go? Do you have a tie-up with another hospital we can go to where your surgeon can operate?" "No." "Then?" "You have to wait." And die?We went off wondering what would happen. In the meanwhile, I was to have antibiotics after every meal. The tears flowed. Were these my last days on earth? Apparently not. The man from the hospital called. "We have a room for you," he said like he was pulling a rabbit out of his hat. "Please check in by 4 pm." We rushed home, ate lunch, packed a bag and rushed back an hour late. A lift filled with chattering young ladies appeared and somehow we crammed ourselves and strolley in. "Where are all of you going?" the lift man asked the ladies. "Oh, we've achieved out targets and are heading for an appreciation party!" Targets? In a hospital? I did not understand.Answering my unasked question, someone said, "1,700 in one week!" Got it!! Just like every other industry has sales targets, these people do too. Was I a target too? The ominous thought crept up. Who ever heard of being operated for a boil that was merely 4 days old?Whatever, I was powerless because of my ignorance, besides I am diabetic.I swore to myself and to hubby that I would never touch a sweet again, never eat potatoes, nor would I let anything fried pass my lips. I wound control my weight like crazy and would workout like my life depended on it, because it did. Next morning, I was transported, fully conscious, on a stretcher to the operation theatre. My first encounter with a surgeon's knife. Into the theatre they wheeled me as the cold metal of the stretcher chilled my skin. I was well in time. Surgeon too was sitting there, sharpening his knives. Only anesthetist was missing. Frantic calls were made. As I lay there, my hair escaping from the surgical cap, I looked at a board that had my name on it, and it was spelt wrong. Ameetha - surgical removal of cyst on glute. Muthulakshmi - amputationThe cold metal sent a chill through my bones. I hoped and prayed the doctor knew I was me and not Muthulakshmi. I prayed he did not chop off my leg in confusion. Before the thought could get me into a frenzy the anesthetist arrived, and I was wheeled into the operation theatre." Close your eyes," a nurse instructed. I did, but not before anesthetist said "hello." The next thing I knew was this wonderful feeling. A deeply rested feeling and a drifting into consciousness. I did not want to open my eyes. I wanted to go back to that restful place where I was a flower that swayed happily in a gentle breeze. Where only happiness existed. Where peace prevailed. Maybe I was coming back from the dead. Maybe I was destined to wear my solitaires longer. And I heard my mother's voice. She was actually there. And I knew all would be well again.

Tonight is An Unusual Night...

Tonight is an unusual night.
I have no memory of you,
I crave no more for you.

I do not feel grand,
no untied strands
to string them in a poem for you.

But once I was bitter.
I wrote poems about darkness,
drew blood
from my sunken hollowed cheeks,
saw my apparition in the mirror
a body of a poet, a soul of a whore.
But I do not feel that anymore.

I do not see any metaphor
hinge on your pendent, armlet, tiara,
on your resplendent anklet, mascara,
on your kohl, eyeliner, rouge,
on sundry embellishments of your beauty.
Oh! What a fool, what a stooge
I’ve been to believe
in a stupidity that must,
must always poetry
be a muse’s slave.

That must I,
I must stave in
every thought, every misgiving
on which I constructed
a world for you
in my half-drunken
poetic renderings.

I think I will, I say I did.

But now when I have killed
every essence, every single conception
of what I am, of what I be
I brood – is it love
that I do not wish for love

© Dan Husain
November 6, 2006