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Je vais tisser

un peu de ciel
un peu de tes larmes
un peu d'océan bleu
avec son sel aigre-doux
un peu d'eau claire
de fleuve descendant
d'une montagne haute

la chanson d'un oiseau
le sourire demi-édenté
d'un petit enfant
l'innocence vive dans
le cri joyeux d'un chiot
la paix d'une sieste
volée aux échéances

le babil d'un bébé
pas pollué
par des significations
le sifflement du vent
l'émergence d'espoir
d'une petite feuille verte
une pensée simple
des matins ensoleillés
et les silences oranges

et toi, et moi

avec ceux-là
je vais tisser
un rêve

Sunday morning

Sunday morning, on a walk with my dog.

Avoiding the middle-aged, fit and not-so-fit joggers
and the senior citizens stripping shrubs bare of flowers
are a murder of crows, pecking a dead pigeon apart.
One is trying to strip off the flesh from a wing
as others attack the meatier, juicier bits.
The joggers are careful to give them a wide berth,
while trying not to step on the discarded condom
lying alongside, for who wants seed stuck on the sole.

I cannot quite 'avert my gaze', for a horrified fascination
takes hold of me, watching the crows feast on a rare treat.
They are careful not to go near the condom too.
The gentle morning breeze, with the fragrance of fresh blossoms
and the songs of the magpie-robins and sparrows,
playing with the fallen, yellow autumnal leaves
and the soft, warming sunlight in the cold air:
do they add to or subtract from the ambience?

I don't know. Like the joggers,
I sidestep and walk on.

Saturday Night

I could have spent my Saturday night drinking.
One large whiskey and soda and stop sharply at that.
And spend the rest of the time watching others
slowly degrade themselves into gibbering morons,
uttering invectives at all and sundry.
Descending into hell even as they hallucinated heaven.

Instead I spent it with some children, not quite bright,
but wise enough not to go searching for happiness.
With them I was positive in thought,
freed from the need to kvetch at the world,
or the schadenfreude of ratting on colleagues.
But I learnt to take the day as it came,
to filter out the loathing and retain the pats on the back,
to rejoice in joy, anyone's joy.

That night, I didn't discover what I could be.
I discovered what I should be.

چین / चैन

चैन से तो नीन्द
आती है, शायरों को कभी
तुम चैन मत देना

چین سے تہ نیند
آتی ہے ، شاعروں کو کبھی
تم چین مت دینا

نقاب / नक़ाब

کچھ نقاب ایسے ہوتے ہےں
جنکے اہوڈھنے پر
کئ اور نقاب اتر آتے ہےں

कुछ नक़ाब ऐसे होते हैं
जिनके ओढ़ने पर
कई और नक़ाब उतर आते हैं

History

History is always a tragedy.

But the bodies on the road,
overrun by maggots,
the tyres burning away hope,
the women screaming,
begging, pleading
not to be raped -
are as real as they were
the first time.

The second time,
we just learn to close our eyes.

School Friends

The good thing about school friends is that
you can always make fun of them,
even if you last met thirty years ago.

They may be have got a Padma Vibhushan
for distinguished service in medicine,
with FRCS, FACS after their name,
but to you they are still Snotnose,
Kombda, Gotya and Monkeybrain.

You never forget their birthdays
and their children's names
though you forget your wife's
or your own children's.

You may not attend your cousin's wedding,
but something will make you travel
halfway around the planet,
to attend that of your school friend.

At school reunions you instinctively
head for the same spot in the
school canteen, crack the same jokes,
though the others stare at you.

They'll send you the same cliched
birthday cards (rarely gifts)
but you'll treasure them above all else.

And when you have been forgotten
by your colleagues after retirement,
and your children after they move out,
it is your school friends who will come
to be your pall-bearers.

My weed garden

Mother gave me a patch of garden.

I ploughed it with a trowel
and seeded it with
dahlias,
geraniums,
marigolds,
and chrysanthemums.

I watered it everyday
and watched with delight
as they began to sprout.

Then one day I saw a new plant,
with tiny bright green leaves.
Mother didn't know what it was.
Se called it a weed.
She told me to remove it.
I didn't. I thought it was pretty.

Prettier still, when it had
tiny, yellow flowers.
And then there were other plants -
short ones,
tall ones,
prickly ones,
with white,
yellow,
even red flowers.
One flower had petals
that were violet outside
and yellow inside.
Mother called them all weeds.

The geraniums
and dahlias
and chrysanthemums
didn't seem to grow well.
They were short
and had small flowers,
not like mother's patch
which had big, pretty ones.
Mother said it was because
I had let weeds grow.

But I had lots of little
flowers - like little me.
Mother said I had grown
a weed garden.
So…

A dog's tail

The default state
of a dog's tail is up.
It takes a lifetime -
of stones by cute boys,
beatings by smart trainers
and
neglect by loving masters -
for it to go down.

Sunday is...

...a late morning,
a tumbler of degree coffee,
a birthday greeting to a friend
(thank God for Facebook),
another tumbler of coffee...

...a hot water bath,
catching up on weekly politics,
rice and bitter-gourd curry
with jeera rasam and pickle,
a long unhad siesta...

one murukku made from old rice,
ground by hand and made in coconut oil,
one piece of jangri - not too sweet -
washed down with hot degree coffee...

a walk with the dog
drongo-spotting in the garden,
and old family stories with mother
under the jamun tree...

...a little poem, a bit of light reading,
and an interesting online chat
on the Dhammapada...

...and finally an ascent to heaven
with curd rice and vadu-mangay,
before the fall to the netherworld
of Monday.

Mahim Bay from Rangsharda, Bandra (revised)

Encased in concrete,
with a dying orange above,
and the silver turning grey below,
the waves crash futilely
against the Bandra fortress
-I suppose one might,
on careful listening,
hear steel versus steel again;

Boats bob by those
decayed ramparts,
signs of of an eternal poverty
dependent on
the wealth of the sea;

On open sea
a marvel of modern
engineering rises -
a some triumphant
half-finished proclamation
of victory over nature;
above the clouds thicken,
but loosen not
as in impudent demonstration
of whose writ truly runs;

In the shanties of Bandra,
in the towers of Worli, and
in the middle-classness of
Mahim,
lights come on one by one -
a dying day, a sleepless city.

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar.

I'm sorry you don't have
the red sunsets and cool breeze
and palm fronds and soft,
babbling waves somebody else has.

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar.

I'm sorry that the British
did not find you Queen material,
and didn't build their
Grade III Heritage bungalows,
outside which teenage girls
faint after slitting wrists wanting
Dev Anand, Amitabh, Shahrukh, Salman
to marry them.

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar.

I'm sorry that all you have
is Somaiya Book Depot,
Bharti Jewellers and
Ratanshi Khimji Patel,
good people in their own right,
but no Gucci, Swarovski or
even Subway.

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar.

I'm sorry that all you get
is navratri dandiya
and kitschy Ganesh pandals,
instead of self-styled poets
slamming about you.

I'm sorry, Ghatkopar.

Drops

Drops that make the ocean -

one from from the tears of a woman betrayed,
one from dew on a fresh-blossomed petal,
one from the blood of a fallen tyrant,
one from the drool of a child beholding sweets,
one from the labour of an unknown ryot,
one from the wrath of a vengeful storm.

'Sheldon'

Sister calls me 'You Monster!'.
Don't know why.
All I do is pull her hair
and yank her dolls' heads off.
And sometimes spill ink on her
homework while playing with her pen.

Then I go running to mother
and press my face into her sari.
'Babloo' she calls me,
and wipes my tears,
and gives sister a scolding.
I point my tongue at sister
but mother doesn't notice.

Father is not like that.
He is nasty and unfair.
He likes sister more than me.
He makes me stand in the corner
for spilling ink and pulling hair.
And he calls me by my school name.
I don't like Daddy.

Hey auntie has come.
Get out of corner and run
screaming "Auntie, Auntie, Auntie".
She picks me up in her arms
and says "Babloo baba, cho chweet!".
She is not nice when she
pinches my cheeks and makes me
recite 'Baa baa black sheep'.
But she is nice when she
gives me a big chocolate
which I eat in front of my sister,
and don't give her anything.
Nasty sister.

Rohit is a nasty boy.
He insists on sharing e…

நீ

நீ அழுதால் முத்தார் ஓடும்
நீ சிரித்தால் கல்யாணி ராகம்.
உன் மௌன முகம்
உரு சொல் இல்லாதப் பாட்டு,
உன் புன்னகையால்
வசந்தம் இனிக்கும்.
நீ எது செய்தாலும்,
அதில் நான்
ஒரு காவியம் படைப்பேன்.

Traps

Once, to entrap me she needed
grace sketched in ink
upon lavender-scented paper.
Six sheets folded neatly
in a card paper envelope
affixd with a pretty postage-stamp.
Or electromagnetic waves
which when decoded became the voice
of an amorous koel
jewelled with honeyed, enslaving words.
Now she does not need fetters
of a hundred and forty characters;
a colon and closing bracket will do.

फयान / فیان

मैं सागर का मछवारा, तेरे सदा पर आऊँगा
तू मादर मेरी, तेरी हवाओं के गीत गाऊँगा
तुझी से हर बरकत है, और तुझ ही में ख़ात्मा
तेरे लहरों का बच्चा हूँ, इन्हीं में घुल जाऊँगा

میں ساگر کا مچھوارا ، تیرے سدہ پر آؤنگا
تو مادر میری ، تیرے ہواؤں کے گیت گاؤنگا
تجھی سے ہر برکت ، اور تجھ ہی میں ہے خآتمہ
تیرے لہروں کا بچّہ ھوں ، ینہیں میں گھل جاؤنگآ

आप मुस्कुराकर / آپ مسکر

आप मुस्कुराकर मेरी साँसों को मत रोकियेगा
धड़कन तेज़ हो जाती है, इस तरफ़ मत देखियेगा
आपकी रौनक़ देखकर, यह चश्म कुछ और ना देख पाएँगे
पर मेरी ख़ुदग़र्ज़ी मानकर, परदा मत कीजियेगा

آپ مسکراکر میری سانسوں کو مت روکیےگا
دھڈڑکن تیز ھو جاتی ہے ، اس طرف مت دیخیےگا
آپکی رونق دیکھکر ، یہ چشم کچھ اور نا دیکھ پایےنگے
پر میری خود غرضی مانکر ، پردہ مت کیجیےگآ

न तुमने जाना न मैंने

चमन के कोने में एक फूल मुर्झाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने|
बनकर रह गयी महज़ एक परछाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने||

उसकी ख़ुशबू जो मदहोश करती थी, क़तरा ब क़तरा सूखने लगी|
जलती तपती धूप में वह छटपटाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने||

उसके रंग जिनसे महल सजते थे, फीके बेजान होने लगे हैं|
आँखों के दीदार के लिए तरसाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने||

उसकी ताज़गी जिससे हर थकान मिट जाती थी, अब बिखरने लगी|
अब ख़ामोश है वह जो कभी इतराई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने||

वह जो किसी गुलदस्ते की शान बन सकती थी, गुमनाम बनी रही|
उसका तक़दीर - बस मुसलसल तन्हाई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने||

कोई ख़ानाबदोश उसे तोड़कर ज़मीन पर फैंककर चला गया
मालिन मलबे में डालकर चली आई, न तुमने जाना न मैंने


چمن کے کونے میں ایک پھول مرجھائ ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے
بنکر رہ گیی محض ایک پرچھائ ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے

اسکی خوشبو جو مدہوش کرتی تھی قطرہ بہ قطرہ سوکھنے لگی
جلتی تپتی دھوپ میں وہ چھٹپتائ ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے

اسکے رنگ جنسے محل سجتے تھے ، پھکے بےجان ھہنے لگے ہیں
آنکھوں کے دیدار کے لیے ترسائ ، نا تمنے جانا نا مینے

اسکی تازگی جس سے ہر تھکان مٹ جاتی تھی ، اب بیکھرنے لگی
اب خاموسھ ہے وہ جو کبھ…

The Ballad Of Jean-Pierre Dominique

There was once a singer tall
Specialised in Greek technique
Who sang in Sydney Opera Hall
Called Jean-Pierre Dominique!

He sang tenor, he sang bass,
He rose to falsetto.
But not one note in its place
Oh no no no no no!

The audience was sorely tried
And they threw tomatoes
But his zeal did not subside
When faced with potatoes.

Once upon an ANZAC Day
Gathered on Taylor Square
The orchestra began to play
Advance Australia Fair!

Now our Maestro Dominique
Who was then passing by
Saw fit to use his Greek technique
And took the tune on high!

“Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
With golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea…”

He thought it fit to raise his pitch
To mezzo-soprano!
He thought it was the method which
Was right for piano!

The audience was knocked-out flat -
“A storm of gale-force ten!”
The veterans feared they’d landed at
Gallipoli again!

They stopped his song, they dragged him down,
They beat him black and blue.
“Never show up in this town
Or we shall murder you!”

He wen…

on weirdness

who knows for sure
what's truly weird
and what is normal
when I follow my heart
they call me weird,
when I follow my head
and come up with wild schemes
they call me weird

but when i follow the herd
dressed like it
eating like it
talking like it
and refuse to listen
to my heart or my head
as it stampedes to its doom
they call me normal

फ़रेब

लोग कहते हैं तुम्हारा इश्क़, इश्क़ नहीं फ़रेब था|
हम नहीं मानते ‍ तुम्हारे फ़रेब को भी हम इश्क़ ही समझेंगे|

A rural schoolboy's revolt OR An antipastorale

Who prefers to have flies in his bedchamber?
Or for that matter, all manner of insects?
How romantic to consider the prospects
Of a cricket's chirps that rob one of slumber?
Yes, the stars are bright and the grass is tender,
Arcadian dreams are gay in many respects;
Yet lying in Elysian fields one suspects
That adders do not make for sweet surrender.

It is much to the credit of Tennyson
And other fools of the English Lake District
To pen rhymes for - a cloud, a lark, a peasant
By the fireside in their stately mansions
But who asks the cottar before they depict
A fancied idyll that only sounds pleasant?

विरासत / وراژت

बज़ोर ए शमशीर क्या पाओगे - खोखले मकानों की रियासत,
ख़ौफ़ के दम पे खड़ी सलतनत, खोखले ईमानों की सियासत?
ख़ुदा का पैग़ाम तो मोहब्बत है, उसे तुम दर-दर सुनाओ,
तुम दिल-दिल में छोड़ जाओगे, अपने वज्द-ए-अज़्ल की विरासत

بزور ی شمشیر کیا پائوگے - کھوکھلے مکانوں کی ریاست
خوف کہ دم پے کھڈی سلطنت ، کھوکھلے ایمانوں کی سیاست
خدا کا پیغام تہ محبّت ہے ، اسے تم در-در سنائو
تم دل-دل میں چھوڈ جآئوگے ، اپنے وجد-ی-ازل کی وراژت

Saudade – I

At first the distant mountain-tops
Fade into the coming rain cloud
And then the hills nearer to
My village draw their misty veil.
At last it pours over my home.

Silent's the square, empty the shops,
The street's bereft of all its crowd
Excepting for the luckless few
Who seek shelter to no avail.
At last it pours over my home.

Thus freed from care about their crops
That bloom and thrive under the shroud
My village came to life anew.

Their joyous shouts do ring out loud
- But I have strayed from all I knew
Accursed to roam from vale to vale.

Though I regret all that I threw
There is one reason not to wail -
At last it pours over my home.

Pour un ami perdu

J'écris cette-lettre-ci
Et je la mets dans une bouteille
Avec l'espoir
Qu'un jour dans le futur
Tu le liras.
L'espoir des ondes.

Il y avait des temps
Quand nous étions inséparables -
Toutes mes pensées
Étaient les tiennes,
Si je rirais, tu rirais
Si tu a compris ou non,
Pouquoi j'ai ri.
Avec la résonance mystérieuse
Tu porterais bleu
Si j'avais porté bleu.
Il n'y avait des lettres
Ni l'espoir des ondes.

Puis nous avons grandi
Nous avons acquis des diplômes
Et nous avons trouvé des emplois.
Tu, là où nous sommes nés,
Moi, dans un coin du monde
Loin, inconnu -
Où je n'ai que les moustiques
Et l'espoir des ondes.

D'abord, je t'écrivais les courriels
Chaque soir disant que j'ai fait
Et j'aurais un de toi
Avec les succès et les échecs de journée.
Puis c'est devenu une semaine
Et l'épopées sont devenues
Des paragraphes et enfin des sentences.
Je ne souviens pas
Lorsqu'ils se sont arrêtés.
Tout ce que j'ai maintenant sont
Des moustiques
Et l'espoir des…

I

I am
a ship out of wind
an engine out of steam
a fisherman far inland
a mountain-dweller in the plains
a writer out of ink
a ghazal without a radeef
an eye without tears
a song without words...

I could do with any wind
- a breeze, a gale, a storm;
I want a boat and a rod;
ink of any colour;
a day of sorrow or joy,
that would fill my eyes...

something, something
to fill my canvas...

From these I shall fashion
a poem
a dream
an anchor
a beginning...

Words / Mots / الفاظ

at first
there were words exchanged
between eyes
in the millions
they became emails
five in a day
four
three
two
one email of five paragraphs
four
three
two
one in a week
a month
a year
an eternity

*

d'abord
il y avait les mots échangés
entre les yeux
en millions
ils sont devenus des courriels
cinq d'un jour
quatre
trois
deux
un e-mail de cinq points
quatre
trois
deux
un dans une semaine
un mois
un an
une éternité

*

پہلے
الفاظ کی ادلا بدلہ ہوتی
چشم بچشم
لاکھوں کی تعداد میں
وے ایمیل بنے
روز کے پانچ
چار
تین
دو
ایک ایمیل پانچ دفعہ کی
چار
تین
دو
ایک ایمیل ہفتہ میں
مہینہ میں
سال میں
ازل میں

तुम आए

तुम्हारे नाम
पाठ पढ़े, व्रत रखे,
मन्दिरों में यग किये
पर तुम न आए
तुम्हारे नाम
रोज़े रखे, सजदे किये,
मक़बरों में चादर चढ़ाए
पर तुम न आए

दिल को मना लिया
के तुम न आओगे
आशाएँ दबाए
हौँसले छोडे
तब तुम आए

तुम आए
मुस्कुराए
कुछ कहे बिना
चले गए

फिर से मैंने
व्रत रखे, सजदे किए
ग़रीबों में अनाज बाँटे
पर तुम न आए

फिर मैंने सपने बिखेरे
तमन्नाएँ दफ़नाए

फिर तुम आए, मुस्कुराए,
राज़ें फुस्फुसाए
कुछ कहे बिना
चले गए
तुम दगा दोगी समझकर
मैंने अपने गीत मिटाए
अपने नज़्म जलाए

एक नया बाग़ बसाया
नए फूल उगाए
नया कल्पवृक्ष खडा किया
तुम्हें भूला
तुम्हारी यादों को दफ़नाया

उस वक़्त तुम आए
बिजली बनकर आए
तूफ़ान बनकर आए
आकर मेरा बाग़ उजाडा

और फिर कुछ कहे बिना
चले गए

Silences

Silence, the silence of poignancy
The silence before the confrontation
The silence of simmering revolution

Silence, the silence of love
The silence of speaking without words
The silence of conversations between eyes

Silence, the silence of prayer
The silence of the grateful's devotion
The silence of eternity's equipoise

خاموشی

خاموشی ، حدّت کی خاموشی
یورش کہ پہلے کی خاموشی
بڑھتے ینقلاب کی خاموشی

خاموشی ، وجد کی خاموشی
بن آواز صحبت کی خاموشی
چشم ب چشم باتوں کی خموشی

خاموشی ، عبادت کی کاموشی
مشکور کہ بندگی کی خاموشی
ازل کہ سکوت کی خاموشی

Diwali 2009

Booted laptop. Connected datacard.
Check.

Logged on to Facebook.
Collected gifts. Sent gifts.
Read wall. Commented, liked.
Did what was needed
on the application de rigeur.
Check.

Tweeted wisecracks.
Re-tweeted other people's wisecracks.
Check.

Logged on to Gmail, Yahoomail, Hotmail, Rediffmail.
Read funny mail. Forwarded to all.
Check.

So now I'll go have my oil bath.
Then I'll put on new clothes.
Then I'll eat the sweets.

Diwali has begun.

Conversations with a stranger

He is a "Facebook" friend
Someone I have never met
But someone whom I know intimately -
by his updates, his notes,
his mystical poetry.

We chatted today
across a thousand miles
of optical fibre cable
(the inventors be blessed)
but there were no miles
separating our minds.

We celebrate a common festival
of lights,
moi, where I was born
he, in a distant hemisphere
and we talked of origins,
of wandering,
and of growing of roots.

We talked about poetry
And photography -
I told him that I must employ
always thousands of words
to paint my images
because I am no good
with a camera.

And then we parted
he to finish his day
and I to begin
we began "Facebook friends"
strangers, but now
we are brothers-in-arms.

Conversations avec un étranger

Il est un "Facebook" ami
Quelqu'un que je n'ai jamais rencontré
Mais quelqu'un que je connais intimement --
par ses mises à jour, ses notes,
sa poésie mystique.

Nous avons bavardé aujourd'hui
à travers un millier de miles
de câble à fibres optiques
(les inventeurs soit béni)
mais il n'y avait pas de miles
séparant nos esprits.

Nous célébrons une fête commune
des lumières,
Moi, où je suis né
il, dans un hémisphère lointaine
et nous avons parlé des origines,
d'errance,
et de la croissance des racines.

Nous avons parlé de la poésie
Et la photographie --
Je lui ai dit que je dois employer
toujours des milliers de mots
pour peindre mes images
parce que je ne suis pas un bon
avec une caméra.

Et puis nous nous sommes quittés
il pour terminer sa journée
et moi pour commencer
nous avons commencé "Facebook amis"
étrangers, mais maintenant
nous sommes devenus confrères.

Ho pais kalos

You weren't to be seen this summer.
Your face is a little less
adolescent than before,
but those flowing locks
and that red bandanna
haven't disappeared, I see.
I whisper softly to myself
ho pai kalos.

Looking closely at your lips
tells me you've had your first
drag of a cigarette,
the way your eyes
now look at girls your age
tells me something is now lost.
I whisper softly to myself
ho pais kalos.

You've taken to sitting around
with some friends on walls
or riding motorbikes;
you no longer play football
with your hairless chest
glistening with sweat.
I whisper softly to myself
ho pais kalos.

No longer a jejune, young man
you've grown up, Adonis
No more Laches on the shard
of the ancient Athenian
drinking cup, a gift
to handsome boys, inscribed
the boy beautiful -
ho pais kalos.

का नाही आलोस?

जेव्हा शेतकार्यान्नी तुला शोधले
तेव्हा का नाही आलास?

बालकृष्णाचे हान्डी फोडली
तेव्हा का नाही आलास?

गणपती बाप्पा येउन गेले
तेव्हा का नाही आलास?

अत्ता तुझ्याविना जगणे शिकलो
अत्ता कशाला आलास?

நீ வந்தாய்

உன்னை நான் கொஞ்சி அழைத்தேன்
கெஞ்சி அழைத்தேன்
நீ வரவில்லை
உன்னை நான் பாடி அழைத்தேன்
ஆடி அழைத்தேன்
நீ வரவில்லை

நீ வரமாட்டாய் என்று
என் நம்பிக்கையை இழந்தேன்
என் ஆசைகளை அழித்தேன்
அப்பொழுது நீ வந்தாய்

நீ வந்தாய்
ஒரு முத்தம் தந்தாய்
ஒரு வார்த்தையும் பேசாமல்
சென்று விட்டாய்

மீண்டும் ஆடினேன் பாடினேன்
வா வா என்று கதறினேன்
நீ வரவில்லை

மீண்டும் மனதை ஆற்றினேன்
கனவை கலைத்தேன்

மீண்டும் நீ வந்தாய் முத்தம் தந்தாய்
உன் மணத்தால் மயக்கினாய்
ஒரு வார்த்தையும் பேசாமல்
சென்று விட்டாய்

நீ ஏமாற்றுவாய் என்று
என் பாட்டுகளை அழித்தேன்
என் கவிதைகளை எரித்தேன்

ஒரு புதிய தோட்டம் படைத்தேன்
புது மலர்கள் வளர்த்தேன்
புது கனவுமரம் உண்டாக்கினேன்
உன்னை மறந்தேன்
உன் நினைவுகளை புதைத்தேன்

அப்பொழுது நீ வந்தாய்
மின்னலாக வந்தாய் இடியாக வந்தாய்
புயலாக வந்து என் உலகத்தை அழித்தாய்

மீண்டும் ஒரு வார்த்தையும் பேசாமல்
சென்று விட்டாய்

They'll come after me for that

My name is Raamesh Gowri Raghavan.
Which means in Mumbai (where I live),
I am a son of alien soil.
The Shiv Sena will come after me for that.
In Tamil Nadu, the DMK will want me
To pay for my Brahmin ancestors' misdeeds.
They'll come after me for that.

I'm fiercely, proudly middle-class
Not welcome in elite champagne parties.
I also support free markets:
The Naxals will come after me for that.
I have Muslim and Christian friends
But I am resolutely Hindu.
They'll come after me for that.

I'm an SEZ opposing environmentalist
Not appreciated by Mukesh Ambani.
But I don't belive in doing G20 stunts
Greenpeace will come after me for that.
I'm right-handed, I'm a feminist, I'm obese,
And I don't like Lata Mangeshkar's songs.
They'll come after me for that.

I know what they won't come after me for.
I'm a poet but not romantic
Nor radical nor baroque nor modern.
No publisher will come after me for that.
I also write short fiction,
Analytical pieces and even trave…

Does anyone remember my ATM pin?

Version I

I have forgotten my ATM pin.
Can anyone help?

It is not my wife's birthday,
or my best friend's
or my mother's
or any of my children's.
I'm no good at remembering birthdays.

It is not the date of our first kiss
or our first fight
or our first anything
or our anniversary even.
I'm no good at such dates either.

No, it's not my other ATM Pin
Or my bank account number
Or email password
Or even my voter I-card number.
I was never good at such things, either.

Once it was the date of the Panipat battle
Once it was the loan instalment amount
Both an attempt at quirky creativity
But they were both changed
And forgotten rather very quickly.

I am still bereft of my ATM pin.
Can anyone help?

Version II

I have forgotten my ATM pin.
Can anyone help?

It is not my wife's birthday,
or her best friend's birthday,
or her best friend's sister's,
or of my boss's for that matter.
I'm no good at birthdays.

No, it's not the worth of my stocks
when the Sensex touched 20,000
or …

Upgrade - the Godawful version

Last week I am travelling
by railway train
from Bengaluru to Mumbai.
I am having one ticket
sleeper class S7 berth 5.
In compartment there are present
some Gujarati students going home.
They are studying engineering I am thinking.
Then one lady is there
With so many luggages.

Seat is near bogie toilet
and there is smell.
I am thinking to myself
that I am deserving of better.
Like one minister is saying recently
(and getting into trouble with Madam)
this is cattle-class
and I am certainly higher-class.

Why I am doing this?
That is because I am
well-educated (M.Sc. 1st Class)
and having well-paying job also.
Besides I am reading Amartya Sen
and I am seeking company of
like-minded people for
intellectual discussions.
Here they are only reading Filmfare.

So I am asking the TTE
who is checking my ticket
that I will pay the difference of fare
and purchase 3rd AC ticket.
I am able to afford the ticket
so why to be foregoing opportunity?
Why to travel with the masses?
Cattle-class is for them.

So I am paying Rs. 635/-
for upper…

October

take those dandiya sticks
saw them into little bits
dissolve them in sulphuric acid
and pulp them into paper
you'll hear the sweet sound of october

take those humongous speakers
and those amplifiers
microphones record-players
run a road-engine over them
you'll hear the sweet sound of october

take those lorries on the highway
smash their axles burst their horns
stamp on every car stereo you can find
till the night road is a smooth stretch of silence
you'll hear the sweet sound of october

drag out those cacophonous tvs
from homes of insensitive neighbours
smash them bash them hammer them
till your hands are wet with blood
you'll hear the sweet sound of october

shut every gossipping mouth
stuff it with cotton seal it with tape
knock the ones who resist unconscious
till the paralysing quietness of fear prevails
you'll hear the sweet sound of october

now calm your nerves your mind
sharpen your ears your eyes
and locate among the moonlit leaves
the steady stridulation of the bush-cricket
you'll …

Upgrade

I bought myself
an upgrade today.
I had a ticket
- Bengaluru to Mumbai -
railway sleeper class.
Berth no. 5,
in a compartment
shared with some
students returning home,
and sundry others.
Whom I considered
below my class.
As a minister
recently put it,
"cattle-class".

I'm well-educated,
and have a well-paying job.
I'm certainly above
the great numbers of
people,
whom we call the 'masses'.
Cattle-class is for them.

I walked over to the
A/C 3-tier coach,
and there
begged the TTE
to give me an upgrade.
He did.

Rs. 635/- I paid,
for an upper berth.
The money got me
air-conditioning,
and some bed-linen.
What I hoped it
was buying me,
was the company of
refined people
who read Goethe and Aurobindo,
and listen to Aerosmith.

What I got,
was a group of twelve
returning from Puttaparthi
- who saw nothing amiss
in keeping everyone awake
all night with their
loud chattering,
and littering the floor
with the remains of their lunch.

I could not fight them -
they had paid for their tickets
as I had for mine.

सम्भालकर रखना इन टुकड़ों को

टूटकर भी धड़कते रहेंगे, महफ़ूज़ रखना दिल के टुकड़ों को
किसी दिन तो देखकर रोओगी, सम्भालकर रखना इन टुकड़ों को

चान्दी के बक्से में छुपाकर रखना इन्हें, दिलासा देंगे
जब हुस्न ओ माशूक़ को खोओगी, सम्भालकर रखना इन टुकड़ों को

हँसी हँसी में ठुकरा दिया तुमने इकरार ए इश्क़ ह्मारा
किसी दिन दर्द का बोझ ढोओगी, सम्भालकर रखना इन टुकड़ों को

किसी की बददुआ न लगे तुमको, वरना कहाँ कहाँ तुम
बेवफ़ाई का दाग़ धोओगी, सम्भालकर रखना इन टुकड़ों को

यह हज़ारों आशिक़ तुम्हारे, क़यामत तक कितने साथ देंगे
तब किन सपनों के बीज बोओगी, सम्भालकर रखना इन टुकड़ों को

जब अकेली पड़ जाओगी, याद करोगी तुम 'ख़ाना बदोश' को
तब न जागोगी न सोओगी, सम्भालकर रखना इन टुकड़ों को

Ganesh Chaturthi

Chaturthi

Dead on the road, overrun by a car,
Mooshik Bappa rots -
his intestines pulled out by crows,
one leg up in the air as if to
ward off flies
and a dog
attempting to piss over him,
pus oozing from his tail as
bacteria go about their work -
a whole ecology.

Panchami

Morning Arti on Ganesh day -
priest in a hurry,
a lay worshipper and some
stray onlookers
who seem to have nothing
better to do.
It is late morning -
lunch-cooking time say
the society women.
The men say nothing.

Shashti

Loudspeakers blare
devotional music all day;
society residents pass by
on their holiday errands.
One or two stop
to perhaps throw a few
flower petals on the idol
and peek at the
empty prasad-dish.

Saptami

Squabbles break out over
the empty prasad dish.

Ashtami

Quick visits
to private Ganpatis -
sense of community,
devotion
and who is providing
what in prasad.

Navami

Cultural program by
children
dancing to filmi music.
A girl cries
backstage about a
tight Kathak dress.
The audience claps
religiously;
eyes keep looking
towards the snacks counter.

Dashami

गिरने दो दीवारों को

गिरने दो दीवारों को ताकि नए आशियाने बनेंगे|
धूल में मिल जाने दो उन्हें ताकी गुज़रे ह्ंगाम बीत जाएँगे||
खन्ड़रों को गिराकर एक नया दौर बनाएंगे तुम और हम|
गिरने दो दीवारों को ताकि नए आशियाने बनेंगे||

The Old Woman of Shahad

There was an Old Woman of Shahad
Who could see as far as Ahmedabad.
She worked in the police
Starting as a novice -
That eagle-eyed Old Woman of Shahad.