Monday, March 29, 2021

Upon My Mother Turning 85


I remember being seven and climbing onto your back in glee

When you substituted graciously for a park tree

I remember uneaten tomato sandwiches moulding in my tiffin

Which you made with such care and I casually disdained

I remember the unending concern that fuelled frantic telephone calls  

While I was gallivanting blissfully absent for days from the hall

I remember knocking on the bathroom door to give you my exam result

And now I regret so much not seeing your face exult

I remember you rushing to get ready for Sunday church

And morning drives through a sleeping Delhi at breakneck speed

I remember you always were the fastest driver I know

And perhaps the luckiest

I remember you telling me how you studied after lights out, 

And I remember it as such a burden, 

With your parents always finishing first in school

And not being good enough, but today it fills me with laughter and pride.

I remember every meal you cooked and every serving dish

And how I complained when I was crass and foolish

And today I long desperately for a taste from your kitchen

I remember the hug you gave when you told me your husband died 

And how you stood elegant and proud when they buried his coffin

I remember your stubborn courage

Speaking up always for what you thought,

Getting into arguments & 

Fighting might in the Supreme Court yourself

In your 80s.

And I remember today that I am unworthy of this amazing love, 

and that I am immensely blessed.

Happy Birthday to the beat of my heart.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

46, 4/6

You turn the page,
And feel the rage,
The cave is yawning,
While the rain keeps gnawing.

A cavernous ocean inside,
Of imagined dishes untried,
Efforts that consciously dwindled,
Desires that sputtered, gloriously unkindled.

46, 46, 46, 46,
The beat relentless with slick licks,
The age that capriciously matches the date,
A warm, kind-natured laugh from a smiling Fate.

A synchrony that's lucidly random,
Stalking you like a ranging phantom,
The skies are turning strange orange at night,
The moon gives off far lesser light.

Time steadfast hunts meagre dreams down,
Rhymes flow easy for the mocking clown,
Yet you seek something tangible to hold,
Yet you seek something eternally true and bold.

Images flicker in black, upscreen,
Colours shimmer in the sodium trees,
Memories of movies watched with your dad,
Hitchcock framed the good along with the bad.

That's all, that's all, it's the final call,
Another day reduced to a foetal ball,
You spell words slowly with conscious choice,
Memories within typos, less signal, more noise.

Good night sweet age, you whisper at last,
Conscious this moment is hurtling past,
The hand of your mother, aged yet calm,
Across oceans, so far, yet so present and warm.

I remember, she says, a smile on her face,
I remember it all, every milestone in every place,
I remember you stood, so quiet and small,
I remember quite distinctly your very first fall.

Your eyes are closing, your intentions are spent,
Your words are garbled, the ancient wisdom is shent,
Today shall be just a page in a forgotten, mite-eaten book,
On a bottom shelf, dust-blessed, its treasures unshook.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Apropos a sprained wrist and intimations of mortality

Time rolls on
As you grow forlorn
Rain falls hard
Play the sympathy card

Rise through the crap
Get lost off the map
Switch on the charm
A smile can be a balm

Words don’t rhyme
For beings out of time
Coughs explode in the foreboding silence
Cautious sniffles invite vigilante violence

Rise graceful in the soaking rain
Sacrifices flowing with blood red stains
Listen closely to your galloping mind
Cry with eyes of the benevolent kind

Wise through the melting years
Seeing through unbeckoned tears
Burnt evenly with the searing pain
Yet baked and wholesome once again

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Decade hence from Decadence (marking December 31st, 2019 in Delhi)

What have we learnt and who have we lost,
Snacking on sorrow while lamenting the costs,
Three five to four five saw the ripening of remorse,
Intimations of mortality and endings sans recourse.

The future was shiny, now beneath its veneer,
We discern paint strokes, grainy textures all clear,
Decades hurtle past, and urge me "Remember!"
Emotions are sapped, memories yawp "Surrender!"

Spinning relentless, wobbling a bit more,
Tucked in quilts, miasma enveloping the door,
Greyish day awakens, milestone for some,
Meaningless yet, celebration moot and humdrum.

Things wished said, yet no way to say them,
Things wished done, yet no way to make them,
People wished for, yet no way to preserve them,
Words spoken rashly, yet no way to reserve them.

Forward we stop go, or could it be sideways,
Rushing wildly, forgiving fog in driveways,
Plebeians huddle on corners, ignite paper fires,
Dreams rise in ashes, silent the anointed liars.

We rose, we fell, we began anew,
We pushed, we stumbled, we faltered, somehow grew,
We sang, and pranced, and giggled and cried,
We laughed a bit, and tears crusted and dried.

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight departed,
Be proud of us, of the nihilism you started,
To you we whisper our meagre leftover desires,
Don't vouchsafe these, till our eyes retire.

A memory to hold, hug, cherish and tender,
Winter is yet warm, while blues skies don't render,
Family blood dwells here, my wiser heart endures too,
Wishing for you unhealthy treats, words that ring true.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016


That was a different life,
Waiting for the pain that never came.
This one is knowing, not wiser,
Richer, yet poorer,
Bristling with forgotten dreams,
That cut your fingers.

Crisply the miasma envelopes you, your regular jailor,
Stomping through his nocturnal rounds.
You look up to the sodium light,
Orange bright,
Your heart says take flight.

A joke, a laugh,
A silly tale, to distract,
Anything will do,
To lighten this shade of deep blue.

You pray for the strength to be yourself,
You pray to hold that precious love close,
You pray for the night to end with chirping birds
You pray for grass and sky to be there in the dawning.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016


You are breathing through a plastic tube
Sighing softly as I talk stutteringly to you

Oblivious of my remorse
Of the profit and the loss
Of your own joys forsaken and emotional costs
Of internal seas wracked by emotions and tossed
Through this mundane world's churning
Lost moments, my desperate yearning
Oblivious of us stranded here
As you glide silently to a distant shore

My tears are pennies in a fountain for you
Hoping you're fine 'cos your spirit just flew
And I stumble on, shaky with resolve that's new
To be your son, and honour you true.


Sunday, May 04, 2014

Flashes of childhood,
Spent in play, fields and trees,
Or a white window sill,
Gazing at my mother on the street below.

Slivers of water on an urban pond,
Fishing or boating, quiet laughter,
Night embraces the tiled cafe,
And egg yolk runs slowly to touch  toast.

My friend's brown shoes, as he bowls in jeans,
The hush of a friendly audience
Gathered lazily on the lawn,
As the lights go down.

Different schools,
With different wise men and fools,
Walking to the first day of work,
After a bus and train ride, sweaty and unexpecting inside.

Eyeing apples at reception,
Always at the window looking out, looking in,
Love in its surreptitious forms,
Obsessive loyalty that obliterates norms.

Held down by an unexplained weight of sadness,
Help up by instants of laughter and madness,
Held to the dream that will not be crushed,
Held to account by time that will not be rushed.

An age I never dreamt of,
A place I never expected,
A body I never respected,
A mind that hasn't reflected.

Waiting on the shores for the wave to crash,
And for the light on the horizon,
I feel old and new,
Borrowed and used,
Broken, yet fused,
Nice, gentle and naughty,
30 days till 40.