Self Portrait

“Why don’t you smile? Are you always so defensive?”

“One moment,” I say, “please,”

I step inward and tug at the voices inside me,

I want one of them to answer what had been asked of us.

The strongest among all reaches out and swears, 

“Fuck you,” isn’t that what you’ve always neglected to hear?

“Fools”, says another at the way you take offence, “Did you fall for the impassive face, the calm pretence,

Or are you finding some sick, sad comfort in the storm of a river?”

“Why try now? Why question now? Why inspect the innards at the end of a show?

Can you not remain in disbelief and in shock?”

“Why bother?

You know what to expect,

I have always already walked the tightrope of disrespect;

I laugh loudly at miserable things, 

Uncaring, uncontained and impolite.

I howl and weep at the hurt I’ve endured, 

Before those very eyes as they watch helplessly,”

“You should know by heart, by now

That I’ve seldom done what I’m told, and I lash out when flung.”

“My smiles are not needed here, nor your consolation

I demand of you more preparation,

For I will make you relive every bite you’ve taken at my heart,

And I hope your mouths reek slyly of its flesh and lard,”

“Witness your metamorphosis from totem to timid. 

While I remain as I have been, ungoverned and livid.”

“Twelve hours a day of will-breaking bureaucracy,

Cannot tame my way or colonise my spirit. 

It is the madness of rage that I carry in all my voices,

Even the softest of them resounds sturdily with my untoward choices:

Never to restrain, and also never to let go.”

“Of course I smile, and of course I defend,”

I beam madly as vengeful waves boil inside of my name, fierce and content. 

The prophecy had been written the day I began,

The chapped desert of apathy, its unchallenged continuity,

Will breathe its last in the blood of my veins. 


Ode to the Altered Mind

Conversations are meant to had, 

In lightheaded silence, in your command. 

But for the emptiness between my fingers,

You are little help to me.

Yet, I roam unattended,

Unafraid and undetected,

Your slow poisoned death in my mouth and fire in my hands. 

You fill the gaps in me and in those I know,

The spaces of lapse in the places that I go, 

Connecting softly to one-time strangers met hesitantly at one-time windows,

Gently pushing over the unformed edges of time:

Burning out inadequacies in favour of company, 

In which conversations are meant to be had,

With lightheaded silence, in your command. 

The Terrible, Tiny Tale

I am a little poem,
I twist and pinch the way little poems do,
For those who fall short of ballads of feeling.
Do you have the wit and heart to feed me;
To undress my soft words and unhinge my true meaning?

I am a little poem,
I am to you, the comfort of a fast stranger with little to lose,
I occupy the moments before you speak and the pauses before you leave,
In the sheets and arms of rapid-fire-lovers, would you unabashedly compose;
In my small words, the art you bore between and before?

I, the little poem, the killer’s safe home,
I, who satiates the blankness of quick lives like a thief in the night,
Address only the sodden and sultry sellers of syllables,
My calmly concocted virtuosity, my reverent psalm only flattens itself,
To heart-shaped lasciviousness and the lecherous mind. 

The Bombay Synapse

The departing from here precedes the arriving, its teachings are not hand-me-downs from other places.

Tragicomedies, like life, swell beneath its high-rise-low-means fraternity,

Sky-like dreams and buildings stacked neatly amid the widest, strangest poverty.

Scapes, forms and representations change like split-second awakenings:

Planned carefully and written down, like an ethnographic fiction.

The Bombay synapse is metaphysical, alive and dead in a moment of deliberation.

Are we gravely mistaken, severely hoodwinked by the poetry of romantics?

For nothing about the Bombay synapse is common or banal or aam.

Skin touching skin touching sweat touching man touching child touching fish touching caste;

No everyman or everyday on an Andheri to Borivali slow local, only specifics and contours: a purposeful puzzle of unlikely elbows and feet.

The continuum of disparate lives squashed by twelve in a seat for four, aside a pregnant dhobi and a hassled filmmaker;

All this is directed subtly, so you believe, like fools, in the plain ordinariness of an unusual city.

The Bombay synapse is messy, inappropriate, difficult and real.

It is the discomfort from which particularity and brilliance erupt uncontrolled, at random.

It is the uncommon obliteration of margins, a sea full of similar-different thoughts and things.

Its beauty is one of disruption, enclosed in the eyes of those unfortunate scientists among us 

Who scramble in the dark like madmen, wild and unprovoked in a city full of patient lovers,

Desperate to reason, to bargain, with the unsolved mystery of the Bombay synapse. 

The Whisperers of Mawlynnong

What lies inside of me, is entirely purged of heroes and warriors

I am terrified of the immovable, the unadulterated, the profound

My hands shiver weakly at the sight of a heavy hill

Narrow streams soaked in the pebbles of uncertainty,

Grab my heart and feet with sweat and fear 

I am a feeble, fragile, delicate, disembodied thing.

My covering is without bone, without strength to the fingers of friends, foes

But to you, in your half-formed-half-dead sturdiness,

Jolting me awake and tugging coldly from under the bed,

Pieces of my stammering, stuttering intrepidity

Leak out accidentally.

You incite me in unison, all of you, like a mournful joke,

Be brave you say, peep into the cracks in the wall, seek us in body and skin and blood:

And we will tell you the tales of your courage,

That your curious exploration, purged of the dullness of heroes and warriors

Is what lets us whisper to you softly, 

Reminding you of what life was when we lived, 

Entirely purged of heroes and warriors.

A Rhyme about the Anatomy of Grown-Ups for Curious Children

If you are a child and a curious one at that,
Count your moles and count your eyelashes;

Look at your nose and get to know it well,

For the bodies of grown-ups are different from yours.  


There are twenty toes and fingers,

And twenty thousand times a disconnect between what they want and what they do;

Their twenty toes and fingers work hard and fast, twitching endlessly to be able to do otherwise;

They are measured with the size of their belly and thighs and arms, to their embarrassment and the pleasure of others.


There are eyes, two of them, both shut tight

Their compassion is compromised for colour-coded sticky-noted reminders

Their two eyes see numbers, solutions, results and the dark bloodiness of their own eyelids

Remember that you may always identify these because they will never look you in the eye for long.


They have skin all over, like you do

But it does not like to touch anything that is different

It obsessively names things and people as jhootha, as their’s or someone else’s, itching compulsively

Their skin teaches them how to love, how to hate, and how to feel disgusted by what it is outside of them


There is one brain, and that is all it is

It is not like the brain you have, which wonders

Their brain is connected to their dry throat with a tube containing rules and regulations

The brain controls their dirty mouth, telling you arrogantly that everything about you is humiliating and wrong


If you are a child and a curious one at that

This is all there is to the bodies of older people,

There is nothing else to them for you to believe.

Learn this and remember it in the pit of your stomach, never to be traded for growing up.