i feel like doing something reckless.

like have sex with a stranger
or jump of a cliff.
or tell you that i love you
and then run away.

i feel like doing something destructive.

like have sex with a stranger
or jump of a cliff.
or tell you that i love you
and then break your heart.


soz bro

how to achieve adulthood:

1. hydrate
2. have a therapist
3. tell an adult guy you like him
3. write poetry



Listen, she said.
I'm listening:
here's what
is being said.
Let me say those things
in tones that are
aesthetically pleasing
in colours that aren't

Listen, she said.
I'm listening:
I can hear anger,
struggle, everyday negotiations,
pain, humiliation, love,
compassion, romance.
Voices are being
muffled, shunted out
of stage.

Listen, she said.
I don't need you
to translate. 



i like this world in which it's cool to be a feminist. waiting for the world in which it's cool to have well-read and informed opinions. wouldn't that be nice? 



"It feels like someone is taking every muscle in your body and tying them into tiny little knots."

"It feels like someone is taking this spot, in the middle of my chest, and wringing it."

Conversation with a 16-year-old.

Mental health is not in your head, it's in your body. It's in the tips of your fingers when you can't feel them; it's in the blindspot on the side of your eyesight; it's in the fog you're walking through everyday; it's in the edge you're walking on, holding in your every emotion while they're yearning to break free, yearning to split your body in two, chest downwards. It's the voice in the back of your head that's trying to tell you you're being an idiot, it's the drowning out of this voice by the other voice that's simply screaming in panic, unable to work out that the world isn't about to swallow you whole. Anxiety bloody sucks, and that's the most real thing about mental health.



actually, a worse thing is to be entirely indifferent.



i take copious notes but
poetry is pith.

i'm not sure if 'pith'
is a real word, but if i am
to understand what poetry does
real words fail me.

they failed me the day
i stepped into her home
just after sunset
and all she had was a
single kerosene lamp she
used sparsely because
she might run out before
the end of the month.

she rummaged around a
tiny trunk in a home smaller
than a king size bed
looking for a badly photoshopped
picture of a daughter
who died in an earthquake.
i never asked and she never told me
about the day she dressed her up
in pink and white and slathered
talcum powder all over her face
and did her hair in two neat plaits
then haggled with the studio owner
who made sure she smiled in
the right proportion, with the right angle
of the chin, then brightened her face
beyond recognition and changed
the background to something green
and floral - the picture she thrust
into my hands was nothing like
what her daughter must have
been like, nothing like
the words inside me, falling apart

so please don't mind me
when i say poetry is pith
because real words don't mean much


demonetisation woes

in which i desperately want to tell the internets i withdrew 10000 rupees but account balance doesn't comply. :/


salt (ii)

walk till your feet burn.
the sun sears the skin off your heels.
salt dries into your wounds
till you can’t tell
where your body ends and
pain begins.

walk till your eyes burn.
the heat dries the tears off your face
the sweat off your neck
till you can’t tell
where the sea ends and
pain begins.

walk till your blood burns.
till anger boils the words off your soul
your burdens off your heart
till you can’t tell
where the body ends and
the sea begins.


on some days, i just want to stay in bed, eat everything (and/or a whole plate of biryani) and netflix till i die.

these are days that warn me of oncoming periods.


big shoes to fill

so i just found out that the course i took over (gender, health and public policy) from a fairly senior professor has a history. this professor has been teaching this course for 19 years now and she took this course from srilatha batliwala! eek. 



"teaching is like telling a story."

"there has to be a moral?"

"no! you have to start at the beginning."

sigh. btw, i <3 teaching. it's such a rush. 


can you see it?
it's wrapped inside a
silk handkerchief
and hidden away.
it's masked to seem
pretty and mysterious
like a story on a
rainy night, with lightning
and thunder.
but if you can see it
don't tell me what it looks like.
don't tell me how naked, how
raw, how vulnerable and scared
it is,
my sadness.


i'm sitting at my cubicle, staring at my screen and i can't comprehend why everyone around me isn't crying the way i want to cry. there's something deeply personal about this, yet, i have no idea why my emotions aren't transcending, why it hasn't crippled me yet, whether this is about what i'm seeing or if i'm finally processing deaths i hadn't thought of before. grief is a funny thing. like art or jokes, you always need context. 



darling please, layla.



i'm actually moving. things are being put into boxes. it's really happening. 

i feel like i'm tearing my heart out and abandoning it here in this city. it's a terrible, terrible feeling. and i just don't want to go. the rational part of my brain knows why i'm doing it, but the rest of me is shivering. i'm constantly holding back my tears. 

i've lived here for nearly seven years now. i want to say oh i'll be back in two years la la la but cities are brutal. they'll just move on without you. when (if) i'm back, there'll be a faint smile of familiarity in 4s but no asking random people to scootch because i need a table. market cafe won't instantly give me a double cappuccino. the auto rules would have changed. summerhouse won't be the place everyone's at on a friday night. my swimming pool won't recognize me. my niece won't be a baby anymore. my nephew'll be in the 7th standard *shudder*. people i love would have moved away, gotten married, gone on with their lives. what i'm really afraid of is not having someone to call at 7 PM to say "bro happy hours for another hour. wanna get a drink?" or just walk in to a good bookstore (okay, midlands) and spend two hours there and not buy anything and leave. (where i'm going has only the shittiest bookstores ever). i'm scared of not being anonymous, of not meeting interesting people, of having to build up a whole life for myself from the scratch. of not running into people i haven't seen in ages. of not being a delhi person anymore. and i just don't want to go.   



"I don't think it'll ever end. Like a postmodern nightmare. Till the end of time."

"I had one of those last night."

"Oh no. Those are the worst."

"Yeah! I dreamt I was saving the world but the tragedies were so great and never-ending, that even though I was winning I was losing. So I kept walking from one room to the next (like in that new Radiohead song) and each new room was a new tragedy. I was all alone at home. I woke up at like, 4, moved out of my bedroom with my blanket, put on the television and watched Sex and the City till I passed out on my couch."

"In the dream?"

Honestly, I don't know.


(whatsapp. g.)



my mother writes poetry about
her mother.

she writes about age,
memory loss, senility,
about watching her mother's
mind disintegrate, about
not remembering
names, faces, dates, childhoods
not knowing
recipes to dishes she has cooked
everyday, laughing
at things she has no comprehension of
anymore: the television, soap,
remote controls, shoelaces.

"she can still read," my mother says
so they read together:
the vishnu sahasranamam.
"she thinks she can sing" my mother says
so they listen to her sing.

i wonder if i
will have the strength
to write poetry


a book review

Read my review of 'The Lost Generation: Chronicling India’s Dying Professions' here on Open Road Review. 

An excerpt of the review:

"If progress were a linear story moving swiftly from a traditional past to a modern future, technology would be the ghost that haunts Nidhi Dugar Kundalia’s insightful new book, The Lost Generation: Chronicling India’s Dying Professions. At the very end of that story, our bodies will be anonymous and unmarked by tradition, healed by those trained in science and medicine, perfumed by scents whose flowers we don’t recognize. We will have a friendly app to mourn for us on Facebook. The Rudaali will cease to exist except in song, for we would have no need for her anymore. The godna artist, the ittar–waala, the street dentist will be relegated to sepia stories representing a past we have run away from."




i have nothing profound to say this valentine's day. nothing cute, nothing silly, nothing at all.