29.12.13

resolve

Ladies and Gents, I got my New Year's resolution for 2014 from Post Secret.


Well, I can't do *never*, but not this year.

This year is going to be the year of accepting my body the way it is. It is the year of working out because I want to, and eating whatever I want to, and the year of not feeling bad about whether or not I get clothes my size. 

Since I have to quit a lot of other things for health reasons (alcohol, caffeine, oil, butter, cheese, fatty things in general), I might as well quit something that makes me hate myself, so I can learn how to love myself. 

Yay?

22.12.13

little by little

falling in love
despite my best intentions
is quick, merciless
and stupid.
there is no art to it:
a smile, a look,
a conversation
a silly joke.

i learn instead
how to dismantle memories
that we put together
to unsmile at
the sound of your
quiet laughter, the smell of you
in the morning,
what you would have said
about what i just might have heard. 

falling in love
is easy.

it is unloving
that requires talent.

**

"if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you."

- Pablo Neruda

17.12.13

anger

how is it that
you ask me to
be silent?
how is it that
i am?
where am i going
to put my grief?
how do i turn it
to anger?

(there is another act, they say
but the curtain falls now
leaving us with
shadowed lives
masked hands
and memories
of double rainbows
in the fading autumn sky.)

27.11.13

dear diary

on some days, i really want to ask the guy who does the voiceovers for z cafe out. it's a real downward spiral because usually 1) these are days on which i have watched too much tv 2) i wonder if he's indian doing an accent or a firang and in either case there are obvious problems 3) i end up asking myself what's a man with a gorgeous voice like that doing voiceovers for? sing, man! in a rock band.

anyway, i watched too much tv today. none of it was any good. being sick isn't all what it's cracked up to be. (especially without the porridge and strawberries).

20.11.13

a hero

My stories were all that I was made of, once. When I was younger, stronger and braver, everything I did was worth singing about. My aim never wavered, my arms never tired and my opponents never lasted. I could move mountains with my hands, jump oceans in a single bound and fight wars for people who loved me. I made and broke kings, I saved and killed thousands, I ravaged and built empires. I lived in the certainty of eternal youth for as long as my help was sought and my songs were sung. I was sure I would never die for as long as my stories were told. I was a hero, make no mistake, but my stories were all that made me. 

It was a time of peace, an in-between, when my mortality started to catch up with me. An evening with my children, I was teaching my daughter to string a bow, when I realized I couldn’t see so clear. I had to try three times to do something I used to do without thinking. My hands shaking, I left my daughter there and walked away in a daze. For three days and three nights, I left my home: For the first time in my life, my strength had betrayed me and I had no answers for myself. For the first time in my life, I could taste bile and fear in my mouth: neither of which you should mix with anything.

Like a curse that came to fruition, everything I knew rapidly fell apart. When I returned on the morning of the fourth day, all I could see was yellow. I speak in no metaphor. The whole world was in monotone, and all I could see was yellow. My wife left me, taking my children with her. My ruler betrayed me, taking my loyalties with him. My friends abandoned me, taking my trust with them. No sooner than was I blind, no sooner than I lost my footing, no sooner than I was tired, my stories came unraveling behind my back.

Me, I took a hero’s path. I sacrificed myself for the good of my stories. I left them behind with their happy endings. When you find my stories, I will be young and handsome; proud as a hero about everything I’ve done. When you find my stories, you find only what I was, not what I have become.


You think your stories can make you? You’re wrong. Your stories are all you are. Stories can take from you everything you’ve ever got, and never return them to you. They can make you believe their own truths, they can make you forget. They are an act of smoke and mirrors, and they never tell you what they know for sure. 

When you undo your stories, they come after you.

7.11.13

is feeling dramatic

if i can never really drink anymore, how will i be a writer?

29.10.13

noise

i want to know.

(because we're stuck in different mazes of this labyrinth: we were lost together only briefly, and then you took a left where i took a right, and i've been listening for the sound of your feet because i think i know how you might step because we stepped together for a bit.)

(because i only have guesses: i can't go back to look for you because i don't know how i got here in the first place; i can't go looking for you because i only find monsters and fools when i look for something i have already lost, and i can live with monsters because they can teach me something new but i don't know if i can stand fools.)

(because we are as new as we are old, and i'd like to know before i decide if i want to be newer or older today.)

23.10.13

not actual poetry

the internet echoes of our
private lives are
only growing louder
and more coherent
but don't let it bother you
because, you know,

privacy settings.

14.10.13

brb sneezing

(brb empty inside)

9.10.13

line break

my
time is still

not like
composed hands
in sepia photographs

but an empty moment
in the middle
of a

song.

**

(alt. titled "caesura" for patrick rothfuss fans.)

1.10.13

fictitious

"so is your story based on personal experience?"

"no, i haven't dated anyone who's not real just yet."

:|

29.9.13

make me laugh

I had a dream about you yesterday. 

You were laughing, which is strange because I didn't think I remembered your laugh. 

I may have made it up entirely, which is the more exciting thought. How does a person make up the laugh of another in their head? How do you know what their face looks like - How did I know that your eyes crinkle on the side, that your laugh is not deep, that your mouth turns downward when you laugh, that your soft voice can generate a voice that loud?

You know what would be fun? If you don't laugh like that at all. If your laugh is actually throaty and high. If your laugh is less infectuous, more like a comma than a semicolon.

But I have a feeling dreams don't lie about these things. 

If I see you again, I'd like to make you laugh. 

27.9.13

regularly

he threw it like a tantrum.
i caught it like a pro.

24.9.13

how would you know?

(who's to say
we live
in a real world
with real people
and really pink pajamas?)

23.9.13

a story

in Helter Skelter New Writing Vol. 3 here - Paper Cut on My Tongue

Go go! Read!

:D

13.9.13

places

(A Cool Dark Place by Supriya Dravid; Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto)

I just finished reading A Cool Dark Place. I bought it on one end of a flight journey in the airport bookshop, and finished it by the time my taxi pulled into the gate.

What is a book with only beauty? I don't know, really. It may not be a good thing. Because make no mistake, A Cool Dark Place is beautiful. It is made purely of emotion, it seemed to me. How can characters who are supposed to be so empty be people so full of life? She does so many things right: so many characters, so many moments, so much love, so much brokenness. Such poetry in so many places, so flawlessly.

But I have to ask, how much is too much? I ask this as a reader averse to books that carry too much emotion to begin with. (So this might not be the case for a non-loony reader).

For example, this is one of the first couple of sentences in the book that I thought "wow" about  - "For a long time before my father ended his life, he'd hidden himself in the darkness. So my mother had hidden there with him, in the forlorn shadow of his helium heart, in the never-ending nuclear light, under sunken iron beds and love-sewn quilts. I think she hoped her Olympic tolerance would help him may his way back to the living, and destroy the lonely world, the Prozac paradise he had cocooned himself in." 
But I read it again, rolling the words in my mouth, and I wasn't sure if I knew what I thought of it.
For a long time before my father ended his life, he'd hidden himself in the darkness. So my mother had hidden there with him, in the forlorn shadow of his helium heart, in the never-ending nuclear light, under sunken iron beds and love-sewn quilts. I think she hoped her Olympic tolerance would help him map his way back to the living, and destroy the lonely world, the Prozac paradise he had cocooned himself in.

I'll tell you what this book makes me want to do the most: It makes me want to write a belated review of Em and the Big Hoom. Apart from the fact that both of these books are about broken families trying to grapple with their darknesses, there are two reasons I want to write about Em and the Big Hoom instead. I probably shouldn't compare (so I'm going to try my best not to) but while I was reading, it was all I could do.  
The first is how both of them deal with similarly rebellious, off the path love stories. The second is that when I imagined Gravy, I could only think of him as the Big Hoom: holding the world together with his strength and love.

About halfway through the book, this book made me want to also write a belated review of Em and the Big Hoom.

Apart from the fact that both of these books are about broken families trying to grapple with their darknesses, there are two reasons I want to write about Em and the Big Hoom along with this.

The first is how both of them deal with similarly rebellious, off the path love stories. The second is that when I imagined Gravy, I could only think of him as the Big Hoom: holding the world together with his strength and love.

Both of them write of a disparate world in which they fit and don't with at the same time. In both their worlds, we constantly make references to poets and literary geniuses in our daily lives, find pasts and futures that we can only imagine. 

What Pinto managed to do for me is this: He was convincing of a universe in which a boy lives with a mother who's not all there. He's convincing of their triumphs and their depression, he makes us believe in the times in between. I guess what I am trying to say is this - he gives us context. He gives us quirks of language, he gives us cultures, he gives us conflict.

Dravid, on the other hand, who writes mad characters with booming laughter, doesn't quite cut that. 
She gives us tiny hints about where these people are coming from, of course - the bobbing up and down of a priest conducting a funeral, the book of Marathi short stories, names of places: Madras, Delhi, Gokarna. 

She does little else to moor her characters in any sort of context. Not a time or a place, not a reference I can place. This would not have been disconcerting to me if not for all the others that I could. (For example, a "part-Gatsby, part-Hemingway" man who wears neon socks and runs away regularly to Europe for business; him throwing regular Lurhmann-like Gatsby-ian parties in the middle of Madras - I can imagine it, but I'm not convinced by this madness or this alcoholic, opiate, ("Prozaic") universe.)

But the real question, I suppose, is whether she means for us to be at all. These details are meant to be lost in the cobwebs of old chandeliers and jenga-like three storeyed houses with plastic life-size Ambassadors. And while I see what she is trying to do, I don't know if it works for me completely. 

So I have to ask again: how much beauty is too much? Because there may be such a thing as too much.

**

Edit: I've been thinking about this, and the truth is, it's not usually that insufficient cultural context bothers me. Is it something I have come to expect from South Asian writers? I wonder. (Because if that is the case, I probably have to rethink how I read "Indian" or "South Asian" writers.)

Edit 2: At the same time, why is the universal/neutral necessarily non-Indian?
Additionally, is there such a thing?

28.8.13

consequence

where will immortal people go when the world ends?

asking for a friend.

20.8.13

you

I looked in the mirror yesterday, and just for a moment, I thought I glimpsed a person in there that I had never seen before. I knew her eyes: they were brown-black, just like mine, but I didn’t know a single other feature. Not the nose, not the shape of her cheekbones, not the curve of her forehead, not the curl of her hair, not the mole on her ear, not anything I see today. 

I looked in the mirror yesterday, and I only saw you.

12.8.13

home

home is feeling

like yawns can be
stretched out, full
sometimes with a roar
and a shake of the head.

home is knowing

the shape of the ceiling
even in the dark
even in your dreams
even when you've been away
for months and months and months.

home is comfort

in sadness and loneliness
music at the right volume
a clock, eight minutes fast
familiar awkwardnesses
and all the right wrongs.

**

for m and me, for leaving and coming back.

7.8.13

legitimate career choice

i should write love letters for a living.

someone want to pay me?

i'm pretty good.

promise!

6.8.13

an audience of one

i'd rather write
pages and pages
of plotless prose
but i'm afraid
even i
wouldn't read it.

**

"An audience of one?"

"That's all she needed," she said. "That's all anybody needs."

- from bluebeard, kurt vonnegut. 

12.6.13

june, she'll change her tune

i might be older soon,
but know that

i wear make up now:
red lipstick, blue eye shadow,
mascara, and pink blush.
i have opinions about
using nude lipliners
and shades of brown.

the bigger picture never figures:
i flirt more, but i date less
i exercise, but i don't lose weight
i sing, but always in the shower
i try, always until i fail.

i scoff at people who don't do
stupid things:
flirt with strangers in bookstores
(roll down grassy slopes)
wear bright yellow hats
or sing in public when they're
happy.

being adult manifests
in ways you never imagine.

25.5.13

paper cut

on my tongue.

26.4.13

tanay

"ayyo! rama chaddi!"

"it's rama chandra, not rama chaddi."

"how does it matter? rama also wore a chaddi." (oune kuda pichchi karan aatom chaddi potkindaan.)

(he's 6.)

22.4.13

nesting

i want a kitchen
(onions and garlic
an oven that works
four fresh cheeses and seedless olives
white wine vinaigrette 
a set of knives that cut
tomatoes on the first try
and maggi noodles for
when i'm lazy)

i'll bake every second night
(there will be croissant batter
foiled and setting
at all times in
my freezer)

and i'll try out new recipes
(cinnamon and banana bread
from orangette
raspberry macaroons from
that guy in paris
mambazha sambar and nune vankaya
from my grandmothers)

i'll have someone do my dishes
(i know i say it's therapeutic
but i doubt it would be
if i had to do them
everyday)

leave me to it
won't you,
tomorrow
in my own apartment
with my bright red curtains
and new wooden bookshelves

16.4.13

up up up

thinking of doing something stupid, telling yourself "wait this is pathetic" and then not following through. 

congratulations on growing up, sitoo. 

5.4.13

flamboyance


you kicked me out of bed
one sultry morning
at 5 am
to do at least
one fun thing
in bombay.

we waited for the train
unshowered unbrushed
uncoffeed ungry

with three women
clean, jasmine in their hair
baskets full of
smelly fish
on their way
to work.

we got off at sewri
walked past
(what could only have been)
a hundred lorries
and three hundred
drunk lorry drivers

to finally reach
the shore.

one large, broken boat
one tree

and a thousand
white and pink
flamingoes.

what is the word,
we wondered then,
for all of those flamingoes
all at once?

for an hour we watched them:
ugly, grey and white
sitting in
ugly, grey and white water

until they began to fly:
majestic. pink.
flamboyant.

a flamboyance of flamingoes.

12.3.13

unmasking

we wear masks to hide, they say.

they don't know the truth.

we wear masks to become.

7.3.13

you

hate
hating
you.

22.2.13

what the water gave me

Dive in.

Let the temperature of the water shock you.

Don't stop. Keep swimming.

Swim till your arms hurt. Swim till your breath stops. Swim till your feet cramp and tell you you need to stop.

Don't stop anyway. Stretch your arms while you're swimming. Breathe deeper while you're swimming. Your feet aren't important, you don't need them when you're swimming.

Stop when your head is spinning too much. Stop when you don't have to scream anymore. Stop when the music in your head is calmer. Stop when you want to. Not because you have to.

Stop in the middle of the pool. Roll over. Hum to yourself. Fall asleep on your back. Let the water hold you up.

Let go.

13.2.13

regular* valentine's day rumination

this year, i feel like e e cummings.

(partly because i've been obsessed with this poem all week; but also because it's that kind of year - i don't feel like doing something cheesy or ironic. i just feel like being sappy.)

if everyanything happens that can't be done

e. e. cummings 

if everything happens that can't be done
(and anything's righter
than books
could plan)
the stupidest teacher will almost guess
(with a run
skip
around we go yes)
there's nothing as something as one

one hasn't a why or because or although
(and buds know better
than books
don't grow)
one's anything old being everything new
(with a what
which
around we come who)
one's everyanything so

so world is a leaf so a tree is a bough
(and birds sing sweeter
than books
tell how)
so here is away and so your is a my
(with a down
up
around again fly)
forever was never till now

now i love you and you love me
(and books are shuter
than books
can be)
and deep in the high that does nothing but fall
(with a shout
each
around we go all)
there's somebody calling who's we

we're anything brighter than even the sun
(we're everything greater
than books
might mean)
we're everyanything more than believe
(with a spin
leap
alive we're alive)
we're wonderful one times one

**

*i considered saying random valentine's day rumination for a long time. because that's what hip blogs do. in any case, for the sake of almost-accuracy, i decided to go with regular. other valentine's days here, here and here

journal entry on a vacation

I'm in Pondicherry, at a resort with a swimming pool with a tree.

 I've been sitting here in the sun for about a day. Reading NW (Zadie Smith), yes I know what I say about her. I may want to take it all back because this book is pretty awesome.

I've also been eating strawberries with fresh, creamy ricotta.

Is this the life?

This is the life.

11.2.13

paint my face rainbow because it's a gay kind of day

Hyderabad had its first Queer Pride last week.

And I wasn't there! :(

I feel like I'm missing out on all the important developments in the world. Bah.

1.2.13

what if

poetry
is in
its evoking

17.1.13

leave behind a whisper

She is sitting across me on a blue couch, cushion across her lap and remote in her hand. She is watching television with no apparent concentration, flipping channels when one bores her enough. She pulls her hair back with her hand, and finally switches off the television. She looks to me and says “Let’s have sex.” She says it with her eyebrows raised and a small shrug, as if it were the logical alternative to nothing on television. I shrug back and begin to kiss her. She tastes of apples and cigarettes and smells like my shampoo. There is no other conversation.

An hour and sixteen minutes later, she walks to the window in her college t-shirt and my blue size ten kitten heels. She lights a cigarette but doesn’t smoke any of it. I watch her for some time, staring into the world outside as if trying to piece some puzzle together. She has a slight frown on her brow, like a child with a new game.

“There is a Japanese word to describe the moment of falling in love,” she says, almost as if she is talking to herself. She turns to me and she asks, “Can you imagine it? A word. As if everybody can feel the same way when they fall in love.”

“I can’t,” I say to her in a whisper.

If everyone could feel the same way, everyone would have to be in love with her. They’d have to have been there, when it was happening to me. They’d have to have been drawn into our first conversation, both of us nervous and fidgeting and eager. They’d have to have listened to our first phone conversation, all fourteen hours of it. They’d have to have kissed our first kiss, felt the sun on their toes and the fear in their stomachs. They’d have to have seen her try to put a fork through a pea, and watch her wait till a piece of chocolate melt on her tongue before she ate it all. They’d have to have seen her dance, drunk by the sea, or sing, with a toothbrush in her mouth just before a shower. How can a word tell you all that in just a word?  

Her cigarette burns out, and she flops herself back on the couch. She is restless, I can tell. In fact, I know what she wants to talk about. I have known since I kissed her an hour and twenty three minutes ago. It’s not something I don’t know has been coming. I wait for her to bring it up anyway.

“I don’t think I can do this anymore,” she says eventually.

“I know,” I want to say, as if I understand. But I don’t. My eyes tear up even though I am willing them not to. I don’t understand. I hold her hand hoping she doesn’t let me let go. I say it, even though I don’t believe it. Even though everything is telling me not to. “I know.”

“We can still be friends,” she says. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t believe it either.

“We can’t,” I say. I don’t want to be friends. Not with her.

I remember an argument I had with her a while ago. We had just watched a romantic film. We kissed every time the couple on screen kissed. We ate lots of popcorn and laughed at the people sitting next to us. (Discretely). When we came out, she said with a similar intensity, “When lovers aren’t fun, they shouldn’t be lovers anymore.” I disagreed. Love isn’t just fun, I argued then. We had shawarma for dinner and philosophy for dessert. Our argument spanned the entirety of greek to post-modern love. It ended abruptly when we saw a poster for a kung fu movie. “Kung fu trumps romance,” she said, so we quickly bought cheap tickets for the late night show, went in and kissed some more.

“Don’t call me,” I tell her. When lovers aren’t fun, they shouldn’t be lovers anymore.

I want to hurt her, but if she is hurt, I can’t tell.

There isn’t anything else for us to say.

I take my toothbrush, pack my underwear and leave.

On my way home, I try to imagine what the word must feel like. The moment of falling in love.

It must sound like two trains passing, must feel like butterflies in the stomach, like jumping off a cliff and like warm cup of cocoa, like the quiet of home and the song you’d like to hum; all at once. This word is probably a quiet word, like laughter or cheer, a frizzy word, a word that will make you want to hold someone’s hand and share someone’s blanket. It must sound like her and me on a sunny morning, reading opposite pages of the same newspaper, eating from the same bowl of cereal, leaving the marshmallows for each other.

All moments pass, some in such a rush that they leave you with your ears ringing and spots in your eyes; disoriented and stranded. If there were words for everything, there would be a word for this too.

All moments end. 

16.1.13

sometimes some songs make me cry

and i haven't even listened to the words yet.

13.1.13

noon, winter.

Her knees creak loudly in protest. She uses her hands to push herself up, straightens her back for only a second before she has to bend to pick up everything else. In that second, she breathes deeply. She picks up fifteen rupees’ worth of spinach, a knife, a cutting board and a bowl. She totters out the back door to her six feet by four feet back yard. She looks up and smiles briefly at the sun. It had been two weeks since the sun has bothered to peek out into the world. She sits down on a cushion, stretches her legs out (her knees creak audibly again) and cutting board on her lap, she starts to cut spinach. 

It is a job that doesn’t require any skill whatsoever. She picks up a large clump of spinach and holds it together on the board with her left hand. With her right, she chops and shreds with all the might her blunt knife can offer her. She’s done in around three minutes. She puts all the cut spinach in the bowl next to her and calls out loudly. A young boy puts his head out into the back yard, takes the bowl from off the floor and disappears. She has a smug smile on her face. She goes back inside when the wind starts to blow the warmth of the sun out. Soon, her bones have forgotten warmth.