Wax Doll

a wax doll
cowering beneath
your touch-
your touch is
the crackle of a match
striking volatility,
and lighting afire
every last wick
of my vulnerability;
my surface deftly
moving away,
drifting, like water
makes space for
bigger things-
and you’re the one that
brings life and death
anger and passion
at the same instant;
and so, I quiver away,
wax doll,
shy of fire,
hiding with shame,
running away to save grace.
i let you burn every inch of me,
and you, annihilate.
but what will you ever be
without me?

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To that lady, in the metro.

to the lady sitting beside me in the metro,
talking incessantly;
(you might just read these words as I write them if you lean and snoop;)
the ability to communicate through speech
is a unique ability evolution has gifted our breed after an intense test of time;
we have earned this,
so we could utilize it
in careful and productive ways
that serve humanity
help us live fruitful lives
and somehow keep us from causing discomfort and inconvenience to others?
what made you reserve ALL your travelling hours for casual chitchat you could have done without?
you, babbling on breathlessly,
meadering between topics and snacking on “did you know what she did”
feels like someone coercing food down my throat when
my stomach is already more than half full
and mouth crammed with a vomit full of syllables I’d like to scream at you.
Because I cannot digest gossip for the life of me,
and wouldn’t consume it, even
if it was the last thing left on the earth to eat.
something, about the sound of your voice
makes my ears bleed, my stomach churn
but I stay put, weigh the odds to get up and leave,
and then don’t,
because no one wants to lose their metro seat.

A list

written out, in my typical
blue ball point on a ruled sheet,
folded and tucked,
somewhere towards the end of my diary;
three hard copies and one
irrevocably imprinted in my heart,
every last word drilled into memory.
lurking there at the bottom of my bag,
and other times, clinging around
for support in my consciousness,
but always with me.
with me, everywhere I go;
although, I stopped needing it long ago;
lost between water breaks and
lunch bites grabbed in seconds
before I miss my last train,
existing but invisible, underneath
every dressed up remark I made
on learning, loving and letting go,
hiding somewhere under the tables,
between the trees,
gaping at me;
from under masks of
awkwardness, hesitation,
and my tongue tripping over my own words,
forgotten with love songs filling up the space
where words need to be;
ignored through busy evenings,
your endless appetite for small talk
and my inability to bring it out,
and let you see;
how it sits heavy,
no matter where I keep it,
and weighs down my heart
with every moment that passes
that I don’t hand it-
out, to you.

-A list of questions I have for you.

On Dilli

Pedestrians, cars, rickshaws
together with garbage and people
begging for alms
cramped together across the veins of the city
in an urban frenzy
on the same nukkads where
snake charmers once sat
with their enchanted beens;
amidst the same walls that still echo of
Khusrau’s poetry;
Puraani dilli.
a land fought over for centuries,
from Shah Jahan to Khilji,
with the smell of spices wafting through the air
and silk fitting into match boxes
to now, when smoke blinds the eyes
and pollution paralyzes the lungs
everything seems adulterated;
carved out of an ethnic shell
a culture, thriving in the cracks of old
sandstone buildings, ones that stand
still guarding history
in the heart of a dynamic potpourri of existence
where there are more stories than people;
masala not just in food
but daily gossips exchanged in the metro;
where the drains may choke on rainy days and yet
between the cracks in the pavement, little saplings bloom;
life thrives here amidst all of the city’s rush and movement;
life happens here like clockwork,
a city that never sleeps by the light of the moon.

Love+Magic Tricks

Love is a death defying stunt only
some magicians master;
and your sleight of hand steals things from under my nose so deftly that I wouldn’t wonder
if you reached behind my ear and pulled out my entire heart out of your sleeve
finished my sentences before I started them
or made my sadness disappear at the count of three.

Love is a death defying stunt only
some magicians master;
for me, chasing you is like
defying gravity when my
arms are bound in chains
my body is immersed in water
and I’m hunting for the key-
it should’ve been in my pocket right next to that Polaroid of you and me but I bet it’s still kept somewhere from the day I decided I’d set everything I love free
So:
If one of these days I let you go too;
come back.
teleport into my life and we’ll make

love look like the greatest magic trick in history.

pr.

Between the Bars

On how Between the Bars by Elliot Smith makes me feel

warm;
as if my heart was dropped
into the comfort seat located
in the centre of a flower;
cocooned by soft petals
that cower above me,
curving their spines in my direction to protect;
that is how safe this melody sounds.
and embedded into it,
the sound of a voice
whispering in my ear
softly descending me into the difficult ease that only comes after you ignore your wordly problems so much that they cease to exist.
this voice is the warm cup of coffee

I curl my fingers around in winter.
this voice says that he will make things okay.
and I’m almost sure that he does.

pr.

On unlearning.

some prints in my monochromatic memory stand out like red sirens amidst yellow lights;
they blare out like fire, shouting for attention
in my best moments
and make them my worse.
but can you help flashbacks at all?

“yes, you unlearn how your mind translates sensory experience into fear and drills it into memory;
you forget that a boy, a girl and a basement never happened for you. unlearn.”

the thing is, unlearning escapes me like a train I just missed.
it whistles past me, almost teasing:
“it happened. you were right there.”
and so six months of therapy and verbal convictions later I still cannot unlearn memory;
still cannot believe that it wasn’t my fault.

All I see now is the smoke of the coal engine that was fuelled by my guilt,
all I hear now are the sirens that rang way, way before the catastrophe. Run.
I still don’t know if I couldn’t or didn’t run.

But there’s is no going back now: no unlearning of a memory that is a living nightmare;
No unlearning of trauma, no unlearning of the walls- the personal space that has become a barbed force feild;
for your one touch is a finger on the trigger and there are bullet holes on my skin.
I sinned, I sinned, I sinned.