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How will it be

17-Feb-17

“Frostbitten” (1962), watercolor on paper (© Andrew Wyeth)

Fifteen years ago
Fifteen that was me
I sat at my window-
“How will it be?

The house with a garden
The rose bush, the peas
A place to watch the sunrise
Over the jackfruit tree”

Fifteen years ago
Fifteen that was me
I didn’t know I’ll make it
“How will it be?

I did not ask for much
Did not ask for any
Just wanted to breathe
Just wanted to be”

Fifteen years ago
Fifteen that was me
I just wanted to run away
“How will it be?

To tear off from my legs
The snakes wrapped around
The ones I thought were roots
Deep within the ground.”

Fifteen years ago
I’d laugh if I’d see
I am still at my window
“How will it be?”

Throwback dream

10-Feb-17

Looking through the drafts I found this post that never saw the light of the day then. Three and half years on, the dream still remains a dreams.

Last edited May 28 2013
I picture a regular day of my life sometime in the near future. I would wake up in the morning, get ready for work along with my husband. We will probably drive together to our workplace, which will most likely be a university or research institute. I will have a class of 20-30 young students. They are all about 18-23 years of age give or take two years. They are bright, and they know it. In fact they usually think most teachers are not as bright as they are. I believe so too and respect that attitude. After all the world belongs to the youth. If I am not mentoring students to be better than myself, what good am I. However, I do manage to impress them with my lectures, and make them sit up an notice. That this is not a fight, it is a game. That a challenge does not have to become strife. That rebellion is not the only consequence of the restlessness of youth. I ask them to create not memorize. I make them think not gather information. I make them question everything they hear, not accept anything, even scientific facts if they are presented as dogmas. I accept my ignorance and ask to be taught. And they learn. This is the first part of my dream. This is my classroom.

The eight hour day ends, and a new part of the day begins. Again, I am with people probably a decade or more younger than me. But they are way more powerful than I ever was or will be. I tell them, that learning does not have to stop at the classroom. That beyond the internet, beyond face book and beyond news articles, blog posts and TED talks, there is a real world with real people. And if learning does not benefit the real world, many times it becomes hard to motivate oneself, that one often finds himself/herself asking “Why am I doing this”. This is not a rule of course, but putting learning in perspective gives the fulfillment that may not come from simply excelling in what you do. So, I engage them to go out to the world and tell them what they know. It does not have to be the classroom learning. It can be their personal learning that they have acquired in books, or from the internet. If you pay attention, then you are probably learning something each waking minute. A lot of that learning remains within a select circle, but could benefit many if disseminated to a wider community. This is the second part of my dream. This is my community.

Everything that we lost – A Ghazal

29-Dec-16

I recently wrote another poem along the same lines “For everything that we lost”. But the poem didn’t quite come to me as I had hoped it would. Today, I was thinking of writing a Ghazal in English (as odd as that may sound, poets have done it before), and it occurred to me that “Everything that we lost” is a Ghazal. This attempt is probably still not there. Something tells me I am not done exploring this “loss” but it is definitely a Ghazal.

Whirling dervishes vector illustration hand drawn sketch

Whirling dervishes vector illustration hand drawn sketch

The whirling dervishes of my thoughts
Behold everything that we lost.

We went where lives alive in graves
Remember everything that we lost.

Our fingers ache from writing on stone
Belaboring everything that we lost.

We will never speak of this grief
That unctioned everything that we lost.

We have drained the ink that knew pain
Now versify everything that we lost.

Our hearts are sometimes made of snow
The chest of everything that we lost.

We wipe and rub and wash from our souls
The ‘Color’ of everything that we lost.

Tap tapping in Aleppo

19-Dec-16

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Picture of Alabed Bana, a 7 year old Syrian girl in Aleppo, click for twitter account

There is no language that

Tap tap twittering
Tap tapping in Aleppo
Cry bleed die
Boom boom in Aleppo
Black sky
Pixels disintegrate
In broadband cable
Tap tap retweet
Tap tap repeat
Repeat
Boom boom in Aleppo
“Tragedy unfolding”
Operatic even
Tick ticking in Aleppo

can speak how ghastly this is

For everything that we lost

11-Dec-16

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Our grief is like a dirty stray dog
Not sure where he came from
Wandering through forgotten alleys
With suppurating eyes
Eating air with his tongue
Sniffing and nudging our discarded skins
For everything that we lost.

We have stopped caring for them
We have learned to move on
With mirth in packs
We don’t go back on those alleys
We count our blessings, heave and sigh
And never shed a toenail
For everything that we lost.

We know that dirty stray dog
Day in and day out, we see him
And turn away, but we got to stop, no?
Our eyes strain from too much not seeing
We are each grieving alone
Just behind the curtain of our eyes
For everything that we lost.

Important things

24-Sep-16

There hasn’t been a year since 2014 that I have not moved. I moved from Madison to St. Louis in 2014. I lived in three different places in the two and a half year I spent in St. Louis. And now it is time to move again to a new city and a new life. Packing has become an yearly ritual for me almost. And these are the times you feel you should down size. The unnerving decision is to throw away the little things. Things that were too precious to throw when you first acquired them. But you let them sit and brew until the time comes when you have to evaluate the practicality of keeping them. It is the things that define you, the little things, the birthday cards, the half written poems, the scribbles and doodles. And those are the things that need to go. And things that are a painful reminder of the unromanticness of life, tax returns, medical bills, USCIS documents that get to stay, filed away in thing boring looking files. Strange is the irony of existence. And then the little things you decide to keep, the challenge is how to pack them. Pens, hair clips, cds, photographs, eye glass cleaner. There is no easy way to pack these without a feeling of helplessness in the knowledge that daily life is so messy. The challenge is how to organize them, where to put what. I must admit organization has never been my forte. You accumulate the small things so easily and then at time like these you wish you hadn’t.
And yet I dread the time when I will not pack and not move.
Is the next city I go to the end of my journey ?

The verse

13-Sep-16

I keep waiting for the universe
To reveal the verse in it
I strain my ears real hard
I stare at the zenith
Hoping that I could hear
The whispers I once knew
And see the visions
I saw when my eyes were new

I thought I had it
And I will have it forever
But poetry quietly slipped away
And words have washed down the rivers
I wonder why I lost it
And I think hard and long
And the one word that keeps haunting
Is empathy, and it is strong

It’s not like I think
I am less empathetic
It’s just this realization
That I never had any of it
I imagined I had empathy
But when it has come on to my skin
I feel like I don’t want it
I just want to be living

Real suffering is too much
For one person to handle
Versifying someone’s experience
Feels unfair from an angle
I don’t want to be a hypocrite
Putting a show of empathy
While garnering applause
Building a poetic identity

But I guess a writer is a mere
crucible that can only receive
The verse that floats in the universe
The words that make one believe
In silent nights
When the crickets sing
The universe waits for a poet
As it recites its meaning.

Time-lapse

01-Sep-16

From quiver to quiver
The needles of leaves
The beings in the clouds
The threads of sunlight
The colors on the roof
Freezing and thawing
Rivers and elements
Whirring and rolling
Unmindful unwatched
Moves the arrow of time.

The muse

31-Aug-16

an Artist’s studio
no one’s around
canvasses stacked against the walls
finished and unfinished paintings
some covered with sheets
lights from the ceiling criss cross
upon a blank canvas
mounted on an easel
at the head of a central space
whorls of smoke grab at the light
and disappear in dark corners

now
a glass ball appears in the studio
looking at the empty canvas
a form steps out from the ball
appears feminine but who knows
she walks slowly towards the canvas
studies it, looks for something on it
then she takes a step back
picks up a bucket
hurls it against the canvas
colors rush to find
dryland under their feet

now
the studio is empty again
the smoke settles
paint drips from the canvas
a red over a blue, a blue over a yellow
forms rise, men and women and animals
a city, a mountain and nothing at all
the nebula congeals
on the once blank canvas
and the Artist steps out
to admire his creation.

The human condition

19-Jul-16

The world makes me sad. I have wondered for some time now, whether we, this generation will find ourselves in the middle of a devastating war like the world wars I and II. And then I think, aren’t we already? I don’t have data or evidence to say whether the world is better or worse than it was 20 years ago. Anecdotally, it appears that the world has become more hateful. Some manifest their violence in actions, some in words. Both are devastating. We are also more aware of the violence around us, thanks to 24 hour news channels and social media. So, it is hard to tell whether violence has increased over the years or not. The thing I know for sure is that the violence has inched closer to me. Previously, bad things happened to people far off, people I did not know, people who had no bearing on my life. Now, my friends and acquaintances live in every corner of the world. They frequently mark themselves safe on Facebook. The danger has come home. To be honest every time I go to a movie theater, I wonder what if a deranged person starts firing at us. But is this violence new ? I have seen the 1991 religious riots of India. I was aware enough to know what the issue was. I felt disgusted that people could feel that way about each other. And even though I have not experienced it first hand, I was aware of the 90’s militancy in Kashmir. Actually, India has had its tryst with terrorism for a long time. It is unfortunately as common as mass shootings in the US. Yet lives are lost. Real people lose their near and dear ones. And all for what?

I have given a lot of thought to this idea of peace that we keep running after. We keep struggling with our democracies, our rights, our freedoms, our duties only on the single hope that there will be a lasting peace some day. I think that is what we are programmed to believe. This war and then there will be peace. This election and then there will be peace. This law and then there will be peace. But what if there will never be peace for everyone. It hurts me that some people will not have known peace their entire lives. People will hate, kids will eventually learn to swear, some people will never get out of poverty, some people will never get out of crime, good things will end. So then what’s the point of all this ? In 50,000 years of the human existence, we have not yet figured out how to live with each other, how to love each other, so what’s the hope that we will ever? Then again, 50,000 years is a flash in the big scheme of things. Any contemplation of the human condition always leads to this dead end. Who are we to assume all this importance in this universe. A star is born, planets circle around it, comets soar, asteroids rain, the star grows old and explodes and all this happens in a blip. Who are we to ask for peace in this violent universe.

Yet people go on. Some go on for others. Some for themselves or their beliefs. I am not the first one to wonder what keeps them going and I will not be the last. If there no peace for everyone, there is no peace. Maybe I am lazy, or a coward and so I keep questioning, what is the whole point? What bothers me is that I know I will never get out of my comfort zone to change anything. I try to lull myself saying things like, it is enough if I am honest in fulfilling the role I have in society. That I can make a difference just by doing my job, just by living my life with integrity. That feeling love for your fellow beings is enough. There was a time I felt deeply and passionately about a number of things. Now, I am afraid to feel, for fear that the conscience within me will call me out on my laziness and cowardice. Somewhere, I am afraid, what I am doing now, living, is really not enough. But it is hard, and I am not that person who can do more than what is enough.