Thursday, December 11, 2014


I can smile when I am in pain
I can’t laugh; not even feign
Pain is a temporary feeling,
It’s nothing but a transitioning,
From a mental state of stasis
To one of instant catharsis.

What’s a lover’s pain?
But a feeling someone can’t contain.
Pain is eternal, it has no limit
I can’t ever recall being without it
When I was an errant fool in school
Even in my flighty youth trying to be cool.

Pain devastates, leaves our life in shambles
As I grow old and as my defence crumbles
I wonder, “Was there a day that went by,
Without the pain that we endure nightly
Be it in a hospital’s operating table
Or, in pursuit of this literary dream, so noble?”

I can smile when I am in pain
But I can’t laugh; not even feign.

Friday, February 14, 2014


Dust I must, but I can’t leave it to rest
Despondent dust: it's your flaky feel I detest
They hang in cobwebs, in corners, and book cases
Little nooks, crannies, and unsuspecting places.

I get tired of this dusting and say, “oh well,”
Uninvited guests, please spare my clothes if you will
Go hang somewhere but not on my wall
If I find you someplace I'd sweep till you fall.

Dust I must, because I am allergic
Even if, perchance, it'd make me neurotic
Oh! Leave my books alone, I have just dusted them
What use are dust jackets? Thickly coated their spines become?

Up here, up there, this dust tires me, oh, they kill
Dusting all the time, agreed, is a matter of skill
Watch me do it with a duster and broom in hand
Till my house is clean; able for next the onslaught to withstand.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013


(Written after seeing disturbing images of children caught in the Syrian War on television.)

There was peace here before the guns came
The birds used to sing before darkness became.

We had water to drink and food to eat
We had grains, vegetables, and even meat.

The days were peaceful, boring, and calm
And no nights of gunfire and napalam.

We children went to school and men to work
Gunmen didn't on street corners lurk.

Bring back those days; oh, bring them back
These difficult days are hard, loads on our back.

We don't need your free clothes, food packets, and peace talks
We only need our freedom to take our children to the parks.

Leaders, it takes a few hours to declare wars
But it takes people lifetimes to forget the scars.

We live in strange lands under your polythene tents
We don't know what our country's future portends.

Mother says, "Child, tomorrow will be good, go to sleep"
But sleep won't come despite counting a hundred sheep.

Give us a chance to be once more in schools
We promise we won't break many rules!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

The House Where Kipling Lived

House Where Kipling Lived

Leaves drop in sibilant silence
The paths that leads to it are unswept.
The trees draped with vine
Breathe the air that he breathed
A century and a half ago; yet,
Seems like yesteryear.

The bungalow stands in decrepitude
Rotten wood painted green
Crumbling with no master inside
To give it a dusting, Gunga Din would do fine.
The staircase down which he descended
Now creaking and brittle with age
The balustrade coated with grime.

At the entrance is a weathered bust
A reminder of the man who portrayed the East
As a sign-seeking misinterpreting man of the West
The trees entered his heart; the vines his soul
There they stand before the old bungalow
Bandar-log[1] peeping from its branches.

If we be The White Man’s Burden[2]
How come he praised Gunga-Din[3]
You’re a better man than I am?[4]
Here, in this dereliction, was born one who loved the East
Told its stories to an appreciative West
Forgetful city, oh, please remember your son
Your history books take scant notice of this one, your bard.

[1] From The Jungle Book
[2] A poem written by Rudyard Kipling
[3] The protagonist of the poem Gunga Din
[4] From the poem Gunga Din

Thursday, May 23, 2013


These paths on which only one man can tread
So brittle they break if more men step on them
Don’t know who tread them before me
Over centuries, generations, and lifetimes.
They wind, criss-cross, and snake
As spider webs across dusty earth and grass
They never fail to lead somewhere:
Holy place, school, hospital, rest home
Or, to some point of exquisite scenery
From where can be seen brilliant sunsets.
In forests they proclaim human habitation
Or, a nearby stream to quench thirst.
We are mere passers-by, walking
They remain there till the end of time, unchanged
Till men die, abandon, walk away, or immigrate

To a place where they can set up a new home.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Skin-Whitening Cream and Soaps

All you white-skinned men and women
Showing off on the television’s tinsel domain
Makes me wonder if a black man or woman
Has a place in this land of dark God Neelkantan.

I shake my head and in I groan in pain
God! What have I done to deserve this bane?
You created this land of dark people and Gods
And dipped them in tubs of skin-whitening suds.

Now all I see are dark faces white-washed
Hair as if streaked with rays of golden sunlight
Creams that promise white skin in a week
With which you can marry a stud, not a geek.

Girl on television you may be a big star
But beneath the discolored skin you are hiding a scar
The way God created you is on hold
With skin-whitening creams you have been sold.

Yes, they say the cream sells more than aerated drinks
Thirst is nothing so far as you don’t look like Michael Spinks
Armed with cream and umbrella you must march
Down the ramp to celebrate the Ides of March.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


When you feel let down by the world’s trechery
When the air is thick with arrant buffoonery
When fools go where mortals refrain
When atomic wars threaten to draw the final curtain.

Dance gently to the rain’s mad rhythm, my friend
Go gently into the rain, don’t hesitate.
Raiiiin oooo raiiiiinnn oooooo! (2)

When anger is on every face and begets new anger
And nobody’s stuffy ears are willing to listen
To an old man playing a guitar and tambourine
Tossed around on silver seas and wastelands.

Dance gently to the rain’s mad rhythm, my friend
Go gently into the rain, don’t hesitate.
Raiiiin oooo raiiiiinnn oooooo! (2)

We are here to make the night last long
Don’t fill our nights with the ghost of hunger
Protest we must if our rights are trampled on
Guns we must face and be prepared for confinement.

Dance gently to the rain’s mad rhythm, my friend
Go gently into the rain, don’t hesitate.
Raiiiin oooo raiiiiinnn oooooo! (2)

This rain will pass and another monsoon too
Try not to shield from its fury, it’s liquid onslaught
Then we will dance on fallow fields and limpid lakes
What remains of its legacy in its wake.

Dance gently to the rain’s mad rhythm, my friend
Go gently into the rain, don’t hesitate.
Raiiiin oooo raiiiiinnn oooooo! (2)

(c) 2012