Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Why Do We Hate?

Why do we hate:
People who are of a colour different from ours,
People with slanting eyes and high cheekbones,
People with curly hair and broad noses,
People with brown skin and sunken eyes.
People who wear cloth wound around their loins,
People who wear colourful turbans and grow hair,
People with exquisite and lush beards,
People who wear leather sandals.
People who eat noisily from leaves,
People who dance and sing freely,
People who talk with gestures and interjections,
People who walk in the wild without shoes.
People with distracted looks who create beauty,
People who learn and teach others about life,
People with a begging bowl and hungry looks,
People who build homes with cardboard and plastic.
People who sleep on streets in the cold and rain,
People with nothing to call their own, no loved ones,
People who hate just for the sake of hating someone,
Our parents who teach us all we know and to walk and talk.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Breast Tax

In my faraway homeland of Kerala state,
There used to be tax, records indicate,
Called Breast Tax, a tax on breasts
On women who cover their chests.

One day, Nangeli covered her chest,
The Pravathiyar grew wild and upset,
“Pay the tax, at once,” he said,
“I will not,” said Nangeli, unafraid.

“You defy the law and thus your King,
For this you will do some lamenting,
You shall be whipped and made to pay,
The price of trespass will come your way.”

Grabbing breasts, she cleaved it with sickle,
Watching people cried, “Don’t be so fickle.”
Laid them on leaves, presented to Pravathiyar,
“Here’s your tax!” she said, as he watched in horror.

Nangeli died, whereupon the tax was withdrawn,
“It’s not right,” said the owner of the crown.
“Women will have all rights in my kingdom,”
Thereafter, it’s said, women were harassed seldom.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

“The Jungle,” Calais, 2016

Here we die slowly, he said, in our land it’s quicker,
We lie to sleep, not knowing tomorrow we have to cross
The sea to another land to a lawless place called “the jungle.”

When bombs fall in the eerie desert calm,
We cower to our hideouts, which are blown apart,
Before our eyes, smashed to powder and smoke.

Here, it’s cold; our lands are hot, sweltering,
Reeking of gun smoke and smell of cordite burning,
The mornings we forage for food and water amidst the ruins.

In the refugee camp our bones slowly chill with the cold,
Our flesh freeze, we submit to the endless hostile gaze,
Kind people come with food, but we mostly starve.

It’s no different this land and the one we have left,
It’s both ruled by powerful men with guns and tanks,
War lords using merchandise sold by ruthless corporations.

Yes, we die slowly here, so that our children might live,
Sleepless, they stumble out of our flimsy tents into the cold,
There’s no place to play tag or read alphabets in this jungle.

We never asked for wars or guns in our lands,
We only asked for a place to live our worldly dreams,
After having eaten, to watch a movie, and sing of freedom.

"The Jungle," Calais, France, is not far from Paris,
Where the Charlie Hebdo killing of twelve made news,
In my country one shell kills many more, and, sadly, it isn't news.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Failed Writer’s Anatomy

Your brain is a jumble of unwritten words,
Your head is as bald as the Avonian bard’s,
Your teeth are chipped, those that exist are sallow,
Your eyes are jaundiced and are turning yellow.

Too many hours have you spent reading,
Other’s words, that you have tried correcting.
Your hands are calloused from too much writing,
Your skin is like parchment with no sunning.

Sitting too many hours has added to your girth,
I say you must stand up and write, forthwith.
Your heart’s irregular, yes, you can feel its beat,
You can sense it to be your greatest defeat.

Your stomach bulges with excessive beer,
Will it hold? You live in constant fear.
Your chest has sunk into your rib cage,
Your collar bones fight a losing scrimmage.

Your shoulders slouch and your back is bent,
Poring over proofs your editor has sent.
Your legs are weak you can’t stand straight
They can’t bear your body’s hulking weight.

It’s only fair that you abandon your writing,
Take up copy writing or letter drafting.
Or, be a critic who wantonly pans books
And, vanquish egos of those pompous crooks.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Closed Door

I wonder what’s happening behind
The closed decorative door of your mind?

Yes, I can open that door only if you open
Your mind and let me inside.

I know, I will find the shattered shards
Of many broken dreams there.

But I promise to step lightly,
Broken dreams can fragment at the slightest touch.

I will not let the mad rain drench you,
Or, let the fiery sun scorch you and the ornate door to ash.

I am sure behind the beautiful carved door;
I will find lonely hours of cravings and passionate sighs.

Longings that turned into milky secretions,
Behind creaky hinges, stained pillows, and fungal growths.

I think you decided to close the door in the flush of adulthood,
When you decided no doors must be left open.

It may be dark behind those closed doors,
It may suffocate a human and many hungry rodents and pests.

No light may filter through the cracks and crevices,
So for clarity there is no hope of ingress.

I know, it must be chillingly cold or melting hot,
Depending upon the season.

But I see a wind weeping outside your door,
Please allow it in, so it can purify the insides.

I will not disturb anything, I will only tread on
The threshold to see what others have not seen.

Whether you are fed, clothed, sanitised,
In accordance to the custom and observance of the land.

Or, if you are being prepared to be sent,
To another closed door far away in a stranger’s company.


Saturday, July 09, 2016

The Power Is Gone, My Dear!

Waking up I say: the power is gone, dear,
Can’t pump water, but don’t despair,
The fridge will not work, my dear,
For the food gone stale don’t shed a tear.

My dear, it’s dark because the lights are out,
Step carefully, and please don’t you shout
At the servant. She is not the reason,
It’s the doing of the ministry in season.

The cell phone battery is way down,
You can’t call a taxi to go shopping in town.
Except in emergency you can’t call or chat,
Until it’s recharged from the very start.

They say they will fix it in two days,
That would mean a week, anyways.
Can’t chat with our abroad-living son,
Without power the internet won’t function.

There’s no water so we can’t bathe,
Let’s eat stale food and go to bed straight.
Tomorrow, dear, is another day of powerlessness,
The government doesn’t care for its uselessness.

Can I fix anything? At least, the back-up?
No dear! There’s no liquid in that damn set-up.
Unfortunately, no television soap operas or reality shows,
This here is reality; not a chimera the world follows.

Note: On a recent trip to my home state of Kerala, following heavy rains, there was no power for almost a week. This was written then. Just to show how in a connected world everything we do is dependent on electricity.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Rain's Reply

The rain asked the earth, are you quenched?
Is your body properly drenched?
The earth said yes,
But what will i do with this mess?
Rain said 'do what you will, no conditions attached.'