Monday, May 16, 2016

Going to Pakistan

Oh, our dear motherland, Hindustan,  Tell us why should we go to Pakistan?
To put some tasty beef into our mouth, Which we can get in Kerala, in South?

What's this anti-national rant, our friend? When it's you, who reached Lahore to attend, A wedding amidst playing of bands, A tasty feast, and then holding of hands.
A few of our friends from Pakistan, Want to come to our land of Hindustan, They have heard India is a free country, Expression is free, but filled with whataboutry.
Saadat Hasan Manto, though you went to Pakistan, The Land of the Pure, just heaven-istan, Your heart pined, we know, for Hindustan, Why didn’t you follow the path through Rajasthan?
Pakistan, Bangla Desh and Hindustan, Triplets of history’s circumstance, Why have you split and made us ache? We were one country, for God’s sake.
Leave them be, our writers, and students, Forgive them for their slogans of stridence. If we chant, “Victory to Bharat – my Motherland?” Will you let us stay in this beautiful land?
Note: Heaven-istan, a place like heaven. Whataboutry, the propensity to preface contentious issues with “What about this/that?”

Monday, May 02, 2016

Ode on a Grecian Crisis



Thou urn of Gods, Holy Grail, cornucopia
Of learning and poetry harking back to Athenium.
Thou born of wars of Thermopylae and battle of Platea
Fierce battles that raged in seas of Artemisium.
Thou art bankrupt, now begging for succour from Germany
Can’t believe this fate has fallen on the country of Herodotus.
Failed state, basket case they say of thy finances
What happened to the vanquishers of the army of mighty Darius?
Stories of thy valour and munificence there are many,
Narratives sprung from Epistles lacking in nuances.

Dost thou have no money to pay thy pensioners?
Have thou no resources to manage thy historic debts?
What of the poor and destitute and thy farmers?
Dost thou have money to pay thy commanders and cadets?
Thy combined forces under Leonidas defeated Persia,
Routed the navy of Persians under thy warrior Themistocles.
Athens and Sparta were once thy prosperous kingdoms,
Wisdom was once disbursed by thy son the great Socrates.
Thou could have created a mighty empire throughout Asia,
Yet thou were satisfied to lord over thine own fiefdoms.

Yes we have heard of the great Agamemnon and Helen,
Sure we have read about the great warrior Achilles.
But, today, world economy is dominated by Janet Yellen
And the men who work in the White Houses on Capitol Hills.
Did you forget you were the world’s first democracy?
Or, did you forget your ancestors’ great history?
Have you forgotten Achilles’ fury over death of Patroclus,
As told by Homer in Iliad, your grandest story?
If you don’t think this is all myth-making and hypocrisy?

Then go to Germany and Europe and settle your dues.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Meet Mr. John Nobody

(With apologies to Poet Dom Moraes)
I
Glad to meet you, poet born to somebody, Cheeky jowls, languid hair, and plump of body, With glasses slipping down your nose, A receding chin and lips as a wilted rose.
Alright, you lived for poetry and prose, A life sacrificed at the altar lachrymose, You married beautiful women and left them, Because, bored of them you soon became.
You were anointed; you were God’s child, Your verses were mellow, but were angst filled, The pages of history’s sinister happening, You chronicled without a sigh or sorrowing.
They called you a promising child prodigy, It’s so sad your life ended in tragedy, Writing in flawless iambic pentameter, While drinking liquor in bottles by the litre.
Though your life was troubled, t’was not bad, I know of unread poets who have gone mad, You confidently walked the road of fame, Nobody said an unkind word, or, of shame.
The world in which you travelled and wrote, These days is full of show and self-promote, Today poetry slammers face audience in anger, In their minds no any compassion linger.
II
Now, please, meet Mr. John Nobody, Writer of vain and vapid prosody, Bearer of considerable self-inflicted pain, Singer of many a rock-star-poets’ refrain.
He is a poet of utter nothingness, Prone to long bouts of carelessness, He writes poems that no one publishes, To save him from ignominy and the blushes.
Once in a while he makes a few submissions, Which come back replete with outright rejections, How then would he make a poet’s pre-eminence, Before he reaches his state of senescence.
In writers’ fora he has tarried too much, Closed poetry circles he tried vainly to breach, But the bitch goddess wouldn’t post a smiley, On his attempt to essay metaphor and simile.
John Nobody thinks there was life on Mars, And it self-destructed in a few millennial years, Likewise life here on earth is not eternal, It’s only a few years from an atomic infernal.
So, John Nobody doesn’t mind much the anonymity, He constantly absents from events with regularity, When he dies, he says, don’t grieve, instead, drink Moet, On his grave write, “He doesn’t mind being re-born a poet.”

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Guns and Cameras



These days, gunfire and cameras
make the same sound:
rat-a-tat,
rat-a-tat.
One kills; the other
immortalises,
what comes first?
I don’t know.

In these extreme days,
when guns crackle in snow and heat,
the cameras pan,
debris and dead bodies.
Those that didn’t face
the cold steel metal, say:
“It was me,”
“It was me,”
“that the bullet missed.”
Why? I don’t know.

Those days before Kalashnikovs,
and Berettas were invented
killing a man was called murder
“Lock ‘im up,”
“Lock ‘im up.”
Nowadays the military-industrialists,
kill millions,
yet, we hail them as keepers of democracy.

These days gunfire and cameras
make the same sound:
rat-a-tat,
rat-a-tat.
One kills; the other
immortalises,
what comes first?
I don’t know.

III/MMXVI

Monday, February 15, 2016

Nirbhaya – The Beast Is Out on the Street



Nirbhaya, that night were you shy,
To go on a date with a guy?
What did you wear for them to complain?
Was it too short, too long, or, profane?

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.

To your parents you were like a son
They were happy the day you’re born.
The eldest one to carry their burden
When all this happened, of a sudden.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.

Millions of hearts grieved your passing
Thousands lined up at India Gate chanting.
But, can they bring you back, I ask?
From the other world, no easy task.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.

The gruesome details we have read
On television shows it was shared.
They tore your insides with an iron rod
The beasts laughed when you cried out loud.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
His manner is rakish and upbeat
He is hungry for his daily treat.

They put the juvenile in a centre for correction
How will he right the damage, beg your pardon?
They let him out with cash and sewing machine
Into the streets where he spilled your intestine.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.

Thousands still grieve when they say your name
Men bow their repentant heads in shame.
That’s because a beast lurks in every man
A savage beast that can’t resist a woman.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.

The beast is going into the streets again
Unrepentant and ready to rape and malign.
He is insolent they say in the papers
He will do the same with girls and lovers.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.

At India Gate they hold slogans and prepare
To scream themselves hoarse and despair.
The savage is out again, radiant in lust
Get away, stay away from this recidivist.

The word is out on the street
Out on the street is the beast
He is hungry for his daily treat
His manner is rakish and upbeat.

II/MMXVI

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Homs, Syria, 2016


I
Today, Homs, Syria
stretches for miles without gates,
a field without a fence
nothing worth protecting.
Anyone can walk in holding a gun,
and plunder its treasures,
rape its women,
and radicalise its children.
Homs is a ghost city
wiped clean from the map,
its walls bombed back to the stone age,
its neighbourhoods and street names,
turned to debris and dust.

Homs perchance was
my imaginary ancestors' birthplace,
and tears roll down when i see,
Homs, my ancestral land, today,
torn and twisted by bombs and mortar,
crumpled buildings, empty doorways,
vacant spaces where people lived,
and fled, in utter panic,
from death, rape, and terror.

Those people, those refugees,
"boat people," "tent people," without rights,
want to lead a normal boring life,
like the rest of us,
and, find a place to cry and stifle sobs.
For them Homs, Syria, was once
a city of sunny streets and languid squares,
beside the beautiful Qattinah lake,
on the banks of the Orontes river,
built by Roman maurauders,
alas! no more, destroyed by another.


II
In Homs, Syria, my ancestral land,
nothing moves, nothing except maniacal metal,
from barrels cast from steel.
The vestiges of its culture are torn down,
churches and mosques are but rubble,
there are no homes, roads, or, parks,
schools have been shut long ago,
and desks have been burnt,
and children woken from sleep
by singeing fires and crash of concrete
and told to go wash their faces in fire.

Neither do I want to visit Homs,
nor, do i want to walk its streets,
it’s a ghost city when darkness falls,
nary a mongrel's barks there,
or, morning chirps of birds,
it’s not home to anybody,
its water poisoned by death,
its fields planted with gelatine mines,
it's said there are more land mines,
than blades of grass.

It’s a wasteland, this once thriving city,
which its inhabitants abandoned,
they say it’s the new biblical exodus,
of Moses, Aaron, and Joshua,
leading Israelites into the promised land,
Where peace still remains elusive.
Across the seas in the coldest of lands,
they wait in long lines in the rain and cold
to rebuild their lives,
wash, clean, and cook,
send children to schools,
waiting to be given visas and work permits,

to re-build new colonies and ghettos.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Smart City


Build me a smart city that borders the seas,
By Malabar Hill where there’s plenty of breeze.
Where flowers grow on uncluttered streets,
And single-screen theatres play old movies.

Build me a walled city that’s free of crime,
Where no one slumbers on avenues of slime.
Appoint a policeman who is honest and smart,
Who won’t bend down to robbers and farts!

Build me a city where people don’t roam aimlessly,
And, work on jobs around the corner, yes, seriously!
Two bedrooms, hall, and kitchen would do fine,
To spend insomniac nights of lying supine.

Build me a city where cell phones don't rob sleep,
Where friendships are real and grudges don't keep.
Where friends, wherever they are, return urgent calls,
And, aren't just smirking pictures on walls.

Build me a city where Internet and wi-fi are free,
There’s no need to pay income tax or parking fee.
Where media is not always breaking false news
And ad jingles don't turn ear worm and confuse.

Build me a city where nights are not darkness wrapped,
Where women are unmolested and girls unraped.
Where homeless people can sleep in night shelter,
Where smiles are warm and free is laughter.

Build me a city where men don’t dart into hellholes,
To biometric systems and cubicles without souls.
Then train-compressed commute to their tiny flats,
To canned laughter and inane dramatic plots.

Build me a city where rain doesn’t lives disrupt,
Where sewage doesn’t overflow and streets are swept.
Where a man can lay his tired head on a bed,
And say, “Oh, it was a bad, but you will always be loved.”