Tag: indianwriters

you are like the palaces in lucknow.

because you see, having dinner together was only a thing when you started smoking instead of attending your classes and making out with boys in your section instead of the girls from the hostel opposite to yours.

you are like the palaces in lucknow. 
the tapestries that hang on your walls are fingerprints of each poem i wrote about you// the disordered rugs are a sign that perhaps even the most romantic of poets can’t fix all that’s wrong with us// and the half-open windows are the hesitance you show every time i try to enter. the hesitance you turn into anger as the whistling windows get eroded by the wind// and the clock that ticks twelve hours behind is your perpetual need to sulk over the past// for it isn’t the past until you choose to let go of it. 
and the chandelier built of mirrors with hexagonal structures exists so that maybe every time you look up while praying, you see yourself instead of God           
                                                                                because damn it you’re all you’ve ever cared about.
and the door with three locks made of silver are the tests you put everyone through once in a while because trust is not a word your lying deceiving father could ever teach you// and the dining table has only one clean chair while the other five remain covered with dust, because you see having dinner together was only a thing when you started smoking instead of attending your classes and making out with boys in your section instead of the girls from the hostel opposite to yours.

and the carved markings next to the painting on the wall are the childhood you lived like a rebel, doing everything you could to prove you were different. but that painting is still untouched. immune to your fight or flight response. that painting of an enchanting landscape with mountains and a fresh river stream, perhaps a magical place that you could only ever dream of, a magical place that was your only chance of escape from the horrid palace that you call your home.
from the horrid palace that is only left with soldiers to guard its doors, 
from the horrid palace that you live in, but your heart abandoned long ago. 

A Letter To Yemen.

My dear Yemen,
I hope that you too can one day grow from every rock that you’ve been diminished to.

Dear Yemen, 

I have always known you as the only country whose name I could take if y landed on me during a game of atlas. I have always known you as the country who causes the game to end if its name has already been said. But today as I have grown and read up on who you really are, I worry about your own end. You see, when I search up your name and the only images I see are of destroyed buildings that used to be historical landmarks, malnourished children being carried away by volunteers from NGOs, tall men in kurtas carrying rifles larger than the graves of new born babies, and not even one woman outside her house, I cannot help but wonder, what really happened to you? 
And so I dive into the wonders of the internet and find every piece that can educate me about you. Everything from your history to your culture to your people,

to your forgotten war. 

And It breaks my heart to see that if I type in children along with the name of any country in this world, I see happy smiles that taste of youth, yet when the name typed in is yours, tragedies of war and epidemics take up the entire screen.
And it enrages me that you’re being termed as the nation of the forgotten war when your cries for help have been louder than the missiles that have made you their home. 

I find myself wondering if your end will be forgotten as well. 

Nevertheless, I want to understand who you were before demolished houses and fallen bridges. I want to find out how you began before I worry further about your end. And so I look up, ‘yemen before war,’ and oh my god. 
Yemen, you breathe beauty. Your mud brick architecture filled with intricate designs are a pleasure to look at, and yet,
the most beautiful of all are your people. 
In fact when I learn that in ancient times, you called yourself ‘Arabia Felix,’ Latin for happy land, I think to myself that although you appear to have lost that title, something tells me that your people never will. 
For they seem to find time to celebrate weddings between bomb raids, fix roads by hand every time they’re destroyed, and write poetry in a country which has 3 times more guns than people.

But the one thing I cannot keep my eyes away from is the divine Dar-al-hajar palace that hovers over your sleepless capital city. For it is built in a way that it looks like it’s growing from a rock. And as I admire how tall it stands, only one thought rests in my mind. 
My dear Yemen, I hope that you too can one day grow from every rock that you’ve been diminished to. 

With Love,
Your well wisher.

the end of winter.

and as he crumples even more underneath,
the world finally hears him screaming,
screaming for help,
screaming that he cannot breathe.

a crow sways gently off the tree,
accompanied by a heavy raindrop from the sky
he touches the ground and lies there all alone
until a certain white boot steps on him,
crushing him into pieces. almost.
the crystalline drop of water spreads across,
polishing his mixed shade.
a shade that rests somewhere between gray and black
somewhere between life and death.
and as he crumples even more underneath,
the world finally hears him screaming,
screaming for help
screaming that he cannot breathe. 

nevertheless,
the white boot steps forward and leaves,
but the muffled cries of the bird remain.
for they echo across town as he exhales one last time
and that one heavy raindrop, breaks into rain. 
nearby birds that have grown wingless over time,
whisper within themselves,
‘another was murdered today.’
yet this time, a storm begins to erupt 
and slowly the beaked creatures realize
that as long as the white boot is a power hungry predator 
black birds will always be its prey.

and so,
they gather to shield the lifeless crow,
righteously grieving the loss 
of many more than the world will ever care to know.
and as the sky cries out louder than it ever has,
they flap their wings and caw in sync,
for it’s finally time 
to bid farewell to their 400 year long caged winter, 
and to end the await of a relieving spring
it’s time to lift the white boot from their throats,
so that the weeping black birds
can finally sing.


————————————————————————————————————————————————
here, the lifeless crow symbolizes the death of george floyd. // the following are a few references that i made in the poem:

i. ‘somewhere between life and death’ – this is to highlight the fact that he didn’t die at once, but that he lay there pleading and screaming for a deafening 5-10 minutes.

ii. ‘echo across town’ – his murder sparked several questions against the racism that is still extremely prevalent in today’s world.

iii. ‘a storm begins to erupt’  – several protests took place despite the presence of an ongoing pandemic. instead of light rain/complaints, people were enraged and expressed their support through petitions, donations and much more. 

iv. ‘400 year long caged winter’ – it has been 400 years since the establishment of slavery in the United States of America//

not another love poem.

because at the end of the day,
a relationship needs a lot more than just love to last.

pc credits: me!!
grandma told me that she was in a long distance relationship once,
that they wrote love letters to each other at the age of 16,
labelled their long phone calls as dates
and sent gifts every week. 
tonight i ask her if she still thinks of him
she kisses her old rusted locket 
and in those moments of silence,
all is understood. 

in college,
she met a boy who made a lot of promises,
but somehow always forgot to keep them.
she tells me he made her wait for a long time,
so why didn’t you leave?
because sometimes,
false hope is better than the pain of loss.
she chuckles, as if embarrassed,
but i hope he’s doing alright. 

at 25,
when aunties started sending proposals,
and batchmates began to mail fancy invitations,
she met a boy who already had everything planned,
from his first car to his first house to his first kid’s name.
yet he left her a note after their 5th date,
she rolls her eyes and tells me,
a woman from a middle class family would have put his status to shame. 

when she turned 28,
her mother introduced her to grandpa,
and as expected,
he treated her like she was the only woman on this earth,
like every being had grown tired and weary,
and he was the only one who saw her worth.
and although he wasn’t her biggest what if,
first love,
or any other guy from the past,
she chose him
because at the end of the day,
a relationship needs a lot more than just love to last.

what do people here do to look beautiful?

“well I simply have no clue,
for we may believe that beauty lies in a certain shape or size,
but perhaps,
it lies in us too.”

i once read somewhere,
that in china,
girls are taught to shrink themselves,
since birth they are taught to wear a shoe 
smaller than their actual size,
their feet are bound and choked
like the voices which long to come out of their throats,
the voices that have remained paralysed too long for them to know,
their feet are bound and choked,
until they become numb to the pain,
until they become used to a lifestyle of restrictions,
and start believing it’s sane.
i once read somewhere,
that in korea,
complexion is what helps you climb the ladder,
that being fair there,
is far more important than being free,
and beauty for them doesn’t lie in the eye of the beholder,
but rather in what cosmetic surgeons see.
i once read somewhere,
that in japan,
every girl is expected to be petite,
maybe because they fit easily into the arms of men,
or maybe because it’s easier for them to be controlled,
or maybe because a bigger body is a risky chance,
for their thoughts to be larger,
and reactions to be bold.
i once read somewhere,
that in india,
women try all sorts of things to lighten their skin,
that they put fair and lovely during the day,
and haldi at night,
that they listen to all the parminder aunties of the world,
in hopes to finally hear them say,
‘ah your skin tone is just right.’
but what i wished i had read is that,
in this world,
people are black, brown, white, red...
and they look beautiful regardless,
they are of sizes 0, 6, 8, 10..
and they look beautiful regardless. 
so that if someone asks me one day,
what do people here do to look beautiful?
i’ll be able to say,
“well i simply have no clue,
for we may believe that beauty lies in a certain shape or size,
but perhaps,
it lies in us too.”

Sita, our Goddess.

In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Goddess Sita was known to be Lord Rama’s wife. She accompanied him in his 14 year long exile along side his brother Lakshmana. They spent a few years at Panchvati, also known as the site where Goddess Sita’s abduction by Ravana, the ten faced king of Lanka took place. She is often regarded as the embodiment of wifely devotion and self-sacrifice.

Fabric the colour of saffron,
Gently lays,
On the eccentric green grass,
Her sari spread like rangoli’s rays,

Her thick silky hair,
Bound by elastic,
Few short strands flow,
With the breeze that blows,

Congested in a bijou hut,
Near the free fragnance,
Of dear Godavari,
Lies the confined heart of Panchvati,

The cold damp gufa,
Where sits the almighty shivaling,
Echoes her silent prayers,
Enclosed by 14 years of unfair penance and care,

Yet her genuine heart,
Sees no disguise,
A starving beggar appears,
Mouth full of hungry lies,

She steps out,
Crossing the holy line,
He doesn’t take a second to grab her,
And divine Panchvati loses its shine,

The elastic loosens,
Black locks gather apart,
Her shrill screams haunt the hut,
Remorse fills her heart,

They fly away in his grand chariot,
Ten faces laugh aloud,
Yet the sky cries with her,
Her anger as heavy as the storm cloud,

Panchvati bids goodbye to its queen, 
Lord Rama shouts in agony,
For he failed his promise,
But long gone now is,
Sita, our Goddess.

There may have been several ramas but only one sita.

~Swami Vivekananda

Dilli; the heart of the nation.

In light of recent protests and in hopes of a good result after today’s voting, here’s a poem on the nation’s capital:)

yeh delhi hai mere yaar, bas ishq mohabbat pyaar.

Buried sultans,
Symmetrical gardens,
And the smell of garam chai,
Ramu kaka shouting ‘10 ka ek,’
And the vast crowd in chandni chowk,
Still makes me sigh.

For these handwoven intricate shawls,
The same colour as my jhumkas,
Temples and mosques,
Built in harmony,
Are memories which cease to exist,
Like rusted keys to ancient locks.

For now,
All I know are,
Everyday protests,
By the voices which go unheard,
The rebellious youth,
Spraying graffiti on the blank walls,
And my heart seems to rejoice,
As the old conservative Dilli falls.

This city of ours,
Is beginning a fresh journey,
It’s finally bidding goodbye,
To the oppressors which fill the station,
The revolution is here,
Here in Dilli,
The forgotten yet rising, 
Heart of the nation.