Tag: poetry

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. 

i’ll sing to you, beloved kashmir.

for it is best not to be seen, my child.
it is best not to be known in the land of the forgotten.

no one remembers, love. 
she tells me. 
no one remembers my heaven on earth.
no one remembers my land of light. 
my land where angels resided,
but now God weeps every night. 
Mother jhelum is crimson now,
but its calming sounds,
seem to mask the screams of the corpses underneath.
and when my people look inside its crystal waters,
their eyes widen, 
and death winks at me. 

for it is best not to see, my child.
it is best not to know in the land of the forgotten.

i want to interrupt but i can’t. 
i’ve been silent for too long, she tells me.

this was 
no, 
is the home of my women. 
women, 
who used to walk through my fields,
singing songs of me.
songs that now only exist as echoes of the foregone,
my women who now only exist as shadows in the dawn.

for it is best not to be seen, my child.
it is best not to be known in the land of the forgotten. 

she pauses and the silence between us lingers. 
so i tell her. 

another harsh winter is coming,
another winter of frozen corpses,
and dreary boat rides in dal.
but you must stay.
you must hear me, my beloved.

where there is life, there is hope.

so let me sing to you,
and you shall overcome. 
let me sing to you like your women did,
for if you leave now, who will know how much you weeped?
let me sing to you dearest kashmir,
come out now, it is your time to be seen. 

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//

things i have learnt during quarantine.

credits: weheartit

i. I have begun to appreciate sunrises way more than I did before. There is something about waking up at 5 am to see pinkish glowing clouds that seems to calm my restlessly beating heart. 

ii. I have stopped wearing earrings and my face looks incomplete. As if missing someone it needs to let go of. As if yearning for something that adds nothing to who it is, except a touch of superficial appeal.

iii. I have started taking afternoon naps and I’ve realized that we don’t need to do everything without even breathing in between. That we cannot do everything no matter how hard we try and so our best chance is to enjoy every given moment like it is our last.

iv. I have started making maggi at 3 in the morning. I have begun to tell myself that if I don’t know how to be happy right now, it is because I’m worried about the future, but if I don’t know how to be happy right now then what guarantees I will in the future? 

v. I have started going to the terrace to wash clothes. For there is something melodic about clothes flowing with the cold breeze. Melodic enough to make me sing to the sky. Melodic enough to fill my words with hope. 

vi. I have begun to feel a lingering sense of relief whenever I see someone outside. For my heart seems to sigh knowing that there is one more person who’s still there. One more person who is trying their best to survive. One more person I can still pray for. 

vii. I have realized that Saturdays are my favourite. That sleeping in and not having to worry about staying up till late the next day is perhaps one of the only things that I can still find comfort in. 

viii. But Mondays are the worst. For they signify the start of another long week. They remind us that there’s a lot to do before we can go back to things that comfort us. That despite everything we’ve done in the past, we still have a long way to go.

here’s to our loved ones.

my brothers always hated seeing the trees lose colour,
and so when the leaves started falling,
as if on cue,
he left the four gray walls once and for all.

my favourite teacher resigned in march,
yet i waited for her to correct my pronunciation just one last time,
and even though she didn’t,
the things she taught me, 
the things she thought were in vain,
will always remain.
in june, my best friend moved to another continent,
and i learnt that distance does not break bonds,
it simply loosens the light ones,
and strengthens the right ones,
the ones which keep us sane
the ones which always remain.
two months later, my ex girlfriend changed jobs and the sky cried with me,
but we could never lose what we had,
nor could we grow out of the beauty of being in love,
for even if there are wrinkles on my face and she forgets my name,
in that beauty, we will always remain.
my brother always hated seeing the trees lose colour,
and so when the leaves started falling,
as if on cue,
he left the four grey walls once and for all,
and although we called once a month,
i slept in his room every other night,
because in the things they leave behind,
our memories,
be those of joy,
be those of pain
always manage to remain.
it's christmas now and no one is home,
yet love seems to be in the air,
because even if a screen,
is the closest we can be,
it’s enough for me,
so darling,
here’s to our loved ones,
wherever they may be.

dinner table conversations.

they drank till their slight touches turned into slaps,
and repeated their favourite line,
‘tu haan kar,
ya naa kar,
tu hai meri kiran.’

translation: ‘even if you say yes,
or no,
you are my kiran.’

my uncles liked having loud conversations,
they liked keeping count,
of how many people survived,
and of how many died,
they liked arguing over policies,
capitalist or communist,
conservative or socialist,
as if the leaders involved were just by passers,
diplomats in their monarchical world,
they liked to talk while chewing,
often spitting in each other's plates,
secretly staring verma aunty up and down,
her liberal mind was too much to bear,
some days were worse than others,
for they drank till their slight touches turned into slaps,
and repeated their favourite line,
'tu haan kar,
ya naa kar,
tu hai meri kiran,' 
over and over again, every single time.
my uncles liked to take names,
calling the pakistani traitors,
and the bangladeshi bastards,
sharma uncle would always say that our politicians were corrupt,
that the strikes were staged,
and the roads were never built,
for the taxes we paid were rather used,
for their luxurious spa treatments,
eyelid surgeries,
and sarees of silk,
but he never dared to speak,
of the tea stained rupee notes that he slid,
to the man with stars on his vardi,
nor of the abundant notes he gave to his son's principal,
and how he just forgot to mention they were farsi.
but the women in our family,
well they never spoke, 
they'd clear the tables,
throw away the seeds on the orange peels,
tidy up the washbasin,
while uncles smoked their pipes and went to sleep,
although they weren't literate enough to read,
and their lips remained steadily shut,
their ears always perked up,
for they longed to hear of a day,
when the headlines would talk about their win,
and the misogynists' defeat,
the day they could be the ones commenting on medha pathkar's feminist ideals,
and the outspoken female who only won one seat,
until then,
they would continue to scrub the spots of the dhotis which smelled like mrs.sharma,
and put cotton on their swollen bruises,
they would continue to nod and say 'no matter,'
and then leave to take care of chores,
for whether or not china chose to avenge itself,
whether or not the workers staged their strikes,
whether or not policemen took bribes,
they'd have to grow barley and pluck their weeds,
uncle would continue to come home at 11,
although the security guard said he left at 7,
friday evening dinners would still turn into political campaigns for the parties which paid more,
for even if the economy slows down,
glaciers melt,
and all those endangered are gone,
their world,
manages to go on.

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. 

nirbhaya (adj.) the fearless one.

Note: The events that happen in this poem are all real and happened on the night of December 16th, 2012 to a girl named Jyoti. Unfortunately she didn’t survive although, fought very hard to. Her death led to several protests across India and sparked various questions against every Indian woman’s safety.
Eventually, she became known as Nirbhaya, meaning; the fearless one.
Her rapists are being hung 8 years later, a few days from now.
Through this poem which was extremely painful for me to write, I hope to remind everyone that she was one of the most powerful women to exist and that her death was not in vain.

trigger warning: rape, sexual assault, violence.

11:00 PM. The film was beautiful,
He and I walk hand in hand,
There is a storm coming,
They always come by surprise,
Starting with light rain,
And then hit unexpectedly,
Always leaving a huge wound,
One that could take years to heal,
I had no idea,
That soon there would be a wound so vast,
So powerful,
It’d scar me forever. 
Yet right now,
I just wish to go home,
After a long tiring day,
That’s what we all want, right?
—-
11:15 PM.
He and I board the bus,
There are only five people,
Yet the night feels lonely,
Maybe it’s just me?
The driver looks at me,
Turns forward,
Looks at me again,
Turns forward,
Didn’t we already pay for a ticket? 
I turn to him,
He’s not the………r….e…….
—–
11:17 PM.
Their hands on me are like a storm,
Unexpected and unwelcomed,
My body is the earth,
Now filled with mud,
Mud I can never get rid of. 
I scream,
The hands only change,
Yes,
There are five of them,
I close my eyes,
Maybe not all of us get to go home after a long tiring day,
Nevertheless, 
I want to survive. 
—-
11:25 PM.
The driver changes,
And so do the hands,
My voice is gone,
And so is any worth I had left,
The men stop,
And whisper amongst each other,
What’s happening?
And then it comes,
The loudest scream this world has ever heard,
This world once filled with distant stars and lonely nights,
Now only lurks of unheard voices covered with horrendous sights,
They take turns penetrating it,
It’s silver and shiny,
Dug deep in the ground when done,
And used while making buildings,
But,
When did I become one? 
—-
11:28 PM.
It takes all in me to look behind,
I see two of them,
Beating him up,
Soon they’ll back,
For their turn with me,
I close my eyes again,
I think of all those times I heard tales of such women on the news,
I think of how they felt,
And how I thought I’d never know.
One of them looks younger than me,
He’s a boy,
I feel no mercy,
Just pity,
Something must be wrong with this country,
For him to not be learning the power of books,
But the power of rods.
—-
11:30 PM.
It’s over.
I don’t feel my body anymore,
I can’t lift an inch.
Abh kya karna hai inka, Ram bhaiya?’
‘Vo hi jo socha tha, Mukesh aur maine.’
Anger runs in my veins stronger than the blood,
With all my might,
I scream again,
Mukesh slaps me,
Picks my body up, 
Not forgetting to grab my breasts,
And then removing his hands,
Like they weren’t ripe enough for him,
Ram grabs my friend,
They throw us off the bus.
—-
11:32 PM.
I am lifeless,
Naked, 
My body isn’t mine anymore,
I don’t want it to be,
I look over at him,
And I remember how he was telling me about his dreams an hour ago,
I think of my own,
And how they seem even further away,
Than the stars in the sky,
Never will I ever get to wear a lab coat with pride again,
Become a doctor and make my parents proud,
My parents,
Memories flash through my mind,
Faster than this night seems to pass,
With the tiny amount of strength I have left,
I take the film ticket out of my pocket,
For a second I’m reminded of how delighted I was when I bought it,
I take out a pen from my other pocket,
Slowly I scribble,
As the words my mother said to me,
The day I cried in her lap when I was 15,
Repeat in my brain,
Kabhi haar mat maarna, Jyoti.
My body gives out,
And the paper lies right where they entered me,
Only four words remain on it,
I want to survive.
—-
11:35 PM.
Himmat bhi nahi haari,
Sahas bhi nahi gaya,
Nirbhaya,
Nirbhaya,
Nirbhaya.

p.s: she actually did scribble that note.

Here Am I.

“The only way to get over a death is by seeing it as a life completed, instead of a life interrupted.”

~anonymous

From the shimmering stars in the vast sky,
To the hazy people just passing by,
Somewhere between the chaos,
You gaze in the far distance,
Utter my name in the softest cry,
So darling, 
Here am I. 

From the maddening screeches of the crow,
To the soothing waves of the boat you row,
Somewhere between these sounds,
You miss someone you once knew,
And sigh,
So darling,
Here am I. 

From the ecstatic laughs of childhood in the street,
To the table of two with one empty seat,
Somewhere between these memories,
You look up to the sky,
Asking Him why,
So darling,
Here am I. 

From the hairdresser’s uneven hair locks,
To the cheeky kid’s mismatched socks,
Somewhere between these imperfections,
You show your toothy smile,
Proud that she’s taught the world to be a little less shy,
And though she’s gone now,
You hear her in every mark she left,
For the world isn’t black or white,
You don’t live or die,
So darling,
Here am I.