Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Four To Go + One More


Remember: The silence which surrounded Milton's head
Was not the end
It was the preface to paradise

I want to memorise the facts
For things have no past
Haven't you noticed the disappearance of language, songs, and simple food eating habits

I do not want to be a bronze statue in a museum
I want to transform into a keyboard, and alphabetise other people's treasures
Their ideologies, idiosyncrasies and irrelevancies

Because one day a dinner guest swallowed all her expensive alcohol
And didn't realise it
Instead at 3 am when the shops were shut, he said:
"Can I've some more? My glass is empty."


For years I have been trying to figure out
Whether he was a celebrity in a mohalla in another city
Or a nobody in a rival theatre company
Or someone from my neighbourhood who collected match sticks, and firewood for her own funeral
Before she passed away

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If I Had My Way ...

If I Had My Way ... plays would have an expiry date labelled on their foreheads.

If I Had My Way ... I would have a two-minute silence before every show in order to express my sympathy with the impoverishment of theatre in India.

If I Had My Way ... I would ask of Lorca, why does he discomfit his reader? Almost all his characters live in the presence of death.

If I Had My Way ... I would commission a vague, clever sort of play about everything. After all, we Indians have become generalists, and very rarely are creative thinkers.

If I Had My Way ... I would form a guild of producers. The theatre needs producers to produce our cheap, shabby, half visible, half audible, drama methods. Which is what Bollywood is about. But Bollywood has Salman Khan.

If I Had My Way ... I would translate Shakespeare into Tulu. Because even a poor translator of Shakespeare is much better known than an original inventor of ideas.

If I Had My Way ... I would want to see a play that is truly realistic. Unfortunately, that term is used loosely on the stage where most of the so-called realistic plays deal only with the appearance of things. A trulyrealistic play deals with what might be called the soul of the characters.Strindberg's DANCE OF DEATH, perhaps? It deals with that thing which makes the character that person and no other.

If I Had My Way ... everyone would be forced to read the shabdha sadhana of Muktibodh, in a day and age in which politics, media, cricket commentators have hijacked words, and the true writer has become his own enemy.

If I Had My Way ... I would ban the word, parampara. We may not want to become a suburb of the USA, but then neither should we remain a shanty. We may want to preserve our soul, but what about an unhealthy, unhappy mind?

If I Had My Way ... I would remind critics that the best examples of Total Theatre and Physical Theatre are not Artaud, Brecht, Peter Brook, Grotowoski, but THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and LION KING, which have entertained millions of theatre audiences. And earned millions of dollars.

If I Had My Way ... I would want to bring Sartre and Tagore face to face with each other, in the after-life. Sartre would say, "Hell is other people." And Tagore would exclaim, "So is heaven."

If I Had My Way ... I would initiate a national debate on, is the theatre a discipline or a profession? Or is it a service or manufacturing industry with a growth rate?

If I Had My Way ... I would invoke Kedar Nath Singh's poem that leaves the pages of a slim tattered volume of poems and springs into action while the poet is imploring it to return. I would search for that poem. I would file a FIR and report. Poem missing. Description: words, words, words.

If I Had My Way ... actors would be fitted with a heel. Even Achilles is insufferable without his heel.

If I Had My Way ... men of genius would be blessed with special interests. You see, Shakespeare would never have re-written HAMLET or OTHELLO or ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, if Lord Southhampton had not given him 1000 Pounds. Speaking of Shakespeare, the popular taste of his day was worse than ours. His worst play, TITUS ANDRONICUS was most popular, performed hundreds of times in his life, whereas HAMLET was only performed 12 times, and KING LEAR, once or twice.

If I Had My Way ...I would introduce QC labs and ISO 90014 certification in the theatre. That way plays would be benchmarked and there would be no counterfeiting of bad plays.

If I Had My Way ... I would eliminate apartheid from theatre. That is, the apartheid of ticket pricing which prevents millions of poor from enjoying a good play.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Two: Good To Be True

After straightening
His noose
The hang man
In a rare moment of retribution
To colour dye
With an optimistic yellow
The loose strands
For the next candidate

Sometimes you're so busy
Discovering new friends
You rarely recall the ache
You rarely recall the gentleness
You rarely touch the marks of a lost world

That gazes at you
Hurrying, from here to there

Monday, December 10, 2007

In appreciation of Astad Deboo’s work


For many years
I sought treasures
In far-away lands, across the seas in celestial palaces
I hoped to become a rich man

For many years I read the Holy Texts, and even Nagarjuna
Exchanged views with a sage on a hill-top
I hoped to become a very wise man

I searched for wisdom in the books of the world

Until, one day I met a solitary old tree
Who had grown wise
Accumulating treasures of leaves.

Everyday, I devour my meal:
Of wheat and millet
Organic plants and spices
Which praise the earth
For generating invaluable fortunes

Which one day, I vow to return to Her.

I had no place I could call my home
I am a citizen of the world
I have no address
I am a visitor on this planet
I am merely passing through
In the hope that I would befriend someone, anyone
On this trip.

A prophecy was murmured in my sleep!
Remember: The tranquility which surrounded Thyagaraja’s head
Was not the end
It was the beginning of music

Every time my friends ask me for the road into the sea
I show them a path
They don’t see it
Maybe they don’t want to…
Maybe they cannot sense the goodness of the waves
From the distant shore

The man
With the calliper
Could not enter the Sea
And swirl along with
He sat on the shore
He dreamt about make-believe
Creatures who whirled out of the foam
In the dark of night
To play children games with him

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Six Citizen Shorts

Malik Sunder
Through The Royal Passage
The Sacred Tomb of the King
Was Overjoyed

Built Secret Underground Tunnels
Of A Municipal Sewerage
Was Promised To The People
Of The Land
An Election Campaign

In The Azure Sky
Was Meant To Herald
Wet Rains

Of Striking Down
The Solitary Metereologist
His Observatory

Every Fort
A Temple
Where The Citizens Pray
Good Rulers
Who Win Wars

Public Holidays

And Miles
The Two Epigrammists
Knowing They Would Have To Brush
The Polysyllabic Phrases
And High Theory
The Dust
And Rubble

City Crowds
Are Rushing From Street
To Renamed Street
Are City Crowds
In The Wrong Direction

The Wise Man
A Rock
He Sat Upon It
And Pondered
About The Inevitability of The Historical Processes

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My 57th encounter with the peacock

The peacock borrowed a kitchen knife from me
What for? I asked
To slice lemons
I plan to squeeze lime juice into the stream
Plus a few neem leaves

Why so? I asked
I'm tired of drinking fresh water

Monday, June 11, 2007

My 56th encounter with the peacock

Can you loan me a tree,
Asked the peacock
I will repay you next season

The peacock announced the breaking news of the day
The river won't flow now
It has spondylitis
Her spine has misaligned anteriorly
Due to the extra ebb

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My 55th encounter with the peacock

What are you doing?

Designing an invitation
I'm throwing a bournvita party next week
What is that sketch, asked the peacock
It's a map to the house

Trust you
To make everything so complicated
What do you suggest? I retorted

The peacock said
It's quite simple
Tell your guests to follow the scent of eucalyptus
And look for orange bougainvillas

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

My 54th encounter with the peacock

Last night was a rare one

The sky was mooned
What is a mooned?
As you know in a 28 day cycle the moon passes through eight phases
Mooned is the ninth phase
Happens once in 2190 years

There's no such word in the dictionary, I said
The peacock smacked his forehead with his feather
Add the word to your lexicon
Instead of being a pompous pedant

Friday, June 1, 2007

My 53rd encounter with the peacock

The peacock

Re-appeared after eons
How did you fritter away your days in my absence
Where were you?
I missed you, I said

He replied
I discovered something
What, I asked
A small not-so-grand river

It's bottom tastes tomato flavoured

Monday, May 28, 2007

My 52nd encounter with the peacock

It's a rainy day
Petulantly, he sat under a pink umbrella
Surrounded by rubber plants and peacock friends
Who were staring at me

It was his marriage day

I hesitated to invite you
Why so?
It's my fourth marriage as you know
What happened?

I never met the right one again
It's onerous

The ceremony began

Splinter of ice in the heart
The sun declining to rise
Descent to hell

No exit
No return

He knew he had joined his she-peacock
In holy matrimony 

When he shared his glass of rooh afza
That ended his rooh afza monopoly
Once and for all

Sunday, May 27, 2007

My 51st encounter with the peacock

I dream of a delicatessen
The peacock places a plate in front of me
What's the breakfast menu, I ask
I'll serve you weariness
Two spoonfuls

Saturday, May 26, 2007

My 50th encounter with the peacock

The peacock had flu
I stuck a thermometer into his beak
Fed him spinach soup
Through a straw
From a porcelain bowl in which I mixed two paracetamols

Into the bottomless night
The peacock souped
Reading aloud from a crumpled paper
He found in my wool sweater

Who invented multiplications?
Why do tables have four legs?
Did Hitler kill five million or six million Jews?
When a cat gives birth to a rat, will it be evolution?
Are thieves taxed?
Do parallel lines meet?
Is geometry, abstract or for real?
Can I marry an elephant?
Et sic deinceps

Next morning, the peacock
Poked me with his toe

Good morning
You say the sun rises in the east
My momma and poppa say it rises in the west
I think, the truth lies probably somewhere in between

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My 49th encounter with the peacock

Why are things, irregular
Says the peacock to me
You speak of words and their prophecies
Or you speak of the weather, I enquire
After all
No sun in sight
For 12 straight days in a row
Rather irresponsible, I say

I speak of the mind, and its mindlessness
Meaning what, dearest peacock?

I speak of this ancient tree
I'm perched on
Does it have a brain or not
Or does it monotonously, live

Have one of the zillion trees
Ever asked
Are we nature's experiment?
The peacock paused
Held his poise
My finding is
Trees are over-rated

Just then the chromosomes went cling-clung
Buds blinged-blanged
The stem heaved and ho
One branch belched, crackled into two

The peacock fell
On his backside

And all of me
Could not get the peacock
To discuss the said subject ever again

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My 48th encounter with the peacock

My feathers no more
Like leaves on a branch
Like mortal men
Like the memory of their lives

How this wind scatters my feathers across the earth

How the teak tree bursts with new buds
How the sun is swallowed by a cloud

The sun rises again

So it is with my feathers
One generation comes to life
Another fades away

In this way

The peacock dictated his first poem
To me

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My 47th encounter with the peacock

This river has become really mischievous
Too much
Means too much
Why what happened? I asked

Today as I stepped in, said the peacock
The water started to tickle me

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

My 46th encounter with the peacock

A peacock cries
Inside its unformed light ivory tanned egg
Sobbing non-stop
During eight months of incubation

That's why we live in stoicism
No tears that flow
Even when the tap is turned on

Saying so the peacock
Honked and howled
Did bup bup bup
And wheeewheewhee

Be silent
Do not wake the village up
When they wake up they start working

That tires me

The peacock picked up a tenebrous pebble
Tossed it in the air
Caught the hard stone with its beak
On its way down

He said
This pebble has seen the fall and mistrustful survival
Of this township
Seen royalty sent on the road of exile
To another homeland

What makes the pebble special is
Not the fact that I can build a grave stone with it
It has a juicy worm
On its under-side
Making for a succulent post-lunch snack

Have you seen a peacock perched on a donkey
What a preposterous question, said I
It was such an attitude
That prevented my peacock ancestors
From inventing an intelligent mass transport system

My memory fails me
Why what happened I asked
I've forgotten the day
This earth became mute

Sunday, May 6, 2007

My 45th encounter with the peacock

The peacock saw me
Your face is wet
Your eyes are moist
My people call it mourning, I said

Oh, let's take a cold shower and then let's have a beer

What happened?
I don't know
How come no reports on the TV
She was no high and mighty person
With fans and charlatans who posed as disciples

Wish she was the queen of the ants
Mindful of manners
Silent, never troubling
Even though she was a teeny-weeny creature
In the jungle

Are we discussing me here? asked the peacock with a pout

Why don't you write something in one of the languages you claim to know?
Saying what? I asked
A monodrama will do
Like the one you've written
(Your only claim to fame I'm told)
About a multitude of things
Incantations and speeches and all

I try

Her as an old spinster sitting inside a fridge
Talking to fern leaves till they wither and shrivell

The sky leaking
Dry bones bursting
She wanders the dusty streets
Knocking on doors
Begging for her odour to be erased


How do you know all this, I asked the peacock
Sir, he replied
You have talked and walked in your sleep
For seven nights in a row

I was consuming my anti-biotics
At dawn
Still despairing, asked the peacock
Yes, said I
No man-made drug for that?
Not yet, I smiled

It was a weak smile
If I was a Dutch painting, I would have smiled better

Did she outlive her purpose
No, said I
I think she tried to resist the winds

Sounds like my gum tree
You remember how she shone in the darkness
The cause of her death, never disclosed
The optimist in the graveyard said it was asthma

Plus the discomfort
At having to extend her stay on this planet

What will you do now, asked the peacock
Mourn some more, said I
The peacock rolled his eyes
Clockwise, squeezed eyes thrice, and then counter clockwise
The human kind discovers all kinds of banalities
To pass the time

It's an elegy for departure
The epilogue of a lifetime
A finale to a besieged soul
An inscription that befits Acropolis or Knososs
A prayer from an atheist
For god knows what and why

Go sleep, said he
Can't said I
Why asked he
She will come and knock on my eyelids

Saturday, May 5, 2007

My 44th encounter with the peacock

We watched a game of soccer, together
When it concluded
The peacock said
A pointless game
It consists of seeing that the ball creates a number of motifs and groupings
All for no purpose

That's when I realised
My life is a goalless draw

Friday, May 4, 2007

My 43rd encounter with the peacock

What are those dew drops on your face
Asked the peacock to me
These are tears, said I
They suit your countenance, he said

Make you prettier

I wiped my face, meticulously, with his feathers
He smiled
With me its a tad different
My eyes are slow to cry but quick to see

My momma and poppa advised me, once
Son, that's what eyes are for
For seeing
Do not fritter on extra-curricular activities

So why cry?
I lost an important someone last night

It happens all the time
The way of the world and all that
Shortish absence is goodish in the longish run
Said he

So why cry and all? he again, asked
One less person to talk to, said I

A hour later, said the peacock
In sorrow you live your life
Do endure
That's the way it is on earth

Happy are those who dare to hop onto a spaceship
Shift their domicile to another planet
So tell me
Have you the cash-in-hand to book a one-way ticket to the moon

I clinked my tumbler of whiskey-soda
I saw
The ice wither
I said
Everything, so fragile
Everything, so perishable

Grieve not, said the peacock
Dial time, who is generally recommended
As one of the best surgeons in these parts
Time devours all

Or have a good shag and sleep contently ever after
That's what I would do

Many hours later ...
I was silent
The peacock asked me

I wrote with my toe on the sand
Tis best to be quiet in a lost cause

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My 42nd encounter with the peacock

What are you doing?
Asked the peacock to me
I'm writing 1,38,198 commas
On a piece of acid-free paper
Said I

Why commas
Asked the peacock

Since I can't match
The 884,647 words of Shakespeare
Till such time
I will mirror his commas

On Diwali day
I said
May a thousand diyas be lit, everyday
That's a lot of diya oil replied the peacock

Plus the light
Which casts long shadows
That will prevent my beauty sleep
Then my dreaming

Who discovered this thing called commode?
A marvellous piece of furniture
Tad better than Darjeeling tea
Said the peacock
Occupying the toilet
Reading my Sunday newspaper

The moneylender murdered by his wife
Says the peacock to me
Did you know?

The story is as follows
The moneylender and his wife are married in a state of discontentment
He beats her, she hates him
He drinks, she objects

She starves him
He steals food meant for her pet dogs
She plots revenge
Commits adultery
With his best friend

The moneylender files a deposition
Best friend is bankrupt
Moneylender is triumphant
Wife is depressed
She chews wild weeds
In a dreadful state of mind, she kills the moneylender

She is arrested
Best friend is arrested
Since the moneylender has willed the money in his name
Best friend becomes a lover-acomplice

This is the story of your village
Of its unhappiness
Says the peacock to me
What happened to the pet dogs, I ask?

Says, the peacock
As always you pose the wrong query
Since the day of the trial, the dogs start to starve
On the day of the judgement, they eat other
To their heart's content

How do you know all this, I ask
The peacock replies, village gossip

In my next life
I want to be a purpled-frog
Croaked the peacock
My visiting card will read: Mr Nyctibatrachus
Qualification: Outlived the dinosaur

Friday, April 20, 2007

My 41st encounter with the peacock

You read so much
Said the peacock to me
It's not such a filthy vice
As you make it out to be
I retorted

I prefer action
For its eloquence
Even if in your eyes I'm ignorant
I'm actually much more learned than you

Saying so he strutted off in a huff

Next day
I watched the peacock
Mimic the rise and fall of waves
Matching its rhythm
The peacock stood still
No movement whatsoever

That was the day
The sea
Realised the relative unimportance
Of low tides, high tides

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My 40th encounter with the peacock

The peacock said to me
Peacocks are better than humans
How so? I asked
We don't listen
To others talk (ill-informedly) about sports, politics, art, holiday ideas, diseased family members, price of stocks
For 23,789 hours of our life

That's called open mindedness, I said
It's called squandering your time, he said
As I listened to him

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My 39th encounter with the peacock

The barber, he, dutiously trimmed my beard
Under a Jacaranda tree
Whose leaves were falling

Said the peacock
Who I didn't recongnise
Sans his feathers

Whose was the greater loss?
My beard, the Jacaranda
The peacock?

Or the barber
Who hawked people's hair
To fund his fees
For night-school

Sunday, April 8, 2007

My 38th encounter with the peacock

Half a kilo of pure happiness
Can you home deliver that to me
After all, I'm the national bird of this unhappy country
Since 1963

You don't want me flying
Across the border
To Burma or Sri Lanka
As a mark of protest

My 37th encounter with the peacock

Why don't you fly
Ever so high
Like the other birds
In the sky

My feet are ugly
I want to hide them
If I fly you will be able to see my feet
Said the peacock

That's how the peacock and I
Set out to purchase a pair of shoes

Saturday, April 7, 2007

My 36th encounter with the peacock

I woke up in the morning
Travelled in a ST bus
40 kilometres, to the town jail
To bail the peacock

I found
The peacock with six washerwomen
In the male part of the prison

The FIR said
The peacock is dangerous
He was found with a knife; and he could throw
Whiskey bottles

The peacock said
The whiskey bottles were targetted at the whiskey-bottle gang
Who were teasing the washer-women
That bathe in our river

I asked the policeman to be reasonable
How can a peacock wield a knife or a whiskey bottle
The policeman asked: is this peacock your pet?
Or a local gangster?

When we were discharged
En route home
The peacock was cross with me
He preferred the comforts of a jail
With its air conditioner, fridge and a DVD player
That played the same Hindi film songs
Day in and night out

Friday, April 6, 2007

My 35th encounter with the peacock

We spotted
A peacock pantry
In the tall grass
Near the shallow stream

Rs 10 - Baked corn
Rs 8 - Roses
Rs 7- Lizards and frogs
Rs 5 - Bugs, flower petals, bananas
Rs 5 - Bread crumbs, cheese, rice, and even styrofoam pellets

Non-veg meals - Rs 40
Veg meals - Rs 30
Taxes extra
Which included baby cobras

I abstained from lunch
Which the peacock packed, promptly

Thursday, April 5, 2007

My 34th encounter with the peacock

Book my air tickets
I plan to travel to the Congo basin
In Africa
Said the peacock to me

His cousin, the Afropavo Congensis
Was getting married
What should I gift him for dowry?
Asked the peacock to me

Monday, April 2, 2007

My 33rd encounter with the peacock

Can peacocks dream
I don't know, I replied
When the peacock asked me this question
I looked up from the newspaper
That reported how Charles Ingabire
An online editor
Was shot dead in Kampala

That night I dreamt
Three mini dreams

The peacock
Entering Zara Zara
Purchases a trench coat and parkas
To cover his nakedness

The peacock visiting
Montparnasse Cemetery
Points out Beckett's grave
Such a lot of fuss over the dead
He says

What are those?
Tombstones to lock the dead
He asks
What if I fly away
That's why the Hindus burn their dead
On a wooden pyre with ghee

The peacock is tried in a court
By a Hutu and a Tutsu
In Kigali
For being a peacock

Friday, March 30, 2007

My 32nd encounter with the peacock

How come peacocks are wrinkle-free
It remains a mystery to me

We watch the peacock
Prance its dance
My wife is unimpressed
She says: does it strike you
This can be perceived to be ugly
Not beautiful

The aesthetics of wooing
Someone must write a tract about it

I was getting late
The neighbourhood bank would be shuttered at noon
The peacock offered a ride
Imagine me to be a malnutritioned horse

I declined
I did not want to be thrown off a peacock
In the city centre
On a bazaar day

History will cite me
As the first known instance of a human to fall off a peacock

The peacock and I sat on a hill-top
The wind was blowing a 100 rupee note
Sometimes this way
Sometimes the other way

It was clear
The currency had no opinion
It could not do (nor say)

I want to go north, now
Or round and round

The peacock said

We look at the Rs 100 and think it decides where it is to go
However all the time it is the wind that blows it

That's how the peacock
Gave me my first lesson on economics

How come peacocks are riddle-free
I asked

I ask no questions
Said the peacock to me
When I speak, gibberish comes out of my mouth

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My 31st encounter with the peacock

Strange as it may seem
The peacock acquired a preference for music
He heard the opera of Parsifal
A thousand times on my iPod
Then he said, now I understand why your species invented religon
It's a hymn for life

The peacock had a severe headache
I offered him two tablets of disprin
He said: In all other qualities you're inferior to me
Just for this, I am willing to be your disciple

We attended a funeral
A gent, I admired
A wise man of learning
His state of health collapsed, extremely slowly
His eyes so weak that he was threatened with blindness
He had a violent attack of mental disorder, from which he never recovered

They burnt the gent on a pyre
Made of books
That the babbling old women of the village suspected
Was the slough of his inefficiency

After the mourners exited
The peacock picking up a half-burnt copy said
This thing is as complicated a machine as life
A slow suicide of sorts

Throwing it in the stream
He condemned the book
May the dishonest words drown
May they be forgotten forever

When he turned his back
The book re-surfaced
Its words, being thoroughly rinsed

In the fresh water

The peacock walked upto me
He whispered that my ear is a mountain cave
Since then I've an eagle living in one ear
A baobab tree that grows in the other

The difference between the peacock and me
According to the peacock
In his own words
At his poetic best

You prefer monotony to chaos
You prefer a silent star to a dancing star
You prefer a clear sky and an azure mountain shimmering in the heat of noon
You prefer riddles

I prefer breathing
Air so ethereally pure
No infection, no bacteria, no noise, no stench, no dust
Just a path where I can inhale and exhale

Where can I learn to lie, asked the peacock to me?
Teach me

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My 30th encounter with the peacock

The peacock was most crestfallen
What happened, I asked?
That pea-hen I was wooing for the past three days
She ran away with a dog

I sat sipping my chaas
The peacock bemoaned the absence of true love
Non-reciprocation for his selfless gentleness
And threw the engagement ring
Into the dry village well

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My 29th encounter with the peacock

The peacock was perched under a tandol tree
Practising spitting
It's an annual ritual among peacocks
We have a spit festival

He informed me: I want to see how high my spit can reach
The world peacock record is higher than a white jamoon tree
What have you managed, so far, I asked?
I've just about achieved a kevda status, he said

Just then, a blob of spit
Fell into his eyes
Damn, said the peacock
That's why, I hate gravity

Thursday, March 15, 2007

My 28th encounter with the peacock

The peacock peered
Into the slow-moving muddy brown river

Scooped flotsam off the surface
Dangled it before my eyes, and said:
Approximately equal to hundred years of history


Is how the peacock made a ledger entry in the sand


We entered a store
Me searching for something sinister
A book with arms dealers, undercover agents and women who defied materialist logic
The peacock sat in a corner peeling off labels from prescription bottles
Leaving a trail of bar codes
On the shop floor

The peacock asked me: would it be fair to say the number of doomed love affairs
Outweigh happy endings

We were watching golf on TV
I would like to play that sport, the peacock said
Why, I asked
Five reasons really: "I get to wear smart casuals, you can be my caddy, the sun beating down, a bit of humidity, free rides in the golf cart."
And the ferns

Millions of rare ferns on this course

That night,
The peacock wished me in his pidgin sing-song accent
He said
I prefer the debris of verbs
To the incantation of nouns


The peacock
Was perched on my dining table
I was sweeping the floor
With a broom

He observed
The dust rises, the dust falls
Is that the whole point to all of this?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My 27th encounter with the peacock

The peacock is practising
Flying backwards
Tutelaged by a senior humming bird

That day I ask myself five questions

The first one was about discoveries
Which was the better invention?
The fork, spoon and knife? Or the stone-age tools in Bastar and Dantewad?

What is nicer?
The buzz of cicadas in Mussoorie? Or the sweet smell of rotting leaves? Or the moss that grows haphazardly on my bathroom wall?

Which water is more important?
The Pacific ocean? The Atlantic ocean? Or the Taptapani hot water spring?

Which word is more popular?
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? Floccinaucinihilipilification?

What's the best way to fall in love?
In three-steps? Or in a life time?

I pause
In my search for answers
The peacock has flown off
Forward or backward
Or upside down
I'll know not

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My 26th encounter with the peacock

The peacock
Was putting on a grand spectacle
Shaking his feathers like Sri Devi at every lady in sight
Who chose to ignore him

He bent backwards
Shaking his bottoms at a lady
Who gave him the eye, momentarily
His fluffy angora rump feathers swaying
In her general direction

After a few minutes
She walked off in a huff and a puff
I've better things to do, she mumbled

Sipping my iced tea, I observed
This is tough

Yes, the peacock agreed

It's too much of effort
Such a grand display to no avail

What do you mean, he asked?

You know, I've never really seen you mate
Have you?

The peacock replied, that's why some of us are trying to introduce the concept of polygamy
Dance once, and mate many

Good morning, wished the peacock to all and sundry
Something was odd
Yesterday, the peacock was beautiful
Today, he is bald

He had molted
Discarded his colourful tail feathers

I ran out
Starting to collect the feathers,
On the wet bed
Before they are ruined by the rain

What you trying to do, he asked
Eyeing a beetle (it's not good for digestion)

I propose to build a memorial of peacock feathers
Every feather will be given a name
Each will tell a story

It's such a waste of time
How will you build it?
It's all so fragile ...
Where will you find so many stories?
Will it be meaningful?
Who will remember all these stories?

I told him
Just one story will do
In the end that's what matters

The peacock helped me pack my bag
For a short vacation
Trousers, cotton shirts, sandals, Axe
What is this, he asked?

I sprayed Axe on him
That's when he understood the concept of body odour

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

My 25th encounter with the peacock


In my next life
The peacock said
I want to be a happy hippy
Even though I've told you about its inherent futility, I said

Ok, then as option two: a penguin would do nicely as well

Once, I overheard the peacock give advise to his young one
Walk on your toes, twirl your feathers, learn to understand one human language (howsoever pointless it may seem), love music (a good tune is a sign of pedigree and proper genes) and never forget that no matter how long you sit under a tree you cannot become a Buddhist


The horror, the horror
The peacock said
What happened, I asked?
I took a dip in the holy river
What happened then, I asked?
I entered it reverential and ritualistic
Good, I said
When I emerged I had pelagic plastic parts glued to my feathers

Then the peacock proceeded to show me
The quantitative distribution of micro particles
Of plastic

This is bad, what shall we do? I asked
Wait for it to polymerise?
Or decompose?
Or pray to the river god?

No, said the peacock
Go out and buy an expensive shampoo
Then rinse me properly
Right now

As I watched some more bad news on the TV
I sighed
The peacock said
Can't you see
Your politics is passe

You need something a tad fashionable to run this planet

How about that
In my previous birth
Said the peacock to me
I was a fossil

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

My 24th encounter with the peacock

The peacock was munching groundnuts
In a sugarcane field
He said, when he saw me
This tastes better than the carpet in your living room

Before I could slap him across his beak
He said, I'm thirsty
I offered him decoction coffee from my thermos
He accepted it
Didn't have it, though

As we walked to a tea stall
He sat on a broken bench
And mixed the coffee with the tea

Thereby contributing (in a small way)
To the syncretism
In this part of the world

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My 23rd encounter with the peacock

Early morning

The peacock danced on a bottle of Brunello
Which splintered
Glass shards

Caused bleeding

The peacock asked
What is this?
Blood or red wine?
It tastes damn good
I bandaged his beak
I said we need to see a doctor

En route to the hospital
We whizzed at 90 kms
How much further, the peacock asked?
Another hour to go


Then the peacock said
This ambulance driver is as important
As the surgeon

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My 22nd encounter with the peacock

Glow-worms doing their thing
A blade of grass breaking through the hard terrain
The peacock and I sit
Listening to the transistor

He says: All these songs go zig zag
Meaning what?
These lyrics that describe falling in love
But no word that means love
Well, I said

It's all very pernicious, he says
Meaning what, I say again
Will you walk up to a beautiful lady and say
Can I've love?

I suppose no
The beautiful lady may give me one tight slap across my face
Aha, says the peacock
You're a nomenclaturist

What is that meant to be
You, who claim to be master of your language, are trapped
By what?
This language you've created has become your master, says the peacock
You're obsessed by the idea that words mean things
Your days are numbered

That's why you're speechless now
So I am

I could say a word, any word
The peacock got up
To dance a beguiling dance
While Pavarotti roared about love

Monday, February 26, 2007

My 21st encounter with the peacock

The peacock was in my study
Having toppled over the globe
He was crushed under the Indian Ocean

What are you doing?
In the middle of the night?

Jabbing at the Equator, longitude 90 approx
He says: Das Nichts Nichtet

I start to wonder who said that
I slap my forehead
Oh brain
Retrieve my memory back to me

The peacock whispers
Cease your melancholy
Lift this wretched burden of me

I push the planet, it rolls away
He leaps out of the window
Into the shadows of the night
The peacock is free, forever

Sunday, February 25, 2007

My 20th encounter with the peacock

They say
I'm a black-marker vigilante
Poised I sit
With my black marker pen
The peacock asks me how are you doing, all good I hope?

I say, repairing punctuations
Doing the needful against apostrophes
Like all the mens and womens in my family

The last sentence, incidentally
I inform the peacock
Should conclude with a point d'ironie, known as a snark
What be that asks the peacock?
A back-to-front question mark,
Deployed by the 16th-century printer Henry Denham to signal rhetorical questions

The peacock yawns

While he is ignoring me
I make a correction in Marriage Halls's and Puppy's For Sale.
I correct Smile Your on Camera and No Entries

Plus the peacock's will go to the school tomorrow
To the peacocks will go to school tomorrow

To which the peacock replies
No school for me brothers and sisters
We dislike them-hyphens, we hate exclamation marks!!!!

Saying so, he reduces me to a little bauble of orthographic bling

Sunday, February 18, 2007

My 19th encounter with the peacock

So what shall we do, today
Said the peacock to me

We can watch the clouds
Not worrying where they go

The peacock agreed
He sat down next to me
And reached out for

His remote control

Friday, February 16, 2007

My 18th encounter with the peacock

I was sort of asleep
The peacock
Poked his head into my bedroom
He said: So this is your harem?
Yes, said I

Who is she? Your whore?
No, she is my wife
Why is she asleep?
It's pre-dawn and you've walked into my room before sun rise
How many wives do you have?
Only one
I've five, he boasted
Ok, said I

At which
The peacock did a peacock dance

That's when my wife woke up
Yelled at the peacock for ruining her sleep
He tried to run
He slipped
I lifted him up
With a smirk, he said
Your one wife is equal to five of mine

Saturday, February 10, 2007

My 17th encounter with the peacock

Living is simple
Said the peacock to me
Peering into the 700-page volume on the Renaissance which I was studying

You can continue reading
Or step into the puddle
To splash water
On passers-by

Long live the worm society
Said the peacock
Poking his beak into the damp earth
Gobbling an earthworm
Not one
But many
Before they decomposed the moss
Any further

That's grotesque, why did you do that, I asked?

This chap's ancestor, the peacock said
Swallowing one more
Lived 120 million years ago
Caused the putrefaction

Of dinosaurs
By eating into their brains

He burped
Very loudly
Stretched his leg-muscles
And dozed off on my charpoy

That's how I was deprived of my afternoon siesta

Friday, February 9, 2007

My 16th encounter with the peacock

Sitting on the porch
Watching the rains
Along with spiders, snails and grasshoppers

I said:
This is the devil's own rain
That's what it is
The peacock replied
Yes, it would have been simpler
If the rain poured from the soil
Instead of the clouds

Meaning what?, I asked

He said
If it rained from the ground beneath our feet
It will serve its purpose
Of wetting the planet
Ok, I said
He said, and we could get on with our lives

Yes, for what can one do outside in this everlasting rain
The feet get dirty

The spiders, snails and grasshoppers
Nodded in agreement

It was raining
I expected the peacock to dance
Feathers and train
All five feet of it

Instead he whistled a Mohammed Rafi song
He heard on All India Radio

He winked at me
As if to suggest, you're so full of stereo-types

I think the relentless rain had seeped into my car
I was testing
Its carburetter
Its internal combustion engine

Unknown to me
The peacock slipped into the back-seat
He commented, it's a great pity
What, I asked?
The upholstery is alright
But after 100 years of development

They still haven't been able to design a comfortable automobile
For a peacock

Saying so, he dictated three post-cards
One to Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler
Then to Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir
And finally, Edouard Delamare-Deboutteville