Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The drummer

A man
With no special talent
Loves to drum his ancestral drum

He drums all the time
Always, he is drumming

While breathing
While eating
While sweeping the streets
With a broom
While sleeping
While dreaming (which he rarely does)

He drums
His ancient drum

One day
Under the full moon
He bathes
He sees a pretty girl with mogra in her pig-tails
He falls in love
She is everything

Their eyes meet
Till the meetings multiply

She can't drum
Man trains her
He tries
She tries
And tries
And cries

One day she runs away
From his drum beats
It is too noisy
Her parents say: it tarnishes the family reputation
Her neighbours say: it is diabolical

Man is distraught
He sits beside the river
He sweeps
He weeps

He decides to forsake his drum
He throws the ancestral drum into the river

Life plods on

A new day
Many months
Perhaps years

Man is lonely
Very very lonely
He is old
Very very old
He has swept the street
He is tired
Very very tired

He sits on the bank
To wash his feet in the river water
He sees a fish
Many many fishes

The fishes see him
One smiles
All smile
He plays with one, he plays with all
He is happy
His heart beats

Is it really his heart beat?

It's a drum beat
It's many drums that beat
The drums beat, together

The man looks

The fishes are drumming
The fishes are dancing
The fishes invite him
He jumps into the water

And drums happily ever after

Three shorts

When my mother
Went to school
She was the only girl student

Mother carried her books, slate, drinking water
Plus her own jute sack
With which she could sit on the cold floor
With dignity

Was the richest man
In the world
And he was very very happy

So happy
That he had forgotten
How to cry

The baby wiped her mouth
And hungrily asked her mother
Why does daddy have nipples
If I cannot suckle milk from them

Sunday, October 25, 2009


The innumerable false conversations

She had daily
Made her lie down
In the rice field
Waiting for the breeze

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Three little gems

In this land of ours
The little boy
Asked his maulvi father
Why do trees have Hindu names?

The maulvi whacked him on the head
And said
Don't create a new set of problems

My uncle
Who was a Gaussian inspired economist
Said to me
A nation's prosperity
And true worth
Can be judged by the pedigree of
Her whores

I opened the door
Victor Hugo met me
And he was naked

Hugo had surrendered his clothing
To his valet
Who was not to return it
Until the day's writing had been compiled

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


He slept
Under the pine trees
Covering himself
With a blue tarpaulin sheet
To prevent scalding hot, bat droppings from falling on his face

Unknown to him
Every sunset
Thousands of bats
Flew many nautical miles across the sea
They returned in the morning

When he woke up
To their sunrise babble

Folded the blue sheet into a neat quadra size
Patted his own back
And said, how clever I am

Sunday, August 9, 2009


When he saw
The monsoon clouds
Up above the sky
And the approaching rain

He started to run
Till he reached
The Sahara Desert

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Four stories about women I know

She was renowned
For her home-made butter
Of exquisite taste

For which she nurtured a special goat
Stocked secret ingredients
Hid recipes under the ground

Until the day her grand-daughter decided to marry

The dowry was the goat
Whose head would be sacrificed
On conjugal day
To guarantee
The eternal happiness of the newly wed

She told her
The water in my well is sweeter

Her told she
The water in my temple tank is holier

Unknown to she and her
The woman with a tattoo
Their tattle
And sighed
The loudest sigh
In the world

This sigh
Was heard by a solitary rain cloud
In the sky
Who wondered
If this was the signal to end the drought

When she completed
123 years
She did not recall
She had carried excreta on her head for
111 years of her life
Through the by-lanes of Madurai

When she completed
123 years
She emptied basket-loads
Near a Jacaranda tree
Whose blossom was the one thing
That brought a smile on her
Forgotten face

The cling-clang
Of urban space
The blah blah of uncouth neighbours
23 family members
All migrants from Sindhri
Inhabiting a 275 sq/ft tenement
Plus 11 children

How do they manage it
What for she asked
As she prepared lemon tea
Which she would have with home-made cookies
Feeding crumbs to the fish in her aquarium

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Happy Wedding Anniversary

The secret of their 2,000 year old marriage
Was neither lust
Nor the polite thank yous

It was based on a complex taal system

The number of her snores during the night
Equalled his flatulence during the day

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Printer's Day

The master printer
Created patterns
On rocks, leaves, utensils, wedding sarees, carpets

He invented hues
The world had never seen
Even though he was colour blind

Monday, January 26, 2009

Five special men ...

Let me tell you about the five special men
Who have five special hobbies

Man one is a snake catcher for 33 years

Man two speaks 19 languages
Including Braille

Man three has memorised Rimley's special chess games
All of them

Man four has a lab on the hills
From which he comes tumbling down
Every time he discovers something like an alternative
To plutonium
Preferably a thermoplastic compound

Man five gets a hefty commission
From the oil mafia
Which he diverts to a school for special children

These are the five special men
I wanted to tell you about

With five special hobbies

Every day I aspire to have some such hobby
As my forefinger is poised to enter my nose
For the nth time in the day