Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dinesh Thakur and two other shorts

The marigold said a birth certificate is unobtainable
So the notary jotted in the certificate
Cause of birth: Dubious pollen seeds

Good thing, the sun is a punctual riser
Said the darkness to the night

(For Dinesh Thakur)

For you
I picked up a pebble at Moliere's grave 
From the Père Lachaise Cemetery
By the time, I met The Imaginary Invalid
On the hospital bed
The stone had hemorrhaged

Friday, September 28, 2012

Three palash stories

One palash said to the other
When they placed me at Saraswati's feet
I had to compete with marigolds and chrysanthemums

The other palash said
When they placed me at my master's feet
I had to combat arthritis and old age

The baby palash told the two
I don't want to be plucked, ever
Who is Kelucharan Mohapatra?
I want to become him 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Three shorts on a Sunday

Mrs Bose chose Rabindro Sangeet
Over Das Kapital
Since it meant Bengali sarees and rosagullas

The churchbell rang
As Tuka stood on the steps with a red clothbag
Selling agarbatti
At 40 paise a piece
To the warkaris
Attending Sunday Mass

Why do my words catch fungi
By the time
I transfer them onto a slate

When Valmiki and Vyas met

The highway robber and fisherwoman's son
Were felicitated
During a literary seminar in heaven
For composing the Ramayana
And the Mahabharata, respectively

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Five shorts on a Saturday

Ever since I tamed a million bats as my pet, I sleep upside down.

An idea for the government: Charge VAT for new-born babies.

Human beings that run on batteries? My next invention.

When he looked deep within his soul, he saw the family heirloom, an alarm clock set for yesterday.

A brothel with a R&D centre? One more of my inventions.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The diplomat's dilemma

Do you wonder, sometimes
Tugging at the grey safari suit
What you say
You regret, later
Er ... Sir I think that border would look nicer 
If we shift it one latitude to the East

No reply
The emissary scribbles a jotting
Longish pause
No translation for that (as yet)
No chance to second-guess
To re-organise the strategic advantage
He sips his grey-earl tea, bland

The formal confabulation of eight hours
Full of twists, traps, awkward testaments
Makes you dislike yourself
What you say
As much as the cunning ambassador
On the other side
Of the table
Who wheezes

Its yourself you blame
Your arbitrations are discomfited
Your underwear itches
Why do words tumble out, such?

You change the subject 
Sun Tzu, ArthashashtraBattle of Qadesh, Vienna Convention, cheap wine, tailored suits 
By then you realise 
Nothing more to discuss

Only silence
Aided by the hottest day in Delhi
Which makes negogiating an international treaty

A fairy tale ending

A passion for order
For symmetry
Everything trignometrically placed
Not to be shifted
Like Aryabhatta
A passion for zero-precision

Like her Umma
She wanted
A world, un-unruly
Everything fixed

Love (and husband) at first glance
When she had a bath in the river, a bandish played
When the evil kaka spoke, she heard snake hiss and scorpions slithering
No homework was accompanied by gales and hailstorms
Champa-mogra fell from the sky
When she painted a rangoli

Everything picture perfect

An orderly quest for beauty
All well
Kerchiefs ironed
Hair polished
Navel shampooed
Mind manicured

Then one day
A gaze
Of ugliness
A frog requests for a kiss
As she rushes to her odissi-class
She reciprocates
Frog puts tongue in her throat
Flesh on flesh

A realisation (finally?)
There exists a new world

Life stands still
An end to fairy tales
To happy songs

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Three shorts about artistes

In the shadows of the Nil Vilaka
The thespian tries to die
To the rhythm of the Mizhavu and cymbals

The audience eggs him on

No Durga idols, this year
Kumartuli's clay modellers are on strike
They wonder why the banks cannot waive
Their loans

If the gods have waived their sins

Wagner and Strauss
In a quandary
Ever since they forgot
The password to music

Beethoven could have helped
But he was very busy
Tuning his piano

Balivadham: Moral of the story

Of all lies
Love is the most untrue

In the forests of Kishkindha
Love is what Thara feels
As she forewarns Bali
She pleads
Fight not Sugreeva

Brave boastful Bali
Had never conceded a battle
His heart thumps even now
Like an adolescent
When Thara enters his chamber
With turmeric perfume 
Her lily 
Clinging to her hair
All of which will be crushed
By mythology

Bali scratches
His armpits with toe-nails
No truth in what Thara says
Just perception

Bali the braggart is scared
(Is he?)
He will lose Thara
To Sugreeva

Stares in the mirror
What he sees is not a vanquisher
Of Indra, nor a reflection of Narasimhavatharam
His fore-arms want to be the master of what it does
Will it churn the Palazhi ocean
Will the formidable fists grip the mountain Mandara and serpent Vasuki
To extract amrutha

The devas and asuras
Have forgotten this tale
Not the mirror
Who has heard this tale from Bali a million times

Thara sees
She sees quite a lot
For what a wife sees
The husband can't comprehend

It troubles Bali
This deplorable mania of doubt
It exhausts Bali
These days, he doubts everything
Even his own doubts

Bali battles Sugreeva
Even though he knows he will be comprehensively dead
The gods have conspired
Stubbornly, as they always do

Or is it Bali's fate?
The more he peers over the edge of the cliff
Looking at the abyss
At the bottom of the ravine he sees an inexpressible idol
It is called eternity

Thara understands
She says: Beware
The more the gods advance, the more humanity is degraded
By then Bali is dead inside a dust-storm

Off stage Thara sobs
The gods hear her whisper
Her aide hushes her
The gods (especially that younger hot-blooded one)
May take offence

That's when Thara utters her curse
Don't ask a cow to lay eggs
Gods for justice
Life for happiness
A husband for love

The epistemologist states
Bali did manage love
Didn't he?

Well almost
That's why they say
To be in love with your own wife
Is to be Bali-ed

Monday, September 17, 2012

Certain intangibles

The route
To the root
Is no where

Is a cow permitted to drink cow milk?
Does a labour union have a labour union?
Can a guru's shishya be a guru to his shishya?

The ordinary people, everyone talks of, who are they?
I dare you to come out and show your face to me

I went to Purulia to master the Chhau
You can't, said the cultural head to me
It will be a bit too intangible for you

There is no god, I said
That's when the mob threw
Their Bibles, Torahs and Korans
At me

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Once upon a time ...

Once upon a time there was a sea
Who fell in love with a water fairy
He adored her more and more
Till he became quite a bore
And started to resemble an oak tree

St V and the City of P

In 79 AD
The sea asked the mountain
Who is older?

Domenico Fontana
The emperor
Orders you to cover the frescoes
And stop discovering new ones

I've already done it, melord
I did not want my children
To replay
The hedonistic illustrations
Of life in Rome

When the ash settled
In Pompeii
Pliny's final letter
Sophocles's 120 plays
Art, gardens, the villas, the aqueducts
Were missing

What remained was: vulgar graffiti 

The ash, pumice and gas
Could not subdue
The largest erection belonging to
Priapus, the ancient god of sex and fertility

His plastered penis
Is locked, forever
Due to prudishness
In the city's safety vault

Whatever little we know
They are re-burying

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tashi Delek Tenzin

Tashi Delek Tenzin
How be you?
I have forgotten Wen Jiabao
I remember you

Admonishments: 1, 2, and 3

The snail admonished the pebble
For blocking his path
The pebble refused to budge

I asked my watch
What is the time
It admonished me
And said: Res Ipsa Loquitur

I speak for myself

I offered sinistrums to Rameses II
And Nefertari
They admonished me for being a baboon
Having outlived my stay on this planet 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sedition and two other shorts

Someone with broken fingers
Held my hand under the bloody sky
My mind is under arrest now
Since every thought is seditious

So nice of the Neel Kurinjis
To remember to bloom
After 12 years
The blue mountain is happy

A black crow flew
Across the road
At the Richardson Crudas signal
With a bit of evening fog
In its beak

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Five shorts from South East of K

Two young lovers
Can't elope
Curfew in town, indefinite

Who am I to complain, sahebji
Says the rickshawallah
Even our government
Runs on back-seat bickering

Seven year old chained to a brick kiln
One way to prevent her
From stepping into her own

Said the CM
How I wish I was never elected
Someone else from my clan in-charge
To a community of rat-catching girls

While I slept
With coconut oil in my hair
And a massage for my back

How much dust in dusty?
Said one town to the next

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The moon hums a thumri (and other shorts)

It was odious
No whore willing to have him
Due to his dog's breath

After the earthquake
The village women
Started to stitch the ground

Work is consolation
Said the prisoner in solitary
From the andhaa cell
Breaking stone with a blunt hammer

When I held her hand
It was blazing hot
She laughed
I am a piece of the sun
That fell through the sky

The tree squinted at him and said
If I was a cypress
In Varanasi
You would worship me
With oily diyas
Not chop me
Into tiny pieces

They put him in a washing machine
His thoughts emerged dry-cleaned

A camel sat in my empty suitcase
Pack me, he said
I want to travel to Havelock Island

She refused to forgive her father
Ever since she saw him
With another woman
In his grave

Very few people know
That when the moon goes round
And round
Planet earth
It hums the thumri
In purab ang

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Seven shorts from Dharampur

Tomorrow is a Sunday
I'll take it a tad easy
Said the tide
To the beach

Eyes shut
She knew he was done
When all that remained
On top of her
Was his heavy breathing

With a matchstick
He lit the sky

One tree swayed towards the other
Whispered in the wind
It's our wedding anniversary today

At 3 am he woke up
Wondering what is the speed of darkness

Every time she loved
And failed
She notched a chalk mark on her heart

The pillow was sleepy
Being in bed all the time

Friday, September 7, 2012


I saw the Vaitarna pass by
She looked exhausted

Thursday, September 6, 2012

There was a tear drop in the sky

Once upon a half time
There was a tear in the sky
When I looked up
It had turned into a smile

All tears, unlike
Some unhappier than others

My left tear drop and right tear drop
Had a conversation
Trickling down my cheek
Right tear: When I opened my eyes, I saw primroses and lilac. You?
Left tear: Onions

Every self-respecting nation
Has a good cry
On the sly

The tear knew he has grown up
When he was accused of gloom
Brought to trial
And found guilty

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Poor dead body
Dont know what I can do
If I had a white cotton shroud
I would have covered you

Monday, September 3, 2012

Five tiny shorts on a rainy day

Her father promised a million laughs as dowry
That's all he could afford

The fish visited her family doctor
Sir: I am feeling kind of sea sick
In the waves

Just one single copy of Abu'l Fazl's
Mahabharata in Persian
No one knows where it is

One rock said to another
From tomorrow you will be a fossil

I wish I had a broom called Myiagros
Who could chase away these flies

Salutations, O Ganesha

Hello Supreme One, you’ve returned
To Ganesh Galli, Tejukaya Mansion, Chinchpokli
Please come to Khetwadi and Kumbharwada, too
Where for one year, I’ve waited for you

See this old gelatinous hole inside a brick wall
On Sankashti, I sketched your curved trunk with a chalk
Created a 30-feet tall idol with my hands and bamboo shoots
You won’t topple even if Karthikeya, puts stones in your route

See, how I’ve made your jewellery shine like million suns
My blind father taught this to me, his surviving son
To hand-paint your skin with vegetable dyes
Pencils, paint brushes and bhakti (on the side)

May you shower your blessings on everyone
Particularly the 80 sculptors who create you with mud
My jobless friends in Podar and Swadeshi Mill
Who want you to kindly remove all obstacles

Oh my lord of lords, the greatest of idols
Stop being idle, and please do your thing
Always and forever support our activities
Our endeavours during the season's festivities

Or else I’ll paint your eyes cock-eyed
O Ganesha

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Three more shorts

Two dozen donkeys
In front of my house
One sees me and hee haws
Hey, why don't you join us

She was to appear in his dream
As usual she was very late
For the appointment

Juliet stood in the balcony
Chit-chatting with Romeo
Who developed a crink in his neck

Three shorts of a kind

The Economist
Advising the FM's cell
Looked out of his Porsche Boxster
To see the delay
Caused by a BMC dumper
Clearing the garbage

Irked, he was

By the five pariahs, barking
Much like the high and mighty
When their subsidies were denied

Two felines gaze
Till he hisses
Swishes his tail, erect
Trudges off with a meow

She says
What do you mean
You can't come for a cappuccino
With me

Our pinds
Match not

Says he hopping from
Tree to tree

My husband is not drunk
He is simply inebriated with life
She says

Hoping he will have a drink with her
At least once
Before cirrhosis scars his insides