Thursday, July 09, 2009

Bittersweet Orange

When I am with you
The life I know and am used to
Turns sublime
Faces turn radiant
And places release the smells of new soils
From deep inside their bellies
As if someone re-ploughed them
People started talking marmalade
- and who doesn't succumb to the flavour of bittersweet orange!

I wake up eager and excited
Not to face what the day holds,
But to see its face,
Dreary, racing, peaceful, sinister,
In every shade and pattern
And I'm taken to realize:
There is nothing that resembles a straight line
Which also breathes life

Sometimes when I let my mind open
Things flutter in, bright and violent
With the speed of a reckless racer
Who has you gripping the edge of your seat
While his car waltzes with the asphalt
Drawing careening circles and tyres screeching
Because that's really how knowledge is:
Violent, it shatters your world

Sometimes when I let my mouth open
Things flow out, sweet and musical
With the disposition of a good dancer
Whose hands and feet find patterns in rhythm
Flowing in and out of it with purpose
So unfalteringly thread my thoughts and words
Not because I am more eloquent or wiser
But for the new meaning I have found
In my existence
Since I threw myself in with you

The lonely times of before were a sham -
I see that now -
The illusions of a mind bent on self-destruction
Fighting against an intrinsic nature
That demands love, company and respect
In ceding the victory of that innateness
And in losing my mind
I found you
And then I found everything
Exactly the way it should be

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Monday, April 06, 2009


Fallen Rock in a hidden cave,
Who will see you
now that the tide is high?
Who will graze their skins on your edges
now that you no longer hold your head up high?

Betrayed a mountain, didn't you?
Carved a niche for yourself,
but a scar to your kind
and lost all claim to worthiness.

Fallen Rock all that's left
is for you to die:
The sea will shatter you,
The wind will scatter you
while those that once protected you
will watch on guiltless.

All is lost, you might say.
What good it is
To buy freedom and lose yourself?
But some say there is joy
in not belonging
and yet belonging everywhere.

Fallen Rock, look at your fate,
Search for the Joys in your existence:
They are at the end of your paths.
Everytime, you move forward
they stay behind
content in themselves (can Joy ever not be?)

Only Isolation followed you,
only Pain knew the way,
only Rejection served you
when you died and became
Something new.


Raindrops or Teardrops

Have you ever kissed a raindrop?
A little one, a bulging one,
Just any one that fell from up there
And showered you
Celebrating life?

Have you ever kissed a teardrop?
A salty one, a bitter one,
Just any one that rolled down your cheek
And quenched you
Comforting hurt?

For today when
I beheld the morning,
My lips brushed both
Raindrop and teardrop,
And my heart betrayed itself
With the quandary
Of whose bride I would become.



If hearts were fairer
You wouldn’t tell me
To walk bare-footed upon the sand
Where buried rocks
Sever soles of my
Beating nub’s footsteps
For once when I
Was brimming dare
To nest my hand in yours
You showed me stars
Then in a flick
I blinked and you were gone

Lessons taught
Remain unlearnt
As still I yearn to cross
The wobbly bridge
That buttons up
An ever-widening chasm of trust
My feet are sore


The Hunting

Atop a hill of sunburnt clandestine ruins bore
A brown, stony temple to creatures of gore
The chisel had much strived to keep them alive
One of them green, scaled and sublime

Hither, thither as one would gaze I did
A stalker just two-step behind detected
I scanned the floor but perceived no one near
Nor the walls, nor the ceilings nearby

One cautious tread and another, eyes shut
Fear clutching the echelons of my gut
A swish and a swipe, a long shadowy stripe
But no mortal to partake the crime

Colossal figurine adorning centre-square
Crown of vultures circling the upper air
Then the wind stopped still as a cry so shrill
Pierced the body of calmness

One must run when chased by nothing
A wrestle with emptiness is sheer losing
Down derelict stairway, sprint of frenzied sashay
Symmetrical beads of sweat of a deer, hunted

White sparkle from the dying setting sun
Offered my exhaustion visual diversion
My eyes traced the light only to meet fright
Dark silhouette cutting the ambers

Twilight mystifies the nascent weary mind
Wheedling idiocy into its realms and rind
Training the energies to the max of their faculties
If only to satisfy vulgar curiosity

My seeker had wings, the leap of a frog
Odourless, cold-blooded in every cog
Her penetrating stare stood the ends of my hair
Her message caked in challenge

My heart charged like an overheated kiln
Limbs bolstered with fresh shots of adrenalin
Wild instinct surged into each cell, torchbearer from Hell
My corpse purged off every limitation

The walls I scaled, and beams, pivoted
Each stone I picked, crushed or compacted
Thus night flowed by, moon’s tragic lullaby
And the hunter became the hunted

Daybreak came scouring the dwindling lights
Stealing of darkness, her invisible delights
My guise hardly kosher, footprints stepped over and over
Then my target held out a smiling paw

Bewilderment, like poison crept on steadily
The corners of my mouth contorted uneasily
She took my hand as if she had all this planned
And vanished in the wake of my reverie

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A Poem on Tissue

I wrote you a poem on tissue
Isn't that the way our love
is too? Like tissue?

White and pure, soft
and delicate?
Soaking our experiences into
its porous fibre
and holding them there to
be cherished?

But let us be wary, darling,
not to overdo it
Lest our tissue soak
up much - too much -
and fall apart
into shreds:
the litter of memories

Day by day, let us
breathe too
and dry our love
that our experiences may hold
more than
just feelings

Let come from it learning:
It's the little spaces that
keep the universe in
One Piece

And our love, transparent
and light, will take us places
on wheels
that turn with
each breath of God -

He knows
how to handle

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Oh I wish I had two hearts instead of one
So I could still live with one of them broken
Heartbreak makes me feel like this inevitably
God knows how many I've been through already

I'm one of those people who wear their heart on their sleeve
Shining and pulsating with jubilance and ease
Waiting to fall into the hands of the first handsome lad
But jumping out too early and hurting itself real bad

My friends call me "merciless mouth" and "Peter practical"
Vehemently believing me to be not an ounce sentimental
Truly in most matters I am incorrigibly pragmatic
But get down to the heart and I'm a hopeless romantic

Rejection is always followed by tears and depression
Suicidal tendencies tend to gain momentum
But this worn-out-yet-brave heart still dares to live
Coaxing Lady Luck to bestow another chance itself to give

Tomorrow's Girl

Why do you stare aimlessly
into my eyes?
Why do you not tire easily
of my charms?
The rest of the world is surely
more inviting than my arms

Why do you talk unceasingly
of our future?
Why do you not think warily
of our plans?
Scaling the Everest is definitely
more exciting than building clans

Why do you swap devotedly
'I' for 'we'?
Why do you chant endlessly
'I love you'?
Tomorrow I will have changed already
From the girl you love to someone new


Home is Where the Hearth is

Three degrees
minus wind chill factor
and no boyfriend to keep me warm
My ears quiver
at each whisper of the frost
My feet leave the sleet
with soft, wet kisses
My nose leads the way
where the hearth is ...



Catch the dying ray of sun 
And swing out over the ocean 
like Tarzan 
While the water sprays your feet 
And flying fish snap at your toes. 
Swing out to the sliver of moon 
Meet its wide smile with a bear hug, 
outstretched arms 
Then cast into the vast space around 
A moon rock as easy as they come. 
And if you follow its path 
You'll see it leads to me: 
tiny speck 
Standing down below on earth 
Just a stone's throw away


Joy and Pain

I pine for you everyday
as I fold memories
into the creases of my brain

Each time I think of you
my heart surges
with both joy and pain

Joy, for those happy days
 that I thought would never end
Joy, for those castles
that I built in the air
Joy, for each image of you
that I can recall

And all the pain in the world
for knowing that never again
will I ever have it all

Chanting 'Om'

Chanting ‘Om’, chanting ‘Om’
Twelve planets orbiting the sun
A thousand sun, a many moon
Multipart in unified croon

Chanting ‘Om’, chanting ‘Om’
Two seedlings apart were sown
I know not you, you know not me
Yet sisters be eternally

Chanting ‘Om’, chanting ‘Om’
The heirs to one Kingdom
Rainbows of string, threads issuing
The one Weaver nods all-knowing

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Here Comes the Night

Here comes the Night!
Dispassionately black
Creeping up the trellis
Of the restless buzzing city
Dispensing her shadows
To every nook and crack
Here comes the Night!
To claim her monopoly

Here comes the Night!
With mischief in her face
Her satin-smooth lingerie
Tantalizing cruelly
She shrouds the future
Revealing just a trace
Here comes the Night!
Luring all with chicanery

Here comes the Night!
Her heart dipped in malice

As she whispers treachery
Into every which ear
The rogue, she favors
With assassins, she sallies
Here comes the Night!
With terror to sear

Here comes the Night!
Her eyes misty gray
Counting the beggar’s losses
Reviving dismal memories
The looking-glass cracks
When it catches her sashay
Here comes the Night!
To sing doleful harmonies

Here comes the Night!
Sangfroid she does whet
She'll sing you into slumber
In the cradle of your hearth
While she lathers you hungrily
To suck out your last breath
Here comes the Night! Beware!
She rules half the earth.

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I Can Drown in You

Some nonsense poetry for fun!

Two solar eclipses concurrently
Embellishing the heavenly skies
Dark, deep, still pools surrounded
By the snows of Antartica
My mind’s beacon in your eyes
Which speak of a million stories
Your eyes as warm as buried sea-turtle eggs
Your eyes, your eyes
I can drown in them

Mount Fiji and Mount Kilimanjaro
Together and side by side
Sharp contours from their foothills
Like the bottom of the Nile
Depict with accuracy so precise
The shape your lips define
Your lips as juicy as garden-fresh red tomatoes
Your lips, your lips
I can drown in them

Like India protruding from Asia
A bud of land divine
But softer yet as a waterbed
On which making love is sublime
That bulge of your earlobe
That you can’t perceive
Your earlobes as tender as sour pickled olives
Your ears, your ears
I can drown in them

The Grand Canyon, twisting, fidgeting
With each gusty, windy caress
Lathered with milk and honey
Sloping down from the crest
Your neck bewitching my mind
And flowing to shoulders perfect
Your neck as smooth as a long white pumpkin
Your neck, your nape
I can drown in them

The numerous craters of the moon
Only turned inside out
And few large ones of earth
That wiped out the dinosaurs
Like your curves do to me
Making me alive to my senses
Your curves as sizzling as grilled jumbo prawns
Your curves, your curves
I can drown in them

This world a myriad of collusions
Your universe conspiring mine
Exploding with multiple nebulae
Lurking the cess of black holes
Our auras beating synchronously
Yours engulfing me full up
Your body as inebriating as sweet clear Chardonnay
Your spirit, your soul
I can drown in them

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Pretty Flower

Pretty flower, I watch you
Rose, in petticoats of passionate pink
Holding your head up, indifferent
To my admiring gaze
Perhaps if you were still
Adorning your branch,
Not rotting away
In this swan-shaped white vase
You might have reciprocated
With shy acknowledgement

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The Wind

sweeps the 
noon silver 
of wind 

Waltzing the 
leaves in 
one rhythm 

wind, blow 
firm, shoo my 
cares away 

weave me into 
your floral 

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Soft Love

Love, touch me sweetly softly shy 
Love, feel me what my thoughts belie 
Love, show me all unimagined 
Love, fly me on the wings of wind 
Love, hold me till they scream: my veins 
Love, hurt me till they bleed: my pains 
Love, seed the flower over where I lie 
Love, hover nigh as a butterfly 

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Letting Go

I tried loving and letting go and not just once. But it doesn’t make any sense to me anymore. Part of loving is ownership; the other part is responsibility. Ownership of the loved by the one that loves and responsibility of the loved for the one that loves.

There is no such thing as letting go, because the act of loving itself causes an exchange in the metaphysical universe. And there is no such thing as unreciprocated love because although love may not be reciprocated with love, there is always something exchanged: pity, tolerance, forbearance, contempt, disrespect.

When I choose not to reciprocate love with love, I must take responsibility for what I offer to the exchange, how I choose to treat another human being. In any case, making this choice will condemn a part of my soul to eternal loss. And in every life I live, with so many unreciprocated loves, I keep losing a bigger chunk of my soul. Until one day, I have no soul at all. And I cease to exist.

I hope that you will consider forgiving me for not reciprocating your love with love. Thanks to my actions, all I have in store for me is the suffering of eternal loss and the shame of knowing how I treated you. It will not bring me any happiness; it will only take away from any chance that I have at happiness. Knowing your capacity for love, you probably will not gloat about my situation. But I hope that it will move you enough to consider forgiving me.

I know it’s ironic how you gave before what I didn`t want and I`m asking you now to give again. But if you don`t, you have chosen how to treat me, another human being, and I`m sorry it had to be this way. Maybe things would have worked out better if you hadn`t tried to let me go in the first place. Because see, I`m still here and you`re still trying to let me go.

You say you`ve moved on, but you still own my memory. You say that life went on for you, but you still wince at my rejection. You say that you accepted my decision, but that was a part of me too. Please stop trying to let me go, because you know you can`t. Life doesn`t just go on; it takes everything along with it and doesn`t slow down to be more careful. It rushes headlong into the path of death and only then is everything really let go.

If you are bent on letting me go, you would have to die. And I would not be able to accept responsibility for that. I guess, given the circumstances, my only viable option is to love you right back. Thank you for allowing me to make this journey in understanding. And thank you for loving and not letting me go.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Two Fat Tomatoes

“Two fat tomatoes,
juicy ones, ripe red -
get me them. Will you please?”
he said.

“Oh God!
What a horror!
I want you out of my kitchen
By tomorrow.”

“But darling,”
he protests, “I
promised to cook.”

“So what?”
said she,
giving him the LOOK.

“Don’t you want me to?”
said he,
teasing with his voice
of burnt honey.

“Of course I do
but not like this.
Help yourself

“But babe
don’t you see
how easy it would be
if two could work together as one”

“That’s just like you”,
she said turning on heel,
“Trying to get a bargain
On every little deal”

“I’m sorry that’s
The way you feel
But I’m only trying to connect with a part of me
That wants to peel

And chop and cut
And pare.
Now do you mind putting on the boiler there?”
“Oh I do” and she held up
her fresh manicure.
“I could ruin it if only you
would pay for one more”

“Alright, alright!”
He held up his hands
“I’m not going to start this fight”

“Smart move, wise boy.
Now back to cooking
Until then,
let me finish my Facebooking”

He came out
With a plate.
“Here’s your lunch”
“Well about time. It’s late.”

She tasted. He waited.
“Mmm, that’s good.
But it would have been better with tomatoes.”

“Why darling,
you may be right,
But incompetent little me,
With no culinary history
could only manage to season it with drippings from my nose.”

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ode to an Old Black Phone

Tring! Tring!
In muted ebony,
Why don't you sing?
Do your ring thing?
Or are you just a phoney
shot in a pixel-rich Sony?

Do you have ringtones?
Pushbutton record-ability
for moans and groans?
Mp3 playability
for Norah Jones?
Sms-ing for my doctor
or Baskin Robin cones?

Well I hate to come clean
But from this side of the screen
You're nothing better than a "has-been".

Monday, May 12, 2008

Being Lost

What happened to the Child
Glued to its own shadow?
What happened to the Wind
That blew itself away?
What happened to the Time
Speeding on towards expiration?
What happened?

This man stands reading a map
Drawn in a strange pen:
His fingertip underscores 'Home',
But everywhere else is
The ‘X’ that marks his spot

This darkness is deeper still,
And the players are blind.
Victory chooses one side,
But who cares -
We are lost!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Too Late

I watched you watch me
In a silent eye-lock
With your fidgeting hands
Tentatively reaching for
the idea I couldn’t see

I watched the colours
That flashed on your face:

Like a thin disease,
Like blinds shutting out the lights,
Like a haunted chasm sprung out of nowhere,
Like a freeway stretch growing longer and longer

Leaving me
With unspoken words
And my faulty instant
Damage-control plan

I watched and I stood,
An inert spectator
To the growing void
Between you and me

I watched even when
I knew it was over
Could something so precious
Be lost in an instant?
Your firm chin answers

What did I say?
What did you hear me say?
I'll take it back.
I'll withdraw it.
But I can't, can I,
Take back words
That have already
Changed our universe?

I watched “our universe”
Unbecome itself

I watched myself
Go back in time
To change a moment,
Swallow my anger,
Stomp my ego,
Not say anything,
Still have everything

I watched hope die
And knew then
That I’m all alone,
That it’s just
Too Late

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Drowsy Noon

I feel so light in the pit of my stomach;
perhaps my lunch has gone to my head.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Coffee Shop at Blomdale

The coffee shop at Blomdale was drab: white linen dressed the tables and tumblers made of thick glass stood upturned at corners. There was no one around. Even the waiter seemed reluctant to fill up the glasses with water. However, when he finally got to it, he placed the F&B menu on the table and vanished.

Janaki was only impressed by this last vanishing act. She hated how most waiters would stand over her shoulder making imperceptible impatient noises. Maybe this was the best thing about agreeing to the coffee shop rather than a Barista which was a five-minute walk away. She sipped the water and messaged Vikas. The reply said he would be there in ten minutes.

Janaki took a deep breath and sunk further into her chair feeling millions of tiny muscles stretch luxuriously and go limp. She set her bag in the next chair and carelessly smiled at the room around her thinking about how anonymous the room was. You could relax here, she thought. This was much better than the noisy Barista. Her apprehension about Vikas settled. She stopped doubting that he had any dubious motive in suggesting the coffee shop over a Barista. It was clear that he wouldn't have been able to find his way to the Barista on the main road from Blomdale where he had put up. After all, this was on her way and she would also not have parking hassles. She lazily glanced at the menu and smsed her boyfriend.

When Vikas walked into the coffee shop, she had fallen into an almost hypnotic state coming to only when he stood smiling at her for a few seconds. Janaki smiled and greeted him awkwardly. She almost gasped when he suddenly lunged towards her and pulled her into a firm hug. She did her best to keep the smile intact; they had hugged before after all.

"Would you like to come up to my room?" asked Vikas. "I can make us some chai, or coffee - whatever you like."

The question was worded innocently enough. There wasn't any suspicious body language or sign. He didn't deepen his tone or wet his lips. It was a polite invitation to his room at the hotel which she politely declined.

"No thanks. I'm quite comfortable here."

I'm very happy to see you, Janaki", said Vikas as he got into the chair opposite her.

He looked at her directly in the eye and she struggled to stop blushing. She told herself to grow up and mumbled, "Yeah, me too." critically considering whether that was the right thing to say. A 50 cent track started playing itself in her head: just a little bit.

The waiter appeared miraculously and took their order. Vikas asked if she would like to eat something; she declined. They began talking a little about him and what he was doing in Hyderabad. Vikas had a matter-of-fact way of talking about himself, about how rich and successful he was and how passionate he was about everything he did. Janaki knew about it already, of course. She had heard stories and whispers and gossip but that was nothing compared to hearing it from the man himself, how he started from scratch and went on to build an empire. Anyone would be easily impressed.

What was probably more flattering was the fact that he had wanted to meet her. He had messaged her before coming to Hyderabad and asked very modestly if she would be free to see him. Janaki had been curious about his interest in her and had agreed almost at once although she was a little perturbed that he was willing to alter his trip to her convenience. But Janaki was not new to the culture of 'air kissing'. She had taught herself to feign nonchalance towards acts of chivalry.

Vikas asked pertinent questions about her life and her work. Janaki was impassioned. This was what she could talk about for hours: her plans; her career; what she thought and speculated; the logical map of reasoning that she followed in making choices. Her eyes lit up, she leaned forward gesticulating. And then for no particular reason at all, Vikas stood up, crossed the table to her side and drew her into another awkward hug.

Through her formative years Janaki had painfully accepted that hugging had become a necessary social nicety. As a rule she never hugged for any reason at all, except maybe as a genuine gesture of friendship or comfort. But these days, just about everyone was huggable anytime whether you knew them since forever, or just met them a minute ago. Social hugging was easier for her when she was either drunk or just preoccupied. Now she was neither and she debated resisting the hug. But her memory took her back to the first time she had met Vikas. He had hugged her then many times, at every 'hi' and 'bye'. He had hugged a lot of other people too. He was simply one of those huggable rich and successful people. Janaki let herself be hugged.

But just as her mind adjusted to the idea of being hugged, Vikas planted a quick peck on her cheek. She liked to think it was her cheek but it was almost at the corner of her mouth. Her body stiffened involuntarily. Vikas drew back unperturbed and confident. He took his place and resumed their conversation.

Conversations, especially intelligent conversations were not something you came across on a daily basis. Janaki yearned for them everyday and she was in one. Vikas encouraged her overtures about her career plans. He dished out advice and tips. He was like a supportive elder brother, or a cousin, or an uncle, who understood what you needed and how you wanted to get it.

Frequently he asked her to apply for a job at his company; Janaki even suspected that perhaps the agenda of this meeting was more in the nature of a radical interview. But Vikas also reached across the table often to hold and squeeze Janaki's hand. Her feelings about hand holding and squeezing were not unlike those of hugging, a social pill swallowed with some difficulty.

Refills of their respective beverages were ordered and as the conversation progressed, Vikas had slipped in between chunks of career talk and advice a little jewel. "Janaki, I want to see you again. Do you want to?"

The question was innocent enough once again, but this time he had seemed to deepen his voice and he was wetting his lips - or just finishing his chai? Again she wasn't sure how to respond to this question. Perhaps her level of social sophistication wasn't high enough. So she mumbled again, "Yeah, OK."

A snake-like smile spread over Vikas's face. Janaki looked out the window next to their table. She hadn't looked at it since he had arrived. But now she saw it was dark. The slow discomfort that had been creeping into her mind since Vikas stepped into the coffee shop began to stay. She couldn't tell herself to grow up anymore. She was confused and only sensed a need to get away as quickly as possible.

Janaki knew she had a strong sixth sense, but she had never learned to trust it intensely. She had, however, learnt to give people the benefit of doubt. She had learnt to be optimistic. That was how she looked at it when finally Vikas offered to walk her to her scooter that was parked in the hotel's premises. They were located behind the building in a dark isolated area. In fact, a part of her mind was glad to have an escort.

The site of the scooter reassured her. It was her getaway from Blomdale, from Vikas. She put on her jacket and scarf. Vikas offered to button up her jacket, but she declined again. She was about to don her helmet when he stepped forward, held her shoulders and kissed her on her mouth through her scarf. She stood rooted with shock, still disbelieving that she was in the middle of what was going on. Emboldened, Vikas cupped her face and drew closer to repeat his feat, but without the hindrance of the scarf. Janaki turned her face away and quickly put on her helmet. There was a 'no' and a 'stop' muttered somewhere during that scuffle but she wasn't sure if they had just been thoughts or real words. The thought that she should slap him came as an afterthought, but of what use was an afterthought. There were also the significant afterthoughts of the parking being isolated and the traffic outside making a din that would stifle any scream.

The scooter turned into a primary target. She had to direct all her efforts at getting on it and being off. Vikas stood near smiling as if he had accomplished something or was close to it. His manner was crazily assuring in itself but consistently and increasingly discomforting to Janaki. It was only after she had passed the gate of Blomdale and was well on her way that she allowed herself to breath.

Bitterness swelled in her mind and anger at herself for allowing the episode with Vikas to happen. She called her boyfriend and told him about it. She told him how badly she wanted to revenge the shame, guilt and stupidity. But he annoyed her even further by laughing it off. "I told you so." His lack of concern was frustrating, but his sense of humour over the incident was appalling. A week later, their relationship ended.

Vikas and his antics settled on the back burner while Janaki dealt with the romance of a broken heart. She almost forgot about the intense shame and rage she had felt, until his wife smsed one early morning. "Why didn't you tell me that Vikas kissed you against your will?"

The memory resurfaced, but only partially. It was only later that she understood what had really happened to her. It was when Vikas smsed. "My distraught wife only just informed me that I had molested you. It seems your boyfriend told her. Did he have your blessings?"

She finally understood. She had been molested. It still didn't seem real.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Waiting for outcomes, relief
quietly, painfully watching
days, hours, minutes float away;
Waiting for healing

Waiting for resolution, clarity:
goodness stripped off
its bad disguise, evil
scattered in the wind;
Waiting for sunshine

Waiting for conversations, understanding
moments that share everything
naked, revealed unabashedly;
Waiting for the perfect body

Waiting for peace, serenity,
a mind reorganized:
thoughts on shelves,
feeling in drawers,
doubts packed in suitcases;
Waiting for success

Waiting for the right moment
to do and say the right thing
to the right person;
Waiting to grow up

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

For the Blank Noise Project

I hate your city
paved with hot adrenalin
lurking in nooks and crannies
with dirty fingers and scarred elbows
of untamed desires and hardened passions
slinking into the unwarranted spaces of buses
or trains where little mothers tell their big daughters
not to avail of the breast and buttock groping free service

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Being Alice

This morning I woke up as Alice
Dreaming things - fantastic things -
And walked out into the world
with my dreams, both power and shield

I sauntered into the world,
My head brimming with pollen:
Ideas waiting to fertilize
Fresh flowers of imagination

Yellow-bricked streets, dancing trees,
Street urchins playing with elves, and
Sewer drains burping invitingly:
“Come explore the rabbit-hole!”

Concrete stumps sprout fronds
From which perfumed dewdrops dangle,
Windows and doors hide portals
To a matrix of holiday vistas,

Street vendor singing ditties
Of a jolly chimney sweep,
Dishing out penciled trail maps
Of riches waiting to seek,

Promises coloring the sunrise
With sweet lasting love,
Moon tide drawing the curtains –
Celebrations sparkle above –

Casper hiding in every closet
To befriend the lonely souls,
Everyday is Christmas
Charity sweetly tolls,

Nine lives for the cat,
Bu at least two for all else,
Strangers linking arms
Stepping out of ego shells,

Tanks and missiles delegated
On a one-way mission to Neptune,
Three wishes for all to find
Under an Egyptian sand dune

“Open Sesame” is the chant
That unbolts a heart’s treasures,
Humbleness and honesty enough
To seal an open wound’s sutures,

Hope - the highest mountain –
Omnipresent on every horizon,
Every aspirant in the race
Running for the win;

Then I opened my eyes,
With wonderland in my vision –
Book shut, on the rug –
Two past midnight: digital precision.


This is my first attempt at a 55-er, i.e. title + story = 55 words!

I hate those sidewise glances. I'm not gauche, or clumsy. In fact, I'm debonair, suave and good-looking - my mom says so all the time. So why did she nudge her friend and shoot me an eyeball from the corner of her eye? And they were still contentiously smiling.


“Jeevan! Dude, you’re on T.V.!”

I Try to be A Poet

I try to be a poet,
To connive with phrases
and words;

I try to observe the world,
To encase it in consonants
and vowels;

I try to capture emotions,
To reign them in for that
sublime effect;

I try to collect tears,
To draw deep from the wells
of inspiration;

I try to obsess with the inane,
To confound it into a thing
of beauty;

I try to defy all realms of
reason, understanding
and wit;

I try to be a poet;
I end up writing

Friday, December 09, 2005


Subdued am I
like a sleepy river
receeding from the summer scorch

Subdued like a bride
doomed by fate,
freefalling into the mire

Subdued am I,
lost my steam have I;
no pressure to blow my whistle

Subdued deep within
these them layers of skin,
a fount devoid of desire

Custard Apples

Custard apples
With secrets buried
In sweet pillows
And a hundred eyes
That tell the truth:
Till it lasts

In an orchard
Of custard apples
We play hide n' seek
Blowing sweet nothings
That only the branches
Will hear

One step forward,
Three back;
Like ants on the hides
Of custard apples
We'll skip the pits
And savour the scent

When the time's ripe
Nectar will seep
Through the cracks
And turn our senses

Excitedly our little hands
Will aim for the big ones
And scramble
Down the barks
With grazed knees -
How it hurts!

But those custard apples
With buried secrets
Playing hide n' seek
Will stay only
Till the season lasts

Then will we start
A new game of love?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pink Dancing Shoes

those pink dancing shoes
kicked up so much dust - those feet
bathe with teary eyes

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Interview

Stop staring at me,
Open-mouthedly gaping at me,
Wind swishing sentimentally
Through your orifices,
Tears sputtering
Along the wedges of your eyes,
Your left foot stomping
The invisible bass drum -

Stop watching me,
Shrewdly calculating me,
Throbbing pulses transversing
Your temple veins,
Adam's apple bobbing
In a stilted G minor,
Beads of fatigue ready to plunge
Off your stuffy chin -

Stop ogling at me,
Tongue-lickingly lusting for me,
Mind stricken aimless
By a freakish wanderlust,
Eyes feverishly groping
For hidden cobwebbed vistas,
Fingers playing a sweaty jig
On knees beaten to pulp -

Stop whatever you're doing to me,
Inside-outedly eating off me,
Your bunch of nerves
Wrangling in my face,
Twisting my laugh lines
Into a pitiful grimace,
Did I already tell you? Young man,
You’re fired.

Friday, October 21, 2005

God of Gods

I must start writing, they tell me. Why? Because I’m a writer: in just the same way as a lover must go on loving, or a liar must go on lying, and a murderer must go on murdering. But then I am a lover and a liar and a murderer too.

See, I just write that and you believe me. If you’re intelligent, you’ll wonder if I mean those things in a physical or in a metaphorical sense.

Words! These are only words. Turn them one way, they mean one thing; twist them another, and their sense convolutes beyond the notions of a blind man. I’m not blind. But there, I’m digressing. Let me come back to my point and I can do that very simply by choosing to write these words. THAT is the power given to the writer. It is the power to come back, and to undo, and to modify.

If you ask ‘why’ I will tell you very simply that it is because the writer uses words. You now think that we are going around in circles and you are right. I have craftily brought to back to my pet peeve, to my words - with my words. Words are such simple, efficient tools. With enough practice anyone can learn to wield them to his purpose. But there’s another interesting point for digression: Purpose.

Purpose drives the machinery of existence.

No, don’t bother arguing with me because this is my page, my space and I choose the words that go down on it. But to indulge you or irk you - as you would allow for - let me explain that Purpose not only drives you into love, into sex, or into procreation, but purpose also drives the slop that drips from your anus just before you reach for the toilet paper. Sometimes Purpose is disguised in tricky alphabets that spell DNA, gravity, divine revelation, etc. But the undeniable fact is that Purpose is omnipresent.

But wait, Purpose is not God. I can see where that logical analogy is coming from: you must have been a good student at school. But here’s where the simple logic of ‘A-equals-B and-B-equals-C-so-A-equals-C’ fails. However you may assume that since God is omnipresent and since He allows Purpose to define all His actions, Purpose is also omnipresent.

Now let me show you a simple word trick. Do not try this on your own because it is a dangerous trick. However, since I am a writer and I have the power of the words, I can do it easily. Watch!

Purpose is omnipresent and Purpose defines all the actions of God. So God is actually a slave to Purpose. But then as I already explained earlier, we are all slaves to Purpose. So if we apply your A-B-C logic in this case, what we have is: we are God.

See? You are God. And so am I.

This is really crucial so never let it slip out of your mind. This is one of those things they don’t teach you at that logical analogy school you went to. Of course, I wouldn’t expect them to teach you this because it would upset the equation.

I don’t expect you to know the equation either. I mean, if you didn’t know that you were God until now, how would you know the equation? But now that you are enlightened, it will be really easy for you to guess that there are a number of people who aren’t just as you weren’t before I could tell you. Get it?

The equation is between the people who know and the people who don’t know that they are God.

You are not going to ask me how it makes any difference because you already know. Just imagine what a person who was blindfolded permanently from as far back as he could remember would do: mostly nothing, unless he had a serious death wish.

Let me explain: this blindfolded person is akin to a blind man who has never seen the light. He doesn’t know that everyone around him doesn’t wear a blindfold, so he believes that it is a part of his attire, or that he might die if he gets rid of it. But then I come along and tell him that he’s only blindfolded, not blind. That knowledge gives him power, power to reach behind his head and throw off his blindfold. And voila, life is a different place altogether.

So you see there IS a difference between the people who know and the people who don’t. It IS a key difference because it brings about the balance of power or the equation.

People who know about the equation are able to use the power. They are able to make things happen in the manner they wish them to happen. You are not so naïve as to expect this to take place directly. It doesn’t. This power is channelled through chains of other people before it achieves its goal.

Who are these other people? Some of them are people who know, and concede the use of their selves. But most of them are people who don’t know and hence, who get used unwittingly. So you see it is completely beneficial for the people who know to have lots of people who don’t know around them. That is how they are able to make things happen in the manner they wish them to happen.

You will now think that I am crazy. But stop and think. Haven’t you been used by so many people? Haven’t you felt cheated and almost forced into something you really didn’t care for? But that was the story of before. Now that you know that you are God and you have understood that this means being a slave to purpose, you can turn things around.

Once, there was a woman. Don’t expect me to tell you what kind of woman because that is not my purpose. I will not reveal her name, her hair colour, or bone structure. I will not tell you if she was fat or thin. I have already told you all that I wanted to tell you about her. Instead, I will tell you something about myself: I am a man. But if you are smart, you already know that. This is also something that they didn’t teach you at that logical analogy school you went to. This is something you know by your power of being God. I will repeat this many times because I want you to believe it. But also because I have the privilege of being a writer and right now as you read my words you are a slave to my purpose. And you know much about me, that I am a writer and that I am a man and that I am not blind.

You also know that a man needs a woman. And therefore, you will not be surprised when I confess that I once considered having a woman. Your mind has been considerably opened in the last few minutes. So I’m certain that you are not conjuring up images of physical union. Physical fulfilment rests in my palm, on the shoulder of the girl I’m standing next to in the bus, in the rump of my guard’s teenage son. Physical fulfilment is not difficult to attain.

When I say I needed a woman, my words must convey the desire to fulfil a spiritual need because a woman holds the other half of a man’s soul. The union of these two souls is the ultimate union of two Gods. This is where power is multiplied manifold. If you are trying to realize this level of authority over your life, you must find a woman or a man (as the case may be).

I found a woman, the one I just spoke of. She didn’t know that she was God and I didn’t tell her. What I did tell her was that she was beautiful and that she had the prettiest eyes in the whole wide world. Don’t even begin to envy me; envy is not the game of Gods. Also I don’t know if I told her the truth. I can hardly tell what beauty is or what pretty eyes look like, much less compare them to all the rest in the world. But women like to hear such things and if you want to have a woman, you must tell her such things. And I told her many more because I have my way with the words. But you know that already.

We were both Gods, one with the knowledge of it, the other without. Although she didn’t know about the power balance that was involved in this union, her soul knew instinctively. She fell in love with me. I would not like to use the same words to describe my own composition, so I will merely say that I allowed our souls to unite. You will not believe me until you experience this yourself, so I will not bother to describe it.

I will only say that it was like being lucky all of a sudden. Only you know that it wasn’t luck; it was the power of purpose that I had claimed for my own. I could make a lot bigger things go my way much sooner than before. There is an inherent advantage in binding your soul to a person who doesn’t know: you can be the sole master of an infinite reserve of power. This is how it was for me.

However, I must confess, I made a slight error in judgement that lead to a huge disruption in my plans. I assumed that having had my woman and having harnessed the power brought about by the union of our souls, my job with the woman was done. There I was wrong.

You may call it sheer coincidence or deliberate mischievousness, but through my powers of being God, I became aware of a growing interest in my woman of other men. I also came to know that these were men who didn’t know that they were God and who weren’t aware of the equation. If they did they wouldn’t have even tried to think of a woman whose soul was united with that of another God. A previously unheeded fear took seat in my mind that my woman was also susceptible to such thoughts of other men because she also didn’t have the knowledge that gave power. I was in a tricky situation and I had only my words to help me out of it.

I decided to tell the woman that she was God.

I laboured lovingly over my words, sharpening them, blunting them and occasionally twisting them to make her understand. You already know of the painstaking efforts I have taken to make you understand. So you will believe me when I tell you that she believed me when I told her that she was God.

Being God, you expect not to make mistakes. Being God, you expect not to falter. But that expectation is in itself a huge miscalculation. Once you are aware that you are God, you need to keep reminding yourself about it. You cannot allow the lethargy of expectation and assumption to creep in. That is why I keep repeating to you again and again that you are God. I made a mistake when I assumed that everything would be fine now that we both knew we were Gods. I lost my purpose.

But my woman had found hers. Just as I had used her dormant power to my benefit, she began using mine. She soon discovered all that I have revealed to you about the equation and she understood that it would benefit her most if she were united with a soul that did not know. The only obstacle in her path was I and I was a mighty obstacle because I not only still wielded the great power that she shared with me but I also had the power of the words because I was a writer.

My woman began looking for a means to get some power that could equate with the power of my words. It had to be a power that only she could tap and I could not access. She used a considerable extent of our combined Godly powers to find another such power but she was unsuccessful, that is, until I helped her unwittingly.

I told the woman that she was beautiful and that she had the prettiest eyes in the whole wide world. For a long time she had not thought of questioning her belief in my professed admiration. But one day she heard the words of another writer, not as proficient as me, but nevertheless endowed with the power of the words. And then she knew that I was lying. She knew that she had none of what you could call beauty. And just like that she now had a power that could not only equate with but was also greater than my power of the words.

She had the truth.

You must know that the truth is a gigantic power. It hasn’t been documented, but it is probably the greatest power of them all. In fact, when the Gods who wrote a holy book said it, they forget to highlight it: the truth shall set you free. It worked for my woman too. She had wanted it for long and so our souls began to disunite. The truth had begun to set her free.

The moment it began, I knew. And I didn’t want it to happen, but the power of my words, however twisted, was no match for her power of truth. I considered the equation and power balance. I saw that I was set to lose much because of this wanton development. But, being God, I was able to immediately sort the relevant information and work a solution.

Looking back, it was really simple. All I needed to keep my stock of power was my woman’s soul. Therefore, all I needed was her soul. Since you are also God, you will know that the only way a soul will leave a person is via that person’s death. And you will be right if you begin to wonder whether the thought crossed my mind.

There is no need for me to tell you how I planned and how I executed it. There were many ways of doing such a thing and these are on record in case you wish to refer to them. But that was to become the most memorable day in my life. That day I became a God among Gods for I had more power than any other God. And I was the woman. And I was blind.

You must be astonished at this point. I can tell because that is the extent of my power now. I can feel what you feel even as you listen to my words. You will soon feel my exhilaration too. But this lesson ends for today. Now go and think.

I will, of course, keep writing. But you know that already. Yes, because you are God, and because I’m a writer with a purpose. I’m a lover and a liar and a murderer too. I know you believe me now.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Crazy in Love [Part II]

Two floors below, the entire family had gathered to welcome Swati home. She had spent two days in a hospital while she had laser surgery performed on her right eye. The left eye had been operated a week before. Although she felt a little conscious about losing her nickname “double soda”, she was really happy, but most of all because of the appreciative looks she imagined she would see on Rohit’s face when he saw her without her glasses.

Ambiguously fielding off everyone’s questions about why she had finally taken this decision, it was only a day before the surgery that she had accepted the truth: she was doing it for Rohit, because she loved him and because she believed that he deserved a girl better-looking than the plain Jane she was. She was dying to meet him. However, on second thoughts, she decided that now that she had begun the journey towards grooming herself, she might as well go all the way. It would be a reward for Rohit for waiting for her, she mused.

Rohit, of course, had heard the pompoms at Swati’s place. He knew what they were about, his parents knew too. They thought it strange that Rohit hadn’t checked Swati out yet. They even thought it odd that the two of them were not on talking terms, but they passed it off as just another childish whim. So they didn’t say anything when Rohit rushed into the house and got busy without saying a word. He had made a hasty departure from Mrs. Malik’s flat but only after promising to go back in two days.

Two days later Rohit went back to Mrs. Malik’s place to help her with her Christmas party arrangements. Two days later Swati stepped into a beauty parlor for the first of many times in her life.

As the countdown to Christmas continued, Rohit carried on helping Mrs. Malik out over increasingly lingering periods of time; he had even started lying about it to his parents who were getting just a little concerned about his prolonged periods of absence.

In the meantime, Swati had a Cinderella makeover. Sometimes, she herself could not believe that she was looking at her own reflection in the mirror. And her face flushed about fifty shades of red when she considered the effect this would have on Rohit. Now, she was really eager to show herself off to Rohit, forgetting all about the lecture she had given him only a few months before.

Mrs. Malik’s Christmas party was only two days away and as a goodwill gesture, everyone in the building had been invited. That would be the day, vowed Swati.

The grand day finally arrived and announced itself by the blare of Christmas carols from the terrace of the building, where the party was actually arranged. Everyone was delighted by the antics of the tiny tots as they performed their carefully rehearsed cultural events. Mrs. Malik and Rohit were praised for their excellent teamwork.

The two of them, however, had their hands full and were probably the only two people who didn’t inquire who the mysterious damsel was, or who goggled with surprise on being told that she was “our Swati only”.

More than once, Swati and Rohit passed each other that evening without him recognizing her or even noticing her. It wasn’t as if he didn’t want to. His eyes were thirsting for a glimpse of Swati but it seemed that she hadn’t turned up, maybe to avoid him.

He looked anxiously at Mrs. Malik instead, knowing well the sequence of events that would kick into action after the party was over.

Swati was a little hurt that Rohit still hadn’t recognized her. But she consoled herself with the thought that at first even she couldn’t recognize herself in the mirror. She would catch up with him after the party was over and he was less busy, she told herself.

And so, after the children and their parents had left and most of the neighbors too, Rohit couldn’t help noticing the beautiful girl sitting all alone and watching him attentively. When he walked passed her again, she even smiled at him and it was only then that like the first sunrays cautiously entering through a window, it dawned on him, that the girl was Swati. He stopped dead in his tracks and like a flashback sequence in a movie, all the times that he had passed her that evening rolled through his mind. He made another addition to his mental album!

A flood of emotions swelled up to his head but his feet stayed rooted to the ground. Swati moved towards him first and giggled as she drew near. His heart stopped beating for a moment but slowly his lopsided grin parted his jaws. “Hi. How’s life?” was all he could muster. “Good. And you?” was all she could reply. Then he added, “You look nice.” But she said nothing, only blushed.

The world around them melted into a haze as they locked eyes and started walking down the steps. To all appearances, they were not talking, but the silence between them was full of emotion, once suppressed and now running like a wild stallion. Their hands were slowly inching towards each other’s.

Then a voice interrupted, “Are you going to leave me all alone with this mess, Rohit?” It was Mrs. Malik who had followed him from the terrace.

“Err…” said Rohit turning his head from Mrs. Malik to Swati and back again. “You promised!” Mrs. Malik said reproachfully but with the hint of a tease in her voice. Swati’s brow broke out into a puzzled frown as she caught Mrs. Malik unabashedly displaying her cleavage and subtly noted how Rohit had suddenly turned cold. Swati looked at him pleadingly.

Rohit briefly shuffled on his feet and shortly told Swati that he had to go. “I’ll catch you later. Bye.”

He followed the older woman to the terrace while Swati walked down the stairs disappointed.

She walked all the way down to the compound and looked up at the sky and sighed. What was a beautiful girl like her doing all by herself on this chilly night, she asked herself. Her eyes traveled to the lighted fourth floor window of Mrs. Malik’s flat where she could dimly pick out the silhouettes of two people seemingly entwined around each other. Then the light went out.

Swati closed her eyes and felt a pain sear through every thought that she was experiencing. She had forgotten how long she had been sitting there. She hadn’t realized that streams of tears were rolling down her closed eyes. But when she felt warmth around her hands her opened her eyes and looked into the eyes of Rohit.

She was unable to speak.

Rohit started. “You haven’t changed since you were a kid, you know.”

Swati’s voice came out in a hoarse whisper. “What do you mean?”

“You’re too impatient. I told you I’ll catch you later.”

Swati’s eyes widened and the frown on her brow deepened. “But I thought –”

“What? That I wouldn’t come?”

Swati shifted. “No, I thought that you and Mrs. Malik …”

But Rohit placed a finger on her lips. “Mrs. Malik is a nice woman with a large heart. Sometimes she’s annoyingly demanding. But I like her a lot and especially because she made me realize that I could love no one the way I love you. And she made me understand that even if there’s a little love, it’s worth holding onto because you never know when destiny will take your sweetheart away.”

As soon as he had finished Rohit wondered if he had said something wrong again because once again the tears started flowing freely from Swati’s eyes. He held her hands higher and closer to his chest and began to explain earnestly.

“Listen, I don’t think you got it right. There’s nothing and there never was anything –”

This time is was Swati who stopped him talking. “I love you Rohit. I’ve always loved you. And I’m really sorry I made both of us go through all those months without talking. They were horrible.”

“Yes, they were.”

“And foolish.”

“No. Not foolish.” Swati looked at him questioningly. “They helped me realize how much I love you.”

And once again, the tears welled up in her eyes.

“Just one thing,” interrupted Rohit beginning to grin. “Do I still get to call you ‘double soda’?”

But she didn’t answer him. She threw her arms around him and kissed him.

At that moment the edge of a curtain dropped at the window of the ground-floor flat. The eleven-year old girl who was eavesdropping sank into her bed and cried bitterly until she fell asleep.

That eleven-year old girl was me.

It didn’t matter that he was eighteen and I was eleven; but my heart was broken and I was still crazy in love.

Crazy in Love [Part I]

It was hilarious that something that could be compared to silly superstition or even popular legend was receiving serious patronage. Nothing less could be expected when your regular old wives adage, ‘crazy in love’, gets actually backed by scientific evidence!

The article says that certain hormones are released in your body when you’re in love that somehow blocks the centers of logical thought in your brain, thus making you susceptible to all kinds of irrational behavior. It’s all down there in your DNA, in that deceptively simplistic genetic code that runs into a million lines, that makes people even somersault off sheer cliffs blithely christened ‘Lovers’ Point’.

On one of those lazy afternoons at work, this article kept floating in and out of my daydreams like a visual mantra. So I mused over it again and again, and I wondered if there really was something to it. That was when I thought of Rohit.

Rohit was my neighbour. I lived on the ground floor, while he lived on the second and I used to see a lot of him as he went in and out. We enjoyed long empty conversations, silly singsong sessions and even exchanged WWW cards. Although he was eighteen and I was eleven, we had a wonderful friendship. However, sometimes it pinched that Swati, not I, was his best friend.

Swati and he were next-door neighbors and it was well known that they had grown up together. Swati was born only a month after Rohit and their parents often joked that only after she entered the world did he imbibe some of her sense and stop crying. They did their entire childhood routine together: playschool, school and college. They had the same friends, worshipped the same childhood heroes, read the same books, and they even knew the same jokes. But that’s where the similarity ended.

It was not so evident when they were kids, but as they grew older, people’s perceptions of them as individuals changed drastically.

Rohit had grown up to be a strapping man, with smooth muscles bulging at his arms and thick veins running down to his fingers. He looked much older than his years and had lots of women, right from eleven (that would be me) to thirty-two, swooning over him. His swank was complete with a crooked mischievous grin, which amply portrayed his amicable nature. He was easy-going, made friends effortlessly and always had enough time for everyone. Whenever you needed help, you only had to call Rohit.

Sometimes, because of the intensity of his involvement with people his academics would threaten to suffer. That’s when Swati would bail him out.

Yes, Swati was a nerd and her looks could only confirm that. She had not bothered with changing her thick glasses; she was still teased “double soda” for them. It would take a great deal of scrubbing the surface to notice that she had pretty features. Her think oiled plait and her overall sense of dressing had left her a plain Jane, even an ugly Jane to some. But she had attitude. She was fiercely independent, didn’t care about people’s opinion of her, and held close to her heart her view that people should not judge her by her appearance. So, despite the encouragement from her family, she refused to get rid of her glasses and despite the gentle boosts from her female cousins, she refused to step into a beauty parlor.

Regardless of these differences that others could point out, for Swati and Rohit themselves, nothing had changed. So they remained best friends. It’s true that every now and then, Swati would pull Rohit’s leg about some girl who had the “hots” for him, and sometimes, Rohit would tease her “double soda”. They also had their own individual crushes, which they discussed and dissected with each other. Nothing could distort the canvas of their relationship. And it seemed inevitable that a friendship, nurtured and watered for so long, would someday blossom into love.

Someday came in the month of July, when it was pouring in Mumbai and Swati had forgotten to carry an umbrella. She was taking the stairs home, fully drenched. Rohit was just stepping out of his house and the two met on the stairs as they often did. But this time Rohit stopped.

He gave Swati a good look, longer than any other time before, and noticed, for the first time, her curvy body that was outlined by her wet clothes. The realization that his childhood friend, next-door pal, bosom buddy, was a girl, the complement to his sex, hit him like a bolt of lightening, and he wondered why it had never occurred to him before.

Swati distractedly shook the water from her hair and took off her glasses at the same time, keeping up her constant lively chatter. It was just like in the movies and this picture of Swati would remain with Rohit forever as the image of his first love. Yes, that’s right; Rohit fell in love with Swati that day.

However, when it came to confessing his feelings to Swati, it was a bit tougher than he had imagined. Suddenly, the sincere smiles, the casual body contact, had a much deeper connotation for Rohit. They only served to build up his thoughts, and consequently make him completely numb whenever he wanted to bring up the subject. For days together, the only thought on his mind was that he had to tell Swati.

Swati could anticipate a little of what Rohit was feeling because she was not entirely innocent. In her heart she had loved Rohit for as long as she knew him but her feelings had not yet matured despite the rage of her adolescent years. It was one thing to love Rohit as a “friend” and quite another to love him as a “boyfriend”. So when Rohit finally spilled his jar of sentiments on the table, Swati was stunned.

Yet, the chill running down her spine was memorable and never quite the same in the years after. However, after neatly filing that chill in one compartment of her brain, she pulled out her big book of logic and reasoning.

“Listen, Rohit”, she said, “I have feelings for you too. But I’m not sure what kind they are exactly. And I believe you don’t really know what your feelings are either. It’s probably just those adolescent hormones raging. Infatuation!”

Rohit’s heart was palpating so fast he could only hear a blur of what Swati was saying. His mind was confused about the shade of disappointment that was invading it quickly, but his smile remained plastered as he watched, admired even the tiniest flickers of Swati’s eyes. The rainbow of expressions that Swati could pull off with her eyebrows and the twitching of her nose fascinated him.

She was saying, “You and I have been best friends for so long that it just seems to follow that we should fall in love.”

Rohit thought to himself, “So at least I didn’t make any mistakes here.”

Then she added, “But what seems to follow may not necessarily be right. Maybe we just love each other because we’re eighteen and we’re friends.”

“Isn’t that good?” asked Rohit.

“Well, it depends”, she answered, “I think it’s important to love someone for who they are and not just because he or she is your friend.”

Rohit was clearly puzzled. “But you are my best friend,” he protested, “That’s who you are.”

Swati took his hand, “I am your best friend but I feel you need to have some other meaningful experiences before you’re sure that I’m the one for you. Lets just see less of each other for a while and more of other people and then afterwards if we still feel the same way about each other, then we’ll know that it’s real, not infatuation.”

Rohit blinked a few times as Swati slowly left their coffee table and headed for the door. He thought she looked gorgeous as she elegantly left him and then sensuously tilted her head back just before she could step out. Another picture was added to his mental album!

The days that followed were bleak and painful for both Swati and Rohit. What Rohit lacked in terms of willpower to keep away from her, she had three times in excess, and so every advance of his was met with a firm withdrawal and a reminder of her last lecture. But Swati suffered even more because even as she saw less of him, her feelings for Rohit only deepened and she could not deny anymore that she was also very much in love with him.

However as his advances were repeatedly brushed off, Rohit gave up and decided that if the only way to be with Swati were to stay away from her, he would do it. This was a test of his love, he told himself. So they stopped meeting and even when they incidentally passed each other owing to the fact that they were next-door neighbors, they painfully tore apart their gazes. In a couple of weeks, they even started avoiding each other.

By and by, it was December. Mrs. Malik, the gorgeous thirty-something woman who lived on the fourth floor was organizing a Christmas party for the little playschool that she ran in her flat. She was a gregarious woman, loved by most people, especially children. After her husband died, leaving her no children, she ran the playschool to support herself. Often, her neighbors who had plenty of time to spare would lend her a hand in her school activities. She had grown so accustomed to having help that nowadays she would simply ask for it. One day that she bumped into Rohit, she asked him too for some help with her Christmas party and Rohit, being the benevolent soul that he was, agreed.

A few days later, as decided, he dropped into Mrs. Malik’s place. She offered him coffee and some delicious chocolate brownies, which they both shared over her coffee table as they discussed her program. As the hour passed Rohit felt a heavenly sense of satisfaction in his stomach and couldn’t help gazing hypnotically at Mrs. Malik. She was gesturing vividly as she discussed this and that.

The woman was fat and round, but she had a huge reserve of energy. She also had cute dimples that deepened when she smiled even slightly. Her eyes were kind and years of dealing with children had taught her the fine art of using her hands to transmit comfort and sympathy.

Rohit didn’t know when exactly it happened, but the palloo of her sari, which had been sliding down her arm slowly and subtly, now rested in her lap, revealing her deep cleavage held up by a low-cut blouse. The most incredible thing was that she didn’t do anything about it except to carry on in the same train. When he began to notice, Rohit was struck by a profusion of thoughts, but the feeling that surpassed all was the tightening in his jeans. And then, from some black hole in his head, floated Swati’s voice: “… other meaningful experiences …”