Spring In Delhi, A Poem, A Story And Some Thoughts


The more a voice gets stifled, the louder it gets. So much has happened in past few days. There is too much anger and anguish inside me and I am just not getting into the rhythm of regular writing. Pages are still lying blank. Pen poised over them like a finger on the jugular.How can one remain composed when  voices of dissent are silenced. When Rohith Vermula is pushed to commit suicide. When peaceful dissenters (students) are painted as “anti nationals” charged for  sedition without any proof, for just having a different political ideology and guess which one got targeted as a terrorist and why? When news channels incite the public with doctored videos/audios. When evidence is manufactured. When goons are given protection and encouraged in their hooliganism. When students, teachers, journalists are beaten up for speaking up for what is just. When Perversity rules. When acid is thrown on the face of a  woman tribal right activist to muzzle yet another voice of dissent. When the country burns in the fire of communal hatred. When you are hounded and trolled for your stance on what is happening right now in the country When a twelve year old child is hit and her father killed for asking a second helping of meal. When the tragic suicides of the farmers is termed as “fashion”. When there is a complete breakdown of law & order. When anger kills the power of reason. When you are targeted because of your gender, caste, name, political stance or simply because you use your mind and speak out against the unjust.

It makes me uneasy. Makes me pause and reflect.

I fear for my life every single time I open my mouth in this country where I was born and raised. Who will stand up for me or any ordinary citizen? Who will listen to our pleas? I am not as articulate as many of my writer friends but I am a thinking and concerned citizen. A woman trying to stand for her rights and her dignity. A mother watching two young adult sons growing up in an environment that is getting vicious day by day. I taught my children dissent, I taught them to participate actively as citizens. I taught them to be discerning without being judgmental. That is what my parents taught me. I do the same. Does that make us Anti Nationals? Tell me how? Be very careful when you label anyone. Know its power. Labels box you in. I have been boxed in and I know how it feels. It dramatically changes your life in a matter of seconds. Most of the times scars you for life. Listen to that little voice of conscience and dissent that is knocking from within you to wake up. Listen and act.

In the midst of this unrest the spring came quietly to the capital bringing myriad hues of flowers. Every roundabout, every garden, every park is a riot of colours. The barbets, the flaming golden woodpeckers and the parakeets and many other birds are here. The roadsides and roundabouts are full of nasturtiums, yellow poppies, purple asters, yellow violas, red pitunias, Cinnenarias, dog flowers, marigolds, sweet peas, sweet williams, chrysanthemums, dahlias and bougainvilleas in varied hues have painted the city in every colour. Some of the Mango trees are blossoming too and then there is this distinct fragrance of the Saptparni tree across the city. The coral trees and the Silk Cotton trees are beginning to bloom too.

Delhi also hosts flower shows during Feb-March. I went to he 29th Delhi Garden Tourism Festival Yesterday to get soaked in the colours of basant (Spring)

And when we talk of flowers and blossoming how can we forget poetry. A poem got published in prestigious Open Road Review Magazine recently. You can read it HERE.

A Short Fiction also found a platform in Read Fingers, a portal for those who enjoy reading and writing. This story is very close to my heart. Do read it HERE.

Heartfelt gratitude to the editors who appreciated my work and included it in their magazines.

Talking of magazines, if you have not submitted your piece for Cafe Dissensus March issue (23) then please do it fast as the last date is not very far. Here is the submission link. I am guest editing the issue this time. 

I will leave you with this brilliant piece by my friend Nabina Das. – ‘After Every War’: Reading poetry in the dark times 

And One more by Saif Mehmood – Repression and Resistance, Delhi 2016: Through The Prism Of Urdu Poetry  

 

 

 

 

Cleaning The Closet : A Memoir


Yesterday was one of those days when nothing seemed to be going right. I needed a break but had no option but to sit at home. I scanned the empty room and decided to do the thing we always thought was a punishment as kids. Cleaning Out The Closet.

The moment I opened it something fell and whacked me on my head .I cursed under my breath. It was a GI Joe, its legs tied with a string and a battle cat tagging along with it which my little one must have hidden from his elder sibling.

knew it was going to be a time-consuming and overwhelming task but I had all the time in the world.

Two years back I was gifted a book by Louise Hay and it changed my perception of the clean up act that I had detested for so long. She says, “Cluttered closets mean a cluttered mind. As you clean the closet, say to yourself, ‘I am cleaning the closets of my mind.’ The universe loves symbolic gestures.”

It made a huge impact on me and now every time I feel out of control of my life or feel that everything is getting on top of me, I go clean out a closet. It is like decluttering our minds and our lives.

Slowly my bed was covered with piles of clothes, letters, boxes, trinkets I never knew existed. A soft bundle with a tag baby clothes’ and some paperbacks tied up with a red string lay behind the clothes. I looked closely “Albatross book of living verse” the top book said .I smiled. It was a gift from my mother. This book had been given to her by my grandfather when she was young girl.

Sometimes we find skeletons in our closets, things we never wanted the world to see. Buried in the deepest, darkest side of the closet, forgotten even by the owner, lie memories of yesteryear. Lurking in one corner of the shelf was an envelope tagged pix. I was not sure what secret it held for the writing was not mine. I decided to place it along with other to be checked’ stuff.

The closet was practically empty and I decided to replace the paper on the shelves too, under the last shelf were two thousand rupee notes crisp and new. I was ecstatic as if I had won a lottery. The shadow of loneliness was already replaced by the ray of hope. I grinned and tucked away the treasure in my pocket.

I made myself a hot cup of fresh coffee and settled down to rummage through memory lane.

First was the baby clothes bundle. I opened it and found little clothes. My dresses when I was one year old. I found my traditional lehnga (a long skirt) and a short blouse with it. There was also a lemon yellow sweater which had my initials on it. I fondly held the clove smelling clothes  and imagined how I must have looked wearing them.

Something was shinning under the second layer of cloth and I discovered my elder son’s first birthday dress, another traditional Indian attire, dhoti and kurta with violet colored tiny brocade jacket, with zari work on it. It looked lovely as the sun rays fell on its shimmering silvery threads. We had brought it especially for the occasion. I remembered how he had posed for the photographs, his dimpled cheeks flushed with joy.

Carefully I wrapped the memories back and tied the knot.

The kashmiri walnut box held some dried flowers and notes along with a few silver ear rings and old B&W pictures of my childhood. There were some letters which still had the fragrance of the love that I had shared and treasured even after it faded away from my life. I looked out of the window at the swaying laburnum tree and closed my eyes. A silent tear fell on the pink envelope. I tucked the things back in the box, tearing off the unwanted papers, some old bills, letters and statements of bank.

I undid the string to keep the poetry  book aside, deciding to read it later in the day. A book mark fell on the ground. A work of art by my little one. I placed the smiling faces and rainbow back in the book.

Now was the turn to discard the heaps and heaps of unwanted clothes. I had already planned to give them away to some NGO. Pants, dresses, coats, sweaters and skirts all went into a big bag.

As the French say,

“What you keep rots; what you give flourishes.”

In the process a lovely black dress emerged .Something I used to wear when I was thin as a twig. I laughed as I held it against me. It also had matching undergarments which seemed as if they were made especially for a designer Barbie doll. Laces and net and size zero.

A bag revealed assorted colorful socks and belts which for some reason I had not discarded for years. One throw and basket .They all went into the trash bag. I instantly felt better .It is amazing how a little act of cleaning up can change the way you look at life.
Neatly I arranged all the clothes, shoes, purses and bags back into the gleaming white clean closet and felt proud of my efforts. Once everything was set inside my eyes fell on the envelope tagged pix’.

Something was not nice about the thick brown paper envelope and I opened it with curious hands. Twenty four snaps of my hubby with his girlfriend stared back at me. I made a collage on the bed and stared at the colorful smiling faces without blinking my eyelids.

For a moment my legs went weak and I held the chair next to me. Then slowly, I collected myself and placed all the snaps into the envelope. Some things are better buried deep inside the dark realms of the closet. I tucked it at the deepest deep of the top shelf. I gathered the torn letters and placed them in a plastic bag, it was time to bury the past and move on.

I felt happy to see a neat and less crowded closet with more empty spaces just like in my heart and mind.

~Drenched ~Healed ~


There is so much silence around even with the rain poring down ceaselessly. Everything seems to be in a serene meditative state. The trees, the flowers, the birds. All absolutely Still.

I look at the sky full of swollen clouds .. and step out .. it takes a few moments for the rain to seep through me and then the same
stillness passes through me. I stand there with closed eyes ..empty
There is still light outside though it is past six. I silently listen to the falling raindrops. There sound mesmerizes everything that it touches.

Slowly I open my eyes and watch the raindrops hanging on the clothes line .. merging sometimes into each other and then unable to hold on falling on the little plant below. nestling among the new leaves or the flowers hearts.

I watch the still pools on the side walks and the raindrops tap dancing in them. Suddenly as if the water had got feet and hands.. it runs down the narrow lanes, from the walls hanging and swaying from the branches, playing and dancing on the vehicles parked at the road side, gushing through the drain pipes and sliding like tears of joy from the glasses of the windows.

I allowed myself to become a part of the universe to merge with it.

I could hear the rhythmic beats and the showery dance of the rain as it fell on the tin roof across the road like innumerable dancing feet.

……………………

Today my silent tears stayed home and watched from the windows, the healing take place … the musical mystical magical healing of the rain..

The parched earth drank with pleasure the nectar of the life and I along with it received the warmth of your love. It is strange how the cold drops of water make you warm all over just by their gentle touch.

.. today the parched heart received its first healing rainfall

Today, I became the rain …

Love comes to us in many ways ..

It is not just a relationship …it is a state of mind …