Kafka stole my poetry

Kafka stole my poetry

The summer last that is.

When light soul liquified

Weighed down- seeped cold.

All my visitors – driven away

From home now nest of vermin

When Kafka stole all my words

The summer last that is.

Gauzed vision has replaced

Clear blue skies with smite

Carefree- that forgotten word

Gives home to vengeful spite

That dreaded moment- realization-

Nothing but a speck of dirt-

In other specks much dirtier

And masks of mirthless mirth

The summer last was when I knew

That Kafka stole my poetry.

But was it ever mine?

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When half a year’s done, a balance-sheet

Six months into the year, nothing is new any longer. The prime minister, the phones, the books and the movies have all settled comfortably into the “accustomed to” category. All but the resolutions we made earnestly over that eventful New Year’s-eve.

As the clock struck twelve and 2015 dawned upon us, I remember thinking with steely determination of all the things to be accomplished during the year. The Internet was heavily browsed for the easiest way to stick to the resolutions. Glorious images of one floating around the kitchen looking chic with apron and top hat, a bit like the contestants on MasterChef; a fitter body that didn’t have to grunt every time it tried to touch its toes; and a better-read shelf with Kafka finally done, flitted in and out of the mind. I should have realised then it was the adrenaline and the delicious plum cake speaking.

The first step was to look up challenges. Because aren’t they fun to accomplish? The Goodreads challenge was hastily signed up for and reading a hundred books promised to the book-loving Internet society. Second-hand bookstores were raided and shelves stocked. Ever heard of the squirrel that couldn’t get through even half of its hoard of nuts? You’re looking at it. Sleep became a more important event than exercise. For hey, flab is lost and gained, but the time spent sleeping can never be replaced. So after weeks of setting my alarm early and shutting it off myself without batting an eyelid, I gave up on the exercise routine. And the MasterChef plan, well, um. Perhaps I thought watching the show was better than being one, for that has not yet materialised either.

Sometimes, they say, all that a man needs to succeed is to challenge himself. But sometimes all we need is to do what we want to, and the momentum builds up by itself. True, I did not and perhaps cannot now fulfil my Goodreads challenge, and Kafka has not yet been touched. But I discovered instead D.H. Lawrence and Emily Dickinson. The former I picked up quite unabashedly because of the particularly beautiful cover of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, and the latter because of a snip of her verse I read – “I’m nobody. Who are you? / Are you nobody too?”. That stood out in stark contrast from the side of me that wanted very badly to be somebody. I skipped a masterpiece, but gained masters of writing. Mother decided, against loud feminist protests from my side, that twenty one was old enough to help her out in cooking, and I discovered strange solitude in adding dollops of sugar to tea and coffee, mixing batter and just contentedly listening to the grinder whir.

The year so far, thus, has been beautiful. I have not visited an exotic place, but have seen the serene quiet waves of the neighbouring town by the sea. I have not caught up on the ‘Game of Thrones’ TV series, but have discovered ‘The Newsroom’ instead. And though the daily Guardian Crossword remains unsolved, my interest in the genre of cryptic crosswords grows. You see, as they say, the best moments of life are the unplanned ones.

(This was published in The Hindu on June 16. Yay! )

impasse

In the chilly hours of the morning, the wind blows incessantly. A wind that I might have once enjoyed, tickled by the goosebumpy freshness it brings to the skin and exhilaration it evokes. But not any more. Inside a body that seems to spew up convolutions every time I sneeze or cough, the wind seems a stark reminder that happiness does not stay. Like the wind it shifts. Like the wind it is only for a few to enjoy or a few moments to feel happy about. I want to look back on this moment and some time in the future be able to say, “I thought that was it but I’ve come through it” Except I shall not use the words unscathed. Because to a body that wants to be whipped by the wind mercilessly and yet exult in the joy of the whipping, isolation in the confines of a rough blanket is scathing. It hurts. Sometimes fate is merciless. It trips you up and then unapologetically lets you know it wasn’t accidental. Then punches you in the face and shows you the way to the hospital. Because that is the only way I can explain the past few weeks. Being disappointed is bad enough. When you won’t be allowed to be disappointed in peace? That takes you to a whole new spiral of dejection. When the mind is all geared up to shut down for a few weeks so that the blissful release of depression can take over it is then that the body starts shutting down. Now the mind cannot do the same. Because unfortunately for you, age is on your side. The mind needs to help the body recuperate and puts its own problems on hold. And the stubborn ass of a body becomes hot and cold and bleeds and wails and doesn’t settle. And all this while you are aware that the mind is only functioning because it has to, and is on stand by mode, and will put up a fight of its own once the body is fine. How they play with the helpless, innocent soul trapped between them.

And all the while the wind is blowing fiercely outside, teasing and teasing, maddeningly teasing the soul out of its wits.

Macbeth

Macbeth and his friend were making their way home in the daily passenger. The train stopped at a platform. A vendor approached his window.

“Buy my chaai sir, help this poor man and you will become famous tomorrow”

Macbeth bought the chaai. On the way home, he pushed his friend from the train so he could be famous as a murderer. Unfortunately nobody noticed and it passed off as an accident. He went home and set fire to his own house so he could become famous as a psycho. It started raining heavily that moment and the fire wouldn’t catch.

The next day, the papers bore his photo and the headlines read, “Chaai Poisoning Vendors strike again : One dead, several sick.”

Prophecies never lie.

L for Los…t.

Some days, I feel like such a dunce. Like today when I couldn’t figure out the simple parallel narrative structure of a movie. When brother dearest pointed it out to me and I responded with an illuminated “aah!”, he sneered. Well, what was I to do but snap back with an “I didn’t ask you to tell me that”? My comebacks were also wearing the dunce cap. Worse, he responded with “What do you do when you see someone sinking? You help. Ergo I did”. Ah, condescending elder brothers can really make your day and boost your self esteem, can’t they. This just got me thinking that there are two different shades to me, really . One, a poignant, deep self that delights in writing poetry and reading and talking about books. But another that has the IQ of a child who has seen a cow or a bus for the first time. That doesn’t make sense, does it. But that’s how I am. As an English major, I know I absolutely have it in myself to read a book and analyze it down to the phonemes of each word. Analyze it so I can give you a giggle-sob-sigh account of what the writer felt while putting down those words. And analyze it of course for its figures of speech and structure and themes and the entire nine yards. But I also know I have a side that can miss the most obvious details, that can trip and fall before the most important people and that can forget to wipe my mouth even, after a meal. And obviously, end up embarrassing the people with me. Oh, only after embarrassing myself of course. It is so difficult competing with someone who is cool all the time. Alright,  a whole family of people who are cool all the time. And even if they aren’t,  they’re not deep and poignant one second and tripping over their laces in another. So maybe I’m different. Caught between identities. Okay, that’s just me using a fancy phrase to euphemise “You’re messed up”.
Sigh. Is this a phase or am I stuck?

Ode to Reiki the dog

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O ball of fur that rests in heaven
I pray you are in peace
But if t’is true you have lives seven
Come back to this old street.
For Reiki, when we brought you home
Bundled up in blankets warm-
Restless limbs that longed to roam-
Love barged in like a storm.

Happy barks and wagging tail-
Those were days of chewed up mail.

If it is true that dogs can smile,
Yours was perennial grin.
From mangled limbs you slowly grew
To the devil’s lively twin.
For say, is there a cushion new
That bears not mark of your valour?
No place without déjà vu
Of sneezes caused by scattered fur.

Happy barks and wagging tail-
Those were days of chewed up mail.

You joined the pious family of four
In daily prayers and holy bath
Patient, waiting near the door
If only for your share of prasaadh.
I hope in heaven, there is no bath-
And it is still dry and nice
For flash floods are the aftermath
Of your vigourous drying exercise.

Happy barks and wagging tail-
Those were days of chewed up mail.

You did not promise you would stay
For all from earth return
But in double measure, every day
Love for us you’d churn.
Our faithful bundle thus departs
The angels took you away
Another pup we’ll get, and love,
And treasure all the way.

For happy barks and wagging tail-
That’s the way life should sail.