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A Blown Eyelash

They are found in shooting stars,
and in flying dandelion seeds,
seen in extinguished birthday candles,
and also in other men’s deeds.

They have made lunatics of greats,
yet they are the power of braves.
They have made people attempt
to raise loved ones from their graves.

Sometimes they nibble the insides
of my mind, they slowly gnaw,
until I am certain that they will
one day consume me, raw.

Then there are those times, when
they give me bliss that’s pure.
They make me overeat my elation,
and leave me wanting for more.

My oldest friends, they are,
they keep me on my toes.
But when there are too many of them,
they turn into my worst foes.

Why do I end up believing
that a blown eyelash will cure?
Why am I always dreaming,
when I know that I remain unsure?

Is there a way to comprehend
if these wishes will come true?
Or do I have to be only content
with fulfilled ones, so few?

I am with this knowledge, though,
my wishes are known for rebirth.
They make me the man that I am.
In me, you shall find no dearth.

Rainy Night

On a rainy night, by the window,
I sit with steaming coffee on a tray.
Though the world is dark, right now,
I seem to always like it this way.

The drumming of drops on the windowsill;
Far away, some frogs croak.
Mom asks me to close the window,
Dad is busy having a smoke.

Inside the house, it is even darker.
Nothing, but a solitary candle.
As I walk away from the sill, I get
hurt by the cupboard handle.

I sit down on the floor and scoff,
My beloved rain is away.
Then, a sudden bolt of lightning
makes a bright, momentary day.

My eyes shine as I see the flash,
then I hear the loud roll of thunder.
While everyone is clearly startled,
my lack of fear makes me wonder.

All the house-flies that seek refuge
from the rain, buzz inside the house.
My memories have flown inside, too,
Oh! The nostalgia they arouse!

Droplets to drops; drops to puddles;
Puddles to rivulets; rivulets to streams.
Senses to thoughts, thoughts to visions;
Visions to imagination; imagination to dreams.

I wake up with a start, I find
the rainy night is gone.
Though this day started hours ago,
of my contemplation, it’s only the dawn.

Dear Sea

Tell me, oh Dear Sea,
Why do I come to you?
Do you understand my pain,
that’s understood by so few?

You never ever talk to me,
but in you, I find respite.
How do you manage to ease, in me,
the little battles I fight?

When I see your waves, endless,
the water and the froth,
you seem to attract me
like a lamp attracts a moth.

When on a shore, I sit and weep,
how do I feel reassured?
Is it you that clears those thoughts
that once felt obscured?

I wonder at how you do all this,
I wonder if you do it at all.
I wonder at how vast you are,
and I, mere man, so small.

As if the waves of joy you carry
seep slightly inside my soul.
They fill my being with happiness,
Yes, sea, that’s your role!

When I leave, I look back at you,
I end up with a smile.
I came with little, I take back so much,
“I was blind all this while!”

I know I’ll come back when I’m low,
and you’ll open your arms for me.
I’ll cry again, but I’ll leave smiling.
Thank God for you, Dear Sea.

Stars: Candles of our Childhood

Stars. Hot balls of illuminated gas millions of miles away, results of narrow cosmic chances.

The same stars, due to these enormous distances, appear as pinpoints of twinkling light. And so distant these stars are, that the light that left them eons ago, reach us now. And in that way, looking at them is like peering into the past. But that is not the only way stars make us look back in the past. Some of us travel time in our own ways.

When I first wondered why stars existed, I was perhaps six or seven, enjoying my summer vacations at my grandma’s house. These were times of the mid-90s, and there was less pollution than there is now. Moreover, there were frequent power failures in Mumbra. As irritated as we were due to the extreme May heat, we were helpless. This was the time when color televisions were still not that popular, but I was still happy that there was a black and white one at my grandmother’s house. In my house, however, the only electrical appliance of note was a cassette tape. But these were useless boxes during power failures. My cousin and I were little, and not too comfortable playing in the dark, so we would often sit surrounding a lit candle after sundown, and this would really annoy the adults, because our shadows were proper hindrances to their chores. Consequently, the candle would be placed atop a small wooden cupboard. This was still manageable for us, as the light wouldn’t hurt our eyes now. We would sit in the candle-lit room till power resumed, or till the only source of light flickered away and extinguished, after which we’d run to the kitchen. It had the only emergency lamp in the entire house, but we avoided it out of fear of being scolded.

Just before one of these unpredictable power failures, our mothers decided to take us to the building terrace. They told us we would enjoy the cold evening breeze, though I knew the enjoyment was more theirs than ours. Part of the terrace has a sloping roof, with one half of the slope descending toward the rest of the terrace. We liked it immediately! Due to its smooth tarring, we could slide and roll on it. We enjoyed so much that we didn’t realize that the lights had went out. About half an hour later, tired of climbing a slope rather steep for our age, my cousin and I sat at its base, reclining and looking up at the sky. It was a beautiful sight! The waning moon hardly disturbed the darkness of the rest of the sky. I knew my cousin looked up, too, because we both were quiet. Being the younger one and looking up to me for knowledge, he asked, “How does the sky have so many stars?” I was as clueless as he was, and regarding his question carefully, I looked up again. Indeed, there were a huge number of them, so many that I had never seen so much starlight in one go.

“I think these are candles”, I replied.

“Candles? Why would someone light candles so high up?” he enquired.

“Simple. When there is a power failure in grandma’s house, we light candles so we don’t get scared. In the sky, when there is a power failure, God lights candles so that those living there don’t get scared”, I said.
“What is moon then?”

“It is the largest of the candles.”
I looked at the moon to escape the discomforting ambiguity of my answer.

“A candle?”

“Of course, or why would it become smaller every day?”

“But it becomes larger too, sometimes. And look at its shape. I don’t think it is a candle.”

“It appears to be a different type of candle.”

“Why don’t we have a candle like the moon?”

I was growing irritated, not because of my cousin’s questions, but because of my own inability to answer them. I remained quiet. At the same time, I was curious, too. Were these really distant candles? How did they last all night? They would flicker, but why wouldn’t they get extinguished? And why would someone light so many small but only one large candle? I continued to wonder, while reclining at my new favorite place in Mumbra. We drew imaginary lines between stars, forming patterns, mostly letters in our names. We wrote in different styles, inventing many of our own constellations in the process. For reasons I was not yet familiar with, I felt at peace looking up. The sky had a quiet way about it. The soft breeze had put my cousin to sleep, but I wasn’t really sleepy. We remained till power resumed, and our mothers took us away.

At times, when I look up now, I find myself remembering that night. I smile at the how stupid my answers were, at my lost innocence. I try to recall the patterns we created, but I am largely unsuccessful, perhaps because I cannot find many of the stars that completed our patterns. It saddens me, but it is not difficult to not think about it for long. We live busy lives now, and we have other things to worry about. Not that our childhoods were not busy, but somehow it was far more enriching and gratifying. It was easy to be curious about something as commonplace as a night sky filled with stars.

Stars. Hot balls of illuminated gas millions of miles away, results of narrow cosmic chances.

And it is because of one of these chances that we exist, and are capable of wondering.

(Image Credits: Marc Van Norden. Click here to be redirected to the  original image)

The Little Bunting

(Dedicated to all the caged souls who crave freedom)


In a drab cage of a lonely house,
a little bunting had a home.
All she knew was the rusted bars
and the semi-golden dome.

She was born and grew up in there,
not knowing about the world.
Her wings were all but useless now,
for they were never unfurled.

For a long time she lived happy there,
oblivious to what lay beyond.
Her freedom was never a thought
since she was part of her spawn.

One day from her drab old cage,
she saw a flock of pardalotes.
They flew like kings and glided fine,
high up, they appeared to float.

All of a sudden, she grew morose,
and took a look at her wings.
She wondered of the open sky,
she wondered of unseen things.

She knew that she had had enough
and tried to get through the bars.
But her frail body failed her, so
she just stared at the stars.

A sudden rush, a sudden urge
forced her to spread her wings.
She knew she’d be free soon enough,
so she began to merrily sing.

When the following dawn arrived,
she strengthened her resolve.
She knew she wanted her freedom,
and she felt her fear dissolve.

She opened her wings and closed her eyes,
praying this as she cried:
“Help me God, I deserve to be free,
Enough, I have been tried.”

She fluttered her wings, for the very first time ,
she generated a torrent of wind.
As she slowly raised herself,
she gasped, as her breathe thinned.

She chose not to stop, she wanted to fly,
she broke the semi-golden dome.
Her cage broke open, and out she flew,
the sky was now her home.

The bunting looked at the world below,
growing happier as she flew faster.
The drab cage was no longer her home,
and finally, she was her own master.

Caged no more

(The image above is original art. Please do not use it without permission)

The Song

It was an hour since he sat there. The waves would be usually heard crashing on the shore, but they seemed to caress the sands tonight. Even this deep in the night, he could witness the white foamy sea from a distance. Why not? The moon was shining its brightest. It seemed to have hurried up early on and held itself onto one place in the once-starlit sky. He look skywards, trying to fathom if it was possible to find twinkling dots. Save Venus, he could not find any… He wanted to sing a song, but his heart was too heavy. His loneliness was murdering him slowly. Even with all the brightness of the moon, inside him was pitch dark, as if his Light had betrayed him. Even with the sounds of the waves, that he so adored, he could hear the silence that had crept inside his head. Singing a song could not make him happy, and no amount of light was enough. And there he sat, with no one but himself. He believed the sea would console him, but it was not doing so.

But then, he heard a song. He looked around and gazed along the length of the entire beach. The voice could be heard very faintly, enough to make him feel that it was only a figment of his imagination. But he knew that it really was there. He rose, feeling the pull towards this beautiful song. It was certainly better than sitting at one place, hoping for Light to come back. As he advanced in near darkness, feeling the sand pour in and out of his toes, his pace increased. And the faster he moved, the clearer he could hear the sound. He never imagined the beach extended this far… It seemed to never end. But the song kept strengthening his resolve, and he ignored his own gasps. He was running now, as if the sound was the only meaningful thing left in his life.

He stopped in front of a wooden cabin, and he knew for sure that only a wooden wall separated him and the source of this song. His curiosity caused him to locate the place where this sound originated from, but for the first time now, he tried to fathom its beauty. It was unlike anything he had ever heard before, something his life had prevented him from listening to all this while, something he could listen to only because he was lonely now. As he slowly regained his breath, he began to admire the song even more.

He opened the door, and the song was the more vivid than it ever was before. Inside, she sat on a chair in front of a candle-lit table. Scanning through old photographs, she sang his beloved song. While she picked up each picture and looked at it, her tears continued to flow. She was as lonely as he was, but she had been like that for a much longer time. And she never got a chance to sit on a moonlit beach, or listen to the waves. But she sang her song, despite her heavy heart. She was stronger than him, and he knew this now. For the first time in what appeared like ages, he smiled. It was time for him to sing, and he sang along with her. She lifted her damp eyes and looked at him. The both sung together and for some reason, it sounded more complete. She smiled, too. They had found their song.

What Can A Simple Walk Teach You

I recently got a chance to go to South Mumbai. Under usual circumstances, I don’t go alone, which was not the case this time. The person I usually travel with to this area was holidaying out of the country. As a result, I went there, may be because I thought it would help me ignore my loneliness for a while. In the earlier part of my life after I left school, I was used to coming here alone, sometimes for entirely different reasons. I love this part of the city. It has a soul that you can feel by walking on its streets, especially in late afternoons. That was precisely the time I went there.

Now, sometimes I like taking an odd turn here or there. It yields fascinating results at times, other times not so. I could take this risk today, since it was just me. This area, which is around my school (Bharda New High School, CST) is not entirely unknown to me, but it is a shame to state that I did not roam around much in alleys immediately south to my school. I took that turn today in the direction of Murzban Road.

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It was not at all disappointing: old Victorian style buildings still dot the area. Though now owned by corporate houses (a building has been renamed Videocon Heritage… Eww!), these structures still look like they would in their heydays. The certain best part about the place were its empty roads, scattered with few dead tamarind leaves at the fringes. And with the kind of silence that exists here, it is a peaceful place right in the heart of a not-so-peaceful city.

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The location looked like a living allegory. The road seemed like life; the buildings, the memories. Some roads met and so did the buildings, just like two lives meet and share their memories. Some memories crumble with time, some remain. The fabric of life I was walking on contained memories that have stood the test of time. And these memories are still beautiful! This made me feel slightly less lonely, and a bit optimistic, too.

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I kept walking at my slowest pace, eventually reaching the lane which exits opposite Tata Communications. And then, all of a sudden, I was back to the real world. I turned around to see where I just came from. It was a wonderful little journey. It is amazing how just a simple walk through a peaceful street can be so soothing and ingratiating. I walked ahead, smiling.

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