Lights And Waves

Lights And Waves
The Night Muse

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Sorry, Not Sorry

Their gongs might sound long and holy

But hers reverberated throughout the night

Threatening pious wives’ bedtime prayers

With moans that betrayed

Their true intentions

About their unrealised dreams

Of garrulous laughter that sought to not be polite

Of cheeky queries that tore the curtain of shame 

Of unselfconscious revelations that showed the naked inside

That they really weren’t used to idolising

In a bhadralok gathering amidst cha and pokora

Of an unapologetic self that she had learnt to love

After a lifetime of shame she thought she owed 

Her ancestors

Who ironically had worked so hard to bring her to a point

Where she could own herself

With her razor-sharp stare, her loud proclamations, her imperfections 

Without fearing any judgments

Because she just didn’t know 

How to care anymore 

Thank goodness, because god knows it was wasted effort.

She would much rather twirl a glass of wine at twilight

Debating the ethics of predestination vs free will

Than deliberate about the lajja of having laughed louder than the society would allow her to.

Fools that they were. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


The gate is corroded
Angry, bitter
Catching her sky-blue miniskirt
Snagging, nagging
Threatening her modesty
Scared she might not need either

The gate is narrow
Sharp, lonely
Unwilling to let pass her abundance
Scratching with rusting pointy fingers
Poking holes in her confidence

The gate is squeaky
Grating, piercing
Loud on quiet Thursday nights
When she tries to climb past it
And free-fall on the pavement

They found her next morning
Pale, impaled.
Gate unhinged
From its centuries-old fixture
Her skirt in place
But red.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Me And My Monsters

The monsters in my house do not live under my bed
They do not hide in dark closets and cobwebbed corners
They are not for my fighting
I can never vanquish them

I see them behind mirrors and bottles
Laying low, and pretending to be invisible.
Acid-lined kisses give them away
And every night they come out to play.

My monsters are not for my fighting
They usually keep to themselves, and I to I.
And when I come across them
I bleed if I try to make friends.

If you ever meet them,
Don’t look them in their round beetle eyes.
They speak in slurred tongues and spit hellfire
Listen hard for tinkling sounds before turning corners

In my house
I am trapped.
The waters around my bed are rising

Look, they have again come out to play.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dance Floor Philosophy

Look at the poet on the dance-floor
Appreciating the beat, awed by the moves
Hypnotized by the way the light hits the gin soaked boy
Look at him – beer fizzing out in his warm hands
Aware of alienation
Of discovery
Of possible assimilation.

Everyone’s here to lose it
The fool is here to collect it.
The strobe diffuses, in him it infuses.

The liquor helps, but is not necessary
As he gingerly moves an inch
So you can dance the dance of liberation.
Sweaty bodies grinding against strangers in the dark,

And the idiot is still thinking in metaphors.
It is hard for the artist to fall in love with details

He is committed to the big picture.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mercurial Fragrance

The smell of innocence is
Like rain on a Tuesday afternoon
Like your neck when I nuzzle it
Like ripe mangoes and sticky fingers in July
Like the fluffy dog fur after a bath.

These smells etched on the back of my memory
Ignite for a millisecond sometimes
Too fast to catch hold of
Too weak to stand attentive
While I trace my fingers on its frail outlines

They don't come easy
They don't come announced

It is a tune that the subconscious dances to
And it plays when you don't listen
A fairydance behind your eyes - bright lights and soft hues.

It is random, it is fleeting
You can smell it in the glance of a beautiful stranger
Or the touch of your old books.

It mingles in your head
And sleeps sound in your heart

And rouses at the flutter of a falling leaf
And sometimes never at all.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ode to the Last Cigarette at 4 am

The burning stick
Like a flame of hope
Sticks out like a bad choice in an organised world.

The one true friend that sticks with you
Once the laughter and loud voices around you
Disappear in the vapour of night.
The last light after the joy can no longer be reflected
In the amber glasses

Now lying tall and empty
Judging you from the kitchen counter.

The music is transient.
Like you wish your sorrows were.

The ashes gather...
Like the wishful tears at your fantastic funereal.

Tomorrow is another day,
There will be light,

More than what your torch of loneliness shows.
Beyond those labyrinthine passages
You cross every night behind closed eyes.

The unending turns and circles
Between forgotten junk and broken furnitures.

The end is near,
Look up and hold on.

There is more light at the end of the tunnel,
Either in this life or the next.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

She never liked to smoke up with her friends. In the beginning, she did. But they were more often than not bad trips - where she felt she was an illegal immigrant in a city that spoke a different language. She started scoring alone, organising her marijuana nights in a way that mundane things did not interrupt her flight to that higher plane - all equipped with a bottle of water, some cigarettes, a pen and her notepad by the bedside. She would complete her chores, give a good night call to her parents and her boyfriend and sit down on the marble floor of the balcony at her rented house. With the moonlight filtering in through the wrought-iron bars, she would take in the grey smoke, as her two eyes would slowly cloud over.
On good nights, she was able to put her thoughts down on the notepad lucidly - they would seep out of her rapidly - like vapours from dry ice. She liked to think of herself as an experimental writer - much like her favourite Romantic poet, Coleridge.
She firmly believed smoking pot was a spiritual process - and that it was not a cliché at all. Although she was highly sceptical of the religious connotations of it as an atheist, she did believe that marijuana was the key that opened the doors to the mysterious beyond - it unlocked the human subconscious.
The world outside blacked out - much like the theatre would, as the lights turned bright on the stage before the show began. She would be the audience in her stoned head, as well as the actors - protagonist, villain, the voice of reason and the chorus. Roles interchanged rapidly to the tune of the song playing on her iPod, or to that of the thoughts in her head.
She realised that pot was as good as therapy - better in fact, because it was cheaper. You do not need to pay the counsellor to coax your innermost thoughts to the conscious. Smoke a joint - and you could be the private audience to your id, ego and super ego have a party at the basement (read: subconscious). Like in a party, you mingled with these guests - sometimes having a private chat in the corner, or in a group where you cannot hear what the other person is saying over the loudness of the music. Sometimes, everyone would be speaking at the same time - and you had difficulty understanding the blabber.
There were nights when she would be too lethargic to get up and jot down her thoughts - and she would will herself to remember them the next morning. Sometimes, they would stay with her - other days, she would be vexed trying to recall them. They would be like shy little kids refusing to get up on the stage to play their part in the school play, even as their teachers and parents tried pushing them gently on stage.
She would mostly write poetry. She believed that this medium worked best for her - the impossibility of comprehending her own thoughts in their fullest could be reflected in her free verse. She was fascinated with the idea of synaesthesia - where words or numbers are perceived as colours. She used to unconsciously apply that to her writings much before she found out that there was an actual term for that phenomenon. Her poetry would be highly colourful and set in open landscapes - fantastical to a fault.
She would have loved nothing better than to have enough money in her life, so that she would never have to worry about how to pay her bills and rent - and could just write forever. Forget Icarus, she was not even Daedalus - she might have been a Utopian fool, but she knew that her writing was never something she could proudly present in front of her close acquaintances, let alone to the world. She knew she could never be a writer, she neither had the depth of thought, nor any experiences to write about. It was all very well when she was a teenager - writing a blog was a better way of dealing with the teenage angst than other destructive ways.
But now it was not that easy any more  They say that life is difficult at the crossroads, when you have to decide which way you want to go. But have you given a thought as to what happens to the poor bastard who takes the one way road towards something, and has no way of going back to the crossroads again? Why, that fellow would give anything to change places with the other guy stuck at the crossroads in the first place.
There would be long draughts in her writing - when she either could not get enough time from dealing with worldly matters to sit down and write, or she would simply not be inspired to write about anything at all. She had too much of an inferiority complex to actually call it writer's block.
Like the poets of the Golden Age and beyond, she liked to believe that she too had a Muse. The only difference is that unlike the great poets', hers was a middle-aged woman - naked and with sagging breasts - with the wisdom of the world in her tired eyes. She would sit across from her when she wrote, lying down one arm, the other hand holding a cigarette that she would languidly smoke now and then.
She would call her the Night Muse - a fictional teleporter who has travelled through space and time and has come back to her on sleepless nights to tell of places she has been and things she has seen. Our young poet was but a medium through whose fingers the Muse's stories passed on to the earthly side.
Speaking of fictional characters, she would also embrace the voices in her head - call them skeletons in her closet on the monsters under her bed - calmly when she would be stoned. They would come out gracefully to the party at the basement and indulge her in spiritual and worldly debates. Sometimes, she would get a little anxious at just how many voices there are in her head - and how easily she would find herself in one's shoes and then the next moment, in the other's. But all would be well again, when the party would slowly get over, the guests slowly leave - swooping back to their closets and bed bottoms. When the last guest has left, she would lock the basement and go up to her bed. Sometimes, super ego would be heard muttering on the floor above her - but more often than not, her sleep later would be dreamless. Even the other people in her head would be too tired to go dream hunting the night she held such parties.