I’m on Amazon :)

I’ve co-authored a book titled “A street puppy’s guide to Indian religious wisdom” with Dr. Hari.
He is a dermatologist, expert in spiritual texts and my biology teacher. The Advaita Vedanta philosophy in the book is written by him while I’ve co-written the fiction part.

Please read at https://www.amazon.in/dp/9354382436 and comment!

Ocean

My vision is blurred. All I can see is golden light. I try moving my hands, but I can’t feel them. Am I dead? Yeah probably. Maybe trying to run away- no sail away from the only home I’d known on a flimsy boat I’d made myself wasn’t such a great idea after all. But I feel a gentle rocking movement beneath me. One I lived with. The waves. Huh who knew? It seems like heaven has blue waters as well. Or they followed me here.

All my life, I had grown up on a coral pink sand island amidst a ring of others that looked the same.I wasn’t allowed to leave this space. It was a reliable system and my parents and grandparents had lived this way for decades. I could have too. But the stories, they lured me. Despite being on an Island, I never learnt to sail. The only thing they taught us was how to swim to the tallest island in case the water drowned out the others. But I’d seen the men do it. And I listened to the stories the elders passed on to generations. And an intense longing grew inside me. And then one day it unraveled when I heard the story of a boat in the middle of an endless ocean. And a lone traveller staring at the star sprinkled night sky with endless miles of midnight blue ocean waters stretching out before him uninterrupted by pink blobs of sandy islands.

I wanted that story. I wanted that reality. So I decided I’ll find it. 

I built a boat out of the flimsy bamboo I was allowed to take and set sail outside my home in my only invention. With nothing. I travelled for miles on light blue water that grew more violent by the minute, till I saw it. The line where the dark blue started. To me that was where the ocean really began. But I never got to go closer and stare  up at the sky.

And then everything went wrong, like it was threatening to, all along. I can still see the  wave in my mind with astonishing clarity, as it descended upon me in a great wall of salt water.

And then I was submerged in darkness for a long long time.

And here I am now in the blinding light. I seem to be on a boat of sorts. Definitely one that is more sturdier than mine. Dying is the most rational explanation for this. There was no way anyone from the island had come to save me. I hadn’t even told my sist-.

My sister. I am in so much trouble. Under sandcastles of them.

I bolt upright and find that I can do so, sputtering out sea water.

“My sister is going to kill me” I say to no one, before remembering that I’m already dead. But then I hear a reply.

“I agree.”

I see a familiar figure with it’s back to me, adjusting the sails. 

I’m dreaming.

“You’re not dreaming” she says with her back still turned on me. “Welcome to the ocean, brother” I am definitely dreaming. “I see you made it here after all.”

And I can’t help it. Holding back the guilt that’s threatening to drown me, I stare out. And a glittering kingdom awaits me. The lights sparkle like a thousand submerged stars, dancing on the waters with the wind, playing in the spray of droplets that the gently crashing waves send flying in the air. I breathe. And I wait for it. 

But I feel nothing. It’s very scenic. But I can’t call it beautiful. If there was beauty in it, I would feel something. But I don’t.

Instead I see other things. I see just how many shades darker this is than the blue of my waters back home. How many shades more wrong. I see how empty the stretch of water is with no islands anywhere in sight. 

My sister’s arm goes around me and I feel a bubble of safety closing around me. “So it’s worth it?” she asks, bracing herself for  my yes.

“No.”

She turns to me surprised, her cheeks damp. “Were you crying?” I ask, horrified. She dabs at her cheeks furiously. “No no. The sea water got into my eyes.”

I let her have it. She stares out blank, lost in thought and I look into her eyes. The world glistens there. Brighter than the sunlight that dances off the ocean. I grew up with her. Paddled and splashed around, in the crystal blue affection her presence offered. Washed away my worries, in the gentle waves of her words that lapped at me. Catching and reflecting all the colours of my emotions. I smile.

I needn’t to sail all these miles to the middle of nowhere to see an ocean. It was always there next to me. And this one is beautiful.

“I’m sorry.” I whisper. 

“I get it” she replies nonchalantly. “You wanted to sea the ocean.”

‘Yes, but by doing that, I left my ocean behind.”

My sister stares at me, blank. She can be pretty stupid sometimes.

“I left you behind.”

Paint

A peal of laughter echoes through the  room, and the mirrors play with the morning sunlight, casting dancing streaks everywhere. My feet slide over the smooth paint stained plastic sheet that covers about half of the white stone floor. And, manage to get halfway across the room before she catches up. Her arms go around me from behind, tickling me. I turn around to try and get my mother’s hands off me, but she won’t let go. I squirm, laughing so hard my stomach hurts, kicking and splaying my hands everywhere, till I finally squeeze through. I need to get her back. And then I look at the glass bottles of paint on a high shelf near the window, and then my mother. I grin mischievously. As I reach up to get them, the sun falls in through them, painting my face in a golden yellow light with streaks of the other colours.

*

It’s pitch black.

I wake up in the dark. It spreads out slowly, consuming the whole space. The door creaks open.

Silence. For a whole sixty seconds.

And then three gunshots tear through the silence of the night.

I bolt upright, and bang my hands down, hard. On the cold stone floor. Shards of flaked off stone, cut into my skin. I press my lips together to hold back my tears. But no one would see them anyway.

I can’t see. Everywhere I turn, where I’m sure I feel a presence, the darkness greets me, mocking me. I don’t move an inch. But I can hear everything. It’s like a choreographed symphony, and it plays again and again in loops in what seems like a never ending cycle.

It starts with the shuffling feet. The choreography is impeccably coordinated. They move to the beat of the gunshots. The timing is unnerving. One shot every 60 heart beats. To the dot. I can feel my pulse throbbing everywhere. My heart pounds in my chest. One shot after 60 beats and then there’s one heart less keeping beat. Every one just sits there, counting every sixty heart beats like it’s their last. And after the gun fires on them, if they still have heart beats left to count, they count along as long as they can think through the pain. Somewhere in the middle they go off beat, slowing down till it stops. 

And then, no shuffling feet, or gunshots. No heart beats. Silence. 

The rest still keep at it.

And after what seems like the thousandth time, the shuffling feet fade away and the door clicks shut. I still don’t move.

I sit there in the dead of the night. Afraid.

I sit there consumed by the dead silence. Terrified.

I sit there surrounded by dead people. Horrorstruck.

And yet, I sit there, more alive than ever before. Every part of me is aware of it. I can feel the life reverberating in every part of me, I feel it singing in my bones. I feel it in my coursing blood. I hear it in my racing heart. I’m hyper aware of it now that no one around me has that luxury.

I still have not moved. 


And then I feel it. Something wet, running through my fingertips. And I recognize it even though I’ve never felt it before. It feels strange. I don’t move my fingers. It’s not. But it still feels that way. It feels like paint.

I’m grinning as I plunge my hand into the can of yellow paint shelf. I love the way it drips down my hand, glistening golden as the sunlight falls in different angles. My mother who chased behind me now stands conveniently close enough, for me to reach out and smear a satisfying amount of paint on her. But she takes a step back as I lean forward. I miss her by an inch and come toppling forward. I wave my arms wildly, knocking over some cans as I fall too. It’s a shortfall, but the floor’s a mess. I get up frowning, dismissing the hand my mother offers shaking with laughter. There’s not much paint on me and I don’t bother getting the few drops off. I look down at the floor. The red can lies barrelled over in the corner.

It’s a white stone canvas. Striking red patterns play on it. Harsh and bold. And as I lift my hand, a lone line of yellow paint that I forgot was still on my palm, drips down. A single drop falls on the floor. It’s so tiny that it might seem insignificant. You wouldn’t even notice it at first glance. But the fact that such an insignificant thing is standing out, is what makes it not so. 

My mother walks away still laughing, shouting over shoulder asking me to clean it up. But I stand there staring at the painting. And the single drop of yellow. 

*

Maybe it’s just another  painting to them. I can see it through their eyes. Yet another stone floor canvas with abstract designs of red splashed across, dotted with bodies. Painting the same picture I did.

Except.

Mine was an accident. Theirs wasn’t.

But there’s one thing they didn’t plan. One thing they fail to see. One thing that will catch them off guard when they revisit this painting along with so many others in the gallery of their heads. 

The yellow dot in the red.

And this time, I’m not just staring at it.

I am the yellow dot that they failed to stain. 

I am alive.

Life is beautiful

I fall back on the dew-flecked grass, and the green moss and leaves cushion my otherwise painful fall. I catch hold of her ankle too, laughing, and pull her down, and she tumbles down on the patches of clover and grass next to me. Our tinkling laughter rings out through the sweet summer air, swirling in the wind with the honey gold leaves and fluffs of dandelion, to places far away. The sun filters in through the lush canopy above, finding gaps to leak through, and falls in dancing rays across our faces, as the trees move to the rhythm of the air. The gusts of wind blow tufts of hair across my face, and I push them away with the back of my hand and turn to smile at her.

Life is beautiful.

I’m falling fast as the howling wind tears through my soaking wet clothes and I slam hard into the icy cold surface of salt water, the impact jolting me. But my hand still holds hers and a moment later she gets the slap of water in her face too and she sinks into the murky ink blue water with me, bubbles of laughter rising in a sudden spurts to the surface. I sink with her before buoyancy pulls us up to the surface and we come out laughing and spurting out stray salt water that made its way in. The waves fall and rise to great heights sometimes slamming down on us in a solid wall of water. The cackling electricity of the lighting charges through the air, and the air is buzzing, making the hair on my hand stand up. Huge drops of rain splatter relentlessly like pin pricks that I can feel through my thin, wind ripped shirt. Whatever I can see of the sky, squinting through the oncoming drops of rain, is nothingness. Just a plain endless stretch of darkness. The gusts of wind glue my sticky locks of hair slapping them across my forehead and eyes. I push them aside with the back of my hand and turn to smile at her.

Life is beautiful.

(This was written as class work in my English class – in which we are asked to write a prose based on a given title)

I laughed

The soup bowl flipped and splattered all over me, and I laughed. I was leaving off to college, leaving my whole world behind, and I laughed. The sky was clear and summer blue with the sunlight dancing all over it, and I laughed. When the storm clouds loomed over, angry and irritable, and flashes of relentless lighting hit the ground, I laughed. When I first learnt to drive the cycle with the wind blowing across my face, the wheels rotating slower than a snail, I laughed. A few seconds later when I fell down, the cycle tumbling on top of me, I laughed. When people gathered around praising me working, gasping and admiring, I laughed. When people walked by my word offering pitiful glances and an occasional piece of advice, I laughed. The sun shone down upon me happily when I skipped along, chatting with my friends, and I laughed. A single street lamp illuminated the way when I walked home alone in the dead of the night, and I laughed. When life was wonderful and happy, I laughed. When it wasn’t, I laughed. 

When the laughter came bubbling to my lips, I laughed. When the tears came, threatening to fall from my moist red eyes, I pushed  them away, and I laughed.

Whatever it was, I just laughed.

(This was written as class work in my English class – in which we are asked to write a prose based on a given title)

I see…

I see the frantic barking dog in front of me, possibly pulling its owner behind it excitedly. I see the rain washed mud turned around, and colorful umbrellas hanging closed on sturdy arms. I see noisy people. I see the tall man in his crisp office suit, pushing his way through people and staggering under the weight of his heavy bag. I see laughing children clambering onto loud school buses that honk impatiently. I  see the soft woolen shawl of the old woman who brushed  past me. I see the rays of light, falling in patches through the street canopy, falling in patches of warmth of my rain-flecked skin. I see the fog clearing away, to let the rush of the morning hour settle in. I see impatient drivers honking, and auto drivers arguing with each other. I see the steam wafting off the hot cups of tea that friends share with a generous plate-full of juicy gossip. I see the slush splashing on my new clothes from racing cars that drive by, flecking it with wet spots of brown. 

I see everything. I see through sounds, smell, touches and tastes. 

I see everything my eyes cannot see. 

(This was written as class work in my English class – in which we are asked to write a prose based on a given title)

It hurts

Loneliness is a heavy feeling. It creeps on you slowly, and then all at once you’re struggling with its enormous weight on your heart. Loneliness is torturous. It eats you up for, worming its way form inside until there is nothing left of you but a hollow shell. Loneliness is agony. Bitter tears of frustration well up in your eyes. But, somehow, they don’t flow. Time slows down, holding your tears back and letting you live every slow torturous moment in explicit detail. Feeling the pain. Alone.

It hurts.

It hurts. Not my arms or legs that have paced the ground enough to wear it down. It hurts. Something inside me. It’s not a sharp stinging kind of pain you get when you prick yourself. It’s something you know will never leave, heavy and harsh. Like someone dropped a boulder on top of you. And it’s crushing you. And when it gets too much, I’ll break. I’ll crumble. The hollow feeling inside won’t go away. The emotional scar she left on me was too big. I should have realised. It was bound to hurt when it was ripped off me.

It hurts.

I keep my arms folded across my body. Hugging myself. Not to keep in the warmth. The late afternoon sun cheerfully beats down on me. But to keep in whatever I have left. The memory of our conversations. the midnight black hue of her dancing eyes. The last echoes of her tinikling voice. To keep in whatever I have left of her. Left of myself.

People are walking around me, busily going about their day in the crowded park. There are couples taking a romantic stroll, trapped in their own private bubble of love. There are parents with stumbling kids, laughing and playing. There are groups of friends, pushing each other, hurling playful insults, kicking around a ball. I’ve never felt more alone in my entire life.

I have other people, or so I’ve been told countless times since last month. Friends, or more accurately acquaintances from school wave to me, neighbors offer me a polite smile, sometimes a cookie out of their picnic basket. I just keep walking. I go settle down under this old bent tree yellowing with age, looking as alone as me at the very edge of the park. I collapse under it. 

It hurts.

The crowd slowly grows bigger and bigger till I’m suffocating with the sheer number and joy and love of the people there. And the utter emptiness in me. I see even widows, clad in white, walking in groups, smiling occasionally. And I think, loneliness doesn’t hurt as much for them. What makes the pain infinitely harsher, is the fact that it was her decision to leave me like this. Wounded. Lost. Frightened.

Alone.

The sun dips lower on the horizon, painting the sky the sunset pink of her favorite flower. The park grows more crowded. My pain grows more acute. It’s something I can’t describe. Something I don’t wish for anyone to be able to describe. This kind of pain, you only understand it when you feel it. 

As the darkness falls, the pinks slowly merge into less painful blues. But I don’t know if the pinks in me will ever fade away.

All I know is that it hurts.

And it always will.

(This was written as class work in my English class – in which we are asked to write a prose based on a given title)

Roses are red

“Roses are red and violets are blue,
Sugar’s sweet and so are you.”

I hear her honey-sweet voice ring out through the meadow. I give her a peck on her cheek and shut her eyes. She smiles and launches into the next verse.

“Roses are red, and violets are blue,
Disappear so I’ll come and find you.”

I do as she says and disappear into the tall fresh grass and the flowers that blanket the space.

“ Roses are red and violets are blue
Just remember I’m watching you”

This makes me more determined to make sure she’ll never find me. I dive into the bushes and keep heading straight. She starts coming after me and when she sings again this time her voice is drifting closer and closer.

“Roses are red, and violets are blue
I’m coming now, to get you”

I don’t realize how far I’ve run till I feel the soil getting more coarse under my soft bare feet. I must be nearing the fence.

“ Roses are red and violets are blue,
Where are you now, give me a clue”

I know I shouldn’t be doing this but my curiosity gets the better of me. My mother told me it’s a war zone . I asked her who war is. She got the same look in her eyes that she gets when she has a headache. Like it was hurting her. My mothers singing is desperate now.

“Roses are red and violets are blue,
Come back darling, I can’t find you”

But it’s too late to turn back now. My hands clutch the cold harsh wire of the fence and it cuts into my tender skin. I can’t unsee it. I know who war is now.

I sing back in a trembling voice, but I know the winds will carry it to her.

“Roses are red and the violets too,
I should have just listened to you.”

Beyond the sunsets

The winds grow colder each day as the frost slowly works it way into them. The trees no longer carry the warm, bustling flavor of summer. And the fresh summer green of the leaves wither away into the crumbling hues of autumn. The people sense it too. Light summer hats are abandoned for warm woolen caps;  slippers for fur lined boots. Bare necks and hands now don colorful scarves and hand knit gloves. Change is in the air as sure as the cold is.

I know that this is the time I must make my journey. My family that has left before me, left without me is calling out to me. I’m stronger now. I can do this. I must, or else all that is left of me, will be a frozen bundle of disappointment. The winds whisper the way and the echoes of my family are everywhere. The waves lap gently on the abandoned beaches, drawing back home each time. Urging me to do the same. I know I must go now. I must make the journey past all the human chatter, the arriving snow, and past the cold currents of the ocean. This is my calling.

As the meek autumn sun shines, but to no avail, I shake the cold, the hesitation and the weakness out of my feathers. I look up at my tree, as a farewell, my home for this long, silhouetted  against the bright orange of my last sunset here. I spread my wings and prepare to make my journey. A journey into a warmer land that lies so far away.

A land beyond the sunsets.

bird

Surrender

I quickly assess my situation. My opponent is about three feet away. We’ve been at this waiting game for nearly half an hour now. I need to think. Her eyes are alert and catch every little movement of mine and predict my every move. Waiting. Her poise is professional and experienced and she stays on the balls of her feet, ready to strike.Her sword too is drawn like mine, and I can see by her steady arm and her hold on the handle that she has the power and knowledge to use it precisely. She’s easily half a foot taller than me and much more well built. The horse that stands beside her staring at me with it bloodshot eyes doesn’t help things.We circle slowly and every time I’m ready to make a move, the stupid horse intercepts my strike. My patience and energy is wearing thin I won’t hold out much longer. Then, I notice. Her weakness. Her left eye. That’s why, she always shifts when I try to get to her left, not bothering as much about her right. Wait for it… Wait for it… There! STRI-

Oh no no no no… I told him to stay back. What was he doing trying to come forward and being all heroic. Stupid stupid me. I should have put one of my generals there next to my husband, or at least left him a horse. I look around at the war ground. Our men are very few, all of them well into the troops on their side. The dark side. I cannot spot any of them amidst the mass of black and red. I told him his injury would not only slow him down, but it would be an unnecessary burden on everybody. But he wouldn’t let me come alone. My opponent is waiting for me to decide. She is cornered but a smug smile is playing on her lips. She knows I’ll have to decide. Fast. And whatever I decide I’ll be sacrificing something huge. She would be an Important kill, but I can’t afford that now. I fall back to the aid of my husband, knowing that if they finish him off, then we have no claim over our land without our king. Which basically means that the war would be over. Not only would the war be pointless, but my life would be too. Without him.

When I’m standing next to him, I can see how well planned this was. We’re covered from all sides. My husband quickly slays one of the soldiers clearing an escape for himself, but he can’t run that far with his broken leg. Out of the corner of my eye, I see one of their generals preparing to strike but I’m too fast for him. I see a way now. And there’s actually quite a good possibility we might be able to make it. I put my husband in front of me and got his back covered. And then I hear a sword being drawn. Our only escape is covered. The sneaky queen I let slip, stands in front of my king. Her sword is at his throat. I look around desperately for another way out. There has to be another way out. But there isn’t. The war is lost. I drop my sword in surrender.

She laughs and her voice rings through the bloody battle field.

“Checkmate.”

He. You. I. 

 

It’s a chilly evening and the gray clouds hover in the red sky. He watches as a slight breeze ruffles her hair and her stride is confident and steady. He does not understand his feelings. Why is he so worked up all of a sudden? He’d watched his mom go on hundreds of these unexpected missions. Then why did the air seem so foreboding? Why did something feel wrong? Even as you reach the dock ,and your mother turns around, you just can’t shake off that feeling.”A penny for your thoughts?”

 

Her voice shakes you out of your trance, and you tune into reality, putting aside your irrational worries for her sake.” Nothing mom, just random thoughts…”you reply cheerfully. She comes over and hugs you and you hug her back like it’s the last time you will. She gives you a small peck on the forehead before she heads to the ship. “I’ll be back soon” she whispers. But something tells you she won’t.

 

I feel like I’m seeing her for the last time as her ship sails into the distance. Then all hell breaks loose and the rain pours like never before and the lightning strikes repeatedly and the thunder is deafening. I’m cold and dripping wet, but couldn’t care less. I squint through the sheets of rain trying to find her ship. My heart restarts at the sight of it against the red sky. But it is only for the briefest of moments. Then, the ship sinks into the depths of the sea along with my heart. I can literally feel myself shattering into a million pieces, never to be assembled again. 

 

And then, just like that,

 

He’s alone.

You’re broken.

I’m lost.

 

(It’s an attempt to write a single story from third, second and first person perspective)

Oh, those weeds, they grow so wildly

 

(Every day, we are given a topic in school and asked to write about it in 10 minutes. This is one such)

Oh those weeds, they grow so wildy, covering the patches of heather on the vast moor. They announce no season in particular, just their presence. With thorns and thistles, and green and brown, they keep growing, covering every inch in an array of matter leaves, branches and seeds. They substitute for the heather that slowly withers away.  And I prefer their twisted beauty to those of the flowers we grow.

As the sun spills on their twisted branches, desperately trying to leak through the thick hedge, I think, who are we to call them weeds? What makes us so superior that we grow our own orderly set of plants and call the others weeds. To them, we are the weeds. We are the unnecessary. Not them.  These plants belong to the wild. They carry and spread its essence. They are the wild itself. The plants we cultivate are the strangers. The foreigners, that switched loyalty. They are the weeds.

The wild grows wildly.

The weeds grow mildly.

Farewell to thee

 

(Every day, we are given a topic in school and asked to write about it in 10 minutes. This is one such)

Farewell to thee, my faithful friend. Our old happy memories are past us. We are no longer the carefree youth that ran o’er hills and valleys. We can only hope for brief visits from the ghosts of our past, to fill the bare seconds with joy and remembrance. We must hope to relive those moments and cherish the memories we have together. We may never see each other again. For our past is tainted with the dark colors of today.

It seems as though chance does not favor us. And, it brings me grief to say that I cannot stop our tomorrow too, from being darkened by the shadows of the present. If there lies a tomorrow waiting for us. I want a tomorrow for us. For thee. One that will honor and cherish your priceless ideas. But for now, we must part ways. And may this forever be etched in thy mind. The stars won’t shine bright unto the day when we are together again.”

I choke over the next words. I open my mouth and the words flow of their own accord, the script forgotten.

“I have these parting words. Never forget that I will always love thee no matter what” He whispers “the stars will always shine and we will always be together in here.” With that, he smiles and pretends to die. I can’t take it anymore. This looks far too real. Perhaps it will be real. It’s just a matter of time.

I throw myself at his body as the script demands. But, the tears that flow are genuine.

I’m a terrible actor. That was not an act.

Independence

For this poem, got first prize in the inter-school Tamil poetry competition (7th to 12th grade) organized by http://www.sthaayi.org . Topic: “Sudhandhiram – en paarvayil”

 

பெரியோர் ஆதிக்கம் செய்யும் புவியில்
சிறுமியாய் வாழ சுதந்திரம் வேண்டும்.
மக்கள் ஆட்சியை ஆத ரிக்கும்
பிரஜையாய் வாழ சுதந்திரம் வேண்டும்.
ஏளனம் செய்யும் மக்கள் நடுவில்
ஊனமாய் வாழ சுதந்திரம் வேண்டும்.

ஆண் அதிகாரம் செய்யும் உலகில்
பெண்ணாய் வாழ சுதந்திரம் வேண்டும்.
மதவெறி பிடித்த மக்கள் நடுவில்
மனிதனாய் வாழ சுதந்திரம் வேண்டும்.
சமத்துவம் காணும் புதிய உலகில்
நானாக வாழ சுதந்திரம் வேண்டும்.

 

 

 

I submitted for the English poetry competition as well.
Topic. “Independence – what it means to me”

14th Aug 1947, 11:59pm

The flags may fly and the laughter may ring,
but now, I can’t soar with these broken wings.
At the stroke of midnight, a new country may begin,
but the bloodshed and violence have stained me within
Now, we may be safe, now we may be free,
but after these years of blindness, I can’t learn to see.
We may rejoice, celebrate, be happy and gay,
but the price was far too heavy to pay.

They say we gained freedom on this auspicious day,
but look around at the blood, now what do you say?
One isn’t a lie among the several they tell you.
India is independent and that’s surely true.

We’ve always stood alone and we always will.
No one to assist, no one to kill.
No one to depend on, no one to show
how alone we really are in our grief and sorrow.

A fortnight ago…

 

That’s it. My life’s over. What will everyone say? Nah! Who cares what they say. Like I’m going to tell them. They’ll probably laugh at me. None of it matters now, without her. She was the only joy in my life. The reason I lived. Now that she’s gone, I’ve gone too.

We moved to this big spooky bungalow at the end of last September. After my mother died. Everyone is so scary here. Even the cook with his crooked nose frowns down upon me each time I steal into the kitchen. The maids turn their heads from the drying clothes to stare at me. Many a times, I wonder if they are forced to. By him. By my mean old dad.

In the evenings, when I run to my room to cry, I would see my eldest brother looking at me. They all do. But there is something different in the way he looks at me. His eyes weren’t filled with hate. Sometimes, I could see some love in them. But once, my dad saw it too. And he wants a household where the concept of love is a fantasy. That night, I didn’t see him in bed. When he showed up for breakfast next morning, his eyes were puffy and alarmingly red marks covered his pretty face.

Even as a three year old I knew them to be my father’s handiwork. That was 3 years ago. From then on, I never caught his deep brown eyes staring at me again.

At times like this, she was my greatest comfort. I would huddle into the little corner in my room (which I share with 5 other siblings), and cry into my pillow till the sky turned dark. And then, she would show up at the tiny window I recently discovered. She always did. She always came swiftly and silently, an aura of gentleness always surrounding her. I would rush out to the newfound terrace where we could laugh and play to our hearts content. She never spoke, but I seemed to understand her. I met her just a fortnight ago.

She taught me everything. We mocked the stars together. In her, I learnt about dark and light, I learnt to use my words to voice my thoughts. I learnt from her that the closer you are to people, the longer you hold a place in their hearts. No matter how beautiful and bright the others are.

She always listened to me and gave me the compassion and love I needed. The love that every starved motherless child needs. And she refused to burden me with her problems. I could see something was wrong with her; she looked less and less well each day. Till she completely disappeared.

I sit down now after an hour of frantically roaming the terrace searching for her. But no she doesn’t come. I finally break down and drop to the floor, tears streaming down my cheeks. Then I feel a hand on my shoulder.

I turn around to see my brother through the blur of tears. He wipes my tears away and pushes my chin up gently. I stare at him for a long time before he lifts his deep brown eyes to meet mine. It has been so long that I almost forgot the depth they had.

“Munni, what are you doing here at this time of the night?” he says using my mother’s nickname for me.  Surprisingly, I don’t mind it.
“What are you doing here? What if dad catches you?”
“I’ve decided I don’t care anymore. I’m 16 now and I won’t live by his rules.” he says defiantly.
“Happy birthday!” I whisper, feeling immensely guilty for forgetting it.
He smiles. “Never mind. I have three years worth of stories to catch up on. Now tell me what happened. ”
And I do. I tell him everything about her, about my life.

When I’m done, it feels as though a huge weight has been lifted off me. And then my brother laughs. At first I flare up, raging angry, then notice he’s only chuckling.  “Oh, your friend will come back all right.” he says with conviction.
And somehow, I believe him. Just like that.

I believe what he says. The moon will come back.

It will shine again.

It always does.

Cracking India

 

(Wrote two poems from the perspective of a character named Lenny from Ms. Bapsi Sidhwa’s touching novel Cracking India / Ice-candy Man. Presented this in the “India Pakistan partition” exhibition in my school). 

 

Gone are the days of living safe and sound,
Now, every step I take must be well thought out.
Gone are the days I knew the happy girl I was,
Now I’m somewhere in between roaming about.

Gone are the days of being shamelessly pampered,
Now it’s “don’t disturb Lenny… go out”,
Gone are the days I knew the place that was my home,
Now I’m somewhere in between roaming about.

Somewhere in between sane and insane,
Somewhere in between hatred and love,
Somewhere in between confusion and clarity,
Somewhere in between sorrow and joy.

Somewhere in between my friends and family,
Somewhere in between Muslims and Hindus,
Somewhere in between the countries divided by their differences.
Yes, I’m somewhere in between India and Pakistan.
I’m somewhere in between roaming about.

 

பாலும் தேனும் ஓடிய இடத்தில் ரத்தம் ஓடலாமா?
யாழும் குழலும் கேட்ட செவிகள் அலறல் கேட்கலாமா?
பனிக்கூழ் சுவைத்த நாவால் இந்த கசப்பை சுவைக்கலாமா?
இனிய வாழ்வை கண்ட கண்ணில் கண்ணீர் வழியலாமா?
விரித்து பறந்த சிறகை இங்கே முறித்து விடலாமா?
சிரித்துப் பேசிய குரல்கள் இனி அமைதி காக்கலாமா?
வேற்றுமை பாரா மக்கள் எம்மை மதத்தால் பிரிக்கலாமா?
ஒற்றுமையாக வாழ்ந்த நாட்டைக் கூறு போடலாமா?

 

 

In the loving memory of Vincent Van Gogh

In the dimly lit table, words hover in the air,
About this lone artists life equally as dark.
The doctor’s kind eyes still look upon with care
At the memories and visions he left behind.

The stars on that starry night shine as they please,
Mocking those who watch from below.
And the pale white blossoms still dance in the breeze,
To the lively rhythm of his once beating heart.

The cluster of irises grow tall and long,
To the heights to which his art could have rose.
And those bright yellow sunflowers still hum the song,
Of this artistic genius’ unvanquished soul.

 

 

(School work: “Write an epitaph for Vincent Van Gogh”  .  In my poetry, I’ve made references to six famous paintings of Van Gogh https://learnodo-newtonic.com/van-gogh-famous-paintings)

Bumblebulb

 

My brother’s screams still echo in my head. I stand there with tears streaming from my eyes, staring at the very place my brother breathed his last. As the fire dies down, I walk away from my cheerful memories, into the darkness. Alone.

I cross over the fence as a steady drizzle starts. I walk to the old rusty building which once manufactured and sold products around the world. I sit down on the cold cement floor and empty the few things I carry. As my eye catches the kerosene lamp I feel surge of anger towards it. This was the reason my house burnt, the reason my brother died.

I stare out of the only window there and watch as a bolt of lightning strikes the ground. Years of scientific study take over my emotions. Lightning was just electricity, but it produced light!

In a mad frenzy I rush towards a corner. My heart rejoices at the sight of a coil of abandon wires. Hah! I reach inside my bag and fish out the first thing I find. A tiny glass vial of sorts. Perfect! My fingers reach out again, hoping for yet another piece of luck. Lucky twice. I hold the silver base of my new invention between my trembling fingers. I nimbly fashion a tiny protruding wire into a filament and complete what I started. I know I am on the verge of something extraordinary.

In the dim glow of lightning, with the rain pouring harshly outside, I stare at my new creation that lies unhesitatingly on my gentle hand. Despite the freezing weather outside, a warm feeling washes over me moistening my eyes. It stirs the depths of my soul and brings out a feeling of familiarity. A feeling I had only ever felt with my brother.

I compose myself and work on the final piece of this puzzle. I take two deep breaths and touch the delicate object in my hand to the wires, to complete the connection. Nothing.

Deep down, I didn’t really expect it to work the first time. But, I will keep improving this till the day it lights up the world. No more loss to the unfeeling kerosene flames. I will do this. Just for my little brother, my Bumblebulb. One day, the world will know me. I am Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of the bulb.

 

(In the school, our teacher gave us an object each and asked us to write a story about it. My friend ‘S’ and I wrote this for a tiny light bulb. It’s a fictional auto-biography)

Empty. Devoid of memories

I wake up to the sound of the whirring fan. My vision is blurred and I sit up to get a better view of my surroundings. I’m in a hospital of sorts, wearing a baggy white dress that matches everything around me. Even the people. There are about a dozen of them, positioned randomly across the room. All of them are pale and wear blank expressions on their faces. It takes me a moment to realize that I probably look the same. Then I examine my situation more closely. I know something is wrong, but I can’t place what it is. I feel healthy. I can move around quite freely. My brain works fine too, assessing details around me rapidly. But my mind feels wrong. Like something integral is missing. I feel.. empty. Devoid of memories.

Then, it strikes me. Oh no… I frantically search my mind hoping to prove myself wrong. Nothing. I have absolutely no memories. I don’t know why I am here, who my family is or where I come from. Then the most horrible realization dawns on me: I have no idea who I am.

I rush to the nearest person, desperate for information. “Sir, can you tell me who I am?” I ask. He is an old man, frail and bent, about seventy years of age. He gives a single hollow laugh. “10 years! For 10 years, I have asked myself the same question, little one”. My heart sinks as I register his words. I realize that everyone here is like me. No, they are here because they are like me. I sigh and walk to the only window in the room. I sit down and examine my empty mind. I’m startled by a sudden flash. I tense and focus. The images come clearly now.

I’m in a small and pretty garden. I hear laughing voices approaching me. I watch as a little boy comes and throws his arms around me, grinning widely. I inhale his fresh and windy fragrance. I open my eyes and the images disappear. When I close my eyes again, the memories come flooding back. This time, I can feel the sun on my uplifted face. I can taste the clean air around me. A name board catches my eye. I quickly scroll through my parents’ and my brother’s names. I pause in anticipation before I lower my eyes to mine. And then, everything goes black. I shut my eyes more tightly and will the memory to come back. Nothing. I’m back to where I started. But, this time I see no memories looming on the horizon to transport me into my parallel universe, no matter how briefly. My mind feels wrong once again. I feel.. empty. Devoid of memories.

 

(Wrote this for an assignment given by my friend to write about a situation where “you don’t know where you are”)

 

Inside out

Never judge a person by who they are outside
Because what truly matters is what is there inside.

Observe someone discreetly – that’s your task
That’s when you truly see them without a mask.

Who is that person, who do they want to be,
That something that’s not out there for everyone to see.

Learn that person, know them by heart,
Admire like you would for a piece of art.

Share their sorrow, pleasure, joy and pain
Walk with them together the path of friendship plane.

Only after all this, can you decide
If you know what really matters that’s what they are inside!

Harry Potter 8 – song

Harry Potter has been my new interest and I’ve enjoyed discussing with my friends. After I watched this song summary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9U_jFImWds of the parts 1 to 7, I wrote one for the 8th part (cursed child).

Harry grows up now a father of three,
and a husband to supportive Ginny Weasley,
In this time of danger, he must turn to his friends,
before it’s already too late to make amends,
When they find the lost sons they fight as one,
And the lost love returns between father and son.

There now is a man named Harry
content with the life he leads
With a loving family and caring friends,
what more could he possibly need!

Composed a tune and sung:

இலக்கணபுரம்

வணக்கம் மக்களே!
என் பெயர் இனியா. நான் இலக்கணபுரம் பற்றி படிக்கும் ஆய்வாளர். அதனால், நான் உங்களுக்கு இப்பொழுது இலக்கணபுரத்தின் கதையை சொல்கிறேன்.

2100 வருடங்களாக, தமிழ் இலக்கணம் பிறந்த தினத்தில் இருந்து, இலக்கணபுரம் என்று ஒரு நாடு இருக்கிறது. இன்நாட்டின் நிறுவனர் தொல்காப்பியர். இந்த நாட்டில் நிறைய குடிமக்கள் இருக்கிறார்கள். இவர்களில் பலர் வேற்றுமையுருபு, காலங்கள், ஒருமை, பன்மை.. விட்டால் சொல்லிக் கொண்டே போவேன்!

இலக்கணபுரம் மூன்று பகுதியாகப் பிரிந்திருக்கிறது. ஒரு பகுதியில் ராஜா பெயர்ச்சோழாவும் அவர் மக்களும் வாழ்ந்தார்கள். இரண்டாவது பகுதியில் ராஜா வினைச்சோழாவும் அவர் மக்களும் வாழ்ந்தார்கள். மூன்றாவது பகுதியில் ராஜா உரிச்சோழாவும் அவர் மக்களும் வாழ்ந்தார்கள்.
தான் இலக்கணபுரத்தின் வடிவம்.


இலக்கணபுரம் பிறந்தவுடன், ஒரு முனிவர் வந்து ஒவ்வொரு ராஜ்ஜியத்துக்கும் ஒரு வரம் தந்தார். பெயர்ச்சொல்களுக்கு, அடையாளம் தரும் கலையைத் தந்தார். வினைச்சொல்களுக்கு, வேலையை நன்றாக செய்யும் கலையைத் தந்தார் . உரிச்சொல்களுக்கு, ஒரு விஷயத்தை தெளிவாக விளக்கி சொல்லும் கலையை தந்தார் .
வினைச் சொல் ராஜ்ஜியத்தின் இளவரசி வினையரசியின் உயிர்த்தோழி, உரிச்சொல் ராஜ்ஜியத்தின் இளவரசி உரியரசி. இருவரும், தினமும் வினையரசியின் பூந்தோட்டத்தில் விளையாடுவார்கள்.
இப்படி விளையாடும் பொழுது ஒரு நாள், வினையரசி, உரியரசியிடம் சொன்னாள், “நிறைய மாதங்களாக சாகசமான நிகழ்வு எதுவும் நடக்கவில்லையே!”. அடுத்த நாளே அது நடந்து விட்டது!
அன்று அந்த முனிவர் தந்த எச்சரிக்கை நிஜமாகப் போகிறது: “உலகத்தமிழ் மக்கள், தவறான தமிழில் பேசினாலோ எழுதினாலோ உங்களுக்கு பெரிய ஆபத்து ஏற்படும்”.


இலக்கண புரத்தில், தேதி சித்திரை 5, 2016. இலக்கணபுரம் பிறந்த தினத்தில் இருந்து 2100 வருடங்கள் ஆகிவிட்டன. இவ்விழா நன்றாக நடந்து கொண்டிருந்தது. வினையரசியும், உரியரசியும் யாருக்கும் தெரியாமல் ஒரு மரத்தில் உட்கார்ந்து, லட்டு சாப்பிட்டு கொண்டிருந்தார்கள். அப்போது திடீரென லட்டு, மரம், தரை எல்லாம் கல்லாகி விட்டன! விழா நடந்த இடத்திற்கு ஓடினார்கள். முனிவரின் எச்சரிக்கை நிஜமாகிவிட்டது! ஒருவர் தவிர எல்லோரும் கல்! அது அவர்கள் விரோதி பெயரரசி – பெயர்ச்சொல் ராஜ்ஜியத்தின் இளவரசி.
வினையரசி வேகமாக முடிவெடுத்தாள். “நாம் இப்பொழுது இலக்கணபுரத்தைத் காப்பாற்றவேண்டும். சேர்ந்து வேலை செய்ய வேண்டும். நானும் உரியரசியும் தோழிகள்!” என்றாள்.
இப்பொழுது ஒரு பிரச்சனை முடிந்து விட்டது. அடுத்த பிரச்சனை அவ்வளவு சுலபம் இல்லை. “ கெட்ட இலக்கண வார்த்தைகள் நம் மக்களை கல் ஆக்கிவிட்டன. நல்ல இலக்கண வார்த்தைகளால் மட்டும்தான் இவற்றை அழிக்க முடியும்” என்றாள் உரியரசி. நம் நிலைமையைப் பற்றி அந்த உலகத்தில் உள்ள மக்களுக்கு சொல்ல வேண்டும் என்று பெயரரசி கூறினாள்.

அப்போழுதுதான் நான் அங்கு வந்தேன். “மக்களுக்கு சொல்ல வேண்டும்.. அவ்வளவுதானே.. வணக்கம் மக்களே.. என் பேர் இனியா!” மூன்று இளவரசிகளும் ஆச்சரியத்துடன் என்னைப் பார்த்தார்கள். “ஆனால், நாம் சொல்ல மட்டும் வேண்டாம். புத்தகமாவே எழுதிவிடலாம்!”. அப்படித்தான் என் கதையை எழுத ஆரம்பித்தேன்.

ஒரு வருடத்திற்குப் பிறகு, நான் என் புத்தகத்தை முடித்து இலக்கணபுரம் விட்டு கோவை வந்தேன். கோவையில் எனக்கு தெரிந்த மக்களுக்கு எல்லாம் இலக்கணபுரம் பற்றி சொன்னேன். கார்த்திகை மாதத்தில், நான் இலக்கணப் புரத்தை பார்க்கச்சென்றேன். சிலர் மட்டும்தான் சரியாகி இருந்தார்கள். இதனால், நான் எழுதிய புத்தகத்தை திருத்தி வெளியிட்டேன். அந்த புத்தகம் தான், இது!

வாருங்கள் மக்களே,
இலக்கணபுரத்தை காப்பாற்றுவோம்!
சுத்தமான தமிழில்,
எழுதி, பேசுவோம்!

This is awarded 1st prize in the inter school story writing competition organized by sthaayi.org , Coimbatore.

What’s a poem anyway?

All questions need answers, but some are hard to find,
But the hardest I’ve known so far wasn’t from a master mind.
Two teeny weeny girlies walk up to me one day,
they come and pause for a moment, then this is what they say
“Can you give an answer for which we have searched low and high?”
They look at me so pleadingly. “sure” says I.
They ask, “what’s a poem, a poem that is wonderful?”
This isn’t what I expected, but I maintained my cool.

It took me days of pondering and surveys two hundred,
Then the next morning, I went to them and this is what I said,
“Here are some poems. Some are her’s, some are mine.
And, that’s my neighbor’s who wrote about his swine.
That there, is the old man’s, the old lady wrote that.
That was written by Kristy about her crazy yellow cat.
Each one is unique, with it’s own blend of spice,
And, that is why, none of them have any price.

A poem is what you wish it to be,
It has what you want others to see.
As for a wonderful poem, it never bores.
But most importantly, it’s a poem that’s yours!

Dark, with the presence of death

This is a school assignment. To come up with any topic and write an essay. I chose this topic: “Imagine you are a child in the Holocaust. Write a letter sharing your experience”.

Below is the write-up.

 

Dear mother,

I don’t have the slightest clue where you are and I am lost. Lost in a world with people who act as if they have fought the war all there lives. They don’t care, mother.. they are blinded by hatred and enmity. All around me is blood. Blood of innocent sweet lives. Hundreds of children, their parents, their siblings, their friends, their loved ones die every day!

I was robbed off all my possessions mother. Half was snatched away from me and the other half was lost in this mad scramble to escape death. Either they are deaf, mother, to the innocent pleas or, they are heartless!

I cannot bear to look at people dying in front of my eyes. I closed my eyes. The death I knew of and hoped would come up on me when I had to die was so different.  Yet, this is what I see and face every minute. There is no daylight here, mother. Every hour is as dark as night. Dark, with the presence of death.

I haven’t had anything to eat and yet I am not hungry because a simple act of kindness made me forget my hunger. A woman, who reminded me of you, mother, gave me her last and only share of food. I was touched. When I was about to take the food, I heard a bang! I knelt down with tears rolling down my cheeks. I saw her body lying in a lifeless crumpled heap on the floor. And, the food lay untouched looking just as lifeless!

It was then that I realized that this was war and that I’ve got to live through it. There are no shortcuts in war!

I want to survive, and I will survive with the hope that someday I will see your twinkling eyes smiling at me, hear your gentle voice reassuring me and feel your comforting arms wrapped safely around me.

Until then, I remain.

Your hopeful and loving daughter!

Halloween

The festive mood is in the air,
with the tall fir trees cold and bare.
Pumpkins of all colours oddly bright,
in the silent, dark, cold and spooky night!

Baskets overflow with sweets to give,
if any trick or treaters come where we live.
And costumes of course of every little ghost,
vampires and monsters that’ll have you with toast.
The festive mood is surely in the air,
for Halloween is here for everyone to share!

 

Life of a tree

 

Life of a tree is beautiful, is calm, is firm, is still, is one with the earth, one with the wind, is a life that holds the secrets of the soul!
Trees are not only friends, givers and supporters, but also vital and necessary part of life that we ignore. If we listen carefully, we can share the everlasting, joy-giving, beautiful secrets hidden in the souls of trees. The secrets are trusted to them to guard, and sometimes share and sometimes learn from.
We have a lot to learn from trees, but the most essential quality of trees is their art of giving. Trees give and give till they have nothing left to give if we are wise enough to handle their souls. Giving is what we take as a pain, but it is a pleasure to the trees.
They take joy in giving but only to those who respect them.
They are also optimists. They grasp all the beauties of life. They know how to hope, how to love, and how to see the bright side of life!

Having said the beauties of life of a tree, I must confess that these come with lots of hardships. For every life, there is a sun. But, for every life, there are clouds as well. Trees have the most difficult problems, but they are also the bravest souls to face them. Floods, rains, drought and so many problems, but they live these problems through. And, not the life – till the last green, the last wood and the last ray of hope dies!

We must learn from trees how to face our problems, how to be firm, how to be happy, how to be still, how to give and take joy in giving, how to connect with earth, sun and wind, how to be a friend, a comforter and how to live and love life!

I wish with all my heart and soul that I could be a tree for one day so that I could learn the secrets of how to live a beautiful life!

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Elements

 

I stood staring at the ground beneath me,
where lay a chest old and rusty.
its smooth lid lay open wide,
to reveal the treasure it held inside.
staring back at me in their glory bright,
were five little gems bathed in light.
All so different, yet the same,
each a unique colour and name!

I picked up the first gem staring back at me,
it was a sapphire as blue as the sea.
Inside the gem lay a single water droplet,
so pure and clean than anyone can get.

Water is a precious source of life,
that we ignore when it comes without strife.
A need, a necessity, an essential to live,
that never ends till the last drop it gives!

I picked up the second gem staring back at me,
it was a pearl, so pure and milky.
inside the pearl I could see the whole sky,
it was so beautiful I let out a sigh.
The sky is a vast blanket of space,
it holds the sun and its light giving rays.
it also holds the silver-white moon,
and the stars that guide travelers home soon!

 
I picked up the third gem starting back at me,
it was a diamond as though carved delicately.
inside it lay a wisp of air,
that never runs out of enough air share.
Air is a common thing that we take for granted,
it is a free source that cannot be patented.
it is present everywhere, filling the atmosphere,
it also gives life which to us is very dear!

I picked up the fourth gem staring back at me,
it was a ruby as red as can be.
inside it lay a warm glowing flame,
giving warmth to anything you can name.
Fire provides us with a pleasant heat,
and helps cook everything that we eat.
fire also secretly plays a part,
in providing warmth all the way to your heart!

I picked up the fifth gem staring back at me,
it was emerald as green as a leaf in a tree.
inside it lay a small shoot of green,
a bright green in every part of it that could be seen.
Earth is where we live, where we walk on every day,
but tell me do we show gratitude to it in any way?
Earth nurtures life in a motherly fashion,
full of love, warmth, and lots of compassion!

I stood staring at the ground beneath me,
where lay a chest old and rusty.
its smooth lid which had lay open wide,
now hid the gems it held inside!