I saw my shadow
cowering in the corner of the derelict store room.
I could not bear to sit down beside it,
so I closed the door and waited outside.
Even as my eyes looked at the world,
I was aware of the one crying inside.
Even as I answered every question of the world
and laughed most appropriately at the words
that were said with intent of making me smile,
all I could think of was “when would it be my turn?”.
I kept losing track of the doors I had closed.
I kept growing new shadows.
Against all my hopes,
all of them found their way to every grief possible
and eventually found a way to hide and cry somewhere new.
All I did meanwhile is to
wait for my turn to cry,
wait for someone to close the door and stand guard,
till I find and rearrange
the pieces of flesh remaining in my chest
to look something like a heart.
I kept repeating “Tomorrow, I will become a better person.
Tomorrow, I will be complete.
Tomorrow, I will realize I have always been complete.”
I kept repeating these words even when I knew that
anything and anyone that separates from me
is lost forever.
There doesn’t exist a way back to me in this world.
The answer to your question-
the truth you always ask and wonder about
somewhere inside me.
But inside me are many other things
that I have not been able to find till now.
And I would have probably invited you in
and asked you to help me a bit
if you were not better than me in every sense.
Just saying this makes me feel so cheap.
It makes me the person I am always trying to hide
and inside me things are a bigger mess.
There is a river of hatred and an ocean of guilt,
the walls of past that I paint over and over
but things just keep looking worse.
And though you hope to find a sky of love there,
though you hope to find a true love or a true end,
I would rather not be loved for the possibility of who I can be,
I would rather not be looked at closely,
or loved a bit more than I deserve.
And what I deserve is a piece of cake
that keeps getting smaller and smaller every day;
a cake I dare not eat, or even want .
I am afraid in my shrinking world,
there is no place for you
or anything called truth.
He lived in the cracks
of the window I could never close.
The sun and the wind, the winter on my cheeks
were all him.
It was a reminder of the mornings
when he held the hands of his softer feelings,
when he silently took the path to brokenness
and named that day after me.
It was the reminder of his kiss
that would make me look away, make me look awkward,
make me do everything almost wrong but with innocence-
everything that made him smile.
I would step on his shadow
and before I apologized, he would step on mine.
He would call it dancing
cause there was no better word for that.
I would smile back forgetting myself
It was a beautiful word.
It was a moment that answered the question
that I never knew how to ask.
At the right turn
I faced another street
where someone I know once lived.
For all I know, their present
might still look like my ‘once ago’.
From where I stand and where I see
is their “what a nightmare,
thank god it is not true/thank god it is not me.“
Maybe with their shocked and sorrowful faces
they will ask me this
“Tell me it is not true.“
and I will probably tell them exactly that
because I do not want them to think
“thank god is it not me“
or “god has been kind to me. god loves me more.“
Because maybe then, in that moment,
I may hate my lovely friend and my lovely god,
and the lovely lives that I am not part of.
So I take another turn,
seeking other roads-
roads where the ones I knows,
the ones with question
do not have to look at me.
And I do not have to see my tragedy, my loneliness
paint them as villain
when they are not,
when maybe they are the only ones that care.
It is not that I love the cold doors of strangers
nor do I want answers to the obvious, uncomfortable questions.
I am restless because everyone else is calm.
If only they would fret a bit, look puzzled,
cry for unknown reasons once in a while,
if only they also had the same questions that I do
or at least admitted feeling the same way
just to keep my heart,
then probably I wouldn’t feel so shabby and so incompetent
when I stood cluelessly in my life,
trying to act as if I know what I am doing.
When all I am doing is
watching things crumble and break.
When all I am doing is holding in my tears
waiting for someone to cry first.
I have seen snails and snakes
from a distance of two feet.
They were scary and I was scared.
Even when they vanished, I remained scared.
I remained scared
of everything that stood two feet away from me,
asking me, “Now what?”,
“Is it now, that you run and not look back?”
I have seen friendship
from the distance of words
I could never type.
I sent them new year,
friendship day, diwali,
doomsday celebration greetings
but I never sent them my heart.
They too figured with time
that they could live without me,
without this heart of mine
they have only heard about.
When I see them smile for me
across the street
that we both won’t cross
I wonder if I should smile back
and extend this period of pain, this pretense
or should I see through them,
to set them free
or should I walk closer, to fill their heart
with the horrid images of the real me,
to let them see the dying me,
to let them see the things they can’t do anything about.
Would they love me for real if I did that
or would they look me from the distance of two feet
as I ask “Now what?”
“Is it now, that you run and not look back?”
Slowly I plucked each tooth of mine,
I tore my tongue out
and he called me beautiful.
He called me beautiful
so I left my clothes roll down.
I let my skin, my guards, my skeleton
touch his floor.
I sat there watching him
build a fire out of it all.
The fire was too cold for me
so I didn’t smile.
He told me he only speaks the language of rough,
that his heart beats and falls slower than the rest.
I told him I have known many like him.
I told him I didn’t mind.
He seemed to mind that a bit
but he also seemed to be a bit relieved.
As I sat under the the waterfall
of his blue curtains,
I felt thousands of eyes
at my back, behind windows that couldn’t be closed.
There were always windows behind my back
anywhere I sat from the day I was first told
that I was the type of beautiful
not worth keeping and staying around.
filled with lust, question, resentment
filled with hatred, filled with violence,
filled with sweet words for my ailing heart,
filled with knives for soft skin, for the right time,
were my burden
so I knew
at least this was not his fault.
I asked him
what he could give, what he could make me forget.
He didn’t answer and seemed a bit lost.
I wondered if he also couldn’t think or speak clearly,
if there were eyes on his back
that he never spoke about.
On the tapered ends of my lips
when I found your lips nestled near mine,
“Is this love? Is this your love?”
and you answered “Obviously not.”
So I told my heart to grow up.
Growing up was the only way
not to hurt.
On the spring infested roads,
I found your hand
on my melting waist.
On a nameless cold rainy day,
I found the joy of walking
On a morning long gone,
in my graceless fall into the mess of my mind,
I came to knew the strength of your hands.
On the narrow pavements made for one
as I walked behind you
I realized how impossible it is to forget you.
On all such days that I made a point
never to mark on any calendar,
on all the days I tried to forget,
I found the question again and again
“Is this love?”
Again I looked away from you
to avoid hearing the answer
that would hurt a lot more now.
I guess I never grew up
or growing up only deepens my heart,
only makes it worse.
My grief has my face.
My grief has only questions in her eyes-
questions that require me to cry
and accept the cruel face of the love I have got.
My grief instead gets my silent embrace,
my refusal to choose better, for her sake or mine.
My grief has my face
and my heart that only knows defeat
and only in defeat has found comfort of love that cannot live in me.
There was that pile of paper
I could never keep safe.
The crossed out, always crossed out words,
words always out of order,
words turned beautiful
only because they dissolved
in my frustration.
Only because now I cannot read them
I must make something out of them
something that couldn’t possibly be mine.
The blue ink dripping,
forming planets on unexpected letters,
forming planets on my hands.
I would take them to class
and look at them as if now I meant something more,
now that I was suffering for something I want.
I raised my hands to answer a question
I have already answered hundred times.
I sat down and swallowed my teacher’s frown.
He didn’t have to teach me
that right answers matter
only when they come from right mouths.
(I once got an A only because I forgot to put my name.)
I knew there was nothing I could learn
by swallowing frowns everyday,
but still I dragged myself, my broken planets,
my half burnt poems in my half burnt hands
to the one who doesn’t think twice
before asking me
to hate myself better.