I see words in circles

Of black and brown

Drowning a hopeless king

And his promised crown.


Sex without love.

When you read Sharon Olds’ poem ‘Sex without Love’—which you should—let yourself over-think. To start things off, let your romantic side out. It will tell you no, you cannot make love without love. Listen to it. Let it tell you that sex is meaningless without love. Nod. Grab a pen and make a note. ‘Future me. Never sleep with someone you don’t love. You don’t know it yet, but it’s meaningless’. If you feel like smiling, do. There. Go to the nearest mirror and congratulate whoever you see in there. You’re happy, and proud of yourself; you’re practically a new person. Your partner should probably know more about this. Resist the urge to call. But wait. Is that doubt you feel? This is 2014, after all, and to say monogamy validates your feelings for someone makes you uncomfortable.

There’s a story about a woman whose first love cheated on her. Heartbroken, she couldn’t bear to be with anyone else and so, she embraced celibacy. One day, God appeared before her. ‘Give yourself to me and I’ll grant you any wish’. She closed her eyes and spread her legs. God blinked, confused, but he took her anyway. When he asked her later what she wanted, she said, ‘I don’t want anyone to be unfaithful to me ever again’. They say she felt something itch down there. From that day onwards, if any man cheated on her—that is, all of them—they felt it too, a relentless itch that gnawed on and irritated them till they bled from all the scratching. You must be wondering why I’m telling you this story. Don’t. Sometimes, people can hear the things you wonder. Anyway, the woman’s first love came back to her. Out of spite, maybe, or maybe because she loved him still, she let him have her. But to her surprise, nothing happened. He held her in his arms and whispered, “I love you”. She cried then, and buried her face in his chest. She knew that he’d never cheated on her. Now do you know why I told you this story? Yes? No? Tell me if you do. Or just wonder and I’ll know anyway.

I bet that doubt is stronger now. Feel it. Feel it gnaw on you. But remember: never scratch. Let me tell you a secret. You and I don’t have bodies. We’re made up of spirit, of yellow sunlight and stained goose-feathers. When you fall asleep tonight, increase the speed of your fan. You’ll be blown into the land of dreams faster than yesterday. Put it off and you won’t dream till that whisper of a breeze from the window decides to carry you. There was a man once, who slept through a cyclone. He was flung into dreams so violently that he came to wakefulness from the other side. He now lives on the fourth floor with his pet flamingo. Don’t tell him I told you this. Secrets often become lies when shared and flamingos don’t like liars.

So, where are our bodies? Yes, yes. I can hear you thinking it. We’re hiding them. Ignoring them. I want you to hold me. Unzip my pants and touch me till I’m hard in your palm. There. Now I have a body, and you have hands. Take me in your mouth and you’ll have that and a tongue. Maybe then we’ll have a proper conversation. Let my erection fade and you and I will both disappear.

We’re anchored in this blankness only in moments when naked flesh hooks itself onto the other. Only when we refuse to be taken away to dream. When we’re shoulders with digging nails and throats with warm semen. Open wider, let me see it. I can feel you pulsing under my tongue. What’s that? You’re floating? I know you are. The moment of flesh is over, and now we’re light. Now we’ll fly to the land of dreams. A land where there’s more than just blankness. Where it’s possible to betray, and to love.


Read the poem here :

Fading circles.

I cannot remember a time when I did not carry you with me like my life depended on it. In the beginning you were only what you are: a couple of wristbands. But objects kept so close for so long often become symbols—things with life, colour, and sounds. It’s six been years now, and reaching back into memory is seeing the past through your mute presence. People asked me if you were my good-luck charm and I had to say no without meaning it, so that they would stop asking. People like being right. But you were something undefinable; we grew together and to say you were this, or that, was like stunting myself. You were the rains, and I gave you a name that was both the seas and the skies that swallowed it. I would run out to you in the evenings, and my lips would whisper your name to the first drop that fell upon them.

You were there when I first picked up a pen to write. The story was for Pooja, because it was important to me that she thought I was good at something; it was her little smile, which spread from her mouth to her eyes, and the way she said ‘Not baad, Rahul’, that made me want to write more. But the writing itself was for us, and for that I wanted you with me. I made you a part of the narrative and called you Azura. And so we talked, through soft sounds of tongue and pen and paper. I wanted you to know me, so that I could too, when I told you the things I did.

I lost you so many times under the beds and the pillows and in pockets, but only once was I scared. Pa and I were going to the mill to get the wheat ground, and I knew when I bent my knees on the bike that you’d slip out. I must have paced about, trying to remember where you’d fallen. I must have fidgeted the way I do when I’m uncomfortable. I must have felt my pockets a hundred times to make sure you weren’t hidden in some impossible corner. On the way back, I scanned the road as well as I could, and there I found you, lying in the middle waiting for me. Pa stopped when I told him to and you found your place in my pocket again.

It was terrifying to leave home without you, because I was sure that it was sign of something bad to come. I remember the days when I’d want nothing more than to come back home and find you in the washing machine before it did. Still I gave you to Pooja when her grandmother passed away. She didn’t ask, but I knew she needed you more. That night when she kept you in her pencil-box instead of her hand, I hoped both of you were okay.

I would never wear you on my wrist, because in my story that would mean invoking your power. I couldn’t do that, because people are given only a few chances in their lives, and I didn’t want to waste mine. Someday, when the world or she or anyone else needed me, I would put my hands through you and rise as the lord that I was.

She was fooling around when she tried snatching you out of my hand. I clutched at you instinctively, but she’d got a hold too. I would’ve let go, but in the struggle our fingers and arms and bodies touched and I liked it. Neither of us stopped till something snap and I looked down to the broken circle of green rubber. She apologised but I could see that she didn’t realise what she’d done. I mumbled, ‘It’s okay’, and let my eyes wander over the red of her skin instead.

I tried to weld you together in the fire of the lamp lit in the little temple we have at home. I stopped when I saw the material bubbling. Then I tried to make a clasp so that the broken ends would hold together, but the pin I used cut through you. I couldn’t let the yellow band hold the green in its curve, because the green one was older and had to be on the outside. `You’d broken and I couldn’t put you back together.

I still do a few things as I used to. You’re still in my pocket all the time. I still hold you in my left hand through every exam, because I’ll fail otherwise. But she’s gone and my story lives only on the sheets of paper she’s taken. I no longer write with my hand. Sometimes, when I’m home and it’s raining, I hold you in my palm and watch the drops lick the dirt off you, but we don’t talk anymore. I tell myself that it’s because we’ve grown too close for spoken words. My excuse is that you’re in my head so completely that I don’t have words that could say things any better. But that’s only so that I don’t feel guilty about betraying our years together. You’re gone, Azura, to the seas and the skies that swallowed them, and to the raindrops that won’t touch my lips anymore.

I don’t dream anymore.

I haven’t slept in the last four days. I’ve been going to bed too late because of work, and been waking up too early to meet her. I wonder what it’d be like to snuggle under a blanket right now. I can’t, though, it feels wrong. I won’t sleep at night if I sleep now. But thinking about it is making me think about other things. Like dreaming. I think I used to dream a lot. But then we went to Ujjain for the Kumbh Mela and Ma insisted that we go to every temple that we could find. One of them had a shrine to the dream-god. Ma told me that he’ll make all my nightmares go away. I hardly ever had nightmares, but I went in any way, because this god was new. I don’t remember the conversation we had—he wasn’t the snake-god to whom I’d pray that he protect the people I love from snake-attacks, or Ganapathi to whom I’d pray that I get good marks in my exams. This guy was new and the conversation was just as awkward as it would have been any stranger. I’m guessing it was really bad because I’ve never dreamed after that day. I mean, of course I dream, but I never remember my dreams. I should go back there someday and talk things out. Sigh.


Please stop making me write. I don’t know if it’s healthy.

Because every piece must be something that I’m proud of, something that people are impressed by—it has to be perfect. And I don’t think I can produce that every fucking day, so please, stop making me write. She thinks that I have it figured out, that I think of it as something that I need to conquer, and maybe that’s true. I must conquer it so it doesn’t overwhelm me. Because I don’t think I’m ready to let it take over me. I’m happy now, and you know that. I’m happy with the things that I write, and I’m comfortable with people reading them. But the insecurity hasn’t gone away completely. You should have known that by now. I read what she writes, every day. She clothes her memories in words in a way only she can, and it’s perfect. Sometimes it feels like she was always aware that someday she would about things. And maybe that’s why she held these memories so safely in her mind. Now she just dusts them, and puts them down on to the paper. It’s both beautiful and scary.

I don’t remember anything. The memories I have aren’t mine, and I’m afraid to reclaim them. Because I’ll never care for them. I’ll never fuss over the words to tell you that the first sunset I saw was just as golden and sad as in the books. I’ll treat the memories like the strangers they are.

So, please, please stop making me write. Because the present has nothing. Things are beautiful only in the past and I don’t have a past. I was born in a moment when the world got to tiring to fight against. I understand that you want to be a better writer, that you want people to read and be impressed by the things you write, but it isn’t right when you make me. It has to be natural, it has to come out of moments that want to be written about. You’re doing it for them, now, and not for us. Soon we’ll be creating moments to write about. Well, I guess that’s when you’ll finally become a writer.

I’m sighing, and I know you can hear me. Please stop making me write?