Introspection

Young poets,
ever asked yourself in moments quiet –
as a wise man once prodded another –
“Must I write?”

Today, I did.

Must I write
of the taste that lingers clumsily
on Hatred’s bitter tongue;
of iron, rust, and salt?
Of a mother’s milk gone stale;
of children dying in cradles
marked by jingoism and war?
Of perfumed scents turned putrid?

Must I write
of the great battles fought by foolish mortals
on behalf of the Great Gods –
they who preached love, and in whose name
devotees arrange Carnivals of Murder and Rape?
Holy scriptures upturned;
every verse washed clean
by the blood of the pagans.

Or, must I write
of how I found my voice hidden
in the dregs of the potent mixture
of tears and alcohol,
to only lose it once more upon swallowing
the 5-tiered cake built on
guilt,
body-shaming barbs,
self-doubt,
anxiety,
fear?

Of finding it again
every time I put pen to paper and bled words –
a guttural spilling of thoughts and emotions
feverishly scribbled?

Must I write?

“Yes”, is what the pen replied.

 

 

 

 

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The man you were helped me become the woman I am

Happy birthday

What do you do when you wake up wanting to hear the voice of that one person reassuring you that you are still the strong child he raised, but can’t? You will your mind to recreate the voice in your head; you break a little more within when you realise you can’t remember the exact tone in which your father called out your name. And you hear your own voice repeat the words that bring peace to your troubled heart – ‘You have harmed none, you are strong and enough. You can make magic.’

This June, you taught me from beyond the grave to believe in the power of my own voice. On your 67th birthday, I want to raise a glass of beer (I was never the wine person, Dad, and I have a feeling you loved beer too, before you gave up alcohol for good) to the man you were.

To the man who taught me to punch knuckle-first to win, but also be graceful in defeat.

To the man who would proudly correct every guest who entered our house, glanced at the sports posters plastered everywhere, and said, ‘your son is quite the cricket fan’, with a ‘Yes, but my daughter is a bigger cricket fan than him and this is her work.’

To the man who never made me feel any dream of mine – no matter how ridiculous or outlandish – is out of reach.

To the man who reminded me that my size does not define me. “So, you’re short. Sunil Gavaskar is short. Did he not make the tallest West Indian bowlers cower in fright? Trust your talent, they’ll outshine your frame.”

To the man who, even in my darkest times, believed I was destined for greatness.

To the man who made me speak my mind, even when we held opposing views; who made me find my own voice so that when the day came that I forgot his, I had my own back.

To the man who raised me as an independent, strong woman; to the man who raised me to more than I could be.

Happy birthday, Dadda! I hope you got to cut the cake at midnight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dancing with my demons

Tripping over broken glass –

Shattered shards of an open window.

One that was left unbolted for far too long.

You wouldn’t believe the kind of men

Who paid their visit at home.

Some intruders – she slapped them away

Before they could gouge the meat off her thighs.

Some she invited herself. Men she came to love.

Men who she offered love dipped in tea and cakes.

To the last – she offered her soul.

 

She woke up from her reverie.

Cleaned the blood off her feet

To reveal tiny, sore punctures.

Stitch them up together

And they’d form the mosaic

That was her heart –

Jagged at the edges, a gaping hole in the middle

Crowned with a constellation of kisses

From her former lover.

She mused, maybe the infamous black hole

Was nothing else but the ticking organ she bore.

 

She tasted fire in the air.

Soot and smoke in her lungs.

Bookmarking those musings, she ran.

Wounded.

Her house was set alight.

 

Each door she opened,

Smelt stale.

Beer breath – the kinds she had once inhaled,

And made love to.

Bookmark those away, too,

She reprimanded herself.

Panicking.

Which door signaled escape?

 

Collapsing amid wood, ash, burned trinkets,

She fought no more;

Allowing the flames to lick her clean.

Holding close to her chest

A crumpled, old parchment that read –

‘Is there no way out of the mind.’

 

Plath’s words were the last thing she remembered

Before she went off to dance with her demons.

With love, Storm

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Photo credit: Meryl D’Sa

I am not afraid to show you exactly who I am.
I am not that thief who breaks into your home silently. Cowardly.
Stealing from you while you were still asleep in your world undisturbed.

No.

I will arrive on the Chariot of Darkness–
Drawn by faceless mighty beasts,
Their wings a fierce slate grey
The kinds that creep within your bones
And knock them off their hinges.

I will pound at your door!
Fists of cold fury. Roaring. Thundering.
I am going to bring your house down. Mark my words.
Dust, rubble, stones—that’s what the ordinary will be reduced to.

And as you sit windswept in that wreckage,
I will demand these answers from you:
How dare you walk through life without questioning
Everything you see in front of you?
How dare you let your worth
crumble into sand at your feet?
How dare you let the rivers of salt
Trickling from your eyes
Last long enough to fill an entire ocean?

How dare you not live?

I will come without a trace of fear.
Can you survive me?
Blue skies and sunshine will follow me
Can you outlive me?

Love,

Storm

 

Happy birthday Dadda!

Two warriors.

It’s your 66th birthday. I’d have bought the cake and hidden it. Placed a card strategically so that the first thing you see in the morning would be a cheesy greeting picked up at Archies. And then I’d have wished you in that awkward manner that was our own. But I believe birthdays up in  heaven would be a lot more fun, so I’ll leave you to that. Here are 26 life lessons you taught me before I could even turn 20. Until we meet again.

26 lessons my father taught me:

  1. Never give up
  2. Don’t take no for an answer
  3. Believe in yourself, even if you are the only one to do so
  4. Help others, especially when they cannot repay that help back
  5. Be kind to all, no exceptions
  6. Read, read, read and read some more. It makes you the person you are becoming
  7. Fall in love with sports. You won’t regret it EVER. Even when you fall ill and wake up from a surgery, ask what’s the score and not “how did my operation go?”
  8. I am the best. There’s no one who can do a job better than me (he believed so)
  9. I can move mountains. I only need to write the word
  10. Write, write, write and write some more. You have the gift of words, use it to script and tell your story to the world
  11. Voice your opinion. Nothing is gained by staying quiet. Your opinion counts, express it
  12. Have the courage to stand out from the crowd
  13. Believe in your dreams. You owe them that
  14. Drink what you want provided: you don’t get addicted and you don’t drink in depression
  15. Don’t smoke. It’s unhealthy. Period.
  16. Live your truth. The world may hate you for it
  17. You aren’t here to please the world. You will make enemies in life, it’s okay
  18. You will lose friends along the way. The ones who remain, hold them close
  19. Debate, argue. Don’t accept something just because someone told you to
  20. Think, think, think and think some more. Don’t walk through life passively
  21. No dream is too big. Keep at it patiently
  22. Hard work and discipline can triumph over talent
  23. Be proud of your humble beginnings. If you aren’t, the world won’t either
  24. Dont do things that make you unhappy
  25. Respect is earned, not demanded
  26. Love. In your own way. Even, and especially when, it is the toughest thing to do – love. It gives you the strength to do things you never thought you could

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And she sings

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For a while I’ll take refuge behind walls I built myself.

I’ll let my light fall in love with darkness.

I’ll let it flicker and dance hazily with the shadows in my head.

I’ll teach it to breathe; even if a slow ragged breath it be.

I’ll teach it to breathe in places that have never known

What it is to inhale life and exhale love.

I’ll let my Light shine strong

In Darkness’ blackest corners.

And thus shall my phoenix song be birthed.

Homecoming

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They asked me,
what would I save
for myself
from my house that
was set on fire?

Unsure. I had no answer to give.

I simply watched
the crumbling dust
that was my house
mingle with flaming ash
and settle at my feet.

I blinked back
at the blackened remnants,
much like God would
at the shattered fragments
of his child – Earth. (Mere days remain).

Five spoons of grief. Ten of regret.

We drank – God and I –
to destruction.

The home I built.
Burning rubble now.

I stepped to take a
last peek inside.
Hoping for waves of
bittersweet sadness
to wash over me.

I felt none.

I felt nothing.

Heart of stone, I heard them whisper.

And then they caught my eye.
Glinting in the dying embers
as triumphant warriors would.
Crossing the hillside as the sun rose,
heads thrown back in glory.

They escaped the fire
unscathed.
May be a scar or two
Cut through.
Scars – a reminder
of their courage,
their valour.
Brave indeed
to have stood up to
those monstrous licking flames!

That’s when I felt kinship
take birth within me.
I understood what brotherhood meant.
Heart of stone, is it? I whispered back
to the ghosts in my head.

I picked them up.
My jewels
that lay sweetly
among the ruins.

They were alive
for a purpose.
Who was I, then,
to deny them their destiny?

I let the rope slip itself
onto my neck.
My garland of roses.
I let the knife plunge into my heart.

Ah!
Flesh and bones.
And blood.

I whispered back
To the ghosts in my mind,
“Honey, I’m home.”