1.शकुनि

चातुर्य और कपट के बीच,
हम मापते हैं
संस्कार ने किसको
किस तरह ठगा,
फिर नियमों से सींच-
खेल के अंक 
हम नापते हैं।

हम स्मरण कराते 
बिसरे पाप, 
किसे छल रहे हो? 
हम पाप के विशेषज्ञ!
(ऐसा हमने सुना है)
तुम निश्छल नहीं
हर हिसाब हम जानते हैं।

जो शत्रु-पक्ष ईश्वर हुआ
तो स्वत: हम हुए दानव
जो ईश्वर छल करे, तो 
आवश्यकता है अधर्म
तत्काल उसे धर्म मानते हैं।
हमारी आवश्यकता ही
हमारा धर्म।
हम तो ईश्वर नहीं
हम नियमों से परे
हम गलत ही सही।
Index


2. Precocious

You look older than your age
Taller and also…more…
mature.
Isn’t that what they said?
Your father eyed the boys
looking at you with fear,
he always will. 
He should. 
You look older than your age
And you sound older, too
You know
It’s odd that the metaphors 
of birds and bees make sense to you.
That you know exactly why
the fear exists,
you should.
You look older than your age
Basically, you have, what they call
a woman’s body.
And you don’t want to be 
what they call a woman.
Because that would mean
you’re old enough
to procreate(fuck).
You want to vanish
and pretend that no one stares
that you’re too young
to be desired
too young to bleed
too young to think so much
before sitting in a certain way
or being too nice.
Stop. All your fears
are valid. But stop.
There is no end to the fleeing 
and you’ll get sapped 
of all the energy 
that you owe yourself.
Remember, you 
are more valid than your fears 
any day
And when you’re a woman
No matter how old 
or young you look
or feel-
be proud.
Index


3. Fantasy

Is this the real life?
Tis not, I say, I do
Does it feel real to you?
The real life cannot be
So mundane
So routine.
I’ll live on the other side
Painting vivid pink trees
See you there, if you would
Only care to follow me.
Index


4.No More

I can no longer taste you
As you send trails down my cheek 
I resist 
The urge to lick my own lips.
I can no longer taste you
They say you’re
More than impure-
You’re toxic.

I can no longer feel
Or let you feel 
The contours that you would trace
Drenching me 
Baring me to the world
Through translucent fabric.
I can no longer feel
So vulnerable.

I can no longer breathe
You in and feel
A new beginning.
Petrichor 
now only incites 
melancholy
You cannot infuse life 
With your scent anymore.

I can only watch 
Incredulous​, as you invade 
The Earth 
sometimes in strength
Sometimes in a caress
Too light
 To even be called
A drizzle.

For every time, 
you tap at my window
Shouting at me to take 
Me back, I can only feel 
Memories of you flooding,
Taking away my all.
For that deluge, 
I’m no longer prepared.
Index


5. Porcelain

fragile, pale, sophisticated
yet,
I was always placed 
on the edge. 
How callous 
would one have to be,
to teeter 
a collectible, like me
without thought. 
Was I not
visibly breakable?
Handle
With
Care.

You’d leave me 
for hours at end
with sweetened
bitter concoctions
staining me, 
And I’d sigh 
with the thought
paining me
Despite my intricacies
I’m just another vessel
to satiate
your bourgeoisie tastes.

How utterly 
satisfying was it
to finally fall
off that edge;
only time you wept.
You had other cups
But you wept for me
Perhaps the sound 
of beauty shattering 
melted you.
I was loved
for a moment,
at least.
Index


6.How to Make a Human

i. Allow 
For variation
To what 
You learn. 
Human
can be 
different 
shades and
You don’t get
to decide
which one
fits someone 
who isn’t you.

ii. Human error
wasn’t coined
to wash away
your responsibility.
Own up, today.
Listen, 
when they 
accuse and
apologize
And pray,
Errors aren’t
all that make 
you human.

iii. Don’t be
What fear
dictates
Fear of 
Rejection
Alienation
Death
Life,too long,
Punishment. 
Because right
Is right
Even
Without 
approval.

iv. Do not
Cause more 
Pain
Only because 
You’ve seen 
Some.
Bearing 
doesn’t 
entitle you. 
Karma needn’t
work through you.
Seek help,
not revenge
the world 
doesn’t
Owe you.

v. Breathe
Exist
Survive
Thrive
Falter
And do not
blame yourself
for imperfections.
There
is 
no rule.
You already 
are.
Index


7.Pause

Pause like 
You’re figuring out 
Words without subtitles.
You don’t know the 
Story, what if
You miss a plot twist
Because you went on
Assuming.

Pause like 
you’re straining 
to remember where
You’ve heard that tune before. 
What if you miss 
The chance to recall 
Your favourite melody
Unfeeling.

Pause like
You need to breathe
After that breathless soliloquy
It was brilliant
But you’re out of ideas 
And you need to 
Refresh, without
Biases.

Pause like
That moment of realisation-
“I left the stove on. 
What if my house is on fire.”
Pause, and recall
before you run back,
Anxious.

Pause like
You’ve seen your first rainbow
Or recognised a constellation by yourself or held hands, shaking
In anticipation. 
Pause, before you wake up
To the regularity 
Of it all.

Pause,

until you’re ready 
To sacrifice your
Innocence.
Index


8.Fire

It gives a lovely light! 
In the midst of that soot 
The asphyxiation
That beauty laps 
At my flesh
As we all burn.

First fig
-Edna St. Vincent Millay​.
My candle burns at both ends; 
 It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends — 
 It gives a lovely light!

(Prompt-Last line of favourite poem)
Index


9. Rules

Must be enforced
Disobedience
punished
Questions
Nipped 
In 
The bud.

We cannot have
Them 
Think.
Index


10. Necessary evil

So many 
sobriquets
For you
Chums 
Like you’re a friend
Periods
Like you’ll stop
“I’m down.” 
With? 
Blood?

You cannot
Be ignored
Not when you
Influence
Moods 
Senses
People
Words
Deeds
Seeds
That could not
Be sown.

Cannot live 
With you
Cannot live 
Without you
And when
You’re around
I always
Have heightened
Senses
So I know
You’re here
Before 
you can declare 
Me impure
Until you leave. 
And I would 
be impure
If you didn’t
Arrive
On time
Every time.

So, I’ve made peace
Come again.
Try not to hurt me
But do not
Do not
Desert me.
Index


11. Why Humans Speak

Recognise
Feel
Analyse
Blink
Think
Taste 
Sniff,
The chaste
Whiff
Of desire,
Sweat
From fire,
Lest
It die,
Sparks
Fly,
Hands
Fettered
Crevices
Uncharted
So
Humans 
Speak
Before
They 
Can
Do.
Index


12. Bihari

I come from 
The place you 
Have laughed at 
All your life
And still do
Every time 
I bring it up.
So I politely
Laugh with you.

Our vowels
More open
Our dialect funny
Funny how we always
Always sit cross legged.

Rustic!
You proclaim
Like it’s a bad thing
Like I only belong 
where I come from.
But I go where I go
And I remain
A Bihari.
Index


13. Friend

You tell me
Of paid media
Propaganda
Unresearched
Articles
And
Far fetched
Conspiracy 
theories
That actually
Make sense.

You tell me
Of utopian
Ideas
Ill implemented 
Of fake 
reputations dented.

You twirl
Ideas,
Think;
Debate
As I blink 
Incredulous-
The headlines
Would meet
A passive reader.
Over that 
Strong cup of tea
You save me
From apathy.
#newspaper
Index


14. SLEEP

Sing to yourself softly
Lull yourself to oblivion
Ere nightmares arise from memory
Each vying for space 
Pushing away your dreams, undreamt.
#acrostic
Index


15.Urmila

We cannot part,
Said the brother
We cannot part, said
the brother’s half
So, parting is my fate.
And I’m split 
Between duty
(not mine)
And love
(Perhaps mine)
Too delicate
For exile,
Declared unfit
For being 
by your side.
Hiding behind 
palatial curtains
I peek, looking 
for escape
(Or maybe an 
Escapade?)
I find nothing. 
Not you
No function
So, I decide
To accept
My fate
With love
Hibernate.
Index


16.Karna(Entitled)

Inspiring envy
Not lifting 
A finger
I was born
Entitled. 
Gleaming armour
On chest
Chunks of gold 
On ears;
Entitlement
Means nothing
When the metal
Weighs you down.

Could have 
drowned
Before they​
Could cherish
The boon 
Of a cursed
Child
Parents 
Who were,
Because of 
A child
Set afloat.

Entitlement
Means nothing
When your 
Mettle
Weighs you down.
Strength became
An excess
The rough edges 
that were
To be 
sandpapered.

Yet those unentitled
Live
They smile
Sans complaint
And I
I wonder
If dissatisfaction
Was allowed
To those cursed 
With 
Entitlement.
Index


17. शिवाङ्गी

माँ कहती है
तुम्हें पुकारने 
के बहाने
देवी-देवताओं का
आह्वान कर लेते हैं-
हिचक भी कम होती है
जब तुम सुन लेती हो
तो सुकून मिलता।
जब कोई दर्द हो-
शिवांगी!
और अधिक हो 
तो- शिवि।

माँ कहती है
कुछ आशा होती है
नाम रखते वक्त
नाम से कुछ अर्थ 
उस अर्थ से 
वह इंसान 
जुड़ा होता है।

माँ कहती है
भूल हो गई
जो महादेव से 
नाम जोड़ा,
वो भी दोहरा कर-
शिवांगी शंकर।
महादेव का अंग भी
महादेव भी-

माँ कहती है
नाम से प्रेरित हो
कुछ अधिक प्रेम है
एकांत से
कुछ अजीब आसक्ति है
नाटक से
कुछ विरक्त से हैं
संसार से
कुछ मगन से हैं
संगीत में
रीति से परे
भेद करने से इनकार
भाव जो हो 
तो अति ही हो।

माँ कहती है
कुछ हल्का नाम
बेहतर होता
पर जब वो
मेरा नाम जपती है
तो लगता है
किसी ने 
प्रार्थना सुन ली हो।
Index


18. Dirt

Has nothing to lose
Hurt
Will only make it finer
As it layers you
In itself. 
And if you wash off the dirt
Stripping yourself of each speck
You’d be dirty because you’re bare.
Dirt
Has nothing to lose.

Feel it
With your bare hands
Seal it
Into your wrinkles
Caress the skin 
You shed everyday
Breath in the dust
You kick up with each
Movement. 
Or choke yourself
Holding your breath.
Dirt
Has nothing to lose.

Dirt 
Has nothing to lose
Skirt
Every hint of it
Coat yourself 
In layers of vacuum
Till you wither away
Untouched.
Until
You
Are
Dirt.
Dirt
Has nothing to lose.
Index


19. Conditioning

It’s a bad, bad world
They said sifting through lessons
And we’ve been lying
About justice
“Lie-?”
Shush. 
You aren’t prepared
For This.
It’s a big, big world
They said, in loud whispers
And you, you’re little
And weak. 
“But-”
Hush. 
You’re a lady, 
be meek. 
It’s a mad,mad world
They said stroking whiskers
And you, you’re weird
And alone.
“What-?”
Shhh. 
Blend in. 
Ere it’s known.
Index


20. Don’t let me

If I ruled the world
I would not be
Human. 
You would not be
Human. 
Speciation
Would have led to 
A race evolved
Differently-
Quieter
Slower
Calmer.
A species
Less entitled
The pinnacle
Of evolution
But look-
I *am*
Human
And I’m already
Proud
of my plans
For the race. 
And I’m already
Reconsidering
And annihilation
Has occurred to me
Thrice. 
And regret has hit me
Four times since. 
So, I wouldn’t advise
To let me
Rule the world.
Index


22. Don’t let me(2)

I wouldn’t
Advise
To let me
Rule the world. 
Look 
At what I’ve done
With mine. 
The chaos
Followed by 
A complete 
Emptiness
Then suddenly
Fresh starts
With a promise
Of order
And then-
Chaos. 
Let me
Limit my 
Excuses 
To myself. 
My world
I owe 
To none else
So, I take 
My liberties.
Don’t let me 
Rule the world
Your world
Don’t make me
Your queen
Because
I can’t take 
My liberties
With you. 
I can’t let 
you live
With what 
I live with. 
You cannot 
Make your world
mine.
Index


25. Swooning

Sweep me off my feet, with
Sleepy eyes and heavy lid
Slurping sweet tooth yearning for
Sweet and drooling-
Slowly, sucking, licking my lips
Sin has changed definition
Since you swept me off my feet.
Index


26. Sensitivity

Also sensitive to 
temperature, touch, pressure 
and 
tickle sensations.
You heard that right
She can feel. 
‘Neath that poker face
She curses you
when you burn her
Spewing vitriol. 
‘Neath that rigid stance
She shivers
when your fingers 
trace her spine.
Her breath hitches
Your lips pressed
Against her pulse.
And when you
Tickle, softly
She stifles her giggles…

She can feel. 
At least, 
she’s supposed to.
Index


27. I am- Brown

The wet
shade of nature,
murkier
when water 
washes it.
The hard
core of fertile
green, dead
rings 
of strength. 
The bitter
concoction
jerking 
seductively into
wakefulness. 
The coagulum
reminiscent-
of errors 
and sacrifice,
Of red. 
The skin
Unpainted
Caressed 
by a shade
darker;
Browner,
A concentrate
Of me.
Index


28. Wallet

Tales of being 
Unceremoniously flung
Aside at whim.
Kissed when filled 
On the charity
Of the elders.
Stuffed with Band-Aids 
For the numerous
Scratches with
Source unknown. 
Plastic money tucked 
Away in layers 
Of plastic.
Identity tucked 
behind the money.
Layers and layers
Of money 
Un-entitled.
Index


29. Do the new

Chaos yearns
Habit.
A pattern providing
Solace.
Chaos learns 
ritual.
A pretence
Of knowledge.
Chaos churns
Outrage.
A destruction 
Of ritual, habit.

It foments
Unrest 
Until there’s 
A new, better
Pattern.
In chaos
Revel.
In chaos 
Resurrect
All that is
Decadent.
Index


30.Ever After

It’s funny how you think
I’m not listening;
my eyes
glistening
mean you can get away
with-
anything.

You’re emotional
unprepared
impractical
underdressed
overreacting.”
Tears invalidate my claims
of you being insecure.
“You’re paranoid
condescending
hysterical
unbending.”
You scoff at my refusal
to compromise.
Decision-
makes me the bad guy.
Ambition-
makes me the bad guy.
Seeking reassurance
makes me the bad guy
Your convenience-
makes me the bad guy.
My empathy is misplaced.
Your insecurity presents
as hurt and I
understand.

I’m not the bad guy.
Take me,
I surrender
to your decisions,
to your ideas of
desires that are
acceptable in society.
I don’t need
to ask anymore
I know, this
is what you need
And the noise
in my head
has now been bred
to whisper
only when you’re not
around.
Take me
love,
yours
happily
ever
after.
Index