Going places


There’s a story that needs telling

Like any other legend of time,

There once was a horseman calling

Out to the dusky skylight.
He said he was a traveller

Who craved paths and desolation

When in actual, he was a proud cavalier

Who never wanted a camaraderie or a destination.
But, here he is today, stranded

In an expanse of lonesomeness,

Besides grief, the only thing he befriended

Was apprehension from himself and bitterness.
And so he calls out to the sky to help

Him out of a devil’s trap,

But even the stars couldn’t respond to his yelp

And cries, to provide him a map.
And so he galloped day and night,

On his black as beetle horse,

But soon he ran out of might,

And there was nothing left except remorse.
He died doing what he loved to do,

Which was to run away from places

But, he stopped loving it and got his cue

To return, only it was too late.
I remember this tale from long ago,

And wondered what it meant,

Until I was the one running around, never too slow,

Never a home for postcards to be sent.
And after that,

Going places did not make sense to me,

When every place was a place to go and then to leave.

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To, Hosseini

What to leave behind,

When everything is taken,

Them hopes,

Burried blindly

In some graveyard with Mariyam,

Some dreams,

Destroyed barbarously

Like an unseen, all grown up Hassan,

Some love,

Snatched away heartlessly

Like Abdullah’s memory,

Now I am stuck

On this page, wondering

If you were more cruel

Than Alzheimer’s,

Or more wicked

Than the Soviet Army.

An ounce of laughter

With Laila’s nuances

Or Amir’s romance

Or Pari’s plight

Was never enough,

To mend a heart

Boiled and burned

By your twists and turns,

What reperation

Did you give

For the nights 

Deprived of sleep,

For the drives

Bereft of senses,

For the aimless reading

Of other books

Devoid of focus,

Just because my mind

Was fixated

On Sohrab’s numbness

On Tariq’s uncertain return

On the voices

That will echo

When I return

To the mountains

Inside an abandoned dream.

Which you always knew,

I will.

Sooner more than later.

So, Don’t you dare take pride

In converting-

A world that you created-

Into my oyster.

Because when other books fail,

The poems that I write,

THIS poem that I write-

Takes me away,

From the Kolba, Kabul and finally,

Afghanistan

Into the garden

That is far beyond the ideas

Of your wrongdoings

(And sadistic pleasures

Of killing souls

Filled upto the brim

With divine mysticism,

Whom I loved with

All my dear heart),

And your rightdoings

(Of evoking emotions

And suppressed tears

That had almost died

Living inside me,

Burried somewhere deep

In the depth that you scraped,

With your pages,

Your words,

Their wounds

And deaths),
And I will meet

Nila and Mariyam and Jalil,

Hassan and Baba and Rahim,

And hopefully you,

In this garden

That I created for you.

How to save a life

One, Tell them they are more music than muscles and bones

Where each note plays perfectly

Inside strings of nerves

And hollows of synapses

To create actions that weren’t written or decided for them

To create a symphony unimagined by Mozart.

So that when they are deemed a sidekick by an orchestra

And handed over a tambourine,

Tell them to go up on the stage

And play their best version of ‘The tambourine man’.
Two, Capture sunshine in the space between your palm and theirs

When they sit alone on the bench

Right outside the school canteen,

Go upto them and say Hi.

In time, when rays of the sun fall between your hand and theirs,

Hold their hand.

And let the warmth send something electrifying up their cold veins

let them know 

That it’s not hard to catch warmth

Which almost always

Lies at the end of their sleeves.
Three, take them out for a bicycle ride

Up the highest hill in your town,

Pedal.

Not opening your mouths as you move uphill,

Talk with your breaths if you need to.

Pedal.

Listening to the birds,

To the trees,

To the grains of sand beneath your tires 

talk.

Tell them to listen to what goes inside themselves,

The metal clinks , the waterfalls, the bomb blasts

That are drowned by the noise of citylife.

Pedal,

Till you reach the top,

And then release.

Tell them to let all those sounds out from the compression of helplessness

Into the valley of relief that spreads ahead.
Fourth, listen to them as they play their tunes for you,

Sneak some chocolates for yourself and them too,

I said chocolates, and not cigarettes.

For once

Let ashtrays be eulogies

Written to the gavel that you strike

When you pass judgements against them,

And chocolates be lullabies

That you sing to them,

On days when they are crying.

As you teach them to love chocolates more than cigarettes,

And listen to their songs,

You will realise that somewhere,

they have saved your life too.
Fifth, let them know,

When their path leads to a dead end,

Or a diversion,

Or a U-turn,

Right where they stop their car with screeching breaks,

Around that corner, they will always find someone

Who will write them a poem,

Like this one,

Acting as lyrics to the music in their muscles and bones

To create a song worth living for.

ME, RADHIKA.

My Father named me after,
The power of the God he believes in.
Yet, soon
I became his power.
So, my morning yawns became fragments
Of his strength
As he calls out my name
And gently tells me to wake up:

It’s time,

He says.
My name means the power of the universe,
And sometimes
I believe it too,
Urging myself to remember it.
Yet, my memory is a deceitful ally
That looks gleefully
As I fall face first into the sandpit of self doubt.

I start

To fall deeper
And deeper
Until all that’s left around me
Is sand and thistle
That suffocates each cell inside me,
And makes every synapse of my body
Regret the space it’s taking.
They say,
Power is in

Listening,

Then how is it that each time I listen,
To what others have to say
About me,
My name loses it’s relevance.
They tell me,
I am too bold with my words,
I am too naive with my choices,
I am too proud with my thoughts.
I think

To myself

That I wear my words and choices and thoughts
As an armour against their validation,
As the mini skirt their eyes are too ‘purified’ to see me wearing,
As the pantsuit that they dread their sons will answer to.
I want to tell them that my father named his daughter
After the power of God
And I am his strength.

So the next time they tell me this,
I use this power to light the corners of
The pit of affliction and doubt
I had fallen into,
And I solemnly voice the vibration
Inside the long suppressed cells and synapses,
To tell them:
It’s me who knows the meaning of my name

And not them.

~RS


My fear committed suicide

Mum said she will be out in the​ evening 

For groceries today,

So when I come back home,

I should heat my food and eat it.

Pretty normal instructions, eh?

However, what she didn’t say

Was that the neighborhood had a blackout today.

So when I turned the corner of my street,

And started walking towards my house,

I became a kitten hiding away from the bathtub.
A confession, I am  scared of the dark.

To the extent that I might die

If someone jumped out from behind the shadows at me.

And it’s NOT FUNNY. 

Yet , with my shredded courage and jell-o- turned legs, 

I hobble, then run , then rocket towards my house at the​ end of the street.

Turn the key and slam the door behind me.

Only to realise,

The dark is worse inside.

Breathe, I tell myself.

At least, you know your way in here.

Adrenaline kicks in at the exact same moment,

And after what feels like Winter’s end in the Arctic,

The Fight mode activates.

Think, I mutter aloud. Think.

Mum said the torch was in the kitchen! Yes!

So I rush towards my sword in the stone,

Trying to find my way around the shoe rack ,

The cabinet

The closet
Ouch! Damn the stupid door. Who placed it here anyway. I told Dad that this house didn’t need doors. Stupid object!

My heart and head both throbs now , one with fear and the other with pain.

Bingo, great combination.
My fingers finally find the shelf to the right, Just below the slap.

I try to find a metal cylindrical thing ,

And then

I freeze.

There’s something cold and slimy between my fingers.

All the stories of ghosts​ and vampires being cold and godknowswhat rush into my head

And i fall on the ground.

Shouting and flailing.

Just then, 

The lights go on.

My mother stands there, 

Looking at me, horrified.

What do you think you are doing?! I look towards the shelf again. 

Relief and humour. Bingo, another great combination!

So I almost die,

This time, Not from the fear

But from choking on laughter.
Apparently,

It was just my evening meal

A goddamned cheese lassagna.
So, that’s how my fear of darkness committed suicide.

/Fin/