VERSE | MIST

The winter mist is rolling in 
Casting umbras and penumbras
On liquid walls conjuring
Illusions of nostalgic things
Like tapestries of sunny hills
And shadowlands where
valleys stretch
Into soft concaves
Of velvety darkness shimmering
At their edges, glimmering
In the halos of lit up orbs
Glittering, pulsating
Watching and observing all
Like eager sentries making sure
The invading mist
Covets no more
Than the silver kiss
That it bestows
On each doorway
As it tiptoes
In and then away
Into the darkness further along
All the while
As it glides
Whispering its vapory song.

VERSE | OUTSIDE IN

We were talking
About this and that
The conversation meandering
Sometimes off the beaten track
Into more private realms
Reticent spaces holding
Secret reflections, introspection
Ruminations that had rarely seen
The light of day
Hesitating, faltering, we walked along
That path hewn on the cusp of right and wrong
Where perplexing thoughts lay vulnerable, bare
And then we heard the call to prayer

She rose with an alacrity borne of custom
With velvety smooth liquid motions
Like a babbling stream that has
No more reason to be but because
It can flow gliding in its bed of silt and stone
She floated through the ritual
Sure, secure in the discerning eyes
Of her faithful world. On the outside
She had done the needful, the right thing
She came back to our conversation
Her face shining with virtue, beneficence

But now the doors were closed
To the questions that had peeked through
The heavy, opaque veils of tradition and goodness
Back they had sunk into the clenched depths
From which they had inadvertently crept
She looked at me with guarded eyes
Lest I scratch that surface again
Lest she forget what keeps her true and safe

I smiled and she smiled back at me
“Have another cup of tea”
She said bringing the conversation
Back to the glittering streets
Of the daily treads of teeming feet
And I followed, leaving the track
Lit up by mysterious stars and the soul-searching gleam
Of the moon that now shone on our backs.
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NEW BOOK RELEASE | SHIMMERING SCRAPS OF POETRY AND MADNESS

Dear friends and family,

It is with great excitement and pleasure that I introduce my second book for the grownups – my book of poetry and essays titled SHIMMERING SCRAPS OF POETRY AND MADNESS. The book will be available across bookstores in Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the end of December 2022. Friends in SL can currently order it from the Jam Fruit Tree bookstore on Galle Road via call/WhatsApp to 072-7268078.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

This is a collection of poems and essays, humble opinions, rumblings of the heart about the joys, the truths, the pain, the controversies, the funniness and the wonder that criss cross all our lives in one way or another. I have compiled them here because too many times, we are witnesses to profound beauty, love, dreams, desolation, prejudice and injustice and yet, we forget.

The contents of these pages range from the sublime to the ridiculous; from soaring on the wings of ecstacy to struggling with overwhelming despair; from the capricious joys of matrimony to the dubious delights of singledom; from the profound ecstasy in a mug of steaming latte to the ardent disappointment in a less than perfectly brewed cup of tea; from the comedic to the somber and from the customary to the controversial, this collection of poems and features encompasses them all.

Scraps of Poetry and Madness is a phrase borrowed from that literary Wonder Woman, Virginia Woolfe. For in this collection too, there is a stream of raw and strident, passive and ruminative, joyous and grief-bound, mad and glad thoughts that run like a melody through the entirety of its spine; and like a sore-throated bulbul (who also has some good-voice days) I have sung them all for my readers.

VERSE | STILLNESS

There is a peace in solitude
It comes with a little practice
At first you miss the cacophony
Of everyday distractions

But the heart in time learns to grow still
You can almost see your breath
Weaving its vapory way out of
Your lungs in a silver thread

Every inhale is deep and calm
You close your eyes each time
You feel your blood rush in your veins
You feel serene, you feel alive

Time slows down, each moment glides
Almost visibly away
But not before it wraps you
In its visceral array

It is Now, and Now is all
There is for you to know
It’s in this time of solitude
That your calm and stillness grow.

VERSE | REMINISCENCE

You said to look for you in blooms
The most vibrant that adorned
The sunny yellow Amalthas
As it stood verdant in the lawn

I chose a bower in my mind
It was you whispering to me
Everytime a drizzle fell
Or when she murmured in the breeze

But then came fall and with it all
The flowers began to drop
I held my breath as I watched
but you stayed shimmering on

You wore your golden yellows
Dancing in your green abode
But then nature came calling your name
You were the last to free your hold

You whispered softly one last time
As you let go of the tree
I watched but did not linger, I
Imagined you somewhere roaming free

But in my heart I’ve always known
You’ve shredded up your form
With all your love and courage
Back into the earth you’ve gone

You said that I should look for you
In the things that make me smile
I see you now in leaves and flowers
In the rain and the fireflies.

VERSE | HEALING

She looks down at the empty page 
Something is on her mind
A plot, a verse for better or worse
For the rest, a pithy line

But nothing stirs into rank and file
For her to string together
The words and phrases spin like crazy
She just can’t find the tether

“I looked at him in puzzlement…”
No today she couldn’t go there
“She sat serene and beautiful
With a magnolia in her hair…”

She felt herself choke a little
She couldn’t walk there either
In sepia-toned dreams is where
She felt happiest seeing her

A cup of tea, a pastry
That sublime combination
Surely she could muster up
Something for that occasion

But her thoughts were far away
They were looking at something else
The woman poised upon her page
Needed healing herself

So they had set up a little storm
In the space of her tearing mind
Whirling, swirling round and round
Until the pain was left behind

Then to her blue-stung heart they went
To gently numb the precious space
Odes to life’s ripple and swell
Could wait for another day.

VERSE | CRESCENT MOON

The crescent moon shone overhead 
She wore a tilted smile
I looked at her and asked wherefore
She smiled so, was she shy?

Convinced that in her timid state
She hadn’t heard my query
As she perched in her cosmic grove
Smiling lopsidedly

So I cupped my hands around my mouth
The lady was full of guile
“O Crescent moon, you nighttime boon
Give the world a real smile!”

She seemed to laugh and hid herself
In some gossamer clouds nearby
But her glowing curve still favored
The right side of the sky

I watched her play hide and seek
Showing a bit of her askew smile
Floating, gliding through the clouds
I was enchanted, mesmerized

I turned away, this sensory play
Called for a brew of tea
Mug in hand, when I looked again
She was beaming cheek to cheek.
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VERSE | METAMORPHOSIS

This is for all those who have survived emotionally, mentally and physically abusive relationships. For those who have discovered the precious blessing of sleeping deeply, peacefully without being haunted by crippling anxiety and the renewed torture that every new day would inevitably bring in its wake.

I look at him 
Threatening, raging
Berating me
The cruel words sidling in
Between his verbal pounding
I recognise, I see
His enterprise
To humiliate me
To agitate, to fluster me
To intimidate
To paralyze me.
I’m going to leave you
One of these days
If you tell
Anyone anywhere
About any of this
I swear
I will make you into the beas
t
The one unfit
The one tearing down this relationship


I look at him
Frozen in place
My heart still
I’m incapable
Of seeing beyond
My fear
I’m incapable
Of seeing anything
Beyond the terrifying sacredness
Of the union
We signed together
I’m incapable
I’m powerless
I’m numb
All I hear is a hum
A white noise in my head
Autonomous, involuntary
Humming humming humming
Preserving my sanity
Maybe my life …

And then one day
He followed through
On all the threats
That he had let loose
Into the fabric
Of our togetherness
I’m l e a v i n g y o u
He said, emotionless
This time there was no
Placating hum
No cloaking thrum
Inside of me
Hiding me, shrouding me
I looked at him
Cold sweat gripping
My face, my neck
The insides of my thighs
Dripping, dripping endlessly
But my mouth was parched
My lips were dry
I felt like I was going to die

But I didn’t crumble
In the wind
Whirling in the murky
Depths of things
I survived
I stayed alive
That shared horizon
Spilling blood
Dirty linen streaked with mud
Was washed into the sea
Decaying into infinity
A whole new realm had suddenly
Stretched out in front of me
Full of peace and gratefulness
Gladness and serenity
Where I was calm and I was whole
I had my body and my soul
There was no fear
No agony
No trauma filled spaces
Beckoning me

Like Kafka’s Metamorphosis*
In reverse
I have broken through the curse
No more thrashing, crashing heart
Petrified and frozen limbs
No more grim hellishness
Of emotional poison stings
Making me cry, making me cringe
I’m still here. I’m here still
My lungs now take in their fill
My heart is beating rhythmically
No suffocating anxiety
Once more I hold the hand of the child
That has lived in my soul all this while
For her
Nothing is impossible.
* KAFKA’S METAMORPHOSIS: 
Metamorphosis is a novella written by Franz Kafka which was first published in 1915 and is considered one of his best works. The main themes revolve around the burden of responsibility, isolation and alienation, and sacrifice.
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VERSE | SOULFUL INTERLUDES

I look at the leaves
Serrated edges, little flowers
And I wonder
About its identity
The shrub growing under the amalthas tree
You would know
You always knew
As we walked in the street
Outside the house
You could name every flower
And every tree
Every creeper
Even the sickness
That gripped some of the leaves

You looked at these
Concerned, everything else forgotten
The fact that your own body
Was racked with disease
That ever-present pall softened
By the enormity of your being
Your own pain erased
And at that time, in that moment
I too forgot
The wheelchair that you were in
That you were ill; that we were grief stricken
I dived right in, feeling, seeing
You weaving magic around everyday things
Flowers and trees grew chimerical wings

The swaying kachnar
The beskirted Ashokas
Bobbing profusions
Of jasmine and phlox
Fragrant bunches
Of nargis and freesias
You pointed them out with happy ease
And worried when any of these
Were less than their perfect selves
And I too smiled and looked
In wonder
At how joyfully you revelled in it all
Holding infinity in your lit up face
Offering up so much love and grace

And for those moments
I too forgot
The pain and the grief
It was you and me
Sadness free
While you took me on ethereal trips
Where nature in all her fullness
Unfurled - beautiful, calming, brave
We were carried away on a gentle wave
The pitted leaves
Still vital and green
Were the only things we needed to save

VERSE | NIGHTFALL

Twilight descends upon the world 
All is bathed in a pale golden shimmer
The cacophony of daytime
Has softened to a gentle murmur

Soon the leaves begin to whisper
In the branches of the trees
They nod their heads in time
To the playing of the breeze

A serendipitous cloudburst
Falls softly on the grass
Before she mists our eyes with sleep
Earth cavorts in one last dance

Birds and beasts have disappeared
Under the velvety cloak of night
They all settle down to sleep
In the twinkle of her star light

The night time creatures stir awake
There’s a chirring in the air
A low hoot, the flap of wings
The darkening world is now theirs

As eventide wraps her arms around
Our earth of blue and green
I too lie in the hollow of her hands
And wait for restful dreams

VERSE | THE SWEET SPELL OF PAIN

Barefoot I walk onto the path 
I don’t know where it leads
I’m propelled, compelled forward
By the sensation in my feet

Onwards they take me further and further
There’s an airiness in my heart
I step lightly, sprightly forward
Along that glittering path

I look around me as I walk on
Nature is everywhere
A butterfly flits close to my toes
I want to stop right there

But onwards I walk, I skip, I leap
My feet have a mind of their own
They’re taking me down the scenic route
So on and on I roam

My face now wears a little smile
My atoms are swaying too
And my feet they keep the rhythm
Glide one-two, one-two.

A melancholy melody almost a moan
Comes wafting in on the breeze
I close my eyes, feel its ebb and rise
As I stroll in the bower of trees

There’s something else that I can feel
Hiding in the shrubs nearby
Heavy, leaden, bruised and raw
It’s getting closer all the time

As I walk with eyes closed my eyelids fly open
Everywhere is shadowy grey
For a little while there in my sleep
My aching feet had swept me away

VERSE | THE FACE IN THE MIRROR

I look in the mirror at the face 
That looks back at me
Silent, still, waiting for something
An acknowledgment maybe

I need to see that she’s alive, I blink
She blinks back at me
I let her know that I’ve seen her
She does the same for me

I look into the dark brown eyes
Her gaze is focused and serene
I blink again to understand
To read that look, to glean

She smiles a little smile then
The pleasantries out of the way
She and I are closer now
Than we were yesterday

I notice the lines that now hug
The corners of her eyes
They tell tales of highs and lows
Of when she fell and when she thrived

My glance slips down to the smiling mouth
Lines embrace that feature too
Telling both in prose and verse
Of times both cheery and blue

I look again into the eyes
I see a twinkle in them now
Still room for grace and joyfulness
Before life’s final bow