VERSE | JUST ANOTHER FAIRYTALE

… Only because more and more it seems like the apple doesn’t fall far from its rotting, pestilential tree. But being the eternal optimist that I am, I’m hoping that a handful of the sons and daughters are at least questioning the political and entrepreneurial legacy they are inheriting from their thieving, deceiving, mobster parents and grandparents. But then I also think, who am I kidding! Still, here’s a verse which is probably farce by its very idealism.

I look at the statement 
That I have received
At the burgeoning wealth
In my off-shore company
I revel in the fact
That I’ve paid zero tax
To the exchequer of my home country.
“Remember your legacy and your roots”
I always say to my progeny
They will of course some day
Fill my stompingly ample boots

I see the smirk
On my son’s face
It always gets to me
In some weird way
“I’m involved in this
Complex enterprise
Always walking
On the edge of a knife!
For your sister and you
So get on the same page!
Boy, this churlishness
Is not a good look!
Show some gratitude!”
I thunder and rage

“You’re stealing from people
In thieving hoardes
Tradition and Legacy
Are just hollow words
If this is my ethos,
Why does it reek
Of insult, deception
Of sly treachery
I don’t want these roots
No, no thank you
These gnarled and twisted
Tendrils of greed!”
He looks at me
With storms in his eyes
Intimidating me
Cutting me down to size

He looks at the statement
That he has received
Of the plundered millions
In his off-shore company
He holds it gently
Almost reverently
Even as he upbraids
And tongue-lashes me
He now stares me down
I have to look away
But at least I found the courage
To finally have my say

VERSE | THE SHOW MUST JOE ON!

A tad controversial? Maybe. But am I still saying it out loud, in rhyme and meter no less? But of course. Some folks mull over things in the privacy of their heads, others whisper them in low tones while my iPad … well, it just blurts them out, no holds barred. Whoosh! Here it comes like a sweetly painful winter chill to get your adrenaline up and your spine a-tingle.

Hello 46th* 
Are you seeing this?
A war has been stoked
Europe has refugees - Look!
The shock of it!
Afghanistan and Kashmir
Don’t count; neither does
The Middle East
Oh please!
The world is used to those
People, forever in the throes
Of some tragedy,
Some devilry,
Some new-fangled holocausts
Of their own

Russia, the land of Ruskis and Putin
You do so hate them all, Joe Biden
Your last names though
Have such a harmonious ring
Putin, Biden … Biden, Putin
But I digress, your sentiments
Have reached across the continents
To grapple at the throat
Of that villainous foe
That Trump-loving pariah
That creator of election drama
That divider of the faithful
And good American folks

Oh, and you’re still not over
The Hunt for Red October*
The hunt that Hunter* hunted
Via the Kiev crossover
All the chickens that got away
Came home to roost and lay
Their devilled eggs, without the yolks
Putin had them all artichoked!
You believe in all of it
The fairytale, the who-dunnit
To Russia is where all the trenches lead
Putin has always been so full of sheeet!

So now there’s bloody war afoot
The gloves are off, we’re all in it
It’s the same old American adage
“You’re with us or you’re with the villains”
And while you’re beating
That hoodoo drum
The whole world is slipping
Into a recession.
There’s no food, no fuel,
No jobs to do
These trickle-down economics
Don’t affect you
They make their insidious paths towards
The poor, the beaten, the never seen nor heard

Hellooo 46th
Do you at least see
How so much is attributable
To you directly?
The depression, the frustration
The agony
That is doing the rounds
On its maleficent spree
I can see how you wont
See this like we do
How? you declare, can
Uncle Sam be such a brute?!
But you are! You are!
And a bully to boot!
On a final note, dear Joe
May A tad bit of third worldliness
That has so diligently been foisted on us
Graciously, karmically circle around
To you and yours. Please be assured
It will be an experience profound.
* 46th: the 46th president of the USA

* The Hunt for Red October: Tom Clancy’s debut novel, it shows the contrast between Soviet and American societies as exemplified by their militaries. Another significant theme that is played out on several levels of the novel is that of betrayal.

* Hunter: Joe Biden’s son who is rumoured to have had dodgy business connections with Ukraine.

VERSE | THE SCREAM

Listen to the poem being read here: https://vt.tiktok.com/ZSdn6UdCw/?k=1

A storm is unleashed
In sheets upon sheets
Of pouring rain
In a cacophony
Pounding the ears
Pounding the earth
For a while
The storm becomes a part of me
I listen …
I hear a howl, a primal cry
I’m agitated, it feels so familiar
I still my breath …
I know that voice
I’ve heard it before
Finding itself
In a tropical downpour
As the sky tore open its breast
Pouring out its glutted greyness
On my world that was floating upon
Even tides of peace and rest
I heard it then, the banshee scream
It swelled upon the torrents that
Came down in never ending sheets
I heard it then as I hear it now
That voice that is screaming inside me

VERSE | I LURRRVE YOU!

This is for the ladies. Amidst all the funniness abounding in the verse, there is a subtle message of self love and self reliance.

Here’s hoping that we can always read between the literal and figurative noisy lines that may be thrown at us in the name of love. And that our peace of mind and our sense of self worth always supersede other enterprises of the liver (jigar) and the heart!

No offence to my male family, friends and acquaintances - these are truth-telling times!
He said I love you 
Like I have never loved another
I said you’re 48 and you’re still
Looking for that perfect other?

Surely you’ve felt something in that realm
You have walked down lovers lanes
Were you perchance arm in arm
With your tonic and your gin?
And not a woman whom you’d consider
A partner and a friend
No, she was always just a trip
A means towards an end
Each bedecked your evenings out
The “I love yous” that left your lips
Were whispered as sweet nothings
In between your boozy sips
And now you tell me that
You’re in love with me too
Except it’s not your usual form
You don’t know what’s happened to you!
Maybe your three-month romances
Would extend to five with me
But the Shallow Hal* in you, pal
Is still waiting to count to three
And then your extra special
Trademark escape artistry
Will take center stage
It’ll be the same old page
From your book of Love for Free

That day he said I love you
Like I have never loved before
I said dear boy you wouldn’t know true love
If it speared you in your gall bladder
…. and why I am undoubtedly the man of your dreams!”
* Shallow Hal: A 2001 Hollywood Rom-Com in which Hal, a shallow man who only dates attractive women, falls in love with Rosemary, after being hypnotized to see the inner beauty of women, not knowing that she is obese.

VERSE | CRACKED EDGES

I feel like cobwebs have grown in places 
Where once there were gleaming surfaces
In the sunshiny spaces of my mind
It’s getting harder and harder to find
The memory of that warm glow
I felt when I went about my day
It had lived on the side table
Near the vase of poppies and the picture frames
Now it’s gone, lost somewhere
I can’t find it in the haze in there

I can’t find the memory of the eagerness
That cloaked my every enterprise
That memory sat near the poppy vase
Both fractured, broken over time

I can’t find the memory of loving so hard
That my heart felt like it would burst
I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face
The cosmos would thrum in my chest and my throat

I can’t find the dream where I ran down a hill
And then went soaring up into the sky
On wings of quick-silvery lightness
Laughing; whooping with pure joy

Now that room of memories in my mind
Is shabby, desolate, decayed
I sometimes squint beyond the haze
Looking for reminders of earlier times
But the cobwebs grow in thick wedges
And empty frames stare back with cracked edges

VERSE | ALONE

I’m alone … but I’m not really alone
In all the ways that don’t matter
That shouldn’t matter, I’m never alone
In all the ways that I need someone
In all the ways of being human
I’m alone. There is no one.

It wasn’t always like this, this lonesomeness
It came on slowly as time went by
As I transitioned, nay devolved
Dislodged from the blessed marital fold
From a wife to a wretched divorcee
From a daughter to a social deportee

I couldn’t be the woman he’d conceptualised
His wife to be. Already fantasizing
He was in heaven itself, spoilt for choice
By the virgins lined up in waiting
For him to pick one or four to be his own
I got picked first, then I got disowned.

I’ve been alone these twenty five years
Fading ever more into the background
As time trudges on with heavy treads
My aura fades, my voice has no sound
I tried to talk louder at first to be heard
But the booming voices of the world
Were louder still, my voice was drowned

Now I sit alone marking time
For when the cosmos sees fit to smile
In a new welcome; in a final decline
I see people but they see me not
They saw me only when I came out
Of the box, against the tide of tradition
Then there was outrage, there was derision

I don’t go out anymore nor do I
Try to be bigger than the box fitted for me
I sit in it quietly, patiently
Lonely oh so lonely … but not really
In all the ways that shouldn’t matter
Im not alone. They all watch me
In all the ways that would make my heart sing
I’m alone, waiting for the final curtain.

VERSE | NATIONAL (PH)ANTHEM

LISTEN TO THE POEM BEING READ OUT HERE: https://vt.tiktok.com/ZSdfND9do/
He says they’re a bunch 
Of thieves and thugs
Who have looted the nation
Of its tea and its mugs
They took the dregs of the Earl grey too!
Those boot-polishing, lily-livered brutes!

They say he’s a nut job with lunatic illusions
Of grandeur and psuedo-pious,
Dipped-in-angel-dust delusions
He’s not a statesman, he’s an unbridled curse!
Our friends across the pond agree that’s what he is
This has-been sportsman with his peerni* and tawiz*!

The citizens bewildered and confused
Are wondering with whom they should side
The saga plays out again, sly and crude
Where the nation is taken for a frenzied ride
The horse has long since become a lame ass
Feeding on national common sense with a side of grass

The Paya* and Diesel Management says a lot
The Dharna* Skipper flourishes his “Absolutely Not”!
The repartee continues in savage tones
We watch from the relative safety of our homes
Then the power goes out and all is dark
The slate is wiped clean, we are back at the start
* Peerni: A Muslim holy woman

* Tawiz: An amulet worn for good luck and protection

* Paya: A specialty dish in the subcontinent, the main ingredients are trotters cooked in various spices

* Dharna: A peaceful demonstration

VERSE | THE FAIRYTALE

A little disclaimer: This particular piece is not a critique of the ideology of marriage itself, but the warped manner in which it is used to keep young women in check. To prevent them from breaking through the heavily-manned barriers created for them by society.

LISTEN TO THE POEM BEING READ AT: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZSddAaCSr/?k=1
Yes, I waited a great big while 
For my knight in shining armour to arrive
To sweep me off my impatient feet
To finally enable me to start living my life.

He came to our door, not on a steed -
That’s the whimsical stuff of fairytales
Not really rigged for the 21st century.
The rest of the story I was sure prevailed.

And so he came to our house in a car
His mother and his sisters too
I dutifully served them tea and samosas
His eyes were fixed on me like glue

I tried to think of what I felt
Did he stir something in my heart
Did I feel a like-mindedness
Was he the catalyst to my big, bright start!

The only thing rolling around in my head
The only thing that I could really see
Was the freedom to do all that I couldn’t before
That sunlit pathway stretched ahead of me

I remember I smiled a little too avidly
He grinned like a loon right back
And so it was decided auspiciously
That we’d be married in three months stat!

The wedding was done, it was T-plus six months
And I sat at my dressing table
I looked at the face of the woman in front
Was she the euphoric lass of fables?

She looked back at me confusedly
I pretended I didn’t quite read
What her eyes were so desperately telling me -
That rabbit hole was just too deep.

I looked away, this wasn’t the first time
Of my inability to face the ghosts
Of broken hearts and shattered dreams
Of being deluded, of feeling lost

I had grown up believing with all my being
That my best life lay ahead
When I took on the mantle of someone’s wife
That’s what age-old tradition said

But that’s not true, I now know
When I can’t look at myself in the mirror
There are shackles anew, I’m so confused
My dreams couldn’t have been frailer

And so I wait yet again, but now
Free of archaic norms and guiles
For when I can find the courage to be
Who I really am, who I have been all this while.

VERSE | THE GIRL WHO NOW SLEEPS

Dedicated to the memory of all those young people who struggled to fit into the norms dictated by their communities and who lost that battle. May the second wind in your sails be glorious and joyful.

LISTEN TO THE POEM BEING READ AT: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZSde5UerP/?k=1
I’m going to tell you a little story
Of a girl who loved too much,
Lived too much, hoped too much.
They said, she was too much!
She was a queen, a young one
But she had that zest for life
That is so rare and beautiful
That is also so ominous and direful

The story goes that she was born
In the wrong place at the wrong time
Nothing seemed to feel right in fact.
She was told to be someone that
She wasn’t. She was taught, against her will
To be the clone of a fantasy
That had persisted for centuries

And so the queen crumbled
Atom by atom, bit by bit, little by little
She fell apart like a young sapling
That has been buffeted and knocked about
By righteous winds whipped up
By those who were afraid of her
Of our queen getting out of the box
That they had so faithfully built for her

She finally broke into a million pieces
And she plummeted
She had once known how to fly like an eagle
To soar up to the top of the world.
But that memory was gone; pounded out
And so she fell
Hitting the ground six feet deep
And that is where she now sleeps.

VERSE | DO YOU REMEMBER?

Do you remember when you felt the blood
Gushing through your body
You felt it etch into your being
All the kindness, courage and love
That you thought you could ever feel
And your heart sang!

Do you remember how your breath
Caught in your throat. The sheer shock
Of those emotions rocking you inside
You felt so overwhelmed that your tear ducts
Felt the strain. You blinked your wet eyes
And your heart sang!

You looked straight ahead
The wave kept rising in your chest
You felt like you were everything
That you were meant to be. Your atoms ricocheted
With those around you. Nature played
A little bit of handball as she caught
Your atoms in her hands and passed her own to you
And your heart sang!

Do you remember feeling like this was
The perfect moment in your time
In your space, in your place
And everything had come together that day to remind you
That your heart was aligned with all
That defined you as the happiest version of yourself
And oh your heart, it sang!

You don’t remember - not really. Neither do I. I mean
I remember the warmth in my being, the love flowing out
In waves, in rivers. A oneness with the essence of the world
But beyond that, I can’t remember; I can’t evoke the feeling
Something has gone awry, something has been lost
Along the way
But I still see its ghost flitting
Vaguely passing before my eyes when I am still
But my heart, it doesn’t sing.

VERSE | WAR

LISTEN TO THE POEM BEING READ AT: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMLSPk6FW/
Cannons boom, bombs explode 
The world is the home of war
Lieutenants give crisp commands
To their soldiers, weary and sore

The tribunal sits in their gilded halls
Drinking their whisky tea
The senior most is ninety years old
The youngest is seventy three

They take pride in stoking this war
‘Tis the battle of righteous men
Sending sons and daughters to fight
While they cackle in unison

There’s chaos and killing; a dread that is stilling
The conflict they’ve wrought makes no sense
The old men don’t care, as war trumpets blare
Charged by the flourish of their pens

Soon the booming cannons and the bombs
Will end their brutal repartee
Of slashing and slaying - their bloody tribute paid
To their masters across the seas

The dead will be many, they’ll lie in the mud
Young soldiers from both sides, together
The grief and the pain will be the same
In the broken hearts of all the mothers

War is Jang* is война* is Guerre*
There is no pretty word for it
That can honour or extol or purify
The endless sea of blood it lets

As cannons boom, bombs explode
And the world crashes and burns
The inflection point for humankind
Is now at the cusp of no return.
Jang/ война/ Guerre: The word “war” in Urdu, Russian and French respectively.

VERSE | THE LAST FLIGHT

I look ahead, scan the horizon
The sun is just rising, brightening
The world around me
I feel nature’s potency run through my veins
With all its might
Each muscle and each tendon tightening
I am ready for flight

My feathers gleam, I spread my wings
I catch a current of air as it sings
I lift off and soar
At one with the world around me
I climb higher, and higher
I listen to the hum of the stratosphere
I can hear the cosmic choir

I glide, I soar, I sail, I fly
In the startling blue of a cloudless sky
I dip, I climb, I plunge, I rise
I shoot ahead as the crow flies
I whoop in the throes of sublime joy
CRACK! I feel the fragments of lead
Of human sport. I plummet to my death

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