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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
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VERSE | FALL FAREWELLS

A melancholy rustle stirs in the leaves
Holding heavy in their boughs
Their green, green garbs have faded
They are in mourning now

For the bounties once bestowed on them
By spring and then by summer
Now they curl their mottled frames
In the briskness of September

Lady Autumn has this special
Cleansing Ritual that she wields
Back into the earth they go
Flowers, butterflies and leaves

The promise of new beginnings too
Is buried with their shapes
For when spring comes round again
For when again they will all wake

The leaves are weary as they cling
To seasons that have gone
But soon they too will hear her sing
The soothing song of Fall

VERSE | UNTIL THEN

He looked at me with eyes of love 
I could not hold his gaze
My heart lay closed and tightly bound
In yards of purple lace

It once had soared high above
Where eagles roam the skies
But since then it had plummeted
It had shrivelled up and dried

By and by it beat again
As I slowly found my peace
But it still liked to hide away
In its blue-violet niche

So when he looked at me with eyes
That spoke of tender starts
I looked away, there was no way
Into my blue-bruised heart

Someday when the colours change
Of the blood that flows within
Of when my heart reddens anew
And once more soars and sings

I hope that I can hold that gaze
So full of affection
Until then I hope to heal enough
To want to love again

VERSE | LOOK SOFTLY

Look softly my darling 
When you look at me
Be calm and be tender
As I take my leave

I want to remember
Your lovely face
Serene and peaceful
As I leave this place

Let us talk of things
That are close to our hearts
Of bittersweet endings
Of gentle new starts

Of faces and places
Those still here, those gone
Of tea-cozied rainy days
As I hum my last song

Look softly my dear one
When you look at me
Let your beautiful smile
Be the last thing I see
Painting by my sister, Zeenath

VERSE | PERPETUAL (M)OCEAN

LISTEN TO THE POEM BEING READ HERE: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZSddMfkHV/?k=1
There is a ship that’s out to sea
Her cargo is my dreams
When I feel them slipping away
She drops anchor close to me

There is a ship that’s voyaging on
She carries bushels of hope
When life throws curve balls one too many
She drops anchor somewhere close

There is a ship out in the swells
She carries stores of peace
When chaos threatens my inner calm
She glides in gracious and serene

There is a ship, she’s the harbinger
Of all that’s tender and true
When my day is sunless, hollow and sad
She sails in out of azure blues

That ship she is my spirit
My soul is in her sails
As she journeys through life’s fickle tides
She’s my alchemist within