Monday, October 16, 2017

The Fun Young Swing

Sunny skies, flowers in full bloom
Children in the park, filled with happiness and laughter.
I looked at them and pleaded as I creaked
Slowly in to motion, feeling a gust of wind.
Come here and sit on me,
I’ll take you to great heights,
As I fill you with bubbly laughter
Through every link in my chains.

Suddenly darkness! Clouds gathered in gloom,
Dark figures filled the park, a lonely silhouette-
A shape shifter stood out;
I looked on in dread, fear spreading
Through every link in my chains; my seat, stiff
From the day’s work; Aching I looked on,
Pleading with unseeing eyes,
Don’t come near, don’t sit on me.
I know you’ll take me under, deep
Into cavernous places;
You’ll break my chains, detach me
From reality; you’ll break my seat
Until nothing but splinters remain.

I can feel your sweaty face,
Your ravaging hands,
The weight of your large base
Tearing through my planks.
I can feel my chains giving way,
Tearing away from the reality
That is mine, your weight pulling me down;
Your breath acrid fills my very being
As I fall deep in to the abyss
Of a never-ending universe;
Filled with darkness, the voices of beasts,
The smell of disgust, the taste of a thousand
Fetid corpses; an eternity of this.

I know you’re gone, now that morn has come;
But I dread the evening sun;
Bringing with it the shape shifter, that silhouette,
That destroyer of dreams, that killer of innocence.
Here I am, a fun young swing
Destined to spread laughter,
To take children to newer heights;
But your abuse leaves me broken and
Desolate, snatching the laughter
From every child who walks the park. Ever.

Note: I wrote a prequel to this poem "Give Me Strength" back in 2007. Ten years later I had to revisit it and make it mine once again.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Robin


The most humorous and the least likely to succeed they said,
As they voted, huddled together, in Larkspur;
Like conspirators defining the lines on my palm.
I stand here looking back at the blur,
The blur my life may have been;
And all I can do is think to myself, did I make her laugh enough?

Plump, alone and craving her smile,
I put on a voice, a funny one I’d like to think,
And looked her way, did I make her laugh at all?
I put on another voice and another and another.
That is where it all started,
No, not in Larkspur- it began my dear
In my very own Windy City, decades back.

Computer games and video games,
They came and they went;
The voices, they grew;
They grew every day, in numbers
And in tone.

One little spark of madness, a gift I treasured,
Was it really the source of all the gladness?
Or was it what spread in to darkness?
One little spark of madness, I wouldn’t lose it,
This I said to myself, I’ll admit.

Between “The World According to Garp” and “Mork and Mindy”
I had to say goodbye to my good friend… John
At Chateau Marmont Hotel in Angeltown.
As I made you laugh and drew you in to the center of
The narratives of “Patch Adams” and “Bicentennial Man”
I had to lend my voice for “Blame Canada” for a missing Mary.

One little spark of madness, a gift or a curse?
One little spark of madness, I wouldn’t lose it,
This I said to myself, I’ll admit.

The world seems dark,
But I will fight it out.
Yes, I think I will.
The voices grow, louder and louder;
Fighting loud whispers and strange tongues
All I can do is think to myself, did I make her laugh enough?
Did I make you laugh enough?


Note:
  1. The reference to John is John Belushi (Robin Williams and Robert De Niro were the last stars to see John Belushi alive, albeit on separate visits to Bungalow #3 of the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles on the day Belushi died of a drug overdose in March 1982.)
  2. Mary refers to Mary Kay Bergman. When "Blame Canada", a song from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999), was nominated for a Best Song Academy Award, it was Robin Williams who performed the song at the ceremony because the actress who sang the song in the film, Mary Kay Bergman, had committed suicide a few months prior to the awards show.



Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Red Dot (2)


Jokes about women’s bodily functions are not funny. Period.
She could eat to her heart’s content, but step in to the kitchen, she shouldn’t, they said.

She was banned.
Banned from entering the kitchen.
Banned from entering the temple.
Banned, for she was impure.
Banned, for she was unhygienic.
Banned, for she was unclean.
Banned, lest she contaminates the pickle.

[Voices of Ancestors]
Bury your clothes lest evil spirits take over them!
No curd for you,
No tamarind for you,
No pickle for you.

Summers playing gully cricket,
Laggori and hide-and-seek too.
One day it stopped; Abruptly, stopped.
She was free one day, tied down the next.

[Voices of Ancestors]
Suffer the bloating!
Suffer the cramps!
You shall stay in one corner of the house;
Suffer the misdeeds of your past!
No exercises for you.
No walks in the park.
No. No. No.

Laggori and hide-and-seek too
She could now see through her window;
She was free one day, tied down the next.
Running wild... wearing shorts and shirt; and a stick in hand.

[Voices of Ancestors]
And no… no bathing for you.
You shall remain…
Unclean. Impure. Unhygienic. A contamination.

She could now see through her window;
Children laughing aloud for every joke cracked,
Running wild... wearing shorts and shirt; and a stick in hand;
And suddenly they said, be lady-like.

[Voices of Ancestors]
You are cursed.
You will remain cursed.
Don’t you touch the holy cow.
Lest you make her barren
With your cursed touch…
Unclean. Impure. Unhygienic. A contamination.

Children laughing aloud for every joke cracked,
Jokes about women’s bodily functions are not funny. Period.
And suddenly they said, be lady-like.
It all started with a single red dot.

What about school?

[Voices of Ancestors]
No. Never.
Those days are over.
No school. No. No. No.

She was adorned with jewelry, flowers and fine clothes;
Paraded in front of neighbours and relatives alike.

[Voices of Ancestors]
Take this old piece of cloth
Treasure it. You will only get one.
Wash it. Sun dry it.
When it is as hard as leather
Use it to soak up your impurity.

Paraded in front of neighbours and relatives alike.
Beautiful as a bride behind a beatific child’s face;
Rest is a must, on these days every month, they said.
She was soon easily bored.

But it hurts… it burns…

[Voices of Ancestors]
Suffer the misdeeds of your past!
Your soul remains…
Unclean. Impure. Unhygienic. A contamination.

But, is she not a part of you?
How then can she be impure?
Are you also impure?
Unclean? Unhygienic? A contamination?

[Voices of Ancestors]
Ha! We are not you
We are the maker of rules.
We had ‘us’ too
Telling us what to do.
Your soul remains…
Unclean. Impure. Unhygienic. A contamination.

It all started with a single red dot.
The hatred of being born a woman
Flowed, but naturally.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Privileged Indian Male


I am not you.
I am not you.
For… I am a privileged Indian male.

I was but a bubbly toddler when I first heard,
“Oh no, let him be, he is a boy…”
I was but an acne’d teen when I first heard,
“Here, I will wash your plate.”
I was but a confused youth when I first heard,
“Boys will be boys, let him play a while more.”

I was but a wobbly toddler when I first heard,
“Look how he pushes and fights! He is a boy…”
I was but a hormonal dude of a teen when I first heard,
“You must be hungry, let me cook you something.”
I was but a raging drunk youth when I first heard,
“He is after all a boy, he is supposed to be this way.”

I was but a drooling toddler when I first heard,
“Lucky for you, he is a boy…”
I was but a silent teen when I first heard,
“Home Science? That’s not for you; cooking and what not!”
I was but a temperamental youth when I first heard,
“Be a man! You can’t let girls affect you like that!”

These voices, they grew; all around me,
They grew every day, in numbers
And in tone.

The voices were always there…
Each of them feminine,
An aunt. A mother. A sister.
A grandmother. A cousin.

Now.
A mother-in-law. A wife.
A sister-in-law. A mother.
An aunt. A grandmother.
All feminine. Mostly feminine.

Now.
I hear them speak the same words.
The same words from decades ago.
They speak it to my son.
They speak it to my nephew.
They speak it to my little brother.

Why?
Why can’t you stop?
I don’t want.
I don’t want to
Be defined.
I don’t want.
I don’t want to
Live… live the life
Of a privileged Indian male.

You make me lean on you.
You make me incapable
Of looking after my needs.
You never set me free.
Yet, you treat me like
I am privileged.
I want these voices to stop.
Can you make them stop?

I can feel my chains giving way,
Tearing away…
From the reality that is mine,
Weighed down by your words.

I don’t want.
I don’t want to
Carry this burden.
I don’t want.
I don’t want to
Love… love the life
Of a privileged Indian male.

[Female voices of ancestors in loud whispers and strange tongues]

Innocence. Tie she up. Kill she. My boy. Want boy. No she want here. Please see me. Destroyer of dreams. My boy. Want boy. Jewelry… pretty, we like. Parade she front of neighbours and relatives. My boy. Want boy. Red dot, we no like. Hate we be woman. Sit she down. Tie she up. Give she away. My boy. Want boy.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Stirrings of an Ineffable Soul

She closed her eyes,
As she felt every part of her being
Immersed in a consciousness, alien to her.
The voices in her head, faint whispers
To begin with, rose to a cacophony,
As the consciousness reached
A crescendo of its own!

Suddenly, it was all over;
She could hear the crash of silence
Against her pining soul.
A silence so loud, she wished
For the cacophony of the voices
In her head again.
Unknown to her, every bit of her soul
Transformed, mutated and altered
To soak in the silence,
Silently creating a sound of its own.

Exhausted, she lay, waiting
Patiently, for the pain,
The angst and the clarity
Of the unknown.
She relinquished her ego;
She relinquished her name;
She welcomed the unknown
With open arms and
Closed eyes.

In darkness of the sun,
It crept up on her,
Shrouding her being,
Purifying her soul,
Lightening her mind,
Brightening her body, and
Freeing her dreams;
Until all there was left
Was a single unity;
An unknown one.

There was no her;
There was no soul;
There was no light;
There was no pain;
There was only
The pureness of being.
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