From Me to You

Dear You,

Love is a strong word, one that both of us don’t like much. It means a lot of things people have decided it should mean. They shouldn’t get to choose what we mean, should they? So I won’t say I love you.

I like you a lot. I like…

breathing next to you when the morning light filters in through the glazed window pane, lighting up the furrows of your face,

sitting next to you, as you hum a song I’ve never heard before, and one I won’t ever forget now,

the way we walk together, slightly apart, and yet it feels like the air has entwined our fingers, never to let go,

our silences, and the crazy conversation, not having to pretend to be sane.

I like the fact that I don’t mind making an effort for you,

I like ‘Us’, and how effortless it is.

For as long as we have each other, and for an eternity,

Thank you for being a part of my life.

Paper Baby

I read this article on a popular blog about the custom of referring to one’s creative work as the “baby”. The author is quite sceptical of the notions involved, because as rightly pointed out, although both entail labour, the forms are not the same and to equate them would be unfair to both. I’m 21, and I’ve seen a fair number of babies, but I know precious little about having one, other than the mechanics of it. From what I’ve heard though, it is a lot of effort, but they say, it’s worth it. Speaking from personal experience in the latter sphere, I think it diverges from the former early on- writing, unlike deciding to have a baby, is not a conscious choice. I think several of my author friends would agree that the writing bug overpowers them at the weirdest of places and times- in the middle of a busy road, in the bathroom at 6 a.m., in the middle of a dream, anywhere, everywhere. It’s like a vision, once it begins, you have no choice but to let it flow. Often I have had 3 a.m. writing sessions, wherein I cannot sleep unless I pen the thoughts down right then. Choosing to keep your brainchild, of course, is your prerogative.

baby-writing

Writing keeps you awake and makes you lose all sense of time and space. When the story gets cranky, that reflects in the author’s persona as well. Writer’s block is nothing but your characters refusing to behave, much like an errant child. Often after a week worth of sleepless nights, coffee stains and dirty laundry, you second-guess your decision. But like the first word, or the first walk, one beautiful moment-one vividly composed scene- is all it takes to make you realize all over again just why you love your “baby”.

The forgotten song

Once upon a time, a young robin lived in the branches of a giant oak tree. During the day she would fly to far-off places, singing cheerfully and foraging for food. When dusk crept into the crevices of the sky, Robin dutifully returned to her branch. There were a few other birds on the oak tree but they were much older and kept to themselves.
So she lived on her own, and her days passed, and for the most part,she suppressed the tiny part of her feathered chest that said it would be good to have someone to come home to. Such voices were not to be listened to, she said sternly. Hadn’t the Blue Jay promised to set up home close to her? Then he’d realized with a lament that he could never live in one place.
She lived peacefully until one day she woke up to a delightful sound. It was a Willow warbler sitting on the next branch that greeted her with a “Hello”. He was quite a pleasant fellow and soon they’d become friends with each other. He was a traveller, gone sometimes for days at a time, but he always returned. And surprising herself, our young Robin began to look out for him, staying up a little longer on her branch so she could see him return with his cheerful chirp. Days turned into months, summer faded into winter.
One day with the first chilly wind, the Warbler came to her. He said he would have to leave for the South and he would be gone for quite some time. Robin was sad, but happy too that he had come,one last time. All night long, they sat on the branch and sang songs, of unspoken love. Then the sun rose, and with it, the Warbler spread its wings and flew away.
Robin spent the winter months tucked in her cosy nest, building up any jagged edges with care. “He will come in spring”, he’d said, “and maybe he’d want to live here”, she thought. Maybe we can make a bigger nest, on that curved branch. Just enough for two, she thought, and the thought carried her through the icy gales. Soon enough, the first of the flowers bloomed and so did Robin’s heart for she knew he’d come soon. He’d never broken his word.
One morning, she heard a familiar chirrup and she hopped out of her nest, in sheer ecstasy. He was back, as beautiful and glossy-crested as he’d been. But there was something, he was happy to see her, but not the way she was. She ignored it, showing him the larger nest she’d built. He looked around, then quietly, he said he was moving- “There is a tree in the next forest,all her friends and family live there.” “Her?”, she asked. “I met Willow down South” he said, “We’re setting up nest. Will you come visit me sometimes?”
Robin smiled, and Warbler went off busily, he had a home to make.
He visited her sometimes in the months that followed and looked disapprovingly at the ruckus around her nest. There was a singing thrush, a roguish fellow,who’d be staying a few weeks. “Wasn’t it someone else the last month?” “Oh yes, the brown Magpie. He left some days ago. He had to go meet his friends. This one won’t be around for much longer either.”
“You shouldn’t let just anyone into your nest. ” He said scornfully and flew away.
Sitting on her branch, the Robin sang a forgotten song.

Love thy lover

Wordsmith

He smells of old parchment,

A faint trace of a man

Who still laughs like a child

And cries like one.

I see the curve of his hands,

in the shape of words

crafted to perfection.

A flash of colour that streaks

the canvas of my younger mind.

Lightning

He blazes across the horizon

The soft rain a warm caress,

that lasts just that long, an instant,

On my cheek,as if to say

“Always remember, I think of you.”

Scorches my soul, the purest white,

In the freezing showers, I still look out

For my lighthouse in the sky.

Weaver

He takes my tangled threads gently,

Into his hands as he kisses them,

and knots them further,

into seemingly random weaves.

Dyes them red, and grey, and

a shade of brown he resembles,

He is exquisitely clad in

A fragment of my pain.

Voice

He is the tenor of my art,

A lover, of the beauty I try to hide,

He sifts it out and holds it into the air,

And laughs as I wince.

Yet I paint words at his door,

and leave them as a mark,

For that shared thought we both

struggle to understand.

Blind spot

He looks everywhere except

the corners I throw open to him

The shreds of dark are unknown,

In his vision of radiance.

I smile, at his impertinence,

and my indifference.

The Boy Who Conquered

Long ago, and far away, there was a land blessed with a strange and magical power. No one quite knew how, but any child born in that realm was gifted with the ability to live up to his or her name. Now you might think this was mere coincidence, and believe me, so did people for a long time. Then someone did the math and deduced that there was indeed a reason as to why all the young men named after the Fire-God were setting haystacks ablaze with their slightest tantrums.
Anyway, such were the ways of the land and people took great care to choose a perfect name for their young ones, one that would seal their destiny for the years to come.

Time passed by until on the first day of winter, with the first snowflake, a baby boy was born in the family of a modest school teacher, and the entire village came to partake of their joy and to witness the ceremony of name-giving. Amidst the crowd, the teacher’s wife held up her little baby in the air as he shrieked, protesting against the cold blast, and pronounced his name “Arihant!” There was a murmur for no one quite knew what the name meant. It was the first of its kind and they stood in awe as the teacher told them what it meant- “One who has vanquished his enemies”

The years passed by and the little boy grew up under his family’s stern but loving eye. He went to school like others of his age, but his heart lay in other things, finding shapes in the clouds, building artifacts from clay and making up elaborate stories to amuse his younger siblings. The bane of his existence, in his ten year old mind, was his name. Each time someone asked him that question, he suppressed a grimace thinking of the inevitable awe that would follow. He often thought of asking his parents why.

I don’t want to kill enemies, I don’t want to conquer anyone. I’d rather make friends and make people happy, don’t you get it?

But being a polite boy, he never voiced it out loud.

One day he was sitting by the river bank, throwing stones into the water, watching as they created ripples in his reflection. Suddenly he heard a plop and saw that an old man was trying to recover his little metal pot which had just fallen into the river. In a jiffy, he waded into the stream, his wiry body underwater for a few seconds before he resurfaced with the pot and handed it over to the man with a “Pranam”.

“May God bless you, my son. What is your name?” The old man asked.

“My name is Arihant, Dadaji” The boy replied, using the form of address for grandfather. He didn’t quite mind telling this man his name, maybe because he didn’t pause in awe, he just smiled.

“And Arihant, do you know what it means?” He asked.

The boy crinkled his eyebrows for a second, ” It means one who has conquered his enemies” , he recited listlessly.

“Yes that is what they say it means. But do you know what it means?”

By now the boy was confused. “What does it mean then? I don’t know. I always thought…”

“You always thought the enemy would just be someone who attacks you with sword and spear. Someone whose blood you need to spill. Okay tell me, if you are very hungry and have only one mango and a boy your age suddenly snatches it from you ,what would you do?”

“Hit him hard!” Arihant said, a flash of outrage making way to his face at the imagined scenario

“Okay, but then, suppose he hasn’t eaten for days. Suppose he has to bring back food for family too. What then?”

“I’d not get angry, I’d let him have it.” Arihant mused

“So who was your enemy in this case? What was driving you to do something bad, an eye for an eye?” The old man smiled peacefully.

“Anger.” the boy uttered with a wide eyed look. “My enemy is not a person. It can be a thing. An emotion. Something truly bad.”

“Yes. And your destiny is to be the conqueror of your enemies, my son. Do you see now?”

The old man quenched his thirst and walked away.

Ten year old Arihant walked back to his village with his head held high, ready to embrace the power of his name.

A spare tyre’s musings

I hear it- BANG!- and I rejoice,
Even as he stifles a cuss-word and she
splutters before coming to a standstill.

He walks over to her, frowning,
Too much damage this time, she’ll
Have to go,she groans in protest
As he gently pries her apart.

I cry in ecstasy as he lifts me in his arms,
Just for a while he condemns her
to the dark confines of my abode
as we walk in the sunshine together.

I squeak as he makes sure everything’s set
I’m screwed I know, I couldn’t care less,
Each time we roll along his choice of road,
I can dream I’m not the spare any more.