I asked the Traveler why he was never tired. He said he learned along the way to never regret taking the next step forward- for that was what a journey was all about. The last step was made, couldn’t be taken back, had stamped the Earth and imprinted itself deeply. But it egged him on to place the next foot forward, so he wouldn’t stop.

It had to go on till his feet refused to move, his knees bent and asked for rest. It was always the last step and the next, for him there was no ‘now’. He said we had to learn to let go of the surety of the last step…or rather, to just let go, onto the uncertainty of the future…


The Musician said he couldn’t keep hitting the same note over and over again simply because it resonated the most with itself. He would strike a different note, one that created discord and varied from the first one. this went on till he created a haunting melody out of all those notes that disagreed with each other.

He said people were the same. That no one was made for another, in perfect resonance. Instead, every person matched his or her wits in a relentless battle to finally create a symphony he called love; realizing along the way, not that they were identical and resonant, but that they could overcome and their dissonances and survive.

"Don’t fall in love with me"

Of course I’m being selfish when I ask you not to fall in love with me. I mean, it’s your right to decide whom to fall in love with, and it’s not like you can help falling for someone who impresses you. You think I’m a mean woman who refuses to accept a good man’s love and is running away because I’m too scared of commitment. Yes, true…all that and more.

When I ask you not to fall in love with me, I’m not being a benevolent soul wanting your love but denying myself its pleasures. 

When I ask you not to fall in love with me I’m being selfish and I’m thinking only about myself. 

When I ask you not to fall in love with me, I am not pining away for you in silence, hoping that you really will fall in love with me, become my prince and whisk me away into a fairy tale.

When I ask you not to fall in love with me, I’m thinking of some people who will shake their heads in disapproval and tell me to stay away from a man who is too good for me.

When I ask you not to fall in love with me, I’m also thinking of people who will egg me on and tell me to recognize my soul mate in you.

When I ask you not to fall in love with me, what I’m saying is that I’m afraid of what will happen if you really do fall in love with me. I don’t want you to fall for me now and lose the opportunity of meeting and falling in love with someone far more intelligent and more beautiful than myself. I don’t want to be the woman whose heart will break when I hear you say “Why did I ever fall for you?!” someday. I can’t be everything you wish for and I know it only too well. I cannot be the mysterious beauty who haunts your soul till the day you die. I keep asking you this because I know it will be too hard for me to bear the humiliation of yet another rejection. I ask you not to fall in love with me because if things don’t work out, you will curse me and remember me with bitterness all your life. You will say “She was the one who broke my heart”. You will come home from work, tired after a day’s pursuit of happiness; there I will be, waiting to nag you about how you never have enough time for me. And you will hate me because I just don’t understand your difficulties. As time goes by I will fight with you for silly reasons and expect you to apologize every single time, and you will grow sick of me. You will realize you were a fool for mistaking my indifference as strength, my aloofness as mystery, my tantrums as feistiness. You will be disappointed. Your dreams for a grand love will be shattered. And I will be the reason for your sorrow.

Like I said, I’m thinking only about myself when I ask you not to fall in love with me…

Somebody’s Gethsemane

Haven’t you been a
confessional box at least once? A tissue paper? A shoulder for someone?Or even
a paper bag that calmed down a hyperventilating soul? And surely, you must have
had something to say to that person- a word of solace, a gem of wisdom or comfort
that must have consoled the sad spirit. But have you been anyone’s Gethsemane?
A garden where mankind sat and cried, praying to an unrelenting God and sweated
drops of blood. A place of rocks and utter sorrow. You were the breeze, the
trees, the grass beneath, the cricket on the pebble, the sparrow perched in her
nest; yet you could do nothing but stand and stare as if frozen by their tears.
Have you been their place to pour out all anguish and vent all frustration
without being able to find one word of consolation to offer in return? Have you
stood helpless on the outside looking in as a little child sobbed for his lost puppy, as a girl struggled
to get through a tough phase of peer pressure, as a boy bent under the sorrow
of having to go through awkward adolescence, as a widow labored with her
husband’s memories?

I stood watching as a
certain She fell in love. From then on Her body, heart and soul were his
acolytes. She lost Herself and became a part of him, a mere marionette whose
every thought, word and deed depended on Her saturnine lover’s mood swings. I
watched Her change from a voice to an echo. I heard Her saying She was nothing
more than a leaf in the gale, ripped apart by the frenzy but not wanting to
leave the dark storms. He was not a tyrant but he forgot the protocol of  trust. He shut the doors on Her, yet sat
waiting for Her on the other side. She became his reason and his argument. She
was the Why he was. She sang her swan song, yet remained there.  She was clinging on for him, not Herself. She
refused to leave because She couldn’t bear to see him walk alone, despite his
clear distaste for Her concern. His anger broke Her heart and still She held
on, knowing She was the only one who had the tolerance to stay. She is the
embodiment of Gethsemane, not understanding completely, not really wanting to
know, seeking a way in, feeling for him, remaining an empathizing outsider.

I become helpless
Gethsemane too. I sit and stare as She moves on, like a moth to a blazing
flame. He will be the end of Her, and She burns Her wings in this knowledge.
She Knows, and yet…

Short Story of the Rape of India

India was an ordinary girl. Not any more. Sex is a benchmark that turns innocent girls into experienced women. Rape, its savage cousin from the wilderness believes in a more pragmatic approach. Do not submit yourself to protocol. Do not be carried away by fancy formalities such as flirting, proposing, loving and so on. You want fulfillment? Just do it!

Ex Wai happened to be full of lust. Instant gratification seemed a good idea. India was passing by, meek and beautiful. Ex Wai grabbed her, forced her down onto the rough, flinty road and Raped her mercilessly. He smothered her screams. Her tears and helplessness spurred him on.You are helpless. You are nothing.

People found India, stripped of clothing and bleeding by the roadside. Ambulance! Hospital! Press! Breaking news! My face is plastered on every TV screen throughout the country. It shines out like a beacon of despair from the front page of every humanity-starved newspaper. I can no longer walk around in public. Why bother with disguise.

Ex Wai was arrested. Ex Wai was paraded through courts and prisons. His face was covered with a mask while being brought to court. The police would not let the Republic touch him. His face was blurred when they broadcast the evening news on TV. To this day, no one knows who Ex Wai is. A few years later his sentence will be over. He will be a free man. A free man! Enjoying the breeze on his face, wading through the shallow stream of water that flows by India’s home. He waits to see if India will walk by again. Maybe her sister from another mother this time.

India had to pay a lot of money at the hospital. India had to pay a lot of money to keep the paparazzi quiet. They made a New Generation noir movie on India. They even had India’s look alike from Brazil do an item number in the movie. The movie received critical acclaim and was a hit at the box office. A book that chronicled the Top Ten Rapes of various Indias was released amidst much fanfare. A fatwa was declared on the writer of the book. Some people blogged about the Rape of India.

The End

Memory of a Rainy Day…

They thought it perverse of me to enjoy the rain and spend the entire journey looking out of the window. I couldn’t help staring out at the rain that day. It was furious, stormy and strangely alluring. 

Their anger was justified. Our speeding car was heading towards a funeral. Beloved Ammumma, my grandmother, had passed away and a long procession of cars were braving the storm, all the way from the hospital to our ancestral home. My parents were silent, my sister was lost in thought, the rest of my relatives were mourning. An aunt had fainted. Some of them were busy calling up the best florists in town and arranging for funeral wreaths to be delivered as soon as the procession arrived. And I sat there, watching the rain, humming even, earning contemptuous glares. Today, raindrops were tears from the sky, adding to the gloom pervading our souls.

My thoughts drift back and forth between a hundred and more days when the rain means something more than teardrops. A day at school when a friend opened his heart to a girl he liked; it resulted in heartbreak. Another day when a boy I knew waited at the neighborhood library for me, drenched, just to say hello. A rainy night at Coimbatore, when someone I knew had his first kiss. A sunset when I ran to the terrace and simply stood there in the rain. A cold breeze in Bangalore, pelting raindrops across my face, almost hurting me, while I sat out in the open, trying to sip coffee; obviously the rains won and I lost. A rare sunny shower, my mother held the pallu of her saree above my head and we ran, giggling like little children, to the shelter of a tree. A rain that spoiled my plans to roam about town with some friends in tow. A distant memory of lighting and thunder, Ammumma and I were sitting with our legs up on the couch, and talking about candy and cartoons and Onam and what I would bring for her when I visited her on my next vacation. I was old enough to promise her a video game. 

The rain died down completely. They were halfway immersed in singing the dirge when we arrived. They took Ammumma inside, washed her, dressed her in dazzling white and laid her gently in the coffin. Ammumma, you were an amazing woman. I miss you.

At the cemetery, Ammumma was laid to rest and everyone threw in a handful of frankincense, a parting gift for the departed. I think I was the last one to notice the smell of fresh soil. That fragrance that only comes with rain. The tears came swiftly then. But as the deluge of sorrow began to fall once again, I looked up into the sky and smiled.

Solitude In The Crowds

A last leaf falls,

Touches a flowing brook,

I feel the same way

Flowing with, flowing along

Flowing in the hordes

But never a part of the mob,

That pulls, pushes, prods me,

Captivates my mind,

Fills my thoughts, suffocates.

I find solitude in the crowds, I find what I seek.

No one knows me, my name.

No one sees me though seeing my face.

They keep going, I know not where.

Each one to their own purple sunset,

To their personal heartache,

To their waiting wife, jealous husband,

To the book they were reading,

To kill, to cry, I know not.

Each one going away,

From a dull job, back to it in the morn,

From nagging child, from lover,

From the crowd that spoils their privacy,

From the twilight, stealthy darkness.

I find solitude is peace, I find what I seek.

A last bird cries,

The sun is gone.

I know not where to go,

I have no one to smile at.

I crave this loud silence,

Tranquil, serene, like cleansing rain,

Falling in drops, strings, sheets,

Merging with, merging along,

Merging in everyone’s tears,

Onto a rain of people moving on and on.

Am I the crowd too?

To someone else’s pain?

Someone’s loneliness somewhere,

Some other one’s joy?

Am I the cold rain?

In a a stranger’s thoughts?

I find solitude is bliss, I find what I seek.

The crowd pulsates again,

Stirs me, breaks my trance,

Snatches my reverie.

I go home, my solitude stays, in the crowds.