Thursday, November 2, 2017

The truth

You can spare me the details-

but I want to know the truth, in its

whole form, without the details, 

I want to imagine the details to suit my grieving-

if you could respect it, that way, just that. 

I am limited in my strength, I am of a

limited disposition- but don't worry

the truth has always been handled by my type.

they tell me that the big green trees 

in our neighbourhood were planted

by you; its comforting to know that

you still  provide me with the air I breathe-

the man who fixes our air-conditioner

thinks otherwise, but you know how I

was never removed from the basic truths of life,

and so I know; and thats why it's important

to know the truth. Perhaps its overrated, 

but what if- you taught  me that 

knowledge liberates, that we are the

happiest when we understand, 

even of our shortcomings? 

Constructive criticism, that's the word you oft used. 

The ocean is a mile away from here, 

one and a half kilometres, that's how

they say it in your country- oceans

apart, but why did it happen now, 

when everyone's headed to beautiful

places, everyone but me- 

my truth will always be different

than yours, that's why I want to know

the truth, the heart of the matter.

Sometimes on a quiet day, 

I can still hear the waves and the gulls, 

sometimes together,

sometimes in  staccato beats 

and think of the days when our bodies lay side by

side, and you blew my sweaty face with insides

of your lung- 

but that was not the truth, not your truth anyway.

Some of me will never be aware of your entire

truth, but that's how it is, so I will keep this in my

heart, knowing that you are gone- my imaginations

will guide me- and I have stopped wishing ugly things

for you; your truth is beauty,  and all the

nice things that I couldn't give you, and all the nice 

feelings that were too short to last

a lifetime- 

another story gone wrong. 

Man without an address

Sometimes I recall the faces of all 
the girls I have loved a decade  ago, 
who refused to love me for who I was; 

Its all fair, a boy without a game, 
yet there's a pain which comes up 
from somewhere deep within, 
murmurs in the heart, as doctors would say-

no one ever weeps for the weak or 
the unwanted, its what we do-
we feel sorry, and sometimes I am
 guilty of being sorry for myself.

It's not about love though, or those special ones- 
them gals of my heart 
(there's plenty of both in this world) 
it's about the agony of trying too hard 
when you are young and believing this is it 

-"the fallacy of sunk costs" , sunk emotions. 

Screw them writers and fancy poets who
 lights up your emotions like gasoline;
what of the fleeting hearts and what of the
 poetry for the ones who got away

The ones who were never meant to be.

such is the story of life- we want what we 
want, and then far away in this country 
where it snows every evening I often hear 
a good old Rolling Stone song in Joey's pub; 

"You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need"

and I repeat these lines in my head,
in crisis and in health.

There's solace in the silent victories of 
being a man without an address, of 
gulping sorrow as if its food-
there's solace in these evenings- 
where I keep my body warm with faulty drinks.

Sometimes I walk into some shady desolate
neighbourhood hoping I will catch a 
stray bullet just to paint the snow in scarlet,

but nothing ever happens on  evenings like 
this, no belligerents, no lovers, not even 
my favorite dogs to protect me from
 the sun, rain and the hail- 

just me and the faces of all
the ones I loved; yes that...

I don't recall the ones who loved me. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mary and the smell of love

Years ago Mary had made me watch Perfume- The Story of a Murderer, of course it was something we were doing back then, movies and only movies, minds that were still so young, almost a tabula rasa, we couldn't help but appreciate the beauty of that cinema. Mary was like that, obsessed with smells, her anglo name never made me look at her in an exotic way but she was different. She could smell more than normal people. I remember how she called herself a bitch, for that specific 'skill-set' of smells, and to her I smelled good. It was the best compliment I received in my adolescent life. 

I don't remember why we fell apart as the years rolled down, I had a little crush on her, but she was always interested in the big boys; may be it was me who decided to keep a distance, but I don't recall at all how we moved apart and I was a bit stupefied when she called me up a few months ago and asked me to help her to study maps and make a sense out of them. Its always awkward when you get a call from someone you had loved a little when you were young, and it's somewhat bittersweet remembering that she remembers the things you were good at. 

I made her download google maps and asked her to fidget a little. I almost get offended when people don't embrace such beautiful technologies our time has to offer. When she told me that she was trying to write a paper on World War II and it was very important for her to understand the lands and the maps, I decided to be more helpful. 

A few meetings later we were again comfortable with each other, at least she was, I felt awkward because she had become prettier from what I remembered of her; we mostly talked about the old days, the smell of seasons and armpits, how the fish markets smelled more chemical now, how her capacity to smell has subdued with the years among other things, her solo Ladakh trip, how she intends to write a book full of beautiful anecdotes on smell and only smell- her own smell dictionary in the lines of Baudelaire; I was a little curious if this dream girl was seeing someone - she hardly puts anything up on facebook and you never ask such a question like that- age has taught you alright, but the years have also taught you not to prevaricate and be smart, listen to what she is saying, I could hear telling myself. And I listened to her alright, she hardly bored me. Days passed quickly and soon we were meeting or talking over the internet most days. I was always looking to impress her, trying my best not to be a show-off at the same time. I was really glad she wasn't much active on Facebook, then she would see all my shit- that so called awesome life we all intend to put up in the world of illusions, that place where everyone is so happy that they all end up being miserable. 

Amidst one of our online map browsing rendezvous she asked me, about my opinion on "how the allied front should advance to Germany through Belgium"- what could she write on this thought, she had some ideas which she told me but she said she didn't like them, and when I heard her ideas I told her I agree with her- but here I was trying to impress her, and here was my chance; this was a serious question, and the imagining of alternate history let alone military strategy was never my forte. The 'Third Reich' is a game that I had only tried to play in a Roberto Bolano novel.  

"Get to work stupid boy."

A few hours later, I came up with an idea, which was neither very scientific nor well researched- what good writing demands is often a wacky sort of a wit, my professor used to say, but I suspected he was talking about copywriting; but nevertheless it could be something Mary could work on, and if it involves smells she might just like it and use it to her advantage. 

"From Calamine to Cologne - An alternate history of smells during the allied invasion". 

You see the Belgian town of Kelmis (La Calamine) is about a hundred kilometre away from the German town of Cologne, two cities with two distinct histories of things that smell, the soldiers wouldn't miss it even amidst all the gunpowder and ash; there could be a little magic too and Mary would write all about the smells- if there was no war there, Mary could bring it through her writing, but the war was everywhere - it was a World War. It was in Calamine, it was in Cologne. 

She did like it, she replied "wow" and as of now I kind of had to settle for being her co-author instead of her lover. Art demands a lot of sacrifices.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

voice of reason and a holy book

if my voice were a voice of
reason I would have never
let you go, I would
have reasoned you to
stay for another couple of
years -

if my voice were a voice of
reason, you would suffer twice
over, because who would say
no to reason- ‘we were never
lovers’;  only lovers would say
no to reason
, and we were
never lovers.

if my voice weren’t clogged
with yesterday’s cough I would
have spoken up when you
walked out with my favorite suitcase
packed with god knows what- and
a decade of memory making will
halt just in time,” that suitcase
has been to places”
, I would say,
take good care

If my voice were a voice of reason,
would you have fallen for me, like
you did, years ago- as the front benches
bothered you, and you had to move back 
a couple of rows? Isn’t that how you found
me, a boy with no voice, breezing through
a philosophy lecture- unnerved by the
attention of a pretty girl.

and if I tell you now, my voice were a voice
of reason till I met you
, would you
believe me; or even if you did, won’t
you be upset thinking just for a while
that may be we were lovers-
 and reason always eluded us. 

As I rode past the murky waters

As I rode past the murky
waters of the old Bagjola canal, I saw
a thousand and one men busy with 
their daily chores- oblivious of my 
decade and a half old rusty bicycle; 
I had  repaired it a month or so ago, 
rebranded it, so that I could
cycle all the way to my swimming
pool, and if I begin to explain why
a cycle is my easiest commute now, 
you may begin to wonder if I am
speaking of the same city where
you and I both live, but you see 
there are so many little cities within
our own city that we would never see,
little neighbourhoods so, different from
one-another, little and big names, with
its own esoteric history and politics, that it 
will certainly boggle our mind,
and these days, if I may disclose that
I follow Google Maps religiously, coupled 
with my own anthropometric sense of 
where I am, each and every moment; I always see
a map with the North upwards, like it's 
supposed to be done, and I am wary
of what one JNU professor tried to warn
us regarding political Maps and their
nationalistic symbolisms, but I am so far from
New Delhi and the surrounding jingoisms and 
it's thesis and counter thesis, I am so far
away from all these noises that will eventually
control my life that I sometimes feel sad and 
refuse to stand to the national anthem when no
ones watching, but I  am hoping you will keep 
that a secret,  and since I have digressed from whatever
I wanted to tell you without further ado, I must
get back onto that topic of where I live, and where
I live is one of the densest places in Planet Earth,
you know, the densest in the already dense 
Gangetic Delta, and I wanted to write this on one
sad day, 'people people everywhere, not anyone to love'
and in this part of Calcutta,  there are two canals 
 that flows parallel and they all go and 
join another canal, and this one 
I know flows by where you live -
(since I am good with Maps and all)
so I was thinking of making a boat so that 
I could just sail to you, and you must think I was 
kidding when I told you that I cycle 
almost eight kilometres everyday because 
it seems the best option, but I was being honest, 
 I wouldn't make that boat though till I am the Mayor 
of Calcutta, the waters you know they need a lot of  
cleaning, and I know you wouldn't mind me visiting 
you in the far South in a boat, jokes apart, you would 
prefer the Taxi, or the bus; about cycling 
I must add that there are no short motor-able roads 
from my place to the place where I go for a swim, 
the canals act as barriers and protects the 
rich neighbourhood on the other side from the crass
-cacophony of subaltern narratives; tough words
I know, but that's why I take the cycle, its easy
carrying it over the footbridges that connects ( and saves time), 
 the daily labourers, some small tea-shop owners, fish wallah,
 balti wallah, dil wallah and a list of  other working class men, 
keeps me for company and often guides me through 
the empty boulevards and blocks, and sometimes a kid or two 
would want to race with me and I would 
pretend to be Lance Armstrong-and as night falls 
and these people who work  here leave, and everything 
becomes quiet again, the old residents 
often feel a oeuvre of melancholy,
and let their phones and computers 
call up their sons and daughters abroad,
who would be busy in their American lives, 
suffering the same loneliness that their parents
suffer back home, and if you ever come around here
I won't take you to a coffee shop or the next
best mall in the city, I will just make you walk
miles and show you the roads where I grew
up, the roads where I used to walk my dog
once upon a time, miles and miles of roads,
that I have walked with old loves not lovers,
the roads of my old neighbourhood, still
so deserted, still so empty, as if all the 
walking couldn't cure them of their loneliness, 
and I will take you to that other canal that
 may lead you  back to your home- and if 
you wish, we could dream of a boat the
one I will built someday and we could 
laugh over it, but darling wear good shoes
because this one here will make 
you walk - a mile or two.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Early Years

We have been there, you know,
hanging with the right folks
in the right time-
but youth is just youth, and
time is just time.
Nothing wrong in there,
nothing right.
Invisible cities conquered
by invincible monsters, we were
curious -who were the Hitties?
How many days are there in the
Rumi Calendar, can we travel -time someday,
I want to see the Berlin wall fall.
Where was your parents home in
Bangladesh, who were the best among
the barbarians;
can we start a revolution?
You always had so many questions,
always the right ones, where was I
last night, you never asked;
" In the library", I wanted to say.
Life is just life, and time is just time,
it shall pass with or
without us

Relax it's just a poem

Once upon a time I knew a poet , who
knew many other poets, and there were many poets,
and then there was this poet, who was the wife
of another big poet, and she woke up one fine morning,
and and looked up in the sky and wrote,
"beautiful mornings were made for beautiful people, not for me."
She turned over and kept on sleeping, letting the morning pass, and as the ugliness of the day settled around her ,
she woke up to find her husband , the big poet , writing, she wanted to see what he was writing,
but there was an obvious chance that peeping at the now private, to be public words
can harm their marital peace, so she left him alone with his words,
like she had trained herself and turned over and slept again;
Goodbye, the big poet wrote.
"I am leaving and not coming back."
He wrote on and on,
explaining in subtle metaphors ,
why he must go, why some birds can't fly, why there were no monsoon rains in his hometown,
why he could never love his mother, and any other woman for that matter, but he must go, that he is leaving ,
and if you are still wondering that he left her, relax, it was just a Poem.

That Ship has Sailed

On the fourth floor of
my new apartment building, lives an
old woman and her daughter.
Sometimes, when I am awake late 
at night , I hear them talk, or rather yell-
domestic disturbances- the easy choice,
the hard choice.
People fight, and people still live- with
one another, because the way out is often
way too lonely, but when we are young
there are always ships that sail away and
we are surrounded by beautiful people,
who interest our brains; as much as our bodies,
and when we are out in another place, far from
the ones we left we feel a tinge of sadness,
sometimes, just sometimes --
Sometimes we leave, and sometimes we don't,
but as far as metaphors go,
the story of life is somewhere richocheting
between the arrivals and the departures.
She once told me that transit lounges
were infact one of the Trinity of her favorite
"saddest places" and I never asked the other two,
and now, I can never know.
She is gone, "that ship
has sailed."

River poetry

I must speak of this pretty village,
On the meander of a great river;
every year the levee broke,
And the flood came, 
Washing away some,
And yet, making the land richer/fertile-
The memory of the flood
Was so ancient and sacred in the heart
Of the villagers that none
Complained, and it was the way
of life in that village-
The coming and going of the
(some were rumored to worship it's fury)
and I have known wise
men and women , who in their solitude
have compared, their lovers to this flood,
which made me wonder-
If some loves were different than
other loves, "of course they are",
she said,
"but I don't want such a

In times of the National Anthem

Article 51A, of the Indian Constitution, states quite a few fundamental duties of which some are as follows:
1. to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
2. to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture; protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and
4. to have compassion for living creatures;
5. to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform, etc.
It's also written," to respect the national flag and the national anthem"- the only thing these days that obsess a nation that is on a path of celebrating empty words and abstractions.
If Article 51A could be legally enforced, most of us would be behind bars, don't you think?
(P.S. It's not mandatory (legally) to stand for the national anthem, as long as you don't "disrespect" it, which is another story.)
You're welcome.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Social Satire

As I returned home last night, sipping an unlikely beverage, I almost stumbled down the stairs of our local subway. It was pitch dark, and I had to hope that there were no bodies lying around randomly- the homeless guys, the everyday drunkards, the degenerates, the honest fakir, the bird- seller from Bongaon, all of them who lived there in the night time, and in that fashion. My phone had died down, and I liked this part late at the day when nobody could call me up and bore me with the platitudes of their sorted life, the ones who would never call me when there's a good party somewhere.
It was silent, and pitch dark, and I was scared mostly wondering, if a freaking rapist crept up from somewhere and fucked me in the ass; I was afraid because my mongrels were missing too, Shibu, Zorro, and the bunch who would wait for me, and my human love. This was mating season perhaps, and they didn't like the underground around this time.
After I made it to the other side, I was angry at myself and also relieved. This was a safe neighborhood. I chided myself for being like a paranoid American. I went to the councillors office today, who happens to be someone I know and asked him why the lights were off last night and he told me,
"Comrade, it's going to be like that from now on,
we are making sure that those who live there sleep well."

Diary of a Generation Below

Diary of a Generation Below.
Inch by inch, the night falls -
It's voice replaced by the jarring
Of a thousand air conditioners.
I remember when I was young,
one could hear the siren of the
last train that left Sealdah
for Plassey, or some forgotten
capital of my old country. The nights,
are loud now perhaps, or the trains
have chosen to be silent-even they are tired
Of the endless repetitions, the to and
fro between obscure hamlets.
"Once upon a time your grandfather,
had taken a train to Dhaka", baba said to me,
one of those nights, and I had thought
to myself when I grew up , I would do the same.
Like Stephen Daedalus, I had marked points
on the Atlas's of the Orient, places I must go,
places that were more fascinating than
the palaces of Samarkand, this place in the
East where Dadu grew up catching fishes,
and wallowing in the silt of the mighty
rivers-and if it were possible,
I would ask you to come with me.
You would fret, laugh and make all sorts
of discourses on sentimentality, but
agree to come, after all-
It was your home too.

Sonu Nigam and the Mike

Waking up to Honey Singh back when I used to live in North India was such a pain, but I never complained about a racist, sexist Delhi street boy making it large singing rape songs and people dancing to it's catchy beats, and using it as caffeine- because in our country we are inclusive (guilty of being passive to rape culture, but practicality demanded it).
I remember this civil engineer boy (who was not very civil and put up excuses like he was meditating) from IIT Roorkee, and a few others always complaining to the dean about this boy who used to practise drums from morning to evening (he wasn't exactly good, but hello, he was just practising drums). I don't know what happened to these losers who were always so envious of each other, but the drummer boy surely made it large.
There will always be people who will have a problem with 'others' because they have no control over their own prejudices, like those relatives who attend wedding ceremonies and complain about the food. It's always so easy to hate others, and honestly we don't need people to fuel that. While we don't need Pakistan to fuel anti-India sentiments in Kashmir (I also laugh at ignorant people who think the army never did/does anything bad to the locals) , we similarly don't need some people (the leaders, Anupam khers, Chetan bhagats and the likes) to fuel anti-Kashmiri ( also anti-muslim) sentiments in India.
(Chetan Bhagat wrote recently why we needed a Ram Mandir in Ayodha and sadly the Times of India published it. WTF. I am okay with sending "anti-Nationals" to Pakistan but this one deserves to be deported to Tristan Da Cunha. Sadly it won't happen because he is the government's poster boy, and once upon a time wrote a book about How to get laid in IITs, which make him immensely popular among celebate Netas and high on puberty kids. I have known so many iit-ans over the years and most of them think he sucks big time. Thank God for that. )
Having and voicing an opinion was never wrong and it never will be. May the discourse live on and let people cohabit. But fanning prejudicial sentiments just because the atmosphere seems conducive has always been the signature of evil. It's what partitioned the country once, let it not happen again.

Rainbows and Love

Q. What are the similarities between rainbows and love?
1. They are beautiful to look at, from a distance.
2. Both cannot be acquired by will ( the more you approach it, the more it recedes )
3. They are illusions (one is optical and the other emotional)
4. Unique to each and every person (if only people understood)
5. Happens under special circumstances
"Rainbow in morning, sailor's warning;
Rainbow at night, sailor's delight" , that's how one adage goes, if you know, what I mean.