You can miss us when you’re 80

Picture this 

I am standing in my childhood bedroom
my father hikes up his sleeves then picks up a baby pink sweater,
holding it delicately as he pauses just for a moment before glancing at the clock on the windowsill.
he teaches me
how to roll up jackets till they are the size of socks
roll up socks till they are the size of fists

ball up fists and bite down tongues to keep ourselves from talking of the future and instead decide how many boxes are enough to fit my life into. 

He tells me the best ways to optimise space, fit as much as possible into every crevice,
then tells me the best ways to optimise life,
fit as much as possible into every moment. 

He drops me off at the airport,
the windows are misty on the way over as if to make me forget the place I am leaving and somehow make goodbye easier.
the air is filled with a heaviness of realising that we will always be in mismatched timezones
missed calls and not quite catching each other at the right time
and a sudden realisation:
i wonder how long it would be till i got to call a place mine again. 

I dispel the thought from my head as I quicken my steps to the departure gates.
There is a place I must be.
a place newer, shinier, happier.

Three days before I left for college I said goodbye to my best friend.
we had known each other since the fifth grade,
grown together, our learnings of life
seeping into one another’s like too many paints in a palette too small.
We grew and changed and changed some more
but this one lesson we carried with us everywhere
like the note you scratch onto the inside your palm
to remind yourself every second of every day 

“the problem is you think you have time” 

I call my father in the middle of the night
it is 3pm in India, he leaves his conference room and stands awkwardly in the middle of an empty hallway
simultaneously hoping that no one sees him talking to his teary eyed daughter
but also that someone passes by and teaches him how to switch to the front camera.

I tell him I miss him,
that I spent the last half an hour flicking through photos on my phone
of that time we went out in the sweltering Delhi heat
in search for the ripest mangoes we could find
and spent an afternoon with sticky fingers and smiles on our faces.

His expression does not break as he tells me me loves me but that
that was before
and we are in the now
and in the now,
there are places I must be
places newer, shinier, happier. 

it has been three years and every room I walk into I still into I look up as if to see another clock on another windowsill
Most days all I have for breakfast is a coffee and the ticking sounds from that night when I learned how to turn sweaters into socks and socks into balls and fit them into my 

you see,
I have grown
With hands always turned upwards
Stretched my fingers as far as they would go,
even as the skin between them would begin to crack and bleed
Convinced that I have too much living to do
For me to stop moving. 


Life has never been as beautiful as when my eyes are wide open
And plans
And an inbox full of messages
A google calendar with its brightly coloured rectangles of productivity and experience,
fitting as much as possible into every moment.
telling me I must be elsewhere.
I walk into a coffee shop for my morning order,
the barista doesn’t need to ask me for my name as she pours hot liquid in my to-go cup, I turn around to pull out my planner from my bag,
there is a quote on the front,
a line from a poem my mother recited to me when I was a child,
“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,
to serve long after they have gone,
and so hold on when there is nothing in you
except the will which says “hold on”. 

I have forgotten the last time I slowed down enough to write poetry.
As I check the clock on the windowsill and walk out of the shop 

A young girl inside catches my eye
as she looks at me
she looks confused

as if to wonder why I am walking so fast
how many things I have in this moment that cannot wait.

picture this
we are twenty five and smiling, still smiling,
bumbling about in the prime of our youth,
the sun is glowing, and so are we
you run up the hill only to run down
as i sit scratching thought after reckless thought onto paper
my pen flows and does not stop
the best days are when my poetry does not need caffeine.
We are exactly where we are supposed to be. I think I have time. 


Here’s to you.

Here’s to you.

You walking too tall, smile on your face, sparkle in your eyes.
You starting the year right.
you thinking, this is the one.
This is the one,
it has to be.

Here’s to you.
the back of your ears cushions for all the times you listened
and all the times you should have.

Here’s to you.
You, eyes wide open, baring teeth,
one cheek fuller than the other.
There is a lot left to be said. Left to be done.

Here’s to you.
Never needing to learn.
Never needing to stop.
Never needing to breathe.
Never needing to thank.
lost in a world of supposed to. 
Some things are better left in the moments that have passed. 

Here’s to you, 
Indignant, loud, power in your temple,
in the palm of your hand.
There was is a fire.
Waiting to be tended.
There is hurt.
Waiting to be felt.
There is happiness,
waiting to be explored.

Here’s to you.
Palms still open.
Eyes still sparkling.
Starting the year right.
This is the one,
it has to be.

My Heaven

What might my heaven be?

My heaven would have…laughter.
ringing so loud it dispels the darkness from the most sordid corners of the Earth.
My heaven would be food. All-you-can-eat chocolate. Homemade butter chicken with fat dripping from the naan bread like water droplets
falling to my shoulders
as I shake my head after a swim.
My heaven would be a swimming pool
with just the right temperature of water
so my spindly legs didn’t look like leaves shaking in the fall.
My heaven would be the feeling you get as you stand at the edge of a bungee jump, toying with the safety cables.
It would allow for wondrous curiosity.
My heaven would be the corner of my sofa bed that fits me perfectly, having just the right amount of pillows,
My heaven would have ample leg space.

My heaven would be the badge upon my forehead
declaring my mind the sharpest weapon of all.
My heaven would be finally attaining the level of sarcasm that my English teacher had,
the furtive smirk visible even in in her goodbyes.
My heaven would have no goodbyes. 

My heaven consists of a house so grand it’s never too far from anywhere and yet,
It’ll have a small fireplace
and a stack of my favourite Roald Dahl books.
There’s going to be a study lined with endless works of art,
even if all I do is bury my nose between the pages and come up smiling stupidly, a library;
the kinds where they have ladders on wheels.
I always did like those ladders.
My heaven would be cute boys who’re taller than me
no matter how high my heels are,
with baritone voices and a penchant for dancing.
In my heaven, I’ll be dancing.
I’ll put on a little Etta James on repeat and sway my hips; heartbeats would replace the seconds passing by
and the rude ticking of the clock would stop.

In my heaven, I’m ageless.
For I can’t tell if I’m going to be eighteen
or twenty five
or forty, when I attain my heaven.
But I do know that everyday, I’m getting just a little bit closer.

Rhyme Of The Ancient Child

A child of eight
lies in wait
of life to pass her by
So she can see
with widened eyes
the lows and the highs.

This child of eight
looked at me straight
this child with widened eyes
She asked of me
a thing not tough
but titanic in size

“If you stand tall
at five feet nine
but still bite your nails,
If you don’t cry
when Marley dies
But still make pigtails,

I see it says seventeen, here
since you started existing
but tell me didn’t you trip, yesterday,
on your very own shoestring?

Are you still a child, then?
or are you big and grown?
have you already started reaping
the seeds that you had sown?”

And now it was my turn
to stare with widened eyes
Had I already bid farewell,
to all my lazy Julys?

The sun still shone
The dogs still barked
and I felt like none but me
however, in that moment
she’d set my mind free

My thoughts reeled
like the imaginary racecar
I had when I was six
for two plus two
still equaled four
but my eyes didn’t transfix

On that old bag
which mother had
that big old bag of tricks
Of which she’d pull
something always better
than what I’d predict

I did still dig
my ten tense toes
into the warm brown soil
I did still love
my mother’s fingers
in my hair, with coconut oil

But when did
this strange time come
when my heels started to fit
when I no longer had
to hastily erase
the lipstick from my lips?

She stared at me
intently waiting
as I stood tongue tied,
because childhood was
supposed to be
a kingdom where no one dies.

Edna St. Vincent Millay inspired. ^_^


I always liked the summer more than any other season. There is a certain freeness I feel in letting my skin soak the light and the heat.
The heat makes you feel its presence as it arrives. The cold, on the other hand, is the absence of any kind of warmth.
I always did have a problem letting go.
And so I’d rather have too much of something, feel the harsh heat on the back of my neck, than feel it slowly escape and change into a shiver running down my spine.
So I’ve decided.
I’ve decided that I’d rather the world end in fire than ice, Mr. Frost. (Ironic, much?)

I’d rather feel the blistering heat eat away at my skin than have the cold kill me from inside.
I’d rather burst into flames, licking the skies above at least once before I die, than be one with the earth.
I’d rather catch a glimpse of all my memories, than see them one by one, that way I’ll know what I treasured most.
I’d rather feel the incessant warmth, and think of it as
Every last hug, a little too tight,
Every last kiss, lingering on for just a while,
Every interruption, not stopping for a breath,
Every purge of ideas, too many to be said.

The insatiable soul inside me does not know the meaning of “too many or too much,
It’d much rather be set aflame than ebb away at a cold touch.


Sixty four.
The number of times I’ve stepped out of the house alone after eight, leaving my parents with their fingers as much in a knot as their minds. Should they not have let me go?

Fifty seven.
The number of times I’ve caught an auto driver scratch his chest inside his shirt as his lust filled eyes continued to bore through my thick jacket; all the specks of dirt flying onto the rearview mirror couldn’t hide his intent.

Thirty two.
Times the shopkeeper’s fingers lingered on mine as he handed me my change back; as if giving me my fourteen rupees was consent enough for him to stroke my trembling skin.

Twenty six.
The number of times I’ve hesitated to take that shorter route to class because a gang of bikers known to collect virgins in a bottle had declared the street as theirs.

The age of the perverse fourth cousin I met at a wedding who forced himself onto me in the empty room.

The number of accidental brushes of his arm against my leg, my waist or my chest in that crowded train when I didn’t say anything because I’d been taught it was safer to not draw attention to myself.

When I first found out from my neighbourhood aunties that the length of my shorts was directly correlated with my dignity.

Times my father sent me back inside when the repairman came because he didn’t want me to be “too exposed”.

The number of times I’ve been called darling and been checked out top to bottom, this past month. Hmm. I wonder if they liked my new Aldo boots.

The number of times I’ve caught uncle looking down my shirt as I bent down to touch his feet. Needless to say, and much to his disappointment, I resort to namastes now.

My age when that casual labourer working across my house lured me to the back of the unfinished building with a cheap new toy.

The number of times he ravaged me before letting me go; my muffled screams getting lost in his grunts.
He made me promise to not tell anyone, said it’ll be our little secret.

The number of days afterwards that I had trouble walking. My mother wanted to take me to the doctor but I thrashed and screamed, just as I had that Tuesday afternoon.

The number of lives I wanted to end with my bare hands.

Because if you can’t beat them, you join them, and if you can’t join them, you surrender. Lay your ashes for them to walk on; feet crunching over broken faith like dry gravel.
Because a thing of beauty is a joy forever, and when that joy is denied , the thing deserves to exist no more.
You deserve to exist no more.

Inescapable oblivion

I see you every Saturday evening,
In your high heels and short skirt;
lipstick so carefully put,
Your face painted with the shades
You wish to be recognized by.

I see your insecurities seep through the cracks at the corners of your mouth
As you fidget with the tassels on your dress.
You call for me every week while I wish to forever be at your doorstep;
The same one you stumble onto after a night of haze you insist on calling ‘Life’.

Your footsteps move in tandem with your hips,
Which as they falter make something inside me skip a beat.
But I,
I never come to your rescue. I wait for you to call me,
Walk up to me and ask for help.
And I, unfailingly, oblige.

I transport you to a new world week after week and take you back to reality.
I want to ask you if there’s someone else, too
Whose breath gets caught in the tangles of your hair.
You smoothen them out with a straight face,
But what do you have to hide from me?

I know six years ago you were afraid this city will spit you out like a piece of bad fish,
And now,
You drink in its lights, its noisy rhythm now a sweet symphony.

And I saw it all unfurl
As I rang your doorbell to tell you I was waiting;
For another round of clinking glasses and hollow laughs,
All clearly audible from my side of the door.
I cross my hands and wait,
Because I don’t want to save you
For then, I would lose you.

But I do wish to whisper a few words to you every now and then.
Hah, but what do you care?

All you feel is the hum of the engine,
All you hear is my silence, and
All you see
Are two white gloves and the back of a head.