For the nameless gay cousin uncle

“Don’t take it personally,” 
my sister, also queer, says with a tired sigh.
“You know how they are.”
You see, distant relative I don’t even know the name of, 
They were talking about you this night. 

Dear Uncle, I know you have a little brother
who's probably the pride of the family—
he has a job, and a wife,
and a respectable well-settled life;
You wore eyeliner to a shaadi
and danced to Baby Doll. 

Dear Uncle, I'd known long before this night
the hatred in the hearts of this family 
for all the people who are 'others'
This family that could be so caring and kind,
and I had somehow loved them through it all;
Now, I cannot talk to my maama
without hearing his mocking laugh, saying
"I'll tell you why he isn't married yet"
Cannot look at my maami without reading the subtext of
"Because he likes men."
Cannot even smile at my own mother 
without replaying her dramatic gasp at this odd alien creature.

Dear Uncle, you don't know I exist
I don't know who you are
Yet I still feel that hot red spot
in the middle of my forehead
that opened like a furious third eye this night
But did not wreck loose any fireballs
that set about the end of the world
like your mere existence did.

Dear Uncle, I do not know
whether your kohl-lined smolder
was your personal gay yell from the rooftop
Or your 'earth-shattering' dance
was your tandava, your middle finger
to the family which never treated you like one—
I may never know, either, 
you will never read this poem
and if you do, I hope it's not over 
our shared pained smiles of the aching bones
our khandaan gives us someday. 

Dear Uncle, forgive me, 
For I will never be as brave as you are,
I can make my boiling blood simmer
until it spills and screams in the private ink of these pages,
but I could not fight the words that were said
with the immense heat that built up inside my head
—I was exhausted, and scared, and alone
But those are no excuses: to be a silent observer
is to be a part of the crime.

I'm a criminal, dear uncle, as I sit writing
this angry gay poem behind bars
around my throat
my throat which learnt to choke on its own
soon after it managed to open up last year,
if only to itself;
And you are this criminal's muse, dear uncle,
You have fused
this black ace ring permanently to my finger now
this magical metallic bolt that lets the closet stay open
and closed at the same time.

I wish I could let you know
that I took it personally, dear uncle—
I did not know you existed until today
and though my cowardly hands 
did nothing to stop that machine gun,
It made this unprecedented Picasso mosaic of my bones
Perhaps, close to, what it would've made of you.

Dear Uncle, I know none of my words will ever be enough
and I'm a cynic who doesn't buy that telepathic connection shit
But for today, just for today,
I want to believe that I'm there with you in spirit
wherever you are,
that you may feel some unexplained warmth
in this cold, cold, cold of the dual atmospheres
That your brain might throw up a kind word
amidst all the slurs it keeps replaying. 

Dear Uncle, this is a really long shot
But I hope one day we gatecrash a wedding
and march on to the stage to proclaim:
"Yes, I'm a queer, I'm a freak, I'm a fag,
I've got mud on my face and I'm a big disgrace
and I will wave my banner and shout
until the stars above you tremble,"
And we will be in drag, dear uncle, 
a mass slaughter of this civilised family's collective brain;
and we will laugh at gay jokes together
when we get kicked out of the family,
Estranged from those who were strangers in the first place
Maybe I could be brave enough with you.

Dear Uncle, it should not be a big deal
I've heard worse, way worse, but it is
and your eyeliner and dance moves
should not be brave— it's been too long, they should be ordinary
But whatever it meant, it made you extraordinary,
extra-everything in the minds of the people
who cannot handle anything extra
beyond their narrow tunnel vision of their little frog-pond world,
Who do not give two shits about you
except when it comes to tittering
Tittering that will turn into jittering
flames of the torches they'll bring to burn our houses down,
But we will make our houses fireproof, dear uncle,
We will build them so they spit it right back
Spit rainbow-hued fire tornadoes
That will char the sky and this mob's faces
in the colours of the love they fear so much;
And we will
Take it personally.

Silent Night, Holi Night

Holi eve night
I can't see any stars in the black canopy of the sky
But she's there, beautiful, reduced to a centrepiece
For strangers to worship and attach stories to
Who look at her, but don't see— they love themselves
Too much
So they chatter and dance and have fun
Somebody I don't know offers me a sweet
I decline;
My senses are absorbed, 
For even though the sky is dark
She's there, scattering stars of sunset shimmering
Out for the night to inhale.

A girl films her swaying in slow motion to her own rhythm
Oblivious to the loud folk music on the community speakers
I have not brought my camera.
The girl's phone whites out her beauty
Turns her blossoming tongues of magma
Into featureless dazzling white
This is why I did not bring my camera.

But I have brought my heart.

So even though I know that all the metaphors
About her mercurial magnificence
That flood my brain like her anbaric rivulets,
All the poems I could write
That will white out her beauty
Have already been written;
I let my words flow and engulf this page
Like her flames do the wood
I let my words flow because I love the fire.

I love the fire so I come closer,
Even though I can feel her warmth from afar I
Can't help but come closer;
My skin cries tears of sweat
My brain yells at me to step back—
But all I can do is bask in the warmth she radiates
Let my pupils dilate with her heat
And my blood fill with the divinity of Prometheus's stolen treasure.

She is a slice of the Sun on the Earth
And a soothing sliver of the moon
Expectorating fireflies;
All I can do is marvel at her supernova core
All I can do is look, and yet.

I look at her and I want to burn in her,
Dive into her heart and burn
I'll just be another log, some more kindling
That makes her hiss and sizzle and crackle in glee
But I want to feel her sear my bones from within
Like she's seared my heart from without.

Now the stick pyramid falls but she burns on
For she never needed that structure to exist—
She's a force of nature, hair flying wild
And as the wood falls I want to fall too
Fall to my knees in front of her, eyes closed
And evaporate;
Be the Icarus in her tranquil orange lustre
That beautifies the ugliest with her summertime incandescence
And fills this empty pitcher with ichor
That overflows and splashes these pages
With the fiery passion inside. 

1st April/ (1/30) / Free verse

Prose-tinted Glasses S1, E2

Neither am I dead, nor is this series. 

Hello and welcome to the second episode of Prose-tinted glasses. If you have no idea what the hell is going on here or need a refresher, head on over to the pilot episode where I introduce you to this new venture of mine and talk about Orwell’s 1984. Seriously, do it. It’ll save you from my wrath by preventing you from calling it a book-review series. 

I’m assuming you’re now familiar with the previous episode. So, in keeping with our theme of Books we all Pretend we’ve Read, the book for today is The Handmaid’s Tale. 

*cue theme music* 

I know, I know. It has over seventy thousand reviews on Goodreads, who knows how many more articles, entire research papers, and a whole TV show. But will any of that deter me from writing about it? Did any of that compel me to read at least one article about it? Did I watch the show?

Nah. 

I call it being authentic. Continue reading

Prose-tinted Glasses S1, E1

HALLO FRANDOS I’M BACK. 
(Shit Tanushka you’re growing on me.) 

So my exams are over and I finally have the time to start a new venture. This new venture is a new series, called, as you see in the title, Prose-tinted Glasses.   

Now, anyone who knows me knows that writing book reviews isn’t my thing, and this isn’t going to be about book reviews either. The episodes- let’s call them that- will be written while I’m reading a particular book, and will be posted when I’ve finished reading. They’ll basically be my nightly mental ramblings about the things explored in the book (because why should I lose sleep alone) and how I feel they connect to things outside the book. You can think of them as those post-book English class essays, but you’ll soon see they’re not really that. If you want book reviews, this series is not for you. 

The featured image is a quick colour pencil drawing which I made at 11 in the night while my mom was yelling at me to go to sleep. And yes, this will be the featured image for all the episodes. It’s a series, after all. 

Hopefully I’ll post an episode once a month, but it’s not a rigid schedule- nothing is ever rigid over here- and there might, or more appropriately, will be episode-less months. The theme for the first season (yes, there might be more seasons. It’s a whole thing.) is Books we all Pretend we’ve Read. 

It’d be funny if it wasn’t true.

Now, I have already read some of these- not a complete ignoramus, thankfully- and they won’t be included in this series (they’re The Hobbit and The Alchemist, if you’re wondering). Nor are the books in this image the only ones which will be included. 

With the intro out of the way, let’s get into the episode. 

Continue reading

Killing the Creator (part 13)

Click here to read the previous parts.

After hours in the local cyber cafe, I finally knew enough to tackle the midnight man and find out Rennie’s location. Or, at least I hoped I did.

The process of befriending the Creator was, of course, still going on simultaneously. She seemed to be a nice person for the most part, except for the part where she’d killed my parents as a means of ‘character development’. And the part where she’d basically messed up ‘Grey Earth’ for her ‘dystopian YA sci-fi fantasy’, as she put it. It seemed absurd to me that an innocent-looking girl could be the monster at the end of the book, quite literally.

I’d also checked into a room at Hotel Parth Paradise (as I’d told the Creator) after all, since I had to stay somewhere.

I’d sold a couple more gold coins at a jewellery store and bought a hydraulic press from an online shopping website. I’d stocked up on salt, bought silver knives and learnt the number sequence from the Korean elevator ritual by heart. With luck, my plan would work.

Continue reading

क्या कोई कविता…

उस दिन जब दुनिया ने मिलकर

प्रेम-पर्व मनाया था ,

नफ़रत ने भी पुलवामा पर

मायाजाल फैलाया था।

चाहे उन कायरों को संपूर्ण देश की

बद्दुआ लग जाएगी,

पर क्या कोई कविता उस माँ का

आँचल फिर भर पाएगी ?

Continue reading

Killing the Creator (part 12)

Click here to read the previous parts.

Five hours and hot buttery parathas at a local eatery had calmed me down enough to know that I was essentially directionless at the time. I had no course of action at all before me, but I had plenty of time to chart one.

I was in no mood to try to kill the Creator without any of our poisonous arsenals. I’d even left the potassium chloride with Al, I recalled- when I’d thrown the container in his face. Good times.

Al had lectured me on not caring about Rennie’s sacrifice. About making her sacrifice meaningful. Well, I thought, why let her sacrifice herself anyway? She did it to right our messed-up world, but why her? Why should she have to do it? Wasn’t it the responsibility of those snobby ‘leaders’ of The Society which was created to fight the mutants and keep everyone safe?

So, I decided to bring her back from wherever she was. I contemplated my next move. There was only one person in the universe who could bring her back. The Creator. Continue reading