Sometimes, home has a heartbeat.

Every bird must fly its nest

It is the rule of nature

Once old enough,

Every little fledgling

Must stretch unsteady wings

And fly away

To fend for itself

 

But umbilical cords

People refuse to cut

Too often wrap themselves

As nooses around

Their children’s dreams

Leashes to hold

Precious offspring in their backyards

Stopping them from running

Bright-eyed, following their fantasies

 

My mother let her children

Seek their own fortunes

Make their own choices,

Pull the strings

To their own puppet shows

Mould their futures

Like the play doh childish fingers

Would fiddle with

 

Now, as foreign roads

Stretch themselves out before me

Like the lines crisscrossing

My mother’s palm

And I taste home

In the spices of food

A thousand miles away

Alleyways behind weathered churches

Reminiscent of the streets

Behind my school

The smell of hot tea

Transporting me to serene evenings

A book in my hand

And a familiar smile

On a weathered face

 

And I know

When the weight of homesickness

Becomes too heavy

For my heart to bear

There’s a light burning for me

Somewhere beyond these

Neverending miles

A beacon beckoning

Her ship to shore

Waiting to grasp my hands

With palms roughened by years

Of washing clothes and dishes

Of bandaging wounds and

Untangling a million little messes

Home, shifting through time

Through the boundaries of states

Winding up, always

In the rest of a tired head

On a familiar knee.

 

– Gautami.

To the woman who makes a million little sacrifices in a heartbeat for us everyday, who has suffered and emerged stronger than ever. To the woman who has made us everything we are and ever will be; teacher, guiding light. Happy birthday, Amma. We love you.

 

Advertisements

Pixels

We humans

Are funny little creatures

Aching to capture

Our lives, one way or another

Freezing time and people

In the gloss of photographs

And pixels on a screen

 

Living in the present

But caught up in the past

With fingers itching

To scroll back

To old conversations,

Old pictures

You and me, in stasis

Our every syllable locked

In that safe corner of time

Where no one can touch it

Until I press delete

And obliterate our words

In the whirring gears

Inside my phone

 

There’s something about humans

Making us take pictures

Of things that we love

Places, people, things

Tucking them away,

Saving them in some concrete way

So we can go back

To them, time and again

 

And it takes me back

To you and me,

And our tally of pictures together:

Zero.

Promises between meetings

And partings

Never coming to fruition

Next time.

Until next time ceased

To come around

And was swept away

In your absence

And my giving up on you

 

Some love stories

They say

Are written in the stars

Burning in the high heavens

Beautiful, unattainable.

I suppose ours was writ

In the dirt tracks

Of quiet mistakes

And the all consuming guilt

Of things said and done

 

They say

Pictures speak

A thousand words

Perhaps, my love

The absence of any

Speaks a million more.

 

-Gautami

Runaway

The sky was black

Like the coffee I drank

Every sleepy morning

Like the worn shawl

Your mother draped herself in

When she took down sun-dried clothes

In chilly evenings

The light was melting gold

Like the dull glow

Nestled in my mother’s ears

And jingling around her wrists

The circle around my father’s

Thickened fingers, gripping

This morning’s newspaper

 

I was a bundle of fear

And repressed excitement

Drumming its way through

The hasty throb in my wrist

In the restless tap

Of my fingers against my thigh

Waiting as the silver hand

Ticked its way across

My watch’s dial,

Tick

Tock

Too slow, too fast

 

The night was black

Like the look on my father’s face

When he saw you hold my hand

That one evening when you

Dropped me home

Like the growing storm

When he saw me talking

On the phone, at 3 am

Like his words, telling me

I could never see you again

The light was gold

Like your voice

Telling me to get away

To pack my things,

And unpack my dreams,

And shake them out in the sunlight

When we ran from it all

 

You were late

And panic was crawling

Up the walls of my throat

Little voices in my ear

Whispering that you were

Not going to come,

That I was a fool

Young, naive, in love

Expecting a knight in shining armour

To carry me away

That I should turn back

And go back home

 

The night was black

Like the despair creeping

Into my heart

Like the light fizzling

Out of eager eyes,

Like the steady drip

Of disappointment

Scratching over rosy dreams

Like the leaky pen

I would write with

Back in school

The night was black

Like the silhouette

Walking up to me

The light was gold

Like your skin

Glowing, blazing in the lamplight

Like the smile burning

Across my cheeks,

Mirrored in your face

In the sudden taste of freedom

Writ in the curve of my lips

And the touch of your fingertips

Pulling me to run, run

Free.

 

The night was black

The colour of knowledge

Like your Abba’s wrath

The next morning

My Amma’s despair

As she stroked

My pillowcase, still smooth

From no restless head

Rumpling freshly made sheets

Her sorrow mingled, perhaps

With some grey understanding

And the quiet satisfaction

That her daughter had flown

What she could not

But the morning,

Oh, the morning was gold

Hope rising in the horizon

With a glowing, glorious sunrise

And the press of your fingers

Twined in mine

The rattle of the bus

Taking us away

To the place

Our young hearts believed

Dreams came true.

 

-Gautami

 

What is love

They say

Love is simple, love is kind

I say

Love is convoluted.

Love is

My mother pretending not to like my favourite food so I can get an extra piece

My father constantly looking over his shoulder when we’re sitting on the scooter to make sure I’m still okay.

It is my mother waking up at 5 am to prepare lunchboxes for school

It is my grey hair on my father’s head as he sits late at night sorting finances into college accounts

It is soft brown eyes, furry paws and a wet nose ,sitting in your lap and warming you

It is pieces of your heart scattered all over the world.

Love is,

Me forgiving you over and over for the same mistake, knowing you will make it again

It is choosing to remember the best in you,after you’ve shown me the opposite

It is choosing myself over you, finally.

They say

Love is beautiful

I say

It is many things.

But above all

Love is hurting

Always hurting.

-Nayantara. 

Numbers

Half a second, an eternity

What’s the difference

Plant a seed

Open your window,

Just a crack

Wait for your seed

To take root

Years, months

Moments, aeons

Love takes its time

 

Hesitant roots spread

Like trembling fingers

Reaching out

Twining their way

Through the soil

In your veins

Nestling into the

Crooks of your soul

Days, months

Stamping themselves

In the dirt lanes

Of your memory

 

Dates, times

All those fiddly

Little details

First meetings

Final partings

Days of falling,

Days of breaking,

Days of dusting

The pieces away.

 

Minutes, hours

Spent together,

Their numbers looming

The tally of kisses

Trailing down your neck

The touches crisscrossing

Along your skin

Waiting to be counted

Like the stars

In full bloom

On an inky sky

 

Remember them all

Count them,

One by one

Ten fingers linking

Two bodies together

Tuck them into

Some dusty corner

Of your memory

How many days it took

To fall in love

How many days

For it to fall apart

How many days

Till you healed

Love, hiding

In the figures.

 

They say

It takes twenty one days

To form a habit

What they don’t

Tell you

Is how many days

You struggle

To quit it

Darling, I made you

My habit

And god alone knows

How long

Till I quit you.

 

– Gautami.

 

 

Breathe

One,two,three

Breathe.

Sit on the floor and think

Weave me a cocoon of lies

Twist my sleep by its neck.

Papercuts ,flinches

Back on the floor

Breathe.

Lie to me some more

Till the truth is inside out

Back to front.

Steel your heart

Drag my manacled wrists back.

More lies

Piling up,smothering me

Fighting through legs and arms

So tangled I am lost again.

Breathe.

Cardboard sign from my neck

Use me

Extract, discard,repeat.

Gashes,stabs

Plug in the dam with pebbles.

Back on the floor

Stare at the ceiling

Look at the cobwebs and feel like the fly.

Breathe.

-Nayantara

It’s not you, it’s me

Once upon a time

A girl

Took your heart

Made it bloom

With the spring

Of a thousand

Fragrant flowers

Then she left

Leaving behind

A winter wasteland

Blizzards blowing away

Frozen petals

And happiness

 

A different girl

Came along

Trying to thaw

Your cage of ice

Words and poetry

Phone calls and letters

Slowly melting

An unwilling heart

Stubborn still

Not giving in

 

For the past

Never really leaves

Hiding in the shadows

Waiting for the dark

To creep up

Behind you

Curling its fingers

Round your heart

 

It’s in me

My fear

Of you leaving

My unwillingness

To let go

My stubborn will

Wanting to fight

For you

The way he wouldn’t

For me

It’s in you

Scrolling through

Old pictures

In the wee hours

Her face smiling

Frozen in a

Different time

While I lie

In the sheets

Beside you

It’s in uneven breaths

And clenched fists

On a quiet evening

As I lay

On your shoulder

Drawing patterns

On denim clad thighs

 

It’s in me

Caring too much

Fighting too hard

Holding too tight

Breaking myself

To be enough

It’s in you

Not caring enough

Pulling away

Holding me

At arm’s length

Safely distant

 

The universe turns

On balance

Equal or otherwise

Relationships are often

Skewed when

It comes to

Who cares more

Leaving the one

Who will hurt

Weaker, begging

While the other

Can pull away

Unscathed, unscarred

 

Isn’t it obvious then

My love

As the noose

Of caring

Tightens around

My throat

With whom

The power lies

Against whom

The balance

Of attachment tilts

My tears circling

Down the drain

While you stay

Aloof, away

Already walking

Far, far away.

 

-Gautami