Tuesday, March 31, 2015

In the 1.4 MB floppy disk

I used to gift you two or three photographs,
(.jpeg's were smaller than .bmp's),
of us standing on the Gomti embankment,
or of you at the Chota Imambara
next to the portrait of the fat Asaf-ud-Daula,
or of our school Principal (after doing
vulgar things to him on MS Paint).

Then, along with those,
I gave you songs - one .mp3
(could be Bombay, 'Humma Humma'
or Dil To Pagal Hai, 'Chak Dhoom Dhoom'
or that 'Dance of Envy' where Shiamak Davar
was thinking what-was-he-thinking, and
Karishma Kapoor was dancing wtf-is-that-dance.)

Then, to fit them in, I gave you two more songs
but these were .rm, not even half an MB,
where even Lata didi sounded real,
like someone's grazed her throat
with sandpaper and
fed her pickles
for a month.

Then, after these (because
1.4 MB never felt small, then, stowing
all I wanted to give) I added three .ttf's,
font files, as special gifts, one of which even
had a middle-finger-symbol, which you then used
in almost every subject-line that year

Monday, March 30, 2015

Maruti Swift

It takes a 1248cc diesel engine,
4 cylinders,
16 valves,
a max. torque of 190 newton meters 
@ 2000 revolutions every fuckin' minute,

it takes rack & pinion steering
& drum brakes & disc brakes
& steel tyres,

it takes one thousand five hundred kilos of metal
moving, always moving 
in 48 second loops on the assembly-line,

painted & cut & bolted & fed
by workers.


on 9 hour shifts,
one 30min lunch break,
and two 7 minute tea-cum-toilet breaks
(those two-seconds-late-&-pay-cut-breaks)

it takes "if my leg itched, I do not even
have time to scratch it,"

it takes waiting
for one's own fingers
it takes white-hot "discipline" cut by teeth,
welded by metal to townships
with smoke-grey evenings

it takes 13 days of occupation,
months of sit-ins, lock-outs, it takes 147 workers
arrested on manufactured evidence,

to make one of these.

(thanks to Anumeha Yadav, Satish Dalal and Imaan Khan)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


The kiss on the cheek marks affection,
the kiss on the hand takes you nearer,

the kiss on the lips burns circumspection
to dust, the kiss on the neck dips you

headlong in lust, and when love exceeds
so much that it knows not what it implies,

you find yourself reaching and kissing him
on his eyes.

Friday, March 20, 2015

i want to 377 you so bad

till even the sheets hurt i want to
ache your knees singe your skin
line you brown breathe you in i want to
mouth you in words neck you in red
i want to beg your body insane into sepals
i want to 377 you like a star falling off the brown
i want to feel you till my nails turn water
i want to suck you seven different skies
i want to be a squatter in your head when
it sleeps when its dark i want to break laws
with you in bed and in streets and in parks

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Hindus never ate beef*

charmakars (cobblers) did,
bhattas (soldiers) did,
natas (actors) did,
and so did Dasas & Medas & Vratas & Bhillas,
all sunk their teeth afresh,
when served cow's flesh,
they were joined by (drum-beat) Vedic Gods,
Indra was fond of bull's meat,
& Agni loved both bull and cow,
& old books even suggest how
& what kind of cow should be
sacrificed for which God, see
that you get
a dwarf ox for Vishnu,
& a big horned bull for Indra,
& a black cow for Pushan, & etc. etc.,
so that whenever the Gods were in the mood,
"verily the cow [was] food,"
and secretly, even now,
the Bhakts who have a beef but still eat it,
they always heave a sigh of relief,
knowing their Vivekananda
(they don't know how to treat it, it shakes their belief)
liked Biceps, Bhagwad & [yolo] Beef.

(thanks to B.R. Ambedkar and Ram Puniyani)

Monday, March 16, 2015

B.V. Hospital, Thane

They come on a trolley, the Gods,
pushed on each floor of the hospital
till all the patients & their relatives make
their own blends of medicine and faith,
as they fold (without thinking?) hands;
I was told: "Next 48 hrs. are critical."

I weigh it in my mouth, again, 'critical,'
the word now sounds like prayer for Gods,
and holding prescriptions & bills, my hands
learn each wall, each bench the hospital
has, the next thing the doctor said, "Faith,
have faith," & I didn't know what to make

of Gods so out of place, or what to make
of doctors, who when dealing with "critical
patients" must at some point turn to faith,
their oath still an old "call to all the gods
and goddesses to witness" here (B.V. Hospital)
all the "power and judgment" of their hands;

or is it like when I first felt her hands
after three days of not-knowing, of "make
or break," she breathed on her own, this hospital
then was full of idols, "No longer critical?"
I asked, and when they nodded, the Gods
wherever, whoever they be, I gifted faith

so readily, like threads around trees, faith
spun in reams and reams of red hand-
-made cloth that cradles those Gods,
who made (without thinking?) small make-
-shift things for us, and (this is critical)
called it living, and sometimes, in hospitals

when we try to keep their word, the hospitals
become sanctums, and once flappable, faith,
pig-headed, remains, & even in those critical
hours, when the blood refuses and hands
over the heart for little countdowns to make
the claim, at that point between us and Gods,

hospitals are little games, where the Gods
play over our faith, between skies, till they make
us fold (was it critical?), tremulously, our hands.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

रोटी और तारे

tr. from James Oppenheim's "Bread and Roses" (1911), inspired by Rose Schneiderman's slogan "The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too"
अब चल पड़े हम सब तो, इस सुन्दर से दिन में,
लाखों रसोइयाँ ऐसी जिनके चूल्हे बंद पड़े, फिर
जग उठेंगी देखो, सूरज देगा अंगारे, सब सुनेंगे
हमको गाते -- रोटी और तारे -- रोटी और तारे
अब चल पड़े हम सब तो, मर्दों के संग लड़ें,
वो हैं हमारे से ही, हमारे बिन कैसे बढ़ें,
थक कर अब न बहेंगे, जीवन के ये पल सारे,
तन भूखा है पर दिल भी, दो हमको रोटी पर दो तारे
अब चल पड़े हम सब तो, अनगिनत जो नहीं रहीं
अब भी गीतों में हमारे लगाएं रोटी की पुकार वहीं
कहाँ कला, कहाँ सौंदर्य, मेहनत के थे उनके दिन सारे
इसीलिए मांगे हम रोटी पर उसके संग हम मांगे तारे

Saturday, March 7, 2015


Look at the VT in the mornings for the rush of Bombay,
look at the black ocean at night for the hush of Bombay.

If you haven't been on the Evening Local from Bandra
to Virar, then you haven't yet felt the crush of Bombay.

You carry back the sea-gulls, the breakers, the waves,
you wear the sea like skin, feeling the brush of Bombay.

There was once "a tower whose top was in the heavens" like
Antilia, off Peddar Road: Bible warns The Plush of Bombay.

When his eyes met mine, the Local slowed down at Dadar,
the whole world halted, turned red in that blush of Bombay.

You would never, Akhil, like your kind before you, "leave the
streets of Delhi," then why like a lover, do you gush, of Bombay.