Monday, December 28, 2015

For someone who'll read this

500 years from now

How are you?
I am sure a lot has changed

between my time and yours,
but we're not very different,

you have only one thing on me -

I have all these questions for you:
Do cars fly now?

Is Mumbai still standing by the sea?
How do you folks manage without ozone?

Have the aliens come yet?
Who is still remembered from my century?

How long did India and Pakistan last?
When did Kashmir become free?

It must be surprising for you
looking at our time,

our things must seem so strange to you,
our wars so little,

our toilets for 'men' and 'women'
must make you laugh

our cutting down of trees
would be listed in your 'Early Causes'

our poetry in which the moon is still
a thing far away

must make you wonder, both for that moon
and for the poetry.

You must be baffled,
that we couldn't even imagine

the things you now take for granted.
But let that be,

would you do me a favour,
for 'old time's sake'?

Would you go to the Humayun's Tomb
in what used to be Delhi

and just as you're climbing the front staircase,
near the fourth rung, I have cut into

the stone wall to your left -
'Akhil loves Rohit'

Will you go and see it?
Just that, go see it.

Monday, December 21, 2015

When Farida Khanum

sings now,

she does not hide the age
in her voice,

she wraps it in paisleys,
and for a moment
holds it in both of her hands,

she drowns it in our sky.

When she sings now,
she knows

that at the end of that note
when her voice breaks
like a wishbone,

he will stay.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Who're the ones marching that day?

What does the headline next day decide?
To call it 'Gay Pride'

Thursday, December 17, 2015


You're still glued to the bus-stop seat,
I pull you off it, "91 is here."

On Gray's Inn Road,
you again call the houses "so miniature,"
holding them between your finger and thumb.

On the double-decker,
you're still dozing off on the back seat,
asking me to wake you up when we get there.

As we get out, I'm still telling you to
"wrap yourself well, it's always colder
near the river."

As we walk below the Waterloo Bridge
and you turn to look at me, I am still
one-part longing, one-part fear,

wishing, tonight, that you were here.

(thanks to Daniel Titz and Dorian Lebh)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

He sees me. I see him.

"You're a little chubby,"
"I guess you're a little dim,"
we part ways, he's not gettin'
sharper, I'm not getting thin.

Monday, December 14, 2015

December Poets

To melt the winter sun, partially,
  and hold it in a glass,
    Agha Shahid Ali,

to love, count to ten,
  then at last
    to grieve,

then, cussedly, leave
  to tread on something
      Rene Sharanya Verma,

to lose, again,
  reach that place, unknown,
      Dorothy Parker.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

All those years we dated,

it remained 'complicated,'
so what I don't get is this -
why do I remember them as 'bliss'.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Barakhamba Road/Tolstoy Marg Crossing

An odd, white handkerchief tied on his arm,
    he gets onto the metro at Vishwavidyalaya.

With a stuffed back-pack on her shoulder,
    she boards the bus at Shahdara.

In his grey track pants,
    he hails an Ola from Saket,

With her phone in her back-pocket,
    she climbs onto a Haryana Roadways bus.


The red glass bangles he'd bought yesterday
    reflect the winter sun; his fingers dance.

She pulls out a crumpled rainbow muffler
    and waves it to her from across the road.

He sees a small tear in the stockings as he
    pulls down the track pants but doesn't care.

At that Crossing she knows from the map, she
    sees a big crowd - and turns her phone to silent.