Monday, October 31, 2016

To each other - A Ghazal

That Srinagar bed, hours, we spread to each other,
in our kiss, years, all that was unsaid to each other,

Even broken promises are worth holding on to,
break promises like rubies and give red to each other.

Stars aligned like a prayer or the cursed moon,
what was it that night that we were led to each other.

Death lends grace to love, a silent indemnity,
no more fear of what we could have said to each other.

Your voice, now forgotten, was the last to go,
It's silent now, that amethyst night we read to each other.

Akhil, what did you give to him, what did you get?
"My heart for his," That's it? "And head too..." Each other?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


में जन्मा,
मतलब पूरा
पाकिस्तानी, कोई
बटवारे से पहले का
नहीं कि किसी भी तरह
उसको अपना बता लें। पर
दिक्कत ये है, कि उन सब शामों
को कैसे मिटायें, जब, नौजवानी में
हम उसकी आवाज़ में घुलते जाते थे,
"आफ़रीं आफ़रीं" सुनके, तब नहीं पता था

नुसरत हैं उनके।

He was born in 1948, so he's

straight-up Pakistani, not some
pre-Partition guy we can claim
as our own. Now the trouble is,
how do I wipe clean all those
evenings, growing up, when
drunk on his voice, we heard
"Afreen Afreen", losing all our
cares, not knowing Nusrat was theirs.

Friday, October 14, 2016

A friend from Beirut

tells me I have a way
of moving my head that
is neither a yes or a no.

He says it's an Indian thing.

"It means ok," I tell him,
"It means I get you."

We are here only
for three months
in this city which must
be the obverse of Beirut.

The first time
you'd held my hand here,
autumn had melted into fingers,
and all that was unwished for years
was wished again.

That night,
the river refused its course
and rushed into my veins,
dislodging grief in its way.

Who knew October was
for wishfulness,

a season of gestures
keeping time at bay.

Next month,
when you will leave,
the river will return and
the past will colour the book again,

do you think then, I will
be either a yes or a no,
or realizing, again,
to understand is to be
somewhere between.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

You turned out to be just like us

tr. from Fahmida Riaz's 'Tum bilkul ham jaise nikle'

(from Pakistan with love)

You turned out to be just like us,
where were you hiding all this while?
The same foolishness, the same fuss,
which made us waste a century
now knocks at your door, don't you see?
Well done sir, really. Well done.

Bogeymen of faith loom around.
Really, you'll set up Hindu Raj?
Spoil every thing at large,
and darken your own skies.
Will you too sit and devise
(seems like you're all too ready)
who is Hindu, who is not,
you too will issue fatwas.
Here too, life will be fraught,
here too, you'll sweat & hum &
haw & somehow pass the days,
suffocated, sick, in daze.
Till recently I was saddened
by all this but now I find it funny
- you turned out to be just like us,
we are one people after all, honey.

Let education go rot. We'll
make a virtue out of not knowing.
So what if the road ahead is potholed,
backward's the only way we're going.
If we only practice harder,
we'll get to go back farther.
We won't think of anything else
except look backwards, again
and again, and say it loud,
again and again -
How strong and great was Bharat!
What an epic State was Bharat!
It will be then that you will surely
reach - surely reach the paradise.
See, we are already here,
you must now find time for us -
from the hell you are in, my boo,
keep on sending a letter or two.

Fahmida Riaz

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

To gay men who can 'pass'

get your head out of your arse,
just 'coz in your school, they
called you names, filled you with
shame, and with fear, year after
year, doesn't mean you get to
turn around and project, those
years of anger and regret, onto
other gay men for being 'girly',
onto trans* folks for being sure-
footed, onto women you thought
were 'crooked'; we all have just one
thing to say, sexism isn't any shinier
or forgiveable just 'coz you're gay.