Love In Bombay, Lust In Madras

He walks past her at the rail station
she is waiting for the Bombay Local
a strand of jasmine along the length of hair
her sari a deep purple like the twilight hours.
In seconds the train pulls in
a cloud of people spill out,
she moves towards the train
hitches her sari as she climbs
to reveal legs smooth like ivory.


The cousins watch the stork on the water
the neem tree across the river
laden with flowers carpet the bank in golden dust.
Heavy with the foetus the older girl
panics as a shot of pain
ribbons between her legs –
this is her second child
the first she lost at birth
and she is only seventeen.
Her companion thirteen
sits dreamily listening to the bells of the temple
feels her small breasts stiffen and hurt
at the thought of the young priest –
she’s thirteen
blushes when she recollects
that she swooned when she got menses the first time.


She moans,
his mouth on the hollow of her collar bone,
he takes his time to come
in the small room that makes their home.
She falls asleep, a river of sweat where she has hastily
pulled her blouse,
he wakes her,
she arches her body at his touch
and lets him in
as the warm night of  Madras
draws a sheath of heat
around the drowsy couple.


He takes her to Marine Drive
they eat cones of peanuts on Juhu beach
take home baskets of Ratnagiri mangoes
that she peels and slices for him.
And as he kisses her
he tastes the sweetness of the mango on her lips
her hair carrying the salt from the sea.


He jumps into the train
nudges through the crowd
draws up close to her
the pearls breathe gently on her breast
he longs to cup them in his hands
and those trembling lips
choke in a kiss.


Their daughter calls for a taxi
her rump shaped in tight denim pant,
jacket unbuttoned
reveals a tank top.
She gets off
meets him near the lift,
in the lift
he fumbles with the zip
their lips lock –
she is sixteen
the same age
when her great grandmothers
lost their virginity
somewhere on the banks of a river.

This is a response to a prompt from Read Write Poem



Noontime Haze In Kumbakonam

The rich silt from Cauvery
streaked the yard behind my grandfather’s house.
In months during monsoon the river rose, 
lapped gently into the garden
leaving silvery gray traces
under the mangled gooseberry tree.

Sweat pearled down my grandfather’s neck,
he sat under the tree making a rosewood chair, 
the grains of the timber a pomegranate red
waited for polish,
hammer, chisel, box of nails,
whorls of shavings stirred by breeze, lay around.

My father, a boy of ten
saw a man swim in the river-
a quiver of mercury in the mid day sun.
The distant rumble of traffic upstream
came wrapped in heat and haze to the boy
who sat watching his father at work.

The chair now in my apartment
carries the world of grains my grandfather carved out
for the boy who watched through drowsy heat.
Now I cradle those afternoons
as I sit on the chair
this many years later, after both are gone.

This poem is in response to a prompt from Magpie Tales.

My Friend Disappears In A Turquoise Halo

The sky dissolves in traces of green, aqua
the colour of the ink he wrote his letters
I have them with me
carrying the depth of the lake
where he drowned.
A gasp of surprise  as he slips in,
then, worried about his glasses
should he remove and fold them away
or grasp the reeds on the muddy bank?
Breathless coolness of the lake –
remembers the first shudder,
rash of goose pimples on his body
from the bath in tap water at home,
his shoes become heavy,
soaked, a fish manages to nudge itself
in the arch of his ankle.
A paper snakes out
from his shirt pocket
loops from his mother’s pen
hold his attention;
his heart aches for her
waiting at the door.
He is all breath and lungs
senses ruptured,
he hits the ground
algae dislodges
turquoise smoke of discolouration.
He disappears in the iridescent light
– clear green
like the bottle of ink on his table.

This is a response to a prompt from Read Write Poem

The Business Of Creation

When two leaves are placed one over the other and they are pierced by a needle, the time required for the needle to pass from the first leaf to the second is called alpakaala.  Nine hundred alpakaalas make one kaala.  Thirty kaalas make one nimisha, nodi or maatra.  Four nimishas make one ganita.  Ten ganitas one netuvirppu, six netuvirppus one vinaazhika.  Sixty vinaazhikas one ghatika, six ghatikas one day.  Fifteen days make one paksha. Two pakshas make  one chandra masa (lunar month).  Twelve chandra masas make one year for human beings.  One year of human beings is one ahoratra (day) of the gods. Three hundred sixty ahoratras of gods make one Deva Varsha (one year of the Devas/Gods).  12,000 such God years make one Chaturyuga. Manu is the Supreme King of the earth. A Manu’s life span is completed at the end of 71 Chaturyugas. After his lifetime another Manu rules the earth for 71 Chaturyugas. Life spans of  fourteen such Manus makes a kalpa. Two kalpas make a day of Brahma.  360 such  Brahma days make  a Brahma year. Brahma lives for 100 such years which is 309,173,760,000,000 human years. (Source: Puranic Encyclopaedia)

Father of all beings
the architect of the universe

the four faced Brahma
born of the radiant lotus,

the god with a big libido.
pulsating with passion
for the swan-gaited Saraswati
lusting for wives of gods and rishis

fathering the universe
for a lifetime of hundred years
one Brahma day 8.64 billion human years.

limbs weakened with toil
loins sore
etherized in the luminescence of Meru

Brahma wants to rest.

His hands on his lap
tapering fingers
curl in a mudra
cradling whorls of Boundless Energy.

Eyes turned inwards
spills the seeds of Life’s Essence
he fathers four sons –
the pure and luminous souls

sons to inherit the business of procreation;
the boys embarrassed flee
seek the Silent One
to learn the truth of the Endless.

Brahma the aging father
tumescence of creation
vibrating in
scarlet flowers, piercing call of birds

counts the years left
crossing out the shunyas in human years.

This poem is in response to the prompt from Magpie Tales



Magenta Tattoo

The blooms spilled over the fence
the house at the dip of the land
acres of tea estate spread
like generously pleated skirt
silent people
picked leaves
dropped them into
baskets on their backs
like kangaroo
with its pouch on rear side
the mid morning sun
send vapours to heavens
earth moist with nightness
bougainvilleas blown by the wind
magenta drops that tea pickers stepped on
dark feet tattooed ruby red.

This is a response to a prompt from Read Write Poem

Come, Let Us Die

You kept the book on the rack
removed the book, placed it again
removed placed again
removed placed
I was making tea in kitchen
the warmth of late afternoon on my limbs
mind registered blankly the repetitive sound
eyes drooped
in the pause of a second
before milk boiled over
book on the rack placed again.
I asked you to stop
you said
with a voice
from the deep depths of inside
I will die if I stop
fear in your eyes
rings of sleepless nights.

In that house of large verandahs
wall the colour of curdled milk
wooden pillars painted blue
out of someone’s whim,
did you smell on me the kiss of a stranger?
Your little girl freshly bathed
drops of water
where the fragrance of sandal oil stayed
he smelt it as he groped me in the temple
the oil that you bought
in a famed shop
outside Mysore palace.
As I ran through dark lanes
rich with pollen in the air
fear sucked the breath away
I would have loved to die.

Come father,
let us die. 

This is a response to Read Write Poem prompt.


Breathe Out

My friend died back then
her husband married again
her mother has died since
her father has dementia
counts the stars in the Coimbatore night sky
her children
too young when she died
the boy
only six refused to go to school
fearing that on returning
will find his mother gone to hospital
the girl ten
saw with dread her mother become monster
wander through night in pain
lips turned blue as cells could take no oxygen
her husband found a warm body to hold
could not bear to wake in darkness to hear her breath rasp
from the walls of the house
put away all her photos
gave away all the pillows cases she embroidered
the pattern books from where she drew daffodils, daisies
a world she hoped to live one day to visit
he left his past
wanted to see the sky and the sun through a different window
all the rotis that she rolled forgotten
the breaths that dented the space filled.