my articles

Chawl

 Zakir’s chappals slapped the concrete as he walked back home, exhausted. For him home was a hole in the wall. A hole shared by his mother and baby sister along with a host of crawling guests that visited unannounced. A hole that smelled like burnt rotis and sewage. A hole that was carved out by impatient hands on a small budget. The walls of Bombay had many such holes and many Zakirs. Too often had Bombay seen these drooping shoulders supporting sunken cheeks and beady eyes. And too often had Bombay lulled itself to sleep to the sounds of their snores and silences. Snores that oft wheezed into silences.

Zakir was one of the many ants living in this wall, united by the moments of our community. Where nothing was yours or mine- it was always ours, even if you didn’t want it to be. So when Manto bought a television set in 1983 Ameena aunty broke a coconut on its frame. The good wishes split the display into two worlds and nothing had ever been as exciting as the ‘83 world cup on a buffering display of perpetual suspense. Like many other things at the chawl, its defect made it ours more than theirs. And so when the one-eyed dog walked into our walls for the week or when the rain outstayed its welcome, we did not complain. Because like the brick and cement, these glitches of poverty were all that we owned and all that made us feel safe. Because while they drank milk out of packets every day, the only milk we had known was the one Allah gave for the early six months of life. Because while we stank of hell and sin, the familiar musk of penury reminded us of all things we were and loved.

And so we remember, through the symphony of cracked backs and shouting children, that we have enough. That while we are more mortal we are more awake than the shiny people racing past our lives, afraid that destitution was contagious. Our deaths are ours and so are our births. The missing are never talked about and nor are any other plagues. We battle disease and dance with infernal fires that knock down our doors- chasing us. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of the print, so we never bothered with a paper. The roll count before sleeping was the only progress report we needed, Zakir’s chappals reminding us that we were alive.

my life, poems etc.

Smoke

The pink child met

Some purple infidels

And in them did she confide

But come sundown

Purple became brown

And rainbows ebbed into darker skies

With the pale sickle

Bearing witness 

The pink lit angry flames

Between porcelian teeth

And with each pull

The smoke swirled 

Within her smiling memory

Then come scarlet daybreak

She mixed with the Gray

And walked amongst damned purple 

Pink now gone 

The little fawn

Was devoured by the screaming lion

poems etc.

The election 

They won the only coin toss

Before the others knew how to play

And then they stood appalled 

From higher moral ground

Wearing coats with green lapels

Hints of gold in their salivating grins 

Preaching dreams only to tax them

In barren lands rain a sin


And yet the hollow people followed fast

The humourless constitution of the dream weaver

Afoot on a cloud above 

Lambs electing butchers as their leader


Finally they reached the alter

Their carcass stinking of despair 

As he perfumed himself with power

The illustrious illusion of order

Was only for the civic fair


And thus the carnivore sat on the throne

Lined by the hide of your forefathers 

While your flesh drops off your bone

The fat man’s dinner party a slaughter


my life, poems etc.

A fat heart

my mind plays tricks on me
in mirrors it reflects hypotheticals

different paths to ifs and onlys
impossible parallels to my existence

it taps into my secrets
and plays a shady advertisement

promising the good life
in exchange of my soul

representing beauty
in a rigged election

because sometimes
my mind is overpowered by my body

the shell I live in defining me
rolls and ridges of generous flesh

bigger than my heart
greater than my intentions

and larger than my love for you
for me

i lost myself to the material
mean mathematics had finally conquered me

and while my shell got better for them
it left no space for breathing

my heart was fat
and you weren’t okay with that

so you butchered me into shape
leaving a hole between my lungs

making me the canvas
of your insecurities

my life, poems etc.

On being a slut

My cotton briefs sit by my lacy bra leṭte  

Ink stained fingers wear seductive reds

My hair dishevelled and lobes twice pierced

Legs pour out of the shorts stretched across my derriere

Christian faith nestled in boastful cleavage

My morals looser than my lovers by the sewage

Brought up in elite upscale high rises

 I drive downtown for my sunrises 

The thunder reigning over me

Making your structure a mockery

And yet I am a slut for nothing more

Than all these sins my sisters branded me for

All these luxuries I allowed myself

Cashed out on the moral credit I once held

This generation they call themselves new

Rebels like me the deviant few

Monogamous monotonous daughters and mothers

On your wrinkles the dark age hovers

The feminist you claimed to be

Pigs more understanding than she

poems etc.

Colours~Mental Health

In the ward were different colours

Some dull and some bright

Each shade luminous under the sun

Each with a different emotion

Some open and some closed

And still others oscillating

Like a pendulum of sensations

Their extremities adding beauty

Making them as radiant as a meteor

Burning through the Galaxy

With a flame sharp

Lighting its path

And in this atmosphere

Of different paints and hues

None were less and none more

Each equal in its own occupance

Each true in its own existence

Nothing about them a disorder