Friday 15 November 2019

The story-telling street

A road is like time. Both have a past and a present and they continue into infinity. If roads could speak, they would have many stories to tell us – of triumph and defeat, of joy and sorrow, of love and loss, of peace and strife - of the people who travelled them in the past. And there would be stories of the birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees, and the fallen leaves.

A busy street is intricately interwoven with a million stories – the stories of the street vendors, traders, and the people going up and down the street, each with a past and a present, rushing towards their separate futures.

And each story weaves into several other stories, on other roads, in other cities, from other times. Forget your own story for a while as you walk down a street, tuning into the hundreds of stories that surround you. Feel new stories being created every minute, of which you are now a part.

It was such a morning in Pondicherry. I was standing in front of a tea stall like several others who stopped by, enjoying a hearty sip. The street was overhung by the soft rays of the sun and the aura of a colonial past. A new story was forming, deftly entwined, charmingly entangled with so many others. Call it an epic, if you will.


Roads write an epic
Of the evolution of an ethos
Every bend a turning point
To flick to another page
To another age,
Trees bend, heavy,
Laden with memories
Laying shadowed margins -
The walkways of passing years,
Leaves are hushed whispers
Under the city’s breath
Of ancient secrets hidden
Between the lines of time,
Flowers beckon, beseech
Falling at your feet
To take a fleeting peek
Into the city’s history,
Around every wall
Behind every bolted door
Slipping through the window
Peeping through the shades
There’s a story in every street.

*Pondicherry, popularly known as Pondy, is an erstwhile French colonial settlement in South India.

Friday 8 November 2019

The death of a muse

Here, at the hospital, a death goes unnoticed. A death I was witness to, and to be frank, the cause of. An insignificant end to a trivial manifestation of the essential soul. Rather, one of the deaths of a single soul. And here’s how.

As I sit blankly staring into nothingness in the wee hours while Amma sleeps peacefully, there's a slight disturbance under her bed. I wake up from my reverie as a cockroach appears suddenly out of nowhere and runs all over the place. I try to kill it with Amma’s slipper. As I can’t bring myself to hit really hard, it doesn’t quite die and starts wobbling around after a while. I ‘kill’ it again and it’s now lying with its feelers moving. I am hoping the cleaning ladies will come soon or I will have to ‘kill’ it all over again. I now realise, in my reluctance to kill, I am causing it to die several times. Perhaps that’s the case of many a person lying in the hospital. They are dying multiple deaths. But just how many deaths can one die?

How many deaths?

How many deaths will you die? Several and many more. When you know it’s just a matter of time before you will be gone. With every losing battle with death before the final war. With every ragged breath and every delayed heartbeat. When you accept destiny and when you alas succumb. Heart grinding to a halt. Breath dragging to a stop. Every cell giving in. One by one. Beat by beat. Breath by breath. Inch by inch. You die till what’s left is buried, burnt. Then dying over and over in every living mind, you die a million times.

It’s just that some deaths leave you still alive.

Wednesday 6 November 2019


Excavate in time
a selective history
bury things for now.