Monday 11 December 2023

The Bing Bang Theory


If this planet is my home...

If my home is this planet and if I throw the waste – the garbage – generated in my home out the window of my home, where would it fall? Perhaps it would continually fall in the infinite abyss called space. The gravitational forces of all the heavenly bodies would push and pull it. In the end, it would be forced to follow its own elliptical orbit, and it would have to rotate and revolve around the heavenly bodies just to avoid collision, just to stay in space, just so it won’t fall.

Think of all the garbage thrown from all the windows of the planet, rotating and revolving in space! In a snowballing effect, they would grow to become as gigantesque as a planet. And there would be all those vermin living on it unhindered, in bliss, making their own heaven of it.

Piles of garbage would continue to heap up, forming spheres and moving in orbits of their own. Vermin of infinite kinds would live on them. Pollutants would co-exist, react, and evolve. More and more, and newer, emissions would pervade the universe. Humans would learn to breathe all kinds of gases.

In time, man would discover these new "planets". Forging ahead with his scientific searches and researches, he would send rockets to explore the possibility of life on these new planets. He may eventually turn these planetoids into space tourism destinations, disturbing the peaceful lives of the vermin, making life difficult for them…

Indeed, there would be no stopping us.


Saturday 28 October 2023


While in the nightly hours...

of the vinous,
musky moonlight
spill o’er
the urns
of the skies,
the nooks
and crannies
of the night,
to the fences
of my senses,
and my sleepy eyes.


Friday 20 October 2023


Hosny Salah - Pixabay

A rumble of terror
on the horizon,

A fluttering of fear
in the air,

A foreboding,
sense of doom,

A dread of loss
of what never was,

A colossal outburst
of molten rage,

A drumbeat
of faith and fear
at war,

A shuffling retreat
of peace
in defeat,


A crackling meltdown
of hope
in its own embers,


A littering of life
gasping for death
under the debris.

A year dies out
in its own ashes.


Monday 18 September 2023


Phillip Island, Melbourne


This isolation that enwraps me in a crowd. Holding me captive. Exiling me from the world. Or the world from me. An incarceration. That turns into an armour. Occasionally.

This desolation that fills within me. Volatilizing and then raining down on me. Soaking me. Drenching me. Seeping into my depths, empty them as I may. Relentlessly.

These heaving surges that crash against my shores. Dissipating me. Into umpteen pieces. Drowning bits of me. Carrying them away. Far away from me. Irretrievably.

These thoughts that storm into me. Whirling my emotions. Dashing them on the ground. Filling all my spaces. At last dwindling down to a word. Just a word. Irreducibly.

This word that remains. Unread. Unheard. Uninterpreted. Glare and bare, scream and shout, decipher and decode as I may. This word that’s me. Quintessentially.

A word falls apart
Syllables stray unspoken
Sounds hang together.


Tuesday 8 August 2023


And to no applause.

The lone survivor.
Though lone, survivor.
Though survivor, lone.


Thursday 13 July 2023

Arddhanagnar - The Half-nakeds


Book Title: അർദ്ധനഗ്നർ (Arddhanagnar)
Author: Puzhankara Balanarayanan
Publisher: Current Books

കൃഷ്ണൻ നായർ ആദ്യവരിയെഴുതി: "മൈ ഡിയർ ലിസ്സ്" അത്രയും എഴുതിയപ്പോൾ മനസ്സ് സ്വസ്ഥമായി. തുടർന്നെഴുതി:

"ഒരുമിച്ചൊരു മുറിയിൽ കിടന്നുറങ്ങി പാതിരാത്രി കഴിഞ്ഞപ്പോൾ പെട്ടെന്നെഴുന്നേറ്റ് ഉറങ്ങിക്കിടക്കുന്ന പ്രിയതമയോട് മൗനമായി വിടപറഞ്ഞിറങ്ങിയ സിദ്ധാർത്ഥഗൗതമൻ്റെ കഥ നിനക്കറിയാമല്ലോ. പലപ്പോഴും നാമത് ചർച്ച ചെയ്തിട്ടുള്ളതുമാണ്. അങ്ങിനെയൊന്ന് സംഭവ്യമാണോ എന്ന് എത്രയോ പ്രാവശ്യം സംശയിച്ചതുമല്ലേ? എന്നാൽ അത് സംഭവ്യമാണെന്ന് ഞാൻ മനസ്സിലാക്കുന്നു. പെട്ടെന്ന്, തികച്ചും അപ്രതീക്ഷിതമായി ഞാൻ നിന്നോട് വിട പറയുന്നു. സിദ്ധാർത്ഥഗൗതമനും ഞാനും ഒരേ തരക്കാരല്ല. പക്ഷേ, ഒരു വലിയ അന്ത:ക്ഷോഭത്തിൽ ഞാൻ ചെന്നുപെട്ടു. വിടപറയാൻ നിർബ്ബന്ധിതനായി. നിൻ്റെ കത്തുകളിൽ പ്രകീർത്തിച്ച അർദ്ധനഗ്നനായ ഫക്കീറില്ലേ? അർദ്ധ നഗ്നൻ എൻ്റെ മനസ്സിൽ കയറിവന്നുനിന്നു. അതുപോലൊരു അർദ്ധനഗ്നനാകണമെന്ന് എനിക്ക് ഉൽക്കടമായ ആഗ്രഹം. അത് സാദ്ധ്യമല്ല. പക്ഷേ, ഞാനിന്ന് അദ്ദേഹത്തിൻ്റെ  ആരാധകനും അനുയായിയുമാണ്." 

Some books make you wonder what took you so long in getting around to reading them. Especially when they were lying so close within your reach that you could have just stretched your hand out to pick them up. But you always thought they were downright serious works and you wished to spare enough time to do full justice to them.

And then one day you open one such book – Arddhanagnar (The Half-nakeds) by Puzhankara Balanarayanan – and no sooner than you begin turning the pages, you find yourself getting wrapped up in them. You realize that the book is unputdownable. You sit up late in the night reading it. And the first thing that you do in the morning along with getting your cuppa is getting back to where you left off reading the previous night. You don’t realize your coffee is turning cold. Indeed, you don’t even realize you are not drinking it in the first place.

And then after the brisk, marathon poring-over and the nail-biting finish, you feel the satisfaction of a good read and the contentment that you have, after all, done full justice to the voluminous page-turner packed with a plot that has kept you on the edge of your perch from beginning till end.

And to those who have not read the book – no, this is not a suspense thriller. This is fiction closely interwoven with the history of India during the times of the Raj and the Freedom Struggle. The history is true and the fiction could as well have been true. For, the story reflects the socio-political economic context of those times. Travel back into the era, and you will meet up with different versions of Velu Nair, Krishnan Nair, Sekharan, Madhavi Amma, Gouri, Elizabeth Trevor, Kurup, etc. who lived similar lives in similar circumstances.

The novel is about native landowners discovering too late that they themselves were owned by the (British) Empire. It is about Indian aristocracy vying with the English aristocracy only to lose their own inherent charm and integrity. It is about the different circumstances that roused the sleeping Indian out of their prolonged stupor to break away from the shackles of serfdom, to be bound to the cause of freedom. It is about the desi turncoats stripping themselves of their garbs of delusion to don the nakedness of truth.  

The author, Puzhankara Balanarayanan, has interwoven fiction and history so smoothly that there are no complicated, confusing knots, or loose, dangling threads in the narration. While the story moves you, the historical anecdotes inspire you even today – more than 7 decades and a half post independence. Take, for instance, the author’s step-by-step detailing of the Salt March – you, the reader, wait with bated breath as the "half-naked fakir" marches from station to station until he reaches the final destination  – Dandi. So what if you have always known the culmination and the aftermath of the Movement anyway? Adding to the reading experience is the author's exceptional expertise in building up climaxes and then taking you off on completely unexpected tangents.

Today, days after reading the book, this reader still remains caught in the web of the author’s spellbinding and powerful narrative.


Thursday 6 July 2023

Saaramilla – It’s Okay

Book Title: സാരമില്ല (Saaramilla)
Poems by: Jayasree T.
Illustrations by: Basanth Peringode
Published by: Thinkal Books

I had been losing myself in the pages of Saaramilla (It Doesn’t Matter) when I came to and felt that I should put down here a few of my thoughts on this amazing book. However, I feel slightly awkward, writing in a foreign tongue about a profoundly beautiful collection of poems in Malayalam, my own mother tongue. But, as the poet says, it doesn’t matter. It’s okay. Saaramilla. I’ll do this my way.

Most of Jayasree’s poems in this collection are short. Some are shorter. The shorter her poems, the more powerful and potent they are. Let me throw in here a few of her verses along with a quick and free translation of them just so that I can connect with my non-Malayali readers as well.

ഒരു പുറം
ജീവിതം. (രാപ്പകൽ)

Much as light falls/there’s a side/that slips into the dark/in this whirl/of life. In this poem, Rappakal (Day and Night) the poet, in a brilliant stroke of a single sentence, brings out the laborious cycle of life and the passing of time. A few words put together connect the subtle contrasts of life. The lines are powerful and they hit you before you know it. The poem is like the tip of the metaphorical iceberg. There's massive truth submerged beneath the surface layers.

വരിവെച്ച് പോവുന്ന
നിൻ്റെ ഉൾത്താളുകളിൽ
പാഴ് വാക്ക്
വീണു പോയിട്ടുണ്ട്
വായനക്ക് കരടാവാതെ
അതെടുത്ത് കളഞ്ഞേക്കൂ. (വായന)

Another brilliant verse – Vaayana (Reading) – that made me stop short and go back to reading it again and again. Amidst the words/that line up/in your inner pages/a wasted word/of mine/has randomly fallen/pick it up and throw it away/lest it spoil your reading. The deeper I dive into the layers of these lines, the higher I soar in the skies of my imagination. This is the kind of poem that once written, a poet would feel content forever.

വെയിൽ പൊട്ടിത്തകർന്ന
കൂട്ടി വെച്ചാണ്
രാത്രിയുണ്ടാക്കുന്നത്. (രാത്രിയുണ്ടാകുന്നത്)

Raathriyundaakunnathu (The Making of the Night) presents a chiaroscuro with words – and yes, that's possible. Sunlight broken up/into bits of shadows/are picked up one by one/and put together/by the day/to form the night. The poem at once brings to mind a thousand collages of light and shade, each like a jigsaw puzzle, breaking up and joining back again to make a new picture. The poem ends too soon leaving infinite pictures forming and re-forming in your mind.

എത്ര ഇല വിരിച്ചിട്ടും
പിഴുതെറിയപ്പെടുന്നു. (കള)

Kala (Weed) could be a nature-lover’s lament. Especially my kind of lover who is perpetually fascinated by the weeds with their perennial blooms and die-hard foliage. Spreading leaves aplenty/blooming all the way/I am still plucked and tossed away. But rake the lines a bit, and you see much more than weeds lurking between them.

And so on and so forth. Jayasree’s poems have many such gems hidden in their depths. The poems are well illustrated by Basanth Peringode. The book is well designed and well produced by Thinkal Books. I wish Jayasree’s book wide readership and her pen more power and poetry.


Friday 16 June 2023


South Bank, Melbourne

The horizon is a blotting canvas. The ink of the sky spreads in layers. The earthy hues roll out and halt all at once in blobs. And before the sun can dry out the misty sky and seep into the sopping earth, the twilight spills over in spatters.

Seasons come at their own pace, mostly alone or even in pairs. Sometimes they all rush in together, erasing entire patterns as they go, leaving a new picture in their trail.

Time often stands still, watching the art in progress.

Blotting canvas
Earthy dollops, inky skies
Spattered twilight.


Saturday 13 May 2023

If You Must

Caught on the run.

Call it not dusk
nor call it dawn,
call it if you must
a twilight daylong
slipped and fallen
off the horizon.


Thursday 4 May 2023


One for the road.

A cupful of sun
gathered to last one
for the rest of the run.


Tuesday 28 February 2023


It's a tale of contrasts.

Day peeps in,
night lurks, time unseen


Thursday 19 January 2023




Sue & Rue

Rue: As times change, words take on a different meaning.

Sue: Meaning?

Rue: Often they mean the opposite of what they are supposed to mean.

Sue: Like?

Rue: When you say something went off without incident, it could just mean there was no violence to report.

Sue: But when there really is none to report…

Rue: When you say there was no untoward incident to report, it would just mean nobody reacted or resisted.

Sue: So what do you really mean?

Rue: I mean, when “peace” becomes “lack of war”, “war” would become a “cry for peace”.

Sue: So what would you choose?

Rue: War or peace?


Thursday 5 January 2023

Serendipity of Sorts

My visit to the Wax Museum in Kolkata brought back to me the memory of a day I had spent narrating poems to my (poet) father. This was just over a couple of months before he passed away. Age had impaired his vision, so it was a strain for him to read. Therefore, I had these long and delightful sessions of reading and discussing poetry with him. He had this amazing ability to listen to poem after poem for long hours at a stretch. And he would respond to even the subtlest of nuances in every poem. Rarely, he would ask me to stop reading and we would discuss things unrelated to poetry. After a short interlude, he would ask me to resume reading.

At the end of several hours of reading, my father would be thoroughly drained from listening, and my throat would be painfully parched from reciting. However, both of us would be elated in a way only poetry could make one feel elated.

My visit to the Wax Museum was, by the way, happenstance. Especially when I didn’t know a wax museum existed in Kolkata (Newtown). Surprisingly, most of the people I met in Kolkata – all of whom belong to the city – have not been to the museum.

On this particular day, he had asked me to read out the entire series of my (forthcoming) collection of poems, The Eternal Garden. Writing those poems was in itself a stroke of serendipity. As though they had been waiting to be written by me, they flowed out all on their own. Added to that was the instant connection Achhan had with those poems. All in all, that would always be counted as a special day in my life. Those moments can never be re-lived – not even if Achhan were not to pass on, not even if I were to write another series of poems. That experience can never be revived – not even if I were to put back the clock. It’s like a one-time password. There you have it! Live it or leave it.

After the reading session, my father said the collection was one of my best ever and the concept Tagorean. With all humility, I accept this as inspiring words of encouragement from a father to his daughter, and a generous blessing from an accomplished poet to a still aspiring one.

An excerpt from the collection, The Eternal Garden:

I lose
rediscover myself
in you.
At a loss again,
I wonder
where you begin
and I end?