Friday, August 20, 2010


[The entry for this week's 3WW prompt. Thanks to Teal for helping out with the editing]


Everywhere, I see shapes grimace

into punctuation marks.

Tear shaped pauses I spot here:

raised ones curving along the spines of dogs asleep on the road;

inverted ones drifting along the cheeks of

a four year old.

Full, solid stops a few are - fraying at the edges,


wrinkling, white surfaces console

me on a bright night;

singed ones,

letting out phantasmal shapes in the dark,

offer quick fixes.

Sidebar legend:

lemon green marks strangers;

ashen ones hide those we seek.


Today, I misread the print:

'the universe likes to grow forever';

grow into what I ask ?


Here, we await a punctuation

at the corners,

stumbling towards it

in the made up darkness of our streets,

ready to believe tombstones will

hold us up to light,

phase out the wrecks in us at last,

and relieve us of our monochromatic breath.

But surprised we are, when our

souls boomerang to life after death.


Saturday, August 7, 2010


Your name is Ka. Literature abounds with your namesakes. You are named by your father in his only ever moment of inspiration . We all came out of Gogol's overcoat- a sedate Irfan Khan explains to a baffled Kal Penn the rationale behind his name in that movie. Your father doesn't bother you with an explanation. You find that out yourself.

You step into a school just as the first shower of June sweeps the city. Your rain coat forgotten, you are drenched when you step into your class. My name is Ka, you introduce yourself to your fellow classmates. They laugh at you as only your classmates ever can. You are not adroit enough to handle it and break down. More laughter booms through the class. Even the rain stops and greets you with a hearty roar of its own.

Why is he named Ka?

He is such a bore that his parents forgot to name him fully.

Why is he named Ka?

One of his ancestors is a crow.

And so on.

Their cruelty doesn't deter you from being cruel to Vidya.

Vidya is fat. Takes after her mother. A shade fatter that is all. But fat nonetheless.

You taunt her. Call her a cylinder. She never breaks down. She fusses over you. You have too chubby cheeks to be taken seriously, she says. You do not understand. You stand in front of the mirror and try and pinch your cheeks but the pair never come off.

She has chubby cheeks too. Ever frozen ice cubes lodged at the far corner of your cheeks, you remark to her one day. She doesn't like them and asks you to help. You think of melting them. Eureka! She obliges. You drink your glass of milk and go through the plan with your mother during breakfast. Your mother stops you from proceeding further. A few terse words and slaps do the trick.

Vidya is sad.

She has curly hair. A pair flank her forehead, undulating along her temples. She wants them removed or straightened. You suggest creasing them. You spot the electric iron unattended to at a corner of your father's room. She obliges. You plug it in and fiddle with the panel on it. Cotton, Linen, Wool. There is no mention of hair. You ask her. The two of you decide on linen. Line-n, you pronounce it. The light on the iron blinks on even as your mother rushes into the room and grabs the iron from you. Slaps. She cries because she is sad.

Your father predicts you will be a writer. A writer of lofty ideals and immense ability. You do not understand the words. You impress your English teacher and very soon, you become her favourite. You do not bother to learn other subjects and sneer at them. The rest of your class learn to ignore you. You survive class only because Vidya is your bench mate. You like her. She likes you. 1=1. 2=2. Your class 5 life is filled with such simple equations.

You learn to love English. Shakespeare greets you in the morning, Tagore walks with you to school and at night, Twain reads as you drift to sleep. You talk in aphorisms and wonder why sonnets cannot have more than fourteen lines. You learn to be spare with words. Your teachers concede that you have talent. Your father is happy. You too are. Vidya jumps with joy.

Not so far in the future, you walk home alone one day, your school bag slung over your shoulders and your shoes held in your left hand by the pair of laces. Your mother waits outside your house. You shove the shoes under the shoe stand by the door and drop the bag on the sofa.

You lock the front door as your mother kick starts the scooter.

Your mother paces a ground floor corridor as you try to resolve the meaning of the giant red cross staring at you from the wall opposite. There is a door next to it, opaque glass save for a transparent perforation right in the middle; a view hole you try hard to jump and look through. Cold air greets you from the underside of the door. Does it contain the breath of someone dying?

Your mother leads you into the room. Vidya is lain on the bed. White tubes run across her, dipping in and out of her body. You spot a bag filled with a yellow liquid strapped to the side of her bed. You run out and retch into the basin outside the room. Your mother is crying. So is her father. She beckons you to come nearer to her. Your mother prods you to hold her hand. You are too shaken to react. You run your frigid, feeble fingers over her forehead and start to bawl. She smiles. She points at the curls alongside her temples. You hold and try to straighten them. She winks at you. You smile through your tears.

You walk out of the room along with your mother. The door is closed behind you. You jump to look at her through the view hole. Your mother wipes her tears and lifts you so that you can look at her.

You spot each other and grin.

You do not write a word after that.