My phantasmal lover

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No matter how dark the clouds are,

You’re always there at the back of my mind…

And when I see no light, nor picture a silver lining,

I picture you before my closed eyes,

Standing there next to me on my window sill,

Looking at me, love brimming in your eyes

And I can smile again as widely as I can’t…

Turning the dark clouds to fluffy white.

A wilderness that won’t let you get lost!

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There is a beautiful reserved forest area in north Delhi, a wild area that has been caged within the national capital city-state of Delhi. Although it’s usually too crowded by commuters and university students, the Kamala Nehru Northern Ridge still in its vastness provides you the joy of solitude, if you take the road less trodden on. I can assure you, in this wilderness you will not get lost!

Random verses all written in a day.

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When separate eyes meet in a crowded city square,

Over exploits of their humanity, and time, once and again–

They know they were meant to stay together,

Because they were met by a chance of eternity,

To be lost again, and again.

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I walk through a dark corridor,

The air hungover with muck and gloom.

The door of the forbidden room stands tall

Like the brooding death of innocence.

I’ve arrived the point where it appears clear,

I’m just trying to kill a love I’ve given up believing.

But the stark darkness stuns the virginity in me,

Which is eager, very eager to take me,

Someplace else…

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Those roads will be difficult to walk on, now alone.

The sand pebbles and germs, and the whirlpools of air

Which like separate worlds, have flourished to life

From the touch of our feet last trodden.

Preserving our childhoods, and pearls of sweet labor lost-

How dare I violate the sacred order of the worlds,

Which, if, might be conspiring to bring our feet together?

Which, if not, how can I disturb the ghost world,

Where in spirals of dust, our ghost selves would dance?

You will apologize to me, I know, you will. One day.

You know, I deserve one, for what I will have to go through…

The trauma of never being at home, while at home.

 

Giving Chances

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Why do you hide under a veil?

When all you could be doing is soaring on your wings?

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Why do you reach for stars,

When all you could know is you have it in you to shine?

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Why age them in just peering through,

Those eyes, yours, shy like a virgin, which want to learn…

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The veil, that poor see through thing,

Are you letting it, or is it really caging you, against your will?

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Have they tied anklets around your feet,

In gold and silver that gleam but clang like cowbells?

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Tell me of your childhood, your real one.

Did you have a ‘gudda’* then, you loved to fondle around all day?

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You did, didn’t you? You loved him.

Then everything changed, when your childhood was taken from you.

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You were just told, what was right and wrong,

You just winked once and your lovebirds took off into the blue.

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Never you got to see them ever again,

Those mad birds, soaring high, higher than ever you’d flown your kite.

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Those disobedient little creatures,

But why aren’t you happy, that they’ve left you…?

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You must wonder where now they live,

Have they gone away far enough to live in some other world…?

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Those two eyes, two tiny little birds,

Must be wandering among all beautiful things, which you won’t know…

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Those obstinate, selfish birds, that live in dreams,

Ever wondered how they bless humanity every night? They hope for us.

 

 

 

 

 

Strangle Me Softly

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Resting on his shoulder, listening to the sound of our strange hearts beating softly, I exhaled my worries out for the last time. I tried to recall the words he’d spoken before and a few other things, but eventually I found that I couldn’t keep up with the side of me that was insulting me with the humongous issues that I’d so violated by thus lying there with him like that. I was aware, wholly aware of all of them, and yet there was no guilt.

I looked at his sleeping face, feeling his strange breath on my mouth. Only now I was finally getting to understand how very different we were physically. He’d warned me about it many times and yet neither of us seemed to have paid any heed to it. Our closeness now attested to the choice that we’d both made, a decision that we were meant for each other and neither of us would have it in any other way. I knew the future of this would be a difficult one, but we would have each other to take care of together. One last breath and I would wake him up and we’d pick up on what we’d left off before, and that I was sure of.

He would kill me. I knew it, that very first time I laid my eyes on him. I also knew I wanted him to. If I can’t have him, I’d rather be his memory, a delicious thought, a fantasy he would live with forever. But now I have him and he has me. It wasn’t just any situation, it was a simple, satisfying love that brought us together, in a way that I knew there was no other I would rather be happy with, than with him, in this way.

He was once my best friend, and I loved him then. I love him now, in a different way, which is all the same. Falling for him had always been easy. It could be explained to be as simple as a child’s stubbornness of not parting with her favorite toy even though it’s broken. She keeps trying to fix it, often failing, never caring that it doesn’t quite work in the same way. She just learns to love it in her own new ways, and it doesn’t matter to her – because for her, it never broke. She loves it, she’ll love it.

It was the same with Dusk. His internal world was just as complicated as mine, and maybe that’s why it makes it all too easy to just love him. He isn’t my prize, I didn’t win him. Again it was just love, the plain old kind that brought us together. Watching him sleep now, I can’t help letting go of any remnant guilt, and just breathe, and feel like suddenly we were just two kids finally happy of having won their prize.

Higher [Part I]

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The charm… the grace

The faces, the fears

The hotness of winters

And the loudness of tears.

The words, and the gestures,

The wishes left hanging in the air

Only if it could’ve become a private joke.

Little gestures made within indecision.

The sweet breeze hungover with cheer.

The storm rolling inland bears the promise,

Of bringing new showers and more promises.

Unspoken and yet, somehow too obvious.

The arms, the chills, those never quite felt.

The white sea, the foam and frizz.

The damage done the first time

She knows will stay to harm more.

 

The Lotus and The Dragon

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The lotus cloud soars overhead,

Sailing across as if the sky was but a foaming sea.

Then follows the great dragon, flapping its brazen wings

Its talons reach to snatch the lotus flower.

Breathing out its nostrils full of flame.

There’s a battle going up there. Of chaos with peace.

Of the beast that tramples innocence.

How many battles must have been fought thus?

What of victors, what of who’s been paying for it,

No answers, my mind is already somewhere else.

Mind over Matter (Excerpt from The Return of the Forsaken

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“You know, you’re adapting well, with all of it. Almost too well.” Virginia appeared in front of me, her hair messy and her plait end wet. Trying not to think about it, I couldn’t help thinking of anything else. I tried to get up but then the belt strapped around me awkwardly dragged me back. “One might actually buy it, if you told them you never left earth.”

“Why do you say so?” I was taken by surprise.

She grinned and placed her finger on my armrest, almost bending over me. She smiled at me, “Because I tell you this is my jet plane, and you didn’t seem surprised at all. Of course, I get it. You have probably a million planes at your command already, being a prince and all that.”

Now I just felt bad. I unhooked the seat belt. I tried to grin. “So, why aren’t you sleeping, madam? Your eyes will be rebuking you all day when we’ll be driving around bright Beverly Hills.”

“Just thoughts. Actually I was sleeping, and a thought woke me up,” she picked at the belt of her robe. “You don’t think it’s too warm in here?”

I shook my head at her and she puckered. “Alright, so it’s just me, huh! Wanna come with me to get some coffee?”

She was dressed like this, in a cute little overcoat and woolen socks on her feet, almost dressed for bed but then she had this plait on that gave you the idea she didn’t really plan on relaxing. It was hard to focus from the way her perky little figure undulated from faux drowsiness. I knew her too well, she wasn’t sleeping, and also that she wasn’t planning to either.

“You’re practically married, so why the hell would you want to go out in your own plane to get coffee with me?” I knew what she was playing at. I knew it wasn’t right to do that to her, all over again, but with nothing clearly set on my platter, I had very little space in it to fit her in. And I knew one thing about her, it was a wrong thing to do, trying to just fit her in. She was much too important for such attitude from someone else. “You could just get the attendant ladies to get you anything you want.”

Her shoulder arched in defense. She thought for a long moment. “Well, is it wrong to wish to talk to you, just for once, alone? Thought coffee would make it easier.”

I gulp down some more sarcasm. I hated myself right then. The constant part of me that kept internally tearing up about those same old things. And then the other was rebuking me for all those mistakes I didn’t commit knowingly, and yet I knew I’d commit them over a thousand more times just because it got me that special thing. Then there was that part of me that was hurling things things at me, knocking things over in my head, so caught up in a fit of rage, that it keeps trying to convince me of things I didn’t want to believe in.

I accompany her, to the rear end of the plane where they had the pantry cabin. I didn’t like the setting. It was exactly what I didn’t need right now. A closed space with her. But damn it, she just always has to ruin it for me.

She pressed a lot of dials trying to get the coffee machine working. At last I had to step in. I tapped the power button and it whirred to work. She covered her face, “I’m a mess! Gee! You’re right, I’m pathetic.”

She was goofy and somehow yet original. The truth was it was her unmasked naïve ways that made her so very attractive. “Maybe in some twisted era I perceived it as charm. Now, I know that’s what I’d been missing.”

She lets her hand drop and looks straight at me. Her eyes were the bluest things I’ve ever seen that drew on me like non-existent magic, silently asking me to believe. I couldn’t look away, for the time the machine whirred. It wasn’t hard to imagine, me taking her hand and just begin.

She could just have collected her coffee and we’d have been done there. But she just stood there. I stood there breathing, and doing nothing.

“You know,” she began, “I thought this would be easier.” Her eyes shone, and suddenly she pulled me in and kissed me. I was in over my head as well. Even though in my head things worked differently, this was too much to handle well. I knew there’d be no stopping once I gave in.

I knew I had to push her away. It was how it was supposed to be. “Virginia! Virginia! We’ve got to stop this!” I said around when we both turned up for a breath.

She turned away, looking hurt. I understood only too well. “I’ve been wanting to do this for a very long time.”

I look at her, and speak, “It’s been the same for me. But I’m sorted out now. You should be as well. It’s the right thing to do…”

She didn’t look back at me. She filled her cup with coffee and filled another. “Here you go,” she said lifting the cup for me to take. Before I could take it, she put it on the counter and turned around and began to walk away.

I snapped back to my senses and in a wild moment, I followed her and grabbed her wrist and pulled her back in. I muffled her mouth and silently let her eyes rake my face. It was unbearable already, to have her in my arms like that, to linger on a single sane thought, and it was the dead of the night in a sleeping plane cabin to begin with.

I took her neck in my hands and pushed her against the wood-paneled wall. “Girl, do you even realize just how much you drive me crazy? And with the fact that it’s just us here, you don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into. I might rape you here, and you couldn’t call on anyone for help even if you wanted to. If I wished it were to be that way.”

Her eyes eased up, but my hand still clamped over her mouth. I kept on going, “You little girl! You haven’t changed a bit. God, how hard it is just to be looking at you like this. Makes me try to be good and fail at it so inevitably.”

Her eyes turned defiant. Yes, she would tell me to stop trying. It was driving me insane. I said, “It was the same, back all those years before. How you got me wound up so tight, I’d be fighting myself. I knew it would never work out. These kinds of feelings never work out in the real world. I knew I respected you too much to be your boyfriend and treat you like you’re my girl. You’re not just some ‘my girl’ material. I knew you deserved better, you deserve someone who’d directly submit everything he possesses to you. Make you his queen – let you rule his home and heart. It was always like that. I didn’t possess anything, anything I could offer you then, nor do I do now.

“I’m not a good person, Virginia. We have real problems. You know everything, and it just makes me angry thinking, you of all people, knowing exactly how difficult it is for me to say no to you, you deliberately put me to test like this, over and over.”

I let go of her mouth, and she breathed. Unexpectedly, she hugged me. “Don’t say anything. I’ve missed this long enough.” I knew she was talking of our closeness, and I didn’t try to push her away this time.

Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s mausoleum

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It was this last week, taking a long stroll across Delhi, lamenting for the short time I’m left with that I’ll get to spend in this very fine city, that I finally visited Nizamuddin Auliya’s Dargah or Mausoleum. It was an accident of chance. I found a friend willing to go there with me and thus we ended up at the antique milestone in Indian history, where the greatest of the Sufi saints of the Chisti wilayat was laid to rest under waves and waves of timeless prayer offerings and ‘duwa’s.

I wrote earlier about Hazrat Nizamuddin’s curse on the abandoned city of Tughlaqabad, and it only seems justified to write about the Saint’s lifetime that steeped in love for the Creator and Humanity.

The saint was born in Barayun now a part of Uttar Pradesh in the early 13th century. He came to live in Delhi, still a child, with his mother Zulekha Bibi after the death of his father Ahmad Barayuni. His life is chronicled by the Royal Mughal scribe of the court of Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar in his most famous 16th century literary work, The Ain-i-Akbari.

At the age of twenty, Nizāmuddīn went to Ajodhan (the present Pakpattan Sharif in Pakistan) and became a disciple of the Sufi saint Fariduddin Ganjshakar, commonly known as Baba Farid. Nizāmuddīn did not take up residence in Ajodhan but continued with his theological studies in Delhi while simultaneously starting the Sufi devotional practices and the prescribed litanies. He visited Ajodhan each year to spend the month of Ramadan in the presence of Baba Farid. It was on his third visit to Ajodhan that Baba Farid made him his successor. Shortly after that, when Nizāmuddīn returned to Delhi, he received news that Baba Farid had died.

Chilla Nizamuddin Auliya, residence of Nizamuddin Auliya, towards the north-east from Humayun’s tomb, Delhi. Nizāmuddīn lived at various places in Delhi, before finally settling down in Ghiyaspur, a neighbourhood in Delhi undisturbed by the noise and hustle of city life. He built his Khanqah here, a place where people from all walks of life were fed, where he imparted spiritual education to others and he had his own quarters. Before long, the Khanqah became a place thronged with all kinds of people, rich and poor alike.

Many of his disciples achieved spiritual height, including Shaikh Nasiruddin Muhammad Chirag-e-Delhi, and Amir Khusro, noted scholar/musician, and the royal poet of the Delhi Sultanate.

He died on the morning of 3 April 1325. His shrine, the Nizamuddin Dargah, is located in Delhi and the present structure was built in 1562. The shrine is visited by people of all faiths, through the year, though it becomes a place for special congregation during the death anniversaries, or Urs, of Nizamuddin Auliya and Amīr Khusro, who is also buried at the Nizāmuddīn Dargāh.

The tomb of the Mughal Shahzadi, Jahan Ara Begum, the eldest daughter of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz also lies next to the Dargah. It is only justifiable for anyone to lie down to rest, for it is the only place in Delhi where one can find a spiritual wholeness with the centuries of love and peace hanging in its air.

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Of Addictions and Cravings

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So how does one get out of something like an addiction?

The smoke that fills the room intoxicating time to bend,

Dancing on the floors in little twirls, to seduce will to decay…

The ever growing appetite calling on the blender to hurry.

There’re going to be guests in the house of the old man.

Few words spoken amidst the thousand candleflames chuckling

The noises whispering with the dusty old glassware and cutlery.

The wines will be flowing, the grapes crushed for the bees.

His old beloved’s had plunged down from a lofty cliff.

The smoke’s been burning thus for years and years,

The wines flowing, and all the wax finery will one day melt,

The ground, where everything always find a way to return.

What hope does he have, or what hope befell on these,

Little hearts so torn up to not understand these tragedies.

That chance, mere chance begot them of…?

What of the orchid flowers of temptation,

The sin that offer a heaven of forgetfulness and fantasy?

But in the drizzle of your paradise you’re washed clean,

Of having committed prostitution with death.

Addiction is bad they say, it makes you live a lie!

I say being good, you’re not living the truth either.

Death is inevitable, the day will come we’ll give up anyway.

Being good, you’ll hurt more lives at the end.

Or die scared to death, reality was not real,

Stuck in an asylum you’ll wonder if people weren’t real.

You’re the single human prototype stuck in a virtual illusion.

Some stupid experiment in a stuck up madman’s lab,

Who calls himself God.

Do you want to get out of misery, take the first step soon,

And ask yourself for the truth, and ask a thousand more times.

The scary truth is inevitable, because you’ve known it all along.

Something you can never give up on, cuz’ you’re just hooked on.

Forever and ever. And you don’t care if you don’t win it there.

And still, you just can’t give up. Can you?

Obsession, you call it, I call it love. Just love.

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At last, but what happens to the one who gives up on life,

Fearing that she’ll end up loving living it too much?

College

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"Dreams come true, just we are just too blind to see them do."

“Dreams come true, just we are just too blind to see them do.”

It’s been almost three years, since the first time my feet touched these peripheries, and it came to own me, even though to be bluntly honest, that first time, I didn’t dream I would be spending all this time here, in Kamala Nehru College. First off, I was so far off from home, and all this while I’ve had just so much going on, on my mind, that inadvertently I ended up not wholly appreciating the privilege I had been goaded with, to be forever, a part of and be one with all the past of KNC, my college, and its future as well.

To the common man or woman it’s just a college, another building in a lush sub-urban neighborhood, but for me, it’s my identity, my bridge towards reality. Every morning, walking through the front gate, out of time and breath, I step in and rush around the front porch and conveniently dash up the stairs in the search for my class. Well, it’s my fault, that I lead two very disjointed lives, that I appear like a lost lampoon at the beginning of every class, but then, that’s my story, and it’s entirely irrelevant here. This is the story of my college. So breathe, I’m almost there.

But I am an observer, I am at one with the human spirit as well as the spirit of all things on the earth and over my time at KNC, I’ve grown closer to nature than to my classmates. The lush campus of my college provided a very good setting for me to explore the minute things of life. The bustle that thrived all around the big college building, always instilled a kind of unusual feeling in my heart, that first year, that coming home for the vacations, I learnt was “homesickness” and my own house, seeming to feel smaller because unknowingly the place had come to own me, made me acknowledge it as my home. I knew I could never be at peace for the months I was away from college.

I am not a very studious person, but I read, oh I read…and reading I’ve spent hours reading, just curling up under the big willowy trees in the fields with yellowed collections of old, very old poetry, and lose track of time entirely. I, who’s usually very concerned about a low battery on my phone, could forget about my dead phone, and let it stay dead for forever, while I lay down on the soft greens of our playground and feel the sun warm my closed lids on a wintry afternoon. I admit it, I am lazy, and I love to waste time – specially, when I am witnessing, or while being a part of, something that with my soul, I wouldn’t hesitate calling beautiful.

The college grounds proved to be a great place for me to practise photography as well, since it was very convenient to carry along my camera for beginners. It was just ridiculous thought that I was found by people to be looking into every crevice, searching for treasure. Haha, that’s just me saying, because with every good shot, I’d be up there, beaming like Napoleon Bonaparte, as if I’d conquered a nation, bursting with glee. Even though I wasn’t really expecting a round of applause from people around, me, I was still a small town girl. But it didn’t take me long to realize there was no one with me in my bubble and I walk around, learning more with every step that took me away…

The canteen was where I always went in search for comfort. People have this strong notion that I eat a lot, and why shouldn’t that notion exist, I am a foodie, and I love good food. And especially it was the aroma circulating around our college canteen that drew me on like a moonstruck vagabond follows the moon goddess. My classmates would testify to the fact that I’m wholly addicted to our canteen, my favourite momos with the red sauce with the lemon iced tea, the chicken tikka rolls of the Coke Studio, the rajma rice, and the perfect combo of the samosa and coffee from the Nescafe stall, that we get after we exact it with the coins – those twelve, well spent rupees, are all the fuel we need to sit through the tiresome back-to-back classes on the late autumn afternoons when the rest of the world is cosily taking a nap in their warm beds…

Now my college days are drawing to a close, and it’s like a cold, harsh gust of wind whipping across my face. I would miss my college and I will miss the people of my class. But then life goes on…like time and tide waits for none. KNC will forever be the longest chapter in my life, my hard earned prized that I forgot to cherish while I had it… But then that’s my story, which is an entirely different one. KNC, will always stand, and I’ve loved it in so many other ways, it’ll always make me speechless; like right now, I don’t know how to conclude this…since the story hasn’t ended, nor, it ever will…

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