Friday, April 26, 2013

Neera pays back

Neera. Where can she go?
She is but a line that curves and stretches and dances
to the tunes of your pen
Neera will go where your nib drags her.

Neera is the colour that is your colour,
Neera is what you see in the mirror.
Neera does nothing. Neera does all.
Like a heart that must beat, without being asked.

Neera is a work of art,
made good or bad by the way your fingers move.
Neera is your food and your hunger.
Neera is the fine line between the real and the imagined.

Yes Neera is a moment arrested,
a breath held (within your lungs)
Neera is that stretched sunset you wish for,
an evening that never ends.

It's time Neera paid back in ink.
Passion with passion, worship with worship hundredfold,
Neera now burns (the midnight oil)
the way you burnt for her.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Other Side of the Table by Madhumita Mukherjee: Impressions

There are some books where you are part of a respectful audience and then there are some when you are a voyeur. I felt like the latter when reading 'The Other Side of the Table', written uniquely as it is in the form of letters. Letters, those wonderful things from a bygone era few from this time will know of. Those blue-brown things that smelt of sweat and perfume and musty mailboxes. Those things that made you to learn to wait and be  happy with one little piece of love at a time.

In her debut novel, Madhumita Mukherjee assumes the voices of Abhi, a budding neurosurgeon based in London, and Uma, a young medical student from Kolkata and charts their friendship through many, many letters exchanged over the years. There is no real beginning and no real end to this story, no one tells you how Abhi and Uma came to be friends, and what their friendship culminated into. When you open the book, you suddenly find yourself in the middle of their lives, secretly reading through their private, prized stash of letters.

The quintessential bachelor Abhi, and the nubile Uma talk earnestly to each other through these letters, sharing details - big and small - about their lives. They talk about love, they talk about friends and family, and they talk the talk of doctors. Abhi is ever the light-hearted and well meaning older friend, while Uma is feisty in her blooming youth. There is warm affection some times, and sweet reprimands at others. Some  faux anger here, and real appeasement there. When a crisis befalls one, there is firm handholding by another. Sometimes, Abhi is the guardian, and sometimes, Uma the caregiver. Roles switch easily in this beautiful Platonic relationship, where they seek little else from each other but honest words on a piece of paper.

Mukherjee writes as efficiently as Abhi as she does Uma, and the reader never finds a gender bias in her voice - at least I, as a woman reader, didn't think so. Her style is easy and her words, relate-able. A doctor herself, she offers some interesting insights into the lives of doctors. She also balances perfectly the distance and dynamics of this fictional relationship, with neither Uma nor Abhi ever stepping into the sexual zone a man-woman are so wont to do. But one sees the foundations of their relationships growing stronger, an invisible yet undeniable proprietorship building over each other over the years. When Abhi is faced with a life-threatening illness, Uma takes the final leap of faith and seals their bond by joining him in person, their distances bridged forever.

'The Other Side of the Table' is a part light-part poignant read and it has its memorable bits. However, neither Abhi nor Uma are people who you will count among your favourite characters. That's because you are never really part of the plot, but a mere reader of letters they've written immersed in each other.


Friday, April 19, 2013


I like how you levitate
right here, amidst the throng
daring us all to see
but we are blinded by voices
How you float in space
right here, between us all
but not quite here
untouching, untouched.
How you take off into the sky
right here, from the couch
no rocket propelled shoes
only words for wings
How you circle the Earth thrice
while we're passing the salt 
How you create windows
wherever you fancy them
and jump off into infinity
ever so often.

(Nidheesh, this is for you.)

Thursday, April 18, 2013


You perhaps do not remember.
But how would you?
You didn't see it for what it was.
A lipstick stained table napkin
I left ever so carelessly
on the table across which 
you sat, drinking coffee
Hoping you'd steal it, save it
as a souvenir 
from our last meal together
You also didn't see
my heart on your platter
So I put them back in my purse, 
heart, napkin and hope
And left with as impassive a goodbye
as I could manage.

Now all that is left,
Is a line of ash
From the cigarettes 
I learnt to love from you
from the cigarettes 
that remind me of you
Light, grey, warm testimonies of a high
that wore off all too soon.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Middle of a dream

We are running, despite no gravity
on this road to nowhere
We are in someplace strange
that could be heaven or hell
There's no way of knowing
in the absence of signboards. 
But i'm feeling, i'm feeling
feeling so hard, 
and falling
and reeling
and flying
all at once.
My fingers are locked in yours
(but who are you, again?)
this is surely the middle of a dream.

The dream sits heavy
on the palm of my hand
(so soft, so unbearably soft)
and sometimes it cozies up
on the tip of my tongue
(so sweet, so searingly sweet)
Bits of heaven strung together
on a string of endless hours
being passed from your mouth to mine
from your hand to mine
but I still don't know who you are
what this place is
or where we are headed
this is surely the middle of a dream.

We are sitting now, floating now
by and in a rainbow river
counting stars like lovers do
and laughing at what lovers do
eternities are passing,
without the trappings of life
no birth, no shame, no want, no death
My fingers are still locked in yours
Your identity still a mystery
this place as unfamiliar
this place as desirable
this is surely the middle of a dream.

Don't wake me up yet.