Tag Archives: inspiration-2

Woes of Sympathy


I go about the business of my life, shunned by those who hold their head high. Yes, the Proud. They don’t need me. Despite their dwindling numbers, they are still a reproach to Society. I’ve come a long way trying to help them find solace.

Solace, indeed.

Let me tell you how I tried. I touched Poverty, trying to obliterate her, she, who shivered in my presence while she cast her baleful eye on me. I held her close, too close for comfort, for long years, when the sun hid behind layers of frozen clouds. It was then that I became synonymous with the Poverty of the Spirit, who stalks among the living, touching those who cannot see beyond the confines of their cloistered lives.

I have been striving to be visible.

My presence struggles to be felt.

Have you ever been the victim of your circumstances? At least, perceived as one? That will be the shield that you need, for behind that, you can see me for what I am. I preen. I primp. And my twisted heart gladdens at the sight of your abject misery. I get a chance to show how noble I am, at your expense. I make people feel oh, so glad at their exalted circumstances. I make them feel gratified, important and eventually immensely magnanimous, at being able to help. I am condescending in all my concern, feigned or otherwise.

The truly Proud see me for what I am and walk away. They never look back preferring to shiver in their little hovels, living on air and water till their very eyes shine with an ethereal gleam only Death can recognize.

Their hunger becomes a light that consumes their being.

Have you ever been slapped hard in the face? Have you felt the shock reverberating along your jaw, angry tears, obliterating your vision. This is their expression when I approach them. I ignore that. I try to comfort with honeyed words that sound hollow, even to my ears, while I say all the right things.

They look at me and away, dismissing me in one look that deems me insignificant.

I try doggedly. I am spurned like the cur that I am.

I walk away in pretended disdain, angry, for I did extend a helping hand. I did try to uplift the downtrodden. I did try to be good. I think to myself, I’ve been lucky, truly blessed, oh please won’t you allow me to help you? Why don’t you accept my help?

Their eyes declare- Help? Never could stand the stuff. Distasteful. We cringe at your kind looks cast our way. Never could tolerate kindness. Especially when all we have left is our pride.

All I did was try to help.

Don’t, for all that we have left, is our pride.


The A-J Handbook of an Alienist.

A is for Alienist. Here comes the Alienist. Watch her as she dusts her framed diploma and gathers her tales of woe for the day. She walks the murky path of troubled souls and collects a few trophies along the way. Ah, this will add a glitter to the halo she has installed around her forehead, so she can be seen from outer space, even. A is for Abuse, that the Alienist deals with and reinforces.

The thing about abuse is that you get used to it. You accept it as part of your life. It becomes an inherent part of your soul. You set up yourself for it. You are conditioned by it. Active abuse shows itself on you, your bearing, your words and thoughts. You are a victim. You look like a victim and soon behave like one.

B is for broken. The Alienist thrives on the broken. She hunts them down. She’s developed special skills in identifying them. The broken inhabit the hidden nooks and corners when they don’t want to be seen and under extra hyperactive behaviour, when they feel the eyes of others devour them. Smiles moulded from plastic freeze on their faces and their eyes are sunk into hollow depths of despair. A murderous glint appears when you spy the espying Alienist. You are one among the truly broken.

C is for Coventry. Have you heard of this quaint old English term- Being sent to Coventry? A group of popular, active, privileged people, who have their bearings about them, vote to send an unsuitable member of their company to Coventry, for being different, having problems, and being the proverbial wet blanket. So nobody speaks to you, for you are in Coventry, you are shunned and ostracized. The Alienist thrives on Coventry. Coventry provides her with a major chunk of bread and butter she needs to put on the table. Many decades of research and psychological studies later, the Alienist states that this practice is cruel and detrimental to the individual, but does nothing about it in real life.

D is for desperation that sets in when you realize nobody is listening. Not even the Alienist, who is paid to do so. You muster the courage to speak to the officious Alienist who is as prejudiced as your peers and tries to convince you that what you are feeling is wrong. Any pedestrian healer of souls would know that the first step to healing is acceptance, both by the healer and the broken. But no, the Alienist is infallible in her opinion. Her veil of prejudice already exists, firmly attached in place.

E is for the eagerness with which the Alienist, in the avatar of the healer, is eager to point out that the world is nice and there are nice people out there. E is also for the eagerness you show in escaping to another zone unsullied by the presence of the formidable Alienist. E is also symbolic of the stupid grin you plaster on your face in case you get caught.

F is for the final futility of seeking help. The broken are now shattered to smithereens and come to the conclusion, that there is no point in speaking up. There really isn’t. Nobody wants to look at your point of view. The Alienist who has the world in the palm of her hands is quick to point out the other perspectives which have obviously escaped you. Now you’d rather amuse yourself banging your head against the wall and see the patterns that emerge.

G is for Good Lord. For God’s sake! There are many pleas for help, some strident, some barely audible, some masked under the veil of silence, smiles and even dignity. Dear Alienist, get off your high horse and lend an ear. You might be the reason for someone to want to continue to live. Don’t be the one to push someone off the narrow ledge they are barely walking on. It’s murder. Believe me it isn’t very much different.

H is for the delirious happiness dispensed by the Alienist. After a few sessions with her, things are better now, at least the pretence continues. For you realize things were better before she curled her tentacles around you and now you can’t extricate yourself anymore. You know you were happy when you were depressed and now you are desperate to get away, who cares about happiness? You could have created a happy world in your mind, instead of being driven up the wall!

I is for you, yes, the hidden, ignored, much-maligned I in you. If you are different, admit it to the Alienist, at least you stand a chance of being a specimen under someone else’s microscope, at least someone unlike her is going to spend time on you, serves you right, plucking your wings away from your body, removing your limbs systematically, cutting you open and poking into your entrails before formally validating your thoughts by giving them a collective noun and a prescription that makes you feel relieved and hopeful as you down your meds, day in and day out. At least you’re not judged any more for being the way you are.

J is for Jolly good show and it’s Just another day in the illustrious life and career of the Alienist. She pins you to the rest of her collection and her saga continues…another day another time, another place… Well, I’m sure you’ve had enough of her. Me too. Not going to Continue.

Pettifoggers Anonymous

Let’s face it. We are a critical lot.

I happened to appreciate an acquaintance in the presence of a few well-wishers. After a few minutes, in the lull of the conversation a well-meaning do-gooder sidled up to me and tried to set the record straight.

Actually, he…

The conversation grew intensely uncomfortable. I cast a pleading look at a friend who was oblivious to my hints.

But, we see, he should’ve…

Err, I need a refill.

And he could’ve…

Oh look, there’s…

And I would’ve…

I gave up. I zoned out and left for fresh air on the overcrowded balcony.

As I was saying, we are a critical lot. We don’t keep our opinions to ourselves. We’d be considered fools if we didn’t take the subtle and not so subtle hints. Don’t know what I mean? Just try ignoring the ‘truth’ slammed your way. See what I mean?

So, let’s wince, duck and try to change the subject because we’ve been brought up the right way, and a sudden unsheathing of claws always unnerved us. We have too much integrity to agree, leave alone add to the damned conversation. Let’s hem and haw and try to change the subject. It never works, till we get a brainwave and walk away to answer that urgent call, of the telephone or nature, depending on the proximity.

We truly are a critical lot. Ever ready to judge, condemn and dispense justice as if it were used tissues cast into the bin.

In no uncertain terms I state that I would love to be mistaken. Please prove me wrong. In the meantime I’m avoiding all my well-wishers. And slipping into a zen-like state. I suggest you do so too.

It’s Critical.

The Waters of Lethe



diabolic rhythm

an unwilling heart

clogged roads



most reluctantly


brash waves drive from behind

inevitable and unavoidable

foxtrot on the treadmill

tango with wires

pounding waves

pulsed into spray

on ticker


a coded tempo decrees



a heart much maligned

cannot be repaired

systole/ diastole


walls of my making

rendered inflexible

systole/ diastole

rigidity sets in

i pace

rigor mortis sets in

i forget to breathe

in my fury

systole/ diastole

evergreen memories

don’t go away

condition the core

now brittle and callous



thin the blood

slow the heart

adjust the rhythm


take this memory


weeds of thoughts



every onslaught/ failed attempt/ wretched expectation/ wrenching betrayal/ gaping wound/ gnash and gash/ cutting word/ tightening of the heart/ suppressed retort/ repressed emotion

barbed wires of a resilient memory

systole/ diastole

a pattern of my remembrance

a curse that i live with

what wouldn’t i give

to forget


Divine charms

On a hillock I reside, removed from all inhabitation.

Steps hewn into granite lead you to me.

Your breath is tested, your feet calloused, as you strive to reach me.

I wait patiently, watching over you, from the innermost recesses of my sanctum sanctorum.

My vision pierces clear even through layers of fragrant sandalwood paste, lovingly smeared to appease me.

Appeased am I, indeed, for my love for you transcends everything, even my fury.

My claws receded and roar subsided, a long while ago.

I chose to be tame, putty in your hands.

Love overpowering is what you crave.

I am enamoured by your display of deep devotion.

Come to me.

The path is steep.

The road is lonely.

Fear not.

I shall watch over your every step.

For I am truly enamoured.

Truly blessed.

For you belong to me.



The remnant of a bygone era, I am obsolete. Turned to stone. My songs silenced forever.

I was. A pliant lump shaped into flat discs turning concentric at the sameness of it all, the routine circles, ranging from the larger to the smaller, the potency of existence versus the necessity to live turned outward, searching for meaning.

I became. An expert at holding still, while the circles formed concentric with every turn. I strained and my life came full circle every time, the needle however slipped into another groove.

I watched. Fascinated how the narrow confines of my tiny grooves keep me in, my full throated angst held back, and the melodies, sung and unsung, an inconsequential part of something greater.

I existed. In carved grooves that I created, the needle my muse, as it moved from groove to groove, I played.

I stopped. A scratch and two jarred just a bit and then I stopped. Silence. I preferred silence to broken songs. The unfamiliar, even irregular rhythm of my heartbeat was preferable to throats scratched dry. The same fragmented song over and over again.

Meanwhile static crackles. My song still inhabits those grooves. How do I unravel my song? How do I emerge from those spaces I inhabit?

I wait. For one groove to progress to another.

I am. Here, trapped in vinyl.

I ask. For my turntable, so let’s take a spin if you can.

via Daily Prompt: Inhabit


This is not my life. This is not me. This is the thought that pounds at my mind, never allowing me to be content with my lot in life.
This is not my life. This is not me. This is the refrain that courses through my blood, ringing in my ears, never allowing me to rest.

This is not my life. This is not me. For I am the missing link. I never knew that at first, but destiny led me to believe that only I am the connect between all that I am and all that I can be.

This is not my life. This is not me. Slithering among my fellows, revelling in the sun, I waited, this buzz in my head preventing me from basking in peace. 

No, this was not the life for me.

I wasn’t cold blooded, you know.

I wasn’t cold at all.

In me, there beat a heart, there pulsed a thought- This is not my life. This is not me. This is not my life. This is not me. This is not my life. This is not me. This is not my life. This is not me. This is not my life. This is not me.

This is not my life. This is not me.

This is not my life. 

This is not me.

I waited. I watched. Change embraced me, slowly at first and then with indecent haste. They stared at me with distaste. How dare I?

I realized once you accept the inevitable, things fall into place.

My scales soon shed, of their own accord.

My beating heart made the connect, completing the leap it had begun a million years ago. I felt different. But it felt so right. Oh, so right!

But the others. They watched aghast as I changed from within. Soon the difference was apparent. There was a certain degree of alarm and a whole lot of conjecture.

At first I actually care to make them understand. It wasn’t their fault, you see. It was all me.

I said to anybody who would listen-

This is not my life. This is not me.

They blinked in all their incomprehension.

My beating heart sang this refrain. Over and over again. This is not my life. This is not me.
My heart changed as well. I now had four chambers. My love for life pumped through every chamber- I didn’t know when my body turned warm. So much joy! So much peace! I was doing what I wanted to do! I was being me! Oh the possibilities that awaited me!

They looked at me balefully and coldly.

How dare I even presume?

Hiding in the cracks during the day, they slithered onto the warm rocks at nightfall, cold and unfeeling except for the one common thing they had for me. Malevolent hatred.

Grouped together ominously for comfort, they twined and intertwined and it became less obvious where one ended and the other began. They looked my way a vengeful collective of dark, brooding menace.

All I knew was solitude.

Solitude was bliss. Ignorance more so.

Vital life coursed through my veins. I flexed my shoulders and hopped about in glee! A kind one shushed me and motioned at me with a blink but I paid no heed. I tested my arms, wiggled my digits and spread the membranes that defined me. I flapped. Blood surged through me.

I took flight.

A serpent reared its head and hissed- You freak! You moron! What do you think you are doing?

I looked down from my primordial perch and shrugged.

I didn’t have an answer to that. I didn’t have an answer to anything, really. You see, sometimes there are no answers. You just are. Things are. And that is all there really is.

All through my flight, my heart simply told me -This is not my life. This is not me.

I repeated these words to the now coiling serpent who slumbered on the still warm rock.

This is not my life. This is not me.

They fell on deaf ears.

I spread my wings. I left my perch behind. Far behind.

I now could view my primitive life from a different angle. Oh, the pettiness of it all. The struggle for existence. The futility of it all. I flew. Every flight I undertook changed me ever so slightly. I became this fascinating creature, at least I thought I was and began something I knew was unstoppable. I didn’t understand it myself, but all I knew I had to try. Well, you see it was my job to try. If I hadn’t tried, you wouldn’t have had these beautiful creatures who dot the skies, who wake you up with their song, need I really say more?

Who am I?

Do you need names, labels, categories?

You see I don’t really fit in.

I never belonged. I am different. And the whole world knows me. Because I dared. To be unique.

For I am Archaeopteryx.

I am the missing link.

I dared to dream. I dared to try. Alone. Never let them hold me back.

Where am I now?

Frankly, I don’t know. 

And really, I don’t care.

I lived my life. I mean, I really did. 

I was real.

Now, I am a fossil.

I am reduced to a theory.

I exist in your dust laden tomes. 

And maybe even in your vestigial imagination.

I am the bridge that forged itself between the cold and the warm

Between the unfeeling and the aspirers.

I am the pioneer of flight.

It all began when I said to myself-This is not my life. This is not me.

So much joy! So much peace! Oh the possibilities that awaited me!


Unfinished Business?

There are many ways of attaining salvation.

Various paths lead to redemption.

The catch is what kind you are looking for.

You are a successful physician waking up in the morning, in the middle of the night, whenever duty calls. She walks into your clinic with a huge belly and tells you, ‘No, I am not pregnant.’ Never mind that she takes the seat proffered courteously in a crowded bus, smiling at the man who feels good about having done his bit to society, a good turn and all that jazz. She rests her arm on her belly, her mind still.

She wouldn’t be seen dead at the doctor’s clinic, but for the fact that she cannot sleep at night anymore. There was this hand that began at her belly and worked its way upward and she couldn’t breathe. She didn’t mind dying then, but he dragged her, to Medical Woman, much against her will.

You, as a medical woman, lick your chops at facing such a ‘case’. Yes, she can visualize her rubbing her palms in anticipation, thinking, ‘Oh to sink my scalpel into your belly…’

She can hear every word said and those left unsaid. She sits there listening to the conversation you are having with the man and not a shadow flits on her face. They park themselves there discussing her and she doesn’t care. All she wants is to get away.

You give her a couple of sedatives. You make her sign. You make him sign. They don’t even read the papers.

She is ready.

She spends the night in darkness, the mosquitoes singing to her.

She is prepared and lays herself on the cold granite topped table.

Hmmm. Brown and Gray. Strange colours for an operating theatre.

She wishes the team all the very best. They look at her and then away. Their eyes look so warm above their masks. Their eyebrows like suspended caterpillars.

If only they would all be normal.

If only they would exchange banter, friendly like, you know.

After all it was she who would end up dead in all probability.

What was their problem?

If only.

Five hours later, only you didn’t notice the time, for you were ‘out’, you hear the friendly banter you have been waiting for.

Well, finally. You see flash bulbs exploding and your eyelids register them as flashes of orange. And you think, ‘Why the hell are they taking pictures?’ And then you look around groggy from all that and you see the thing you have been growing, harvested in a bucket. Yes, a piece of the creative you.

Medical Miracle woman takes the day off. Her staff of nurses keep a steady eye on her. She slips in and out, like a symphony fading out and coming back with another effort.

Medical Miracle woman feels a twinge in her abdomen.

She ignores it.

Physician, heal thyself.

A year later she’s gone.

The clinic changes hands.

The traffic moves past without knowing.

Without caring.

Deliverance, huh?

Another day, another life.

Thirst. The aches. Trouble in the pancreas. Not enough insulin. Wounds don’t heal. Going blind in an eye. Kidneys don’t flush out toxins. I work despite it all. My home a hell. My family gives me hell. My life hell. You get the drift? Hell. I ride an old, old scooter. I feel dizzy. I pause. If only this spinning stopped.

It did.

Nobody knew. I waited on the cold metal table. They came. Took a look at me and nodded. Took me away.

She called. He called. They called. She called again.


‘Could I please speak to –‘

‘I’m sorry he’s no more.’

She mourned his loss for a day. An entire day. He was her financial advisor. He made her take insurance before her surgery. He told her of the new savings’ schemes that were set afloat, advising her what would suit her family the best.

And now he was gone.

Well, he was family.

More than family. Family, often, was out to get you. Your money.

Now she mourned the death of an insurance salesman. Just last week, he had come around to collect her cheques for various payments and he spoke to her about his daughter.

‘I wish she knew what she wanted. She paints the most beautiful pictures. She has such talent. You must see her work. Do you know of any boy, you know, a suitable match… I would like to see her married.’

I shot him impatient looks when he wasn’t noticing and smiled when he looked up from his teacup. Well, how was I to know?

And have you heard of our priest who took on the role of escorting all departed souls to their final place in heaven?

Fools, they all hope for heaven. Now, I, I know I’m going down. Down to hell. Hell is where the action is. Black and red with flickering flames. A colour scheme to die for. People who are like you.

Heaven is not for me. Not with that wishy washy white and blue palette. With insipid clouds and monotonous harps.

Sorry, I digress.

About our priest. Our priest had problems. Tried ‘Home’ remedies. Fasted. Underwent purification rituals.

Now his son escorts the dearly lamented souls over the Vaitarini, the river you cross after death.

There are many ways of attaining salvation. Various paths lead to redemption. The catch is what kind you are looking for.

Well, there is no catch really.

Life happens.

Death happens.

The interval between the two is when it all happens.

Here is where it all happens.

The urgent need of the hour is to live, while you are at it.

I mean, like, really live.

So, when your moment comes, you are ready.

You certainly don’t want your epitaph to read, ‘Unfinished Business’.

I most certainly do not.



Picture Perfect


Look at this picture.

What do you see?

You don’t need to be an expert to say-

This is a family.


This family is out on a picnic.

Daddy, Mommy and Lil’un.


This is Daddy.

Daddy looks impatient.

All he wants is to get back home

Slump on the couch and watch boxing on TV

The punches flying about like butterflies,

it’s Ali after all.


Daddy lets out a belch.

In the dark, the light from the telly flickers.

Daddy cheers.

Goes to the fridge for another beer.


This is Mommy.

Mommy likes to clean.

Right now Mommy is worried.

She sees ants crawling into the picnic hamper.


Mommy is clean. Mommy scrubs.

Mommy dusts. And scrubs some more.

Mommy does not like to be touched.

Even by lil’un.


This is lil’un.

Lil’un ain’t got no clue what to do.


Lil’un wets her bed.

Waits for the brush.


Lil’un breaks a plate.

Cayenne pepper it is.


Lil’un washes her eyes at the sink,


Lil’un blinks.

Lil’un can see again.


Sometimes it’s a heated spoon

Lil’un waits for the sear.

Mommy puts Burnol

to make it all go away.


Mommy cries.

Lil’un looks at her with her big eyes.


Mommy cries some more.

Daddy looks angry.

Daddy breaks a bottle.

Mommy screams.


Lil’un hides under the covers.


Mommy comes in to put out the light.

Lil’un tries to give Mommy a hug.

Mommy pushes her away.


Mommy says- You should not show love.

You should only feel it in your heart.


Lil’un remembers how good it feels to hold a puppy.

Lil’un wants a lil pup.

Mommy won’t even hear of it.


Lil’un closes her eyes

wakes up in the middle of the night



Look at this picture.

Don’t you see?

You don’t need to be an expert to declare-

This is a family.



Down and out


You spoke to me? Me? Ok, give me a moment.


Home? Huh? What’s that?

Where do I sleep?

When it isn’t raining, the trees there form a perfect canopy…

When it rains, you ask?

The priest at the temple allows me to shelter under the old stone ceiling of the mantap, the porch.

A mattress? Ha! Ha! I don’t need one. I know how to bring up the warmth of my body by controlling my mind.

No, I have not chewed on any special root, leaf or fruit.

Yes, I am high.

On life.

I don’t need to explain how.

You wouldn’t understand.


The forest behind, she gives me all I want.

No, I’m not hungry.

I do not want your bread.

I certainly do not want to share your food.

You need it more than I.

It is all the same to me. I cannot discern any taste. It is only food, something to keep me going.

And I certainly do not need any.

Why do you insist?

What is this need you have to feed me?

Does it make you feel good about yourself?


Then I don’t  know why  people like you throw unwanted scraps at me.


What are you doing?

Please don’t leave food by the side of the tree.

Never mind, I shall give it away to the dogs by the temple.

It is all the same.

The dog and I, what is the difference?

Why do you look angry?

I did not ask you to stop by.

Please leave.

I do not want your attention.

Leave me alone.

Get back into your metal cage and go away.


What makes you think you can help me?

What makes you think I even need help?

I see.

I look like a destitute person.

You, with all your need to reach out, help, and console people seem more destitute than I.

I am content with my lot.

I am poor. I know that.

I choose to be poor.

My poverty is my wealth.

I do not sit at the fringes of your life, begging for money, food or even attention.

Ever seen yourself?

Seeking approval.

Feasting on scraps of good opinion.

I may look like a beggar, but I am not one.


I must have had one in another life.

I don’t remember.

I choose not to remember.

Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, who are they?

It isn’t relevant.

No, I never married. I did not need to.

Marriage is for people like you.

I am wedded to my death.

The moment I was born I was betrothed to her.

She is alluring and constant in her devotion to me. She walks steadily with me, her step never faltering, her sight never wavering.


She is my beloved.

Every moment I have, left in my life, is hers to claim.

I have given up everything in her pursuit.

I wait for her embrace, her everlasting embrace when I can close my eyes and never wake up.

Never wake up.

My breath, my final gift to her.

What’s that you say?

Have a little faith in God?

What do you know of the faith of people like me?

All we have is faith.

We have little else.

What are you saying?

Visit a shrine?

You  go in search of God here, there, and everywhere.

You fail to see Him in yourself.

I don’t need to go to a shrine to find Him.

I am connected completely with Him within.

He looks out for me, watches over me.

Is me.

And my beloved waits for me, at the end of this path.


Am I putting my life in danger?

What is danger?

And what is this life?


You ask me why I have been answering your questions if I did not want anything?

You see, you had the look of an impoverished beggar on your face, so eager to please, so eager to help.

Please! Please! Please!

That’s right, please go away.

Next time, be more careful.

Don’t court danger, ever again.

The next stray dog you stop to pat, to feed your scraps to, by the side of the road, might not just growl.

Unlike me.