Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Downpour

Earth holds its breath
while light withdraws
at noon
slowly but steadily - -

strange silence charged with routine sounds of noon
awaits it
in the air thickened by the pall of monsoon cloud.Align Center

And then it comes
The downpour.
Sheets of rain lash the earth
Pleasant smell of the soil
Warms the heart
As the watery assault slackens its attack
And darkness withdraws
And noon returns

Like joy reinstated
After emotional decongestion
In the wake of heartbroken sobs.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Adios Amigo

Did you blow your brains out
To set it free
From the tentacular stranglehold
Of dark despair?

I understand
And weep for you
Siddharth, my friend.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Parukutty Teacher

Clad in white

Starched white

Unironed white

Indigoed white

With thin black border

Or thinner red border

Eyes brimming with contempt

And hate and disgust

Set below sandal paste streaked forehead

Set below salt and pepper parted in the center

She taught me the language that gave birth to my thoughts.

Eyes flash

Sheer fury

Tongue sneers, spews


“Christians step out


You do it in your church

We don’t kneel in temples”.

Mind still soft

Yet to set in position

Wails silently

Cursing its faith.


Grows estranged

From the language in which it feels.



Incomprehensible emotions

Self submerged

In the rubble of thoughts and feelings

Gasps for words that describe.

In vain.

Clad in white

Sandal paste furrowing hideously

She cackles in glee.

(My previous post -Confessions of an alienated Malayalee - is a prelude to this)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Confessions of an Alienated Malayalee

(This is a post from my pareltank blog.I wrote a poem more than 3 decades ago which i have hesitated to post on account of the venom it has. This post explains why it is so venomous.I still haven't decided whether to post it or not)

yes. that’s me. I call myself that ’cos of my indifferent competence in my mother tongue. I think in Malayalam, but have no confidence to write in that language. I sometimes think if I could write in the language I think and feel in, I’d become the Shakespeare of Malayalam literature. Don’t laugh. this is how I console myself when I fall into one of those fits of depression at my inability express myself comprehensively – thoughts, feeling s and their nuances. The English language does not have corresponding terms to express malayalee feeling. Or, I am not competent enough in this angrezi tongue. So there is a huge gap between my sensibilities and the only language I can write in. Frustrating, isn’t it?

How did this happen? it’s a long story. I was born less than ten years after Independence. So guess I can call myself post independence generation. Those were days when people believed that future belonged to people who received education in English. I was a victim of that false notion. But, I did have Malayalam as a subject till 4th standard. But the Malayalam teacher took a dislike to me for a reason I don’t want to go into here(I have written a poem on that – so intense was my resentment towards that teacher who alienated me from myself). Unfortunately, along with me, that teacher was also promoted to the middle school. As soon as this news was confirmed, I went home and wept and wept till my mother agreed to switch my second language to French! With that, my connections with Malayalam text books, therefore literary Malayalam, were severed forever and ever.

Thus it is that my imagination was shaped completely by the angrezi language. They say if you learn a language, you tend to identify yourself wiith the culture of native speakers of that language. So my childhood imagination was filled with Jack and Jill, Polly putting the kettle on (I used to go around our kitchen looking for the kettle I saw in illustrated nursery rhyme books- found none), sixpence and pocket full of rye (thought that rye was the higher denomination of sixpence). Must say I used to be fascinated that the English could bake blackbirds in a pie and still keep them alive. Fortunately for me, I had a lot of neighbours, cousins from whom I picked up kakey, kaket, koodevidey?, Omana kuttan, govindan, ayyappandey amma, neyyappam chuttu. I sang these with full throated ease and felt I belonged. But when I sang the English rhymes, my imagination got activated and made me yearn for things I knew nothing of. Like they say, unheard melodies are sweeter. As I reached primary school, Enid Blyton was my staple food. and also all those comics – Three Stooges, Totem, Tin Tin, Classics, Richie Rich, Little Lotta - - - - . my horizons widened and without my quite knowing it, I moved away from my roots into a world I had never experienced. Along with it, an attitudinal change crept into me – a feeling of superiority over those who didn’t know the Famous Five and Captain Haddock!!

Soon, I started reading romances. Mills and Boons told me how the westerners fell in love, how hostility was an imperative prelude to love! How men had to be dark and tall ( I didn’t know then that, that dark was not our dark), that when men fell in love, they snapped at their lady loves for no reason. But i didn't know how people in love behaved in my culture! I soon got tired of Mills and Boons but Georgette Heyer remained my favourite for a long time. How she fired my imagination! her novels transported to a still more remote world - the Regency period, Victorian age - - -and I moved with wide eyed wonder among powder and patch, frills and gloves, lords and ladies and fops - --- Humour so pervaded her narration that I fell in love with the English language! My alienation from my own language was complete.

My estrangement from the imaginative world represented by Malayalam literature is the saddest thing that has happened to me. As I grew older, I moved into the world of English classics and poems. The breathtakingly beautiful paddy fields of Kerala skirted by beckoning coconut trees made me search for Wordsworthian terms to describe them. No muse works that way and the poet in me died. So did whatever creativity I had. Now I realize that one can create only in the language one thinks in, feels in - in the language that shapes one’s day to day life. I was trapped between two worlds – and was not resourceful enough to find a way out of this trap.

Today, I feel like a half baked creature. I fully realized what I lost when I got my first employment in a college in mid Travancore. my colleagues seemed to be at home with such a rich literature and culture. Jokes had to be explained to me and I didn’t find them funny. The humour was lost in the translation. Philosophical ruminations in Malayalam seemed part of the daily diet of my English department. And my colleagues felt guilty when they saw me trying to pretend I understood. Fortunately for me, my spoken Malayalam was extremely good. so I belonged as long as the conversation did not move into higher planes. But it did. too often. That is when I wrote that vitriolic poem about my Malayalam teacher who was instrumental in uprooting me even as I remained physically rooted.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Outside the college gate

He sits

Fingers, toes and nose


Burnt out, though

A malady

That haunts.

Children driven away from the gates

Purification of gates infected by their touch.

'The sickening sweet smell'

of the valley in Ben-hur

The mythical ailment

That felled Paul Gauguin.

But he smiles

Outside the college gate

Young ones of now

Exchange pleasantries with him

Provide flowers

For the glass tumbler.

Hibiscus and Cosmos

Beam from glass tumbler

Half full with water.

Some parcel breakfast for him

Others lunch

Or snacks.

But my friend and colleague

Talks to him

As she talks to me.

Subtly notes his needs

Clothes, blankets


Notices his absence

Outside the college gate

Wonders, worries

Shares anxiety with me

Happy when he turns up

“At least, he’s not lying somewhere


Unseen, unsung, uncared ”, she says.

I judged you once

My friend.

Forgive me.

You taught me

To leave Judgement

To the extra terrestrial.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Earth shrugs
Humans cease
His creations crumble
Those safe in the Ark
And lived to tell the Byzantine tale
Of Mohen jo- daro and Harappa
Beat their wings in the void.
And humans are back
To bickering.
Oh God, what fools we mortals be!