Saturday, April 18, 2015


Love is not holding up a person like a roof
Being held up in the air by a solitary pillar;
Rather it is two trees, separated at their roots
And tips, intertwining and their trunks fusing
In the middle, by pure free will, interconnected
But independent

Monday, March 02, 2015


He burned all his discarded tales,

For fear that within each artificial World

There would be left alive some few people

Believing their existence on paper conferred

The status of Reality. And then he feared

That his own existence and world might well

Be a discarded tale from God's typewriter,

Awaiting Incineration


He banged out a poem with great rapidity

In the hopes of receiving great recognition

Like so many before him had done on the

Picture instant share application on his

Phone, as though inspiration and beauty

Could be at one's beck and call the moment

One sits at a


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Hunt

Though I wish to write to write poetry, only prose pours out of me.  I am afraid there is no clever quipping verse in my mind to come pouring out from my soul to showcase in a forum for public view.  My words are too modern, speaking this jargon of a new world too modern for the speech of a clear-voiced muse in singing her sweet (or sour) song.  It is all-too-vulgar to be anything other than a pedestrian prose.  It's too sad to be of interest to the refined mind, to a refined tongue to speak.  But I will print it anyway. Make the clanging noises of an impactful machine, which pounds each letter and word with an insistent bang onto the tied down page, in crude bondage, taking the spanking and slapping like an angry woman, one so disgusted with herself that she would let a man abuse her and then call it joyful, consensual "bondage" as though enslavement could ever be willingly accepted from someone by anyone in their rational mind.  Thus will I write, slapping and punishing with insistence into each line, with utter contemptuous disregard for their sensibility.  I will heed only the sound of that tinny bell, tinny, tinny, tinny! Only the clanging of margin bell shall concern me, a pause button clicking to stop my consciousness's stream.  Otherwise, nothing will prevent my angry rampage.  My words shall be like bullets, piercing through the heart of the page.  That is what my muse is, the Goddess of the Hunt.  She will track down unassailably, beat down both me and my thoughts, until nothing else is left to run ahead.  I will be exhausted, like the fox at the end of a great run, no energy left in him to even die a dignified death.  I shall just fall over with exhaustion.  My soul, if there be such a thing even metaphorically, shall be emptied out in toto before my fury lets up.  No matter what time of day or night.  No matter waht the circumstances.  I will hack out text to the great consternation of the masses.  They might request me to stop, demand that I stop,  command me to cease and desist, but I will not.  I will be, by god the worst writer who walked upon the face of God's green Earth.  I swear that I will not stop till that should happen.  And why should I stop? Who the devil will stop me?

Nevertheles, it would be a lie to say that I don't want to write well.  I actually had illusions of grandeur when I bought this machine.  What twentysomething doesn't want to be the next Jack Kerouack?  Who doesn't want to have written the next modern classic?  Who doesn't want to have written the next modern classic?  Who doesn't want to pen the anthem of his own generation?  I suppose there are people who do not harbour such great ambitions, but I cannot honestly suggest, even to myself that I am one of those lucky men whose desires are so limited.  I am to count myself among those hacks who do want to be heard.  I really can't help it I guess.  Good thing there is still ink left in my ribbon, both figuratively and literally.  The replacements that were due to arrive already have yet to do so.  Creative, metaphorical, ribbons, are irreplaceable, of course, which is what makes them so precious.  One must simply type, simply write with a feverish pitch.  Otherwise there is no salvation.  The Goddess of the Hunt will forgive all sins but lack of enthusiasm.  That, she will punish most severely.  She will herself shoot down like a dog a hunter who refuses to submit himself to the chase with all heart.  So I will be enthusiastic.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Most Real He'd Ever Felt

In retrospect, that was the most he'd ever cried.  Not another night in childhood, not another day in adulthood.  That one drunken night of confessing his love, when he'd had two whiskys too many with no food in his stomach and yet hadn't thrown up.  Normally throwing up never made him feel any better.  But he wishes he'd thrown up, wishes he'd stopped bawling and just gotten the elixir of truth out of his gut.

It's quite embarrassing, telling the truth so openly, so uneloquently.  Really it's the attention from others that screws the pooch.  When a grown man with scruff on his face bawls like a child who's been savagely spanked, crying about love, about being in love, in the arms of the one he loves, in a room locked so that he doesn't escape and run into an oncoming truck.... people notice!  Well it should seem quite obvious that people would notice.  If I could have painted a canvas instead of having to paint with words, the truth would have become obvious ad nauseam.  A grown man crying....  How silly, how pathetic, how... how foolish!  

Well... only to the one whose sleeves have become wet with this boy's tears, and to those who've had their party ruined by a sloppy drunk.  To the bawling, bumbling idiot — to him — this was the most real he'd felt.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Viswanathapuram was abuzz with activity.  Ramayyar's son, Sreenivasan [known to all as Cheenu'], who was the first BA in the nearest ten villages, was getting married to Krishnayyar's daughter, Janaki.  Ramayyar and Krishnayyar were the two wealthiest landowners in all of Palakkad and so of course, the wedding was a great affair involving about 500 wedding guests from all the surrounding villages and none other than the great maestro Tanjavur Ramanatha Ayyangar singing on the evening of the wedding. 

Janaki was 11 and Cheenu was 21, and their marriage was one considered a perfect match—'pattukku pattu poruttam!' ('a ten out of ten match!') as the astrologer said with gleeful astonishment to all those who came to him.  At her age, Janaki was blossoming into a beautiful young woman.  Cheenu was already the pride and joy of every household in Viswanathapuram, and quite a handsome young man to boot.  He never failed to turn every head as he walked about, his ottaveshti around his waist, his milk-white chest and torso uncovered and adorned by a lone gleaming white poonal.      His thick hair was knotted back in a tight sikhai, and the soft beard accented the big blue-stoned kadukkan on his ears.  Not only was Cheenu the first BA in the area, and that too a graduate with Distinction, he was a great singer, knew how to chant the Yajur-veda with a rare perfection of pronunciation and pitch and was the paradigm of respect to his elders.  Indeed, this was a match made in heaven — a union not just of the earthly Satyavan and Savitri, but the union of two illustrious families.  'A matter of great importance for all of us,' said the elders.

The wedding day that is, the final day when the knot would be tied, was nearing.  Already 5 days of the wedding had passed with great pomp and circumstance.  The various sections of society were all very pleased, especially the gossip mongers.  There was usually something to complain about, but there was nothing this time.  Everyone was forced to feel satisfied.  Their deep bellies were so well-provided-for that they couldn't even find an excuse to feel sorry for themselves.  So instead they talked about the world beyond Viswanathapuram.  About how the white races in far away Europe were fighting each other for land.  Though they talked at length about the merits of the German position versus the British position, ultimately some old fart would say 'Raman anda enna, Ravanan anda namakku enna oy!  Neenkallam vendatattu pesi pesi othavankikkapporel!'  ('Who cares whether Rama rules or Ravana?  You people are going to get into deep trouble talking all this nonsense about politics.) That piece of folk wisdom would, of course, restore peace.  The year was 1916 and the Great War had been going on for some time now.  But of course in Viswanathapuram the fights were more often between women in various households, and among neighbours.  Maybe the Great War in Europe wasn't so bad after all.

The only conspicuous absence on the sixth day of the weding was, of course, the mappillaitozhan — Cheenu's best man,  Sankaran.  Sankaran was the same age as Cheenu, but a little shorter and somewhat thinner and darker than Cheenu, whose musculature was his best feature.  He was just as handsome as Cheenu, and of course, other Brahmin fathers of equal financial position to his own had already begun to calculate how much dowry they would have to pay for their daughters to have him as their bridegroom.  He had not gone to college like Cheenu had.  In fact, his education was entirely traditional.  Sankaran did know English, however, as a side-effect of his friendship with Cheenu.  The two had been friends for as long as anyone could remember.  Sankaran was Ramanatha Sastri's only son, a poor lad for whom all the mothers' hearts bled, for he had been orphaned at birth by the death of his mother, a woman of weak constitution.  He'd been raised by his father, a pious if strict man who gave his son everything a poor scholar's boy could look forward to except tender affection.  And Sankaran found his affection in his constant companion, Cheenu. 

Now, on this, the sixth day of the wedding, Sankaran was nowhere to be found in the magnificent pandal that had been raised in front of Krishnayyar's palatial house on Kizhakke Vasal Street.   Rather, an inquiring eye would have found him wandering alone in Ramayyar's paddy fields, singing 'Sita kalyana vaibhogame... Rama kalayana vaibhogame....' in a voice that quievered every few syllables.  The look on his countenance was not that of a young man happy for his friend.  There was a deep pain that made even the workers in the fields wonder what had happened to the young swami as they hastened to remove themselves from his presence so as to not cause pollution. 

Sankaran, who brooked no caste prejudice as a matter of course, didn't even seem to notice the workers trying to hide.  In fact, his mind was not there in the fields at all.  It was somewhere else.  He saw the tying of the knot that was to take place tomorrow; Cheenu's muscular arms and strong hands tying the first knot deftly and letting the other two be done by his sister and mother.  He saw Cheenu and Janaki's first year of festivals.  He saw the joy that would accompany the birth of their first child, a boy.  He saw Cheenu playing with his sons, performing their upanayanam and so much more.  And where was he?  Sankaran was nowhere in these pictures.  Sankaran was nothing.

Sankaran crossed the fields and wandered down to the river bank.  It was noon, and the sun was high in the sky.  There, a few hundred yards away downstream, launderers washed and chatted and quarrelled like a flock of ducks.  Sankaran waded into the river and stood waist deep and performed his sandhyavandanam without any of the necessary utensils.  He walked back up onto the bank and strode up a group of flat rocks to sit and do his meditation, being soaked head to toe.  He recited the Gayatri in his mind, 'Om bhur bhuva suvaha tatsavitur varenyam.  Bhargo devasya dhimahi.  Dhiyo yo nah pracodayat.'  Sankaran had mastered great levels of concentration and had easily gone up to 10,008 recitations.  But now, his mind was a rein that had slipped from the hands of his intellect, unable to control the horses of his senses, which were galloping at breakneck speed toward emotions and memories.  Again and again he tried to regain control of his mind but today it would just not allow the intellect to grasp itself.  Finally, having recited merely 108 Gayatris he gave up.  He hastily finished the other portions of the sandhya and sat there, numbed and unable to get his thoughts in order. 

Had everything been a flash in the pan?  A sky-lotus?  A complete and utter chimera?   Was this what love meant?  And was he such a fool that he'd believed Cheenu?  Questions and self-criticism and anger and sorrow and frustration assailed him from all sides.

Sankaran's thoughts slipped slowly back to that evening, when they were 15 years old.  That night, after slipping away together from the temple where everyone was engaged in the Sivaratri celebrations for which Viswanathapuram was famous, they had consummated their love for the first time.  It had happened really quite suddenly.  Neither really had any doubt when it happened, but afterwards, when they hastily bathed at midnight in the river before rushing back to the temple, Sankaran couldn't help asking Cheenu, 'Itellam tappillayo Cheenu?  Ennada nameto periya tappu pannittom enna thonnal alaiyadichende irukku....  Ennada itukkellam prayaschittam?'  ('Isn't all this wrong, Cheenu? Thought that we've done something awful keeps tormenting me.  What's the penance for this?') Cheenu had said after a moment's thought, 'Brahmacariya kalyanam vendam ennutan vakkanam Sankara.  Vere oru vazhiyum teriyalai.  Appa amma ellarum deshyappeduva.  Analum dridhama vendam ennum tan chollavendivarum.  Romba posukkina uravittu nama Kasikku poyiduvom.  Angana nama chenthe irukkalam.'  ('We'll have to remain Brahmacharis and not get married, Sankara.  I don't see any other way.  Our father and my mother will all get angry, but we must stay resolute and refuse to get married.  If they push us too much, then we'll run away together to Kasi.  Over there we could live together.) Sankaran nodded quietly and then said, 'Sari.  Ni chollarathaye pannalam.' ('Alright, we'll do what you suggest.') They had walked back to the temple wordlessly, holding hands all the way. 

After that, it had happened so many times.  They had promised themselves they would be celibate, but neither could keep their word.  And to atone, they would fast.  Cheenu, whose mother was an innocent housewife who doted on her son, would have a hard time and would end up breaking his fast before the evening was out.  Sankaran's father never questioned him; he trusted his son completely and knew that if his son was fasting in atonement, that he had done a good job as a father. 

The years had flown by.  Cheenu had gone to distant Madras and gotten his BA with distinction in English and was looking at a great career in the Civil Service.  And when the time came, though he'd been the one to suggest the penance, he gave into the marriage proposal.  Sankaran heard the news from other friends, but he was too proud to ever question Cheenu about it.  He just smiled broadly outside and sobbed inside when he saw Cheenu [who had a meek and guilty look on his face] and patted him on the shoulder and said, 'Nalla poruttam kadachirukku ennu jyotsyar chollarar.  Ore vayasilirukkaravala nama asirvadam pannakkudathu.  Ana nee ennodu thozhan.  Patinarum pettru peruvazhu Cheenu.'  ('The astrologer says you have a great match.  We shouldn't bless those who are of the same age as us.  Yet, you're my friend.  May you live long to see a full life.)

His thoughts slowly returned to the present when he heard the slapping of the clothes against the rock by the launderers.  He came to a decision.  He nodded firmly and walked off to the pandal with a smile on his face.  Everyone who'd been searching for him asked him where he'd been.  He just smiled and said that he'd been performing his sandhya and had lost track of time.  The elders, of course, gave proud meaningful looks and beamed at Ramanatha Sastri, who stoically [but inwardly with pride] told his son to go and join his friend.  That day and the next, Sankaran, Cheenu and all their friends spent together.

Once the hangover of the grand wedding feast had lifted, people began inquiring about Sankaran's prospects.  He was the second-most-eligible bachelor in Viswanathapuram if only because of his lack of western education and the penury of his father.  Nonetheless, the more conservative among the Brahmins saw both as virtues.  The horoscopes started pouring in and Ramanatha Sastri, who was an expert astrologer himself selected an alliance for his son with a 12-year-old-girl from Govindarajapuram and informed his son that his marriage would be taking place on the 15th of Masi.

To say Sankaran was afraid of his father would be a lie.  Rather, he approached him with the severest discipline and decorum; there was little emotional speech between them.  He took the same approach in telling his father of his decision.  'Appa, enakku kalyanam vendam.  Nan thirumanichachu.  Nan brahmachariyathan iruppen.' ('Father, I don't want to get married.  I've decided.  I'll stay a Brahmachari.') Ramanatha Sastri didn't flinch.  He smiled drily and walked away.  He knew his son.  He would have his reasons.  And though he didn't know how to show affection for his son, he loved and respected him.  No matter how much embarrassment it would cause him now, he'd retract the alliance and reject others by telling them what his son had said.  He apologised profusely to the girl's father, who though a little annoyed, respected Ramanatha Sastri enough on a personal level to accept it.  Thankfully, the matter had not yet become public knowledge, so face was saved by everyone involved.

Cheenu approached Sankaran when he eventually heard the news.  He'd been busy making the rounds with his wife's relations.  He came to Sankaran, who had just finished his sandhya at their usual spot on the river and was off on the way home, with a look of pain and sorrow.  Sankaran smiled as broadly as he had.  Cheenu began, 'Sankara ni enna nanachindirukkay?  Eppadi itu sariyakum?'  ('Sankara, what do you think you're doing?  How can this be right?') Sankaran cut him short:  'Nan vratam eduttal apram mattamatten Cheenu.  Ni ennappatti kavalappadavendam.  Nan cheera iruppen; niyum athupole irukkanam.'  ('I've made a vow and I won't change my mind, Cheenu.  Don't worry about me.  I'll prosper; I wish the same for you.')  With that, Sankaran walked off as the Sun set above their heads, Cheenu looking on after the friend, the lover he knew he'd lost forever.