lapsus linguae

Monday, July 07, 2014

Reluctant Summer

My first, and possibly my last, Chicago summer feels like the weary end of a relationship, the last tethers of which are held together forcefully by habit or by law. The flighty weather, just like my life, refuses to commit to rain or to shine. Last week, the anticipation of leaving this city forever was followed by anxiety and several disappointing trips to the post office for a missing piece of mail that carried my freedom to come and go as I please. My first lessons on the uncertainty of immigrant life.

Now, I stare at six weeks of unexpected nothingness except for the basic functions of life and the constant company of my one-eyed cat. I find a last-minute sublet, a tenth floor studio with creaking wooden floors, open windows, no kitchen and floor to ceiling mirrors. I learn that the building used to be a hotel many decades ago. The neighborhood is everything I hate and love - too many people and too many conveniences.  Back in my apartment I pack my life of two years into all of five boxes in between reading Maya Angelou's The Heart of a Woman. I dump everything into a storage box to be moved to a new city after six weeks. I move into my emergency studio with a small suitcase and my cat. High speed internet, a public library within walking distance, a laundry card with leftover charge and a 24-hour pharmacy - what more does one need? I resolve to read, write and exercise everyday. I refuse to plan, to commit to or to look forward to.

I will just be.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Long Distance

The tomes (yours & mine!) in my bookshelf
with their spines to me-
I rearrange, in wild fantasy,
sometimes in mad embrace-
other times,
lover's tiff maybe!

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Either Way...

The sun playing hide & seek with tree leaves, spins dark ribbons on the narrow road. The world around me slows down at the flash of the red circle. Inertia, Impatience, Ilayaraja's solitary violin - Inside my head. I can still taste the coffee of five minutes ago. Autos in the opposite direction, draped in yellow and black, fart gloriously and move on. I close my eyes to avoid the dust, swirling up fast & furious, disturbed & distributed by myriad triads of wheels. Why do people move from Point A to Point B, at any given minute? Small rectangles, automated miniatures that walk, talk, laugh, if I look closely. TheGray creeps in slowly, the half hour foreplay before a mild drizzle. (Nothing impulsive about Bangalore, not even the skies!)The kind of gray that seeps into every colour. Finally everything looks like different gradations of gray. Even the breeze feels gray. A polite warning for nothing. The pace increases ever so slightly. I get off the auto. I walk. A cool prick. I look up and spread my palms. A new transparent prisoner, round and shiny. Rectangles, now with faces, unfamiliar & forgettable move past me, unrelated except for the fact that we are all on this road, at this moment, as the skies unfold. No burden on the memory, no inextricable entwining. Oh Oh Megam Vandhadho ('The clouds have arrived!'), cooes Janaki inside my ear. Coincidence! A childhood fantasy, preserved beneath layers of cold cynicism. A young, impulsive Revathy, playing hookey & dancing in the rain. Poovilangu Thevai Illaye Du Du Du Du. ("There is no need for the garlanded restraint of marriage."). A rectangle, still, but one that dances, cutting through the rain. I feel the skin on my face moving. I grin.


Monday, August 20, 2007

The War Of the Words

The language of this country is vulgar & coarse, like the people. They beat against each other, sounds clashing with the violence of war. Along with senseless words, I hear their saliva, their tongues writhing and lashing against the roofs of their mouths. Empty space fills their mouths and throats and they open their mouths wide and spit syllables, gulping in air, to fill the now soundless emptiness. The pained pinna vibrates and rings mutely. The words drill holes into four corners of my brain while I watch my gut gush out in revulsion. Relentlessly the walls of their throats grate. I am running my nails on rusted iron. My teeth shivers. I feel a violent spasm. Ask them to stop. But they won't, they won't.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007


This blog needs dusting...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


No will
to swim these
careless white
sheets between
you and me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Third Base

Be still,
let me savour
this here,
you me -
let me wear
your skin
to feel good
in mine.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Puppy Love

His soft kisses
on her

What I Did Today

Every morning, I sit religiously to write to you, about you. The wooden table is hard and rough. It has a few books that I read these days - some detective, fantasy and erotic novels, a haphazard desultory collection. You would not have heard of them, another sign of my decay. Blank sheets of paper held together by a red paper clip, the one I bought in a souvenier store, when you weren't there with me. I write with a narrow pen that leaks ink. There is a small window that looks out to the open sea. Today the sea looks like a pale woman's nipple. The sky looks a lifeless blue bordering on white, as if it cannot be bothered to gather more hue on a day like this. The sun scorches and seeps into my skin, while the ceiling fan drones, a never-ending circular noise, the only sound that reminds me of life. There is no desire left in me, except to write. I wake up every morning with this single purpose in mind. I eat two meals a day, some bread and soup. After dinner at night, I walk for an hour by the sea. There is not a soul in the beach and the dark waters (except on a full moon day) call me to them. During these hours, sometimes, I think of us, how silly we were, how we held hands like little children. They don't seem real to me now. I must be growing old. But before I forget what it is, I need to write. And yet, how easy it is to say this! When I begin writing there is not a word that wants to stay on paper. My resolutions disappear and I stare at these blank sheets. You encircle and outshine every word of mine. What a torture, I would have thought, had I known earlier how elusive you are. How inadequate and how futile! It is evening now and through the window, I see the sun in all its glory.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Alliterative 'Ho @ Elliot's

raging desires
pristine pure
(few & far in number)
from spamless spineless
corners of my mind,
fast furious first stands this.
1) to be had:
under a megalomaniacal moon,
soan papdi feathers
with white wine.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Two Weeks Notice

Steal not your way to my fingertips,
Spill not into my words,
Hide not in thought-crevices,
Stay no more,
Go away!


Saturday, January 06, 2007


The waves hear and know every sound that reaches them, from the shore and across. They know you by your first kiss, from the uncertain sounds of spontaneity, your arms entwined around that lover's neck, and the ring tone of your mobile phone that cut through. They hear the sound of your startle and your feet crashing the sand, your hurried landing onto reality. Sometimes they borrow glitter from the moon and as they move silkily towards you, they hear your ragged breath, your chase, your hurried step back as they hurtle near, the futile slap of one feet over the other to remove the wet stinging sand that they caressed you with. If you stand still, unafraid, they carve you a pedestal. They know your voice, and the language of your laughter. They know the stories you never tell anyone. They collect the thoughts you throw with every pebble, mimicking your mind-ripples. Yes, the sea sends her ears to the shore to listen to you.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Something's Missing

When Autumn comes, it doesn't ask
It just walks in where it left you last
You never know when it starts
Until there's fog inside the glass around your summer heart...

Back and forth. Back and forth. After the length of the dark terrace has been measured a hundred times, with a broken walkman barely breathing John Mayer into my ears, I have reached here, now, forgetfulness in you. Where do I go from here?


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Birds And Bees

Two curly heads
of eight and nine
X & Y, say,
huddle under
a blanket shroud
and a circle of light.
On creased newspapers,
they inspect corner
condom ads.
Furtively gleeful,
their insides turn out.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Can I have
your face and voice,
a place of our own,
afternoon sun drawing lines between us,
music and wine,
colour of some sort,
the skin behind your ear,
a shape to hold.

If its too much to ask -
a yellowing letter
to trace the dot of your i,
an old shirt or
even a forgotten promise,
a folded picture
of a younger you and me
smiling or no,
would do as well -

Anything more than
this pang and missed beat
to hold onto.


Friday, November 03, 2006


I only remember that he wore red, that day. Was it a jacket, a shirt or a kurta? Only that his neck seemed to be held by something red. On his head was a mass of thick unruly curls, not to be held together. He had combed them straight back from his forehead with the same firmness and deliberation that he lent to his words. Instead of making him look older, it lent a curious sensuality to his face. His forehead was not too large, his nose sharp and mouth, an ubiquitous shape. His smile revealed a row of pearly teeth, though he rarely smiled. A pair of spectacles sat lightly on the bridge of his nose. Like Karna's armour, he seemed to have been born with it. The frame was old. His hands were long and sinewy and his fingers were fine, long and thin. Dirt outlined his fingernails. When he spoke, he folded his ring finger slightly. The end of each sentence was punctuated with a small jerk of his hands. When he was searching for words, he stroked his middle finger against his thumb. His wrist bone was prominent, round, like a vital bolt connecting his palm and forearm.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

What's The Matter, Mary Jane?

I have told this before and I will say it again. Every idea that is out there, has already tread these streets, these running roads, has waded through the stinking sewer. Every word, there ever has been, has been spoken, many thousand times, beaten to a pulp over and over again. We twist, expand and curl our lips as infants watch in mute imitation. We wait for the sound that sounds like ours, yet again. Old advise the young, 'Live life to the fullest. Seize the moment. Its now or never.' Lovers write letters, these days emails, long promises overflowing with syllables. Hip hop on your car radio and mine and his and hers and theirs, punctuates traffic. Christmas carols, Amirtavarshini, heavy metal, rap, claptrap, sotto voce, hogwash everywhere. We are less vulnerable, beneath of layers of protective sheets called lyrics, rhymes, adjectives, metaphors, figures of speech, explanations, protests, reiterations, bargains, arguments, prayers, protests, requests, commands. Enlightenment is hours of meditation, of counting breath and feeling an inner light. Inner light looks and feels like two words and ten letters. Where is a minute, a second, even lesser, to see lips and eyes squeezed shut and dancing to the sweetness of honey and sugar? A sunrise of the ocean filles pages in a notebook. The wind pipe's calligraphy is more eloquent than a look of love, a sigh, a tear, a light touch, a nuzzle. In desperation we attempt to capture in words, what we cannot deep within our souls.


Monday, September 25, 2006

An Unknown Face

She had an authoritative forehead and a square jaw. When she tied her hair back, the right side of her hairline seemed to be pulled backwards by some invisible force. Small tufts of hair that rebelled against the band would fall on her forehead making it look curiously barren. When she left her hair free, entire heaps of it fell on her forehead comfortably hiding the small bald spot. She had inherited it from her grandmother in addition to an unattractive nose. It was small and flat. It made her face look younger, softer and more feminine than she would care to admit. The first time she had seen her profile, she was appalled that her nose barely made an upward appearance. It seemed to slump lazily. She had pulled it upwards a couple of times, hoping it would look a little more prominent. Her eyebrows started slowly and curved upward in one neat upward sweep and fell gracefully by the side of her eyes, with a curious nonchalance. The creator seems to have taken his time, drawing the tufts of hair with geometrical precision that they gave one the impression that her eyes were more expressive than they actually were. At first sight, you would say, 'You have beautiful eyes' in a puzzled tone. The small flaw in the compliment would nag but you would never figure it out. Her eyes were curious, if not mesmerising. Their shape was a little unusual. They curved slightly upward, two normal-sized almonds. Her eye-balls were dark brown. She had a slight squint. Most of the times, the expression they wore was serious, sometimes, they were carefree and open and rarely vacant. She had dark circles outlining the eyes. (If you asked her about it, she would explain that they were inherited genetically and not acquired.) Hence you would think her eyes were bigger than they actually were. Her face was full of such illusions. She had a full mouth and big lips. When she smiled they extended from ear to ear, almost. Her teeth were uneven with one big gap on the right side. (Inherited, not broken.) You would notice if you were standing to her right when she grinned. She was outraged that she had not inherited the one good feature - flawless teeth - from her grandmother. Here and there, her face was peppered with fading acne marks.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Quirky, Sometimes...

I stay indoors on rainy days
lest the noises in
the hidden crevices
of my head
are washed away.

I feign poetry
by breaking
a single sentence
into many lines -
They look like they might rhyme
if written by a different



Sometimes, not always,
the virile grey caresses
the fertile green
heavy with lust.
I watch, indecently,
from my window.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Another One Bites The Dust

Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu is like a geometry problem of straight lines and flawless points of intersection - neat, precise and formulaic. You know the problem, you know the solution. Yet you watch it for the way it is told. Slickness and technical virtuosity almost mask the triteness, but the story telling that could have catapulted this one-liner, flounders in the latter half, that loses the restraint and focus of the first half. The first half made me sit up; the second, slouch. Lets just strip the movie off Kamalini and Jyotika (atleast the post New York bit). Lets replace the loud Ila-Amudan duo with ONE restrained silent ruthless serial killer and the movie would have been a criss cross of neuronic impulses and almost a master piece. It would have brought you to your knees in anticipation. The BGM complements, though it is more continuous than discrete/discreet. The opportunities to punctuate with sudden sounds and pauses are not used much here. But if you brush aside all these flaws, it is one of the better Tamil movies. Which is neither here nor there and as cliched a statement as the movie is. Forgive and forget.
PS: For a more forgiving and lucid review, read BRangan.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Camera-phone Experiments

People On Paper
(Noodle Bar. High Street Phoenix. Circa August 2006.)


Monday, July 24, 2006


On the way to work this morning, the i-pod coughed up more than a song. Memories of dawn and a love long lost before I ever found it...

Kiss me
Out of the bearded barley
Nightly, beside the green, green grass
Swing, swing, swing the spinning step
You wear those shoes and I will wear that dress.

I fell in love for the first time, to an epiphany - if I had been more imaginative then I would have heard music - when I was eighteen but I didn't realise it until much later. Had it not been for strong breeze - a rarity in desert August - and the goose pumps forming needle points that the breeze bored into, I would not have realised it. It singled out one amongst a hundred in that class. After class, I searched for the boy with the brown backpack in vain. For dear reader, I had not glimpsed his face. We met later, and became good friends.

I did everything right. I had butterflies in my stomach when I talked to him. I blushed to the roots of my hair at the very mention of his name. I never gathered the nerve to ask him out to coffee. I read the books he read, sometimes, and felt glad when we saw the same things. I loved in silence, by the side-walk. When I passed his room, I would turn involuntarily to see if I could catch a glimpse of him. One part of me found this cowardly, and I forced myself to take another road to the institute building. His words were music to my ears. After conversations, I would meticulously go through every word I had uttered and slap my head in frustration when I thought I had said something foolish. I did not yearn for duets in the Alps, candle light dinners, till-death-do-us-part. I sometimes wanted conversation but I religiously avoided him. There have been times, when I would see him at the other end of a long corridor and I would duck and change my route. Once, only once, we had coffee together, when the winter was melting into rare spring. There were flowers everywhere. We sat at Sky Lawns, underneath a canopy and idly talked. I don't remember what. It must have been about books. I wore a cream cardigan. I reached for my purse to pay. But he paid, reminding me that I owed him a coffee. I still owe him. I never broke bread with him. We wrote to each other often, about this and that, books and life, I think. His name in my inbox, shining new, like an unopened gift, would strike delight at the very roots of my heart.

Oh, kiss me beneath the milky twilight
Lead me out on the moonlit floor
Lift your open hand
Strike up the band and make the fireflies dance
Silver moon's sparkling

Music was entwined inextricably with moments, words gathered more meaning than they should have. Reader, I did not not know his handwriting, his favourite shirt, how he looked when he got wet in the rain. I never played a game with him. I never saw his anger or his angst. Did he change his socks everyday? None of that seemed to matter. I felt a fondness that attraction drew into love. I was so secure, that I never felt a tinge of jealousy, for I had no want. I did not mind that it was not reciprocated. I was not even curious to find out. I felt a fascination, almost as if I had created him. I loved just the idea of him. Sometimes during a winter morning jog, when this song would come up on my walkman, not by design, I would slow down to a trot, my breath heavy, and think of him. There may have been a hint of a smile, lost in the swirl of the fog. It is only then, that I wished that the fog would lift and I would run into him accidentally, that it was all real. It was a reluctant thought, peeping out from a corner, that I had never known existed. It was my desperate plea for nothing and it stayed that way.

So kiss me
Kiss me down by the broken tree house
Swing me upon its hanging tire
Bring, bring, bring your flowered hat
We'll take the trail marked on your father's map


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Now And Then

thought-pebbles of you
rains ripples
on my silent surface--
receiving no answer,
they dissolve
into nothingness.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Like most things I have never tried, I think photographing in the rain, wrapped in a rain coat and muddy shoes, would be fun. These days, it rains in sudden surprise spurts, like a stranger's smile, at once warm and suspicious. I wish I had a camera to frame and freeze, to capture the hiss and the kiss of smoky skies - dusty drizzle, a cart pile of wet shining tomatoes in the traffic signal - the vendor looking up at the skies and holding out his palm to feel the prick of needle-rain, abandoned yellow cabs in a neat line bouncing rain off the roofs, puddle patterns, windshield wiped world, close-up of the wizened beggar receiving noisy rain-alms in the aluminium bowl, and teenage girls with hands over their heads, looking around embarrased, as though that would prevent them from the sudden drench. Feeling like a wet crow, after the rains have fallen, would be totally worth it.

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Monday, July 17, 2006


On highways, lorries swing their wide hips - they usually carry sand or bulging sacks, the ones with oil/water are silent. Clinking noises aside, the horns play tunes on repeat, pattern music, joyful whistles. Within city limits, here in Bombay, they whimper, often times howl tragic impatience, much like how I feel, unwelcomed and intrusive.

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Friday, July 14, 2006


are the old password
I type
out of habit -


On Repeat

From my ipod, most played -
Song: Ninnukori
Movie: Agninakshatram.
Composer: Ilayaraaja.

(Disclaimer: My knowledge of music: Zilch. But I have ears, I can close my eyes, I can listen, I can feel. Sometimes I am moved. Sometimes I recognise patterns. And then I write about them. The Musically-Educated-Reader may feel free to holler back, in case of glaring errors. Much thanks. )

Have you seen the video of "Ninnukori"? I don't remember the details, but it involves spandex, belted tank top, socked feet, dancing silky long hair, disco lights and seduction, innit? Now, forget the visuals. Plug your ears, close your eyes, listen and sway. Brilliant motley of sounds that starts with psychedelic beats - pet-shop-boyish and oh-so-80's, classical sophisticated vocals, jazz guitar (I maintain it is the piano but Vijay says its the guitar and what-the-hell, he usually is right when it comes to music.) and the quintessential violin of Ilayaraja. There are layers and layers of discrete (sometimes discreet) sounds criss crossing each other violently, and creating a tune in the process. The vocals cut across, quite assertively, girlish and happy-go-lucky. There is a tinge of impishness to the lyrics. The first line possesses and covets boldly. Yet, I think, the tune emerges into lyrical softness and sophistication, tad later, and the tone is wistful, slowly sensous. Kaliedoscope of sounds and words, brilliantly orchestrated, to sound casual and naughty. My latest addiction, on repeat.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006


When I heard the news last evening, I sat down for a moment. Just one. I swam with the thoughts that seem to stream seamlessly in and out. Everything seems inconsequential at a time like this except blurred images of your monologues, your jokes, your funny faces, your shining eyes, the spectacles that slide down the bridge of your nose, the melifluous music of your voice, every intonation in place. I can vividly recall your scent. How you pronounce every word, your slightly embarrassed expression, your wet mop of hair. How you look sparkling clean after a bath. Your backpack, your phone, the sliver of silver on your wrist. Your clean logical mind. Your sleeping frame, twisted into your sheets. The expression of bliss on your face when you partake something delicious. "Hmmmm....", closed eyes, moving lips. My laughter that cuts into your reverie. "What? Its delicious." Thank God, for those moments.
You have touched my life in every single way possible. You are the kindest, most loving, indulgent heart I know. You are poetry, a heart rending note. Everything you touch turns to music, even me. You are my highest serendipity. You have taught me to care, to be passionate, to be myself. You have smoothened my rigidity into delicate flowing happiness. I feel protected and taken care of. You are never overpowering, even in your protectiveness. Last night, you drove all the way to donate blood, in the dead of the night. The world needs more men like you. I need you to teach me to be thoughtful to strangers, to put the other before myself, to think nothing of trifling inconveniences. You are a man, meeting life head long, letting the breeze cradle your face. Thank God, for you.
Now I can understand the grief of potential loss. It is not that I hold on to you tight. I can let go. Without you, I would still go on but every moment would remind me that I am poorer. No trick of human memory can change this fact. As I walked back home, I thought of you, how it could have been me or you. I could never have known you better than I do now. I could never been given another chance to tell you that you are a splendid human being. Nothing else matters. Thank God, for keeping you safe and warm.
I love and cherish you. Your name is in my every whispered gratitude.



What happens when the faces and places that define our lives, go up in smoke?

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