A Time for Life

This is not a story. Not a happy one, not a sad one. Just words, inconsequential.

A fragile day. Drop by drop, melting into an expanse of nothingness. I cannot move, not today, not yesterday, not tomorrow. I have tried, straining every muscle, to the point of agony, but I can’t. I am stuck.

The window is open today. It is a graceful piece of woodwork, rough at the edges, reminding of the survived winters. I live, if that is what you can call my existence, in one of those ornate, vintage homes that have adorned many a tale. It is now ensconced in the lap of snowy mountains and fir trees.


I don’t really want to say this, but I might just burst open if I don’t. I don’t know how this reached you, and I never will. I am trapped inside my own useless body, cold and warm.

A chilly wind swirls around the room. I can see it, filling the crevices with an icy blue, gliding tenderly on my pale skin. From the way I rest, I can feel a solitary bird crooning a cracked verse. The song mingles with the breeze, creating music out of thin air.

I go back in time, to the days when running around these valleys was everything I ever wanted. The misty cliffs and frosty trees beckoned with their rustle. Small shops and cafés dotted the entire town, waiting for ignorant tourists to serve their hilly specialties to. The sun would beam amidst the cold, and iridescent crystals of dust would float lazily, and you could breathe in the slow, musty warmth.


And people, yes, the people. You met someone new almost every day. They would be awed by your home, your town. And inside, I would be proud, really proud. That was a long time ago, long before my body gave up on me. I know nothing of the outside world except the four feet of a window now.

It’s my birthday today. They have stopped celebrating it now. They know there’s no hope. I know there’s no hope. I wish there’s a place beyond where life isn’t so unfair. I am tired of waiting, of making them wait. I am just a hollow shell, neurons firing inside, to no end, no purpose.

I happen to have a grandchild. He whispers a wish every year, though he has no way of knowing I can hear him. I have never felt his tender face in my hands, never ran it through his beautiful curls. Do you know what’s worse than not seeing your lineage at all? Gazing at your blood every single day and realizing you could have played a part, a part which he will forever be deprived of now.

“Happy Birthday, Grandma”, he mumbles in a hushed tone.

I can feel the turmoil inside my head, and the tears outside, but it is so common now that it fails to be acknowledged as a distinct emotion. He then circles slowly around the bed, as if gaping at a lost artifact, ignoring the salt altogether.


“Dear, where are you?” His mother. My daughter-in-law.

“Coming, mom.”

“I have told you a hundred times not to disturb her. Now, get back here!”

“Bye, Grandma.”

Bye. Away from the vegetable. Bye.

Living in the hills, I always enjoyed my solitude. But loneliness and solitude are two different things. Loneliness hurts, it sticks like indelible ink. You feel an empty space previously filled by your fantasies and dreams. It doesn’t matter if the entire world reaches out to you, that dark niche repels them, stubborn in its essence.

I overhear the argument today. It is usually muffled for my benefit. Today, all control is lost. It’s about me, as most of them are. But today is different. It has the tone of finality, of an explosion. My blood is running cold in my veins, although the numbness is nothing new.

Hours pass.

Night. 3 am.

The stars float in the sky, pointed strokes of white on a dark canvas. The wind howls its own rueful tune. It’s the perfect night, serene and occasional.

My little grandchild tiptoes into the room. His eyes are swollen with sadness and tears. I can smell the ache wafting through the room.

“Grandma, please, sorry…” he stammers. It takes him visible effort to walk. It was more of a mixture of hesitation, fear, and regret. “They can’t do this. They will break if they haven’t already. Sorry for today, Grandma. I can’t see any more suffering, not theirs, not yours.”

And gently is the deed done.

I talk of this from my wooden box. I am happy now. I hope they are, too.

I was never dead, but I was never alive either.




Romantic Tragedies

This is a tribute to my love for second-hand books and quaint streets, which can be attributed to this beautiful stretch in Calcutta called College Street. One just cannot get enough of that magical fantasy. Do read on to experience the sweet memories yourself.


No ancient perfume, no dusty bloom,
Only dandy lights and a sprayed room,
No dreams, hopes and lives,
Only paper people with their paper smiles,
No wild calls and raucous bargains,
Only glossy covers and printed grains.
Oh, the worldliness of things!
Where stories recede and money begins.

(There’s a place you might want to go)

Words find their time here in this rainbow street,
Where one smells love like the lost cause it is,
A sea of legacies, old and new,
A gift, a tale, a letter anew,
Where the message of threaded art
Finds a lost soul to part,
Where bitter almonds and vanilla crystals,
Etched in a forgotten tree,
Burst forth into tiny dewdrops,
Sizzling, sparkling, free.

O dear things of a tell-tale smile,
These pages hold not letters and strokes,
Neither do they carry the whiff of your hoax,
They carry a thousand pictures,
And a million shattered pieces,
Pieces of pathos, pieces that scar,
Pieces that burn with your eternally beating heart,
Charring and fusing,
Till no death can do them part.


A Lonely Whisper


Listen to my lullaby,
Far away into the night,
Floating in the sweet chill,
Caught by the frost of time.
Wandering its way through dark lanes,
Turning souls in its wake,
A gypsy of ink and blood,
Burning with a marvelous ache.

It spills and rushes
Into crevices and craters
Filling smoky bubbles with vicious ink,
Pulsating auburn at the brink,
Diffusing lazily into the air
A whiff of my pain,
Searching the skies,
For a parched, thirsty rain.

I wrote this for you,
For loved memories and sour lies,
For lost times and heavy sighs,
I wrote this for me,
For sliced veins and edged feet,
For lonely times and melting heat.

This sparkling pool of salty tears,
Turns into strings and words,
Madness the key to this closed door,
Behind which lies the store,
Of purple scars and blue bruises,
Picked deep by scalding knives,
Torn apart by sharp tongues,
Of a withered lullaby.




Today, I swallowed the tear of time. It swirled inside, mingling with the atoms, reacting, transforming. It took me to a lost place, not entirely lost, but faded. I could see the soft, yellow lamps. I could hear the chirp of birds, incessant, sharp and warm.

I travel through time again.

A usual monotony for some, but a kaleidoscope of sorts for me. The slow rattle of the engine turns into a noisy affair, as the train rolls through grasslands, farms and forests. The images flash past at a nerve-wracking speed. I can feel the wind kissing my face, seeping into the pores of my body, washing away the elusive faculties of conscience.


I love the way the terrain changes its face as the train storms past. Fields of yellow flowers adorn the land at one point, barren rocks at another. One realizes that diversity is not just in people or cultures, but is ground and sprinkled into the very element of nature, waiting to be unraveled by a wandering soul.

I notice a few kids push a ragged rubber tyre with a stick, fluttering little white flags in the air, an unadulterated joy shining on their faces. It makes me wonder if we are moving too fast, or if we are moving in the wrong direction. Maybe we are just forgetting the simple joys the present offers.


One night, just one night, sleep under a luscious blanket of stars and you will know what it feels like to peep beyond the realm of imagination, to feel infinity. The mirage of progress seems to mask our dreams, but the freedom of the heart always finds and fills its corners with a sweet, syrupy muse.


People are incessantly talking. Chatter, meaningless, trivial. Silence has lost all meaning in a world that cannot stop and listen. It is saddening that quiet has been a regarded as a sign of weakness and shyness by so many. One does not seem to realize that blatant speech entails the scope of being utterly frivolous, whereas silence has the power to shape the words, the idea, a potent amalgam of the mind and heart, achieved through solitude and meditation.


The sun sets in a flurry of red and orange, slowly receding into oblivion, as a curtain of black falls over the bubble of speed. The air is ornamented with a sweet chill now, spiraling down the spine as it touches me tenderly. Outside, it’s dark. Pitch dark. Occasionally, a scarlet fire breaks the monotony with its tongues lapping up the blank, feeding on the cold of travelers and farmers. I am intoxicated by the beauty of this inky sea, drowning and surfacing again, slow and lazy.


The whispers of fantasy give way to a blurry reality as I realize it is time to get down and go home. I walk out with my belongings.

The soft, yellow lamps flicker with a hiss. The auto drivers scream their lungs out with their calls.

But, no birds chirp on the lines today.

No sweet song, no rueful desire.

Only the silence in the chaos.



(I do not own the pictures used in this post.)



I love my silence.

Those rare moments in which your mind floats around, questioning the triviality of existence and the extent of the universe.

Those precious moments in which clarity hits you, drizzling like the first rain, eventually flooding your insides with cold.

Those beautiful moments in which you notice the little things, the colors, the emotions and the hope, your eyes shine with a golden spark, and you embrace the world around you.

I love my silence because it lets me wander, free and fresh, closer to the sun, sea and beyond.

Silence lets me unravel the tangled ropes, wrap my head around the mystery that is life.

They watch me, lost in my own reality, and they mock me, my bizarre nature.

But I pity them.

They just see things, I feel them.

They freeze frames on a chip, I keep them in my heart.

They touch the sea, the sand, I carry it within me.

My smile hides a hundred different lives and my head contains multitudes. I evolve with time – learning, understanding, and living.

They miss so much that nature offers, fixated on the surface, never diving deeper into the azure ocean, never drifting lazily, never exploring the riddles.

Sometimes, it is good to let go, to let yourself be overwhelmed.

Listen to the sounds of the violin, the strings rubbing away, melody after melody,

Read a withered book, cure that malady,

Wander sans glamour, all stark and rustic,

Feed your silence, forget the world for that moment mystic.

A Misty Muse


Roaming around the place was a daily ritual for him. The sunshine, the greenery, the sparkling river, held a romance of sorts. He could see the people there, lost in their own thoughts, lost in their lives, lost, and trying to find themselves. The one thing that intrigued him was that they were almost always alone. That was the irony. A place full of cliches from the world, and yet, lost souls knew no way out.

It was a particularly chilly day. He had worn his withered brown jacket, as always. He could see a couple today, young and gentle. They stood staring at the dazzling water, talking to each other. The only curse was the intrinsic nature of this place. They were talking to each other, but a silence captivated their minds and hearts. A silence too deep to be ignored. It is sad how we explore masks as a means to protect the ones we love or the ones we think we do.

A cool breeze touched his cheeks. The mild fragrance of roses hung in the air. Sometimes, he could smell things others couldn’t. He could clearly feel the hot breath of freshly mown grass at times, of a steaming coffee brew, of an old parchment at others. He had a strange sensation then. His vision reflected a clear stream, but he was transported to another place, a figment of his fertile imagination, a phantom. It was a place he felt close to. He could almost feel the tender touch of the elements, reaching his nerves, entrancing them.

He always carried a book with him to this open haven of his. It made him feel safe, not of the physical, but of things unknown. It gave him a power nothing else could. It was a higher form of interaction, mingled with the beauty of invisibility. It was like a warm hug in times of despair, and he could not remember the last time he was happy. He could not live without it.

He contemplated going back, but where would he go?

Right then, a little girl passed by with her mother.

“Momma, look! There’s the man with the brown jacket Granny was telling us about!”

There was apprehension in her mother’s eyes. “There’s no one, dear! You need to give your mind some rest. Sleep early.”

“No, momma, I’m not making it up! Please, Momma, believe me.”

For once, she did. Composing herself, though, “Granny’s ghost stories are for entertainment, my love. They are not real. Ghosts do not exist,” her mother smiled.

The girl kept staring at the man in the withered brown jacket. That day, lore took on a deeper meaning for that tender mind, as the apparition of despair turned into mist.


A Natural Touch

(All clicks in this post are personal, unless stated otherwise.)

Part 1
A peek into the soul of nature is the most enchanting experience there is. A moment is all one needs. A moment is all that matters.

We took one such trip, on a cool October weekend, to Chikmagalur, into the hearts of coffee estates and misty mountains and dewy forests, a little close to the green and the azure and a little away from the ash and the copper.

We started off in a cab a little after midnight, from Bangalore. A slight nip in the air greeted us at the start of the journey itself. As our cab sped away into the night, the chill was positively palpable. Jackets were out. The sky turned a beautiful saffron as we approached the little town in the early hours of the morning, and the smell of brewing coffee floated in the air. We reached the town and began enquiring about places where we could stay.

A most delightful journey through the long winding roads, amidst the glittering green forests flanking both sides, speaking of the present and the forgotten, led us to our homestay. After driving through difficult loops, we reached a quaint little house. With a traditional slanting roof, a little garden, and two frolicking dogs, it was an abode of dreams. The backdrop was composed of dense forests and a tilt of the head gave rise to a looming mountain, covered with a snowy, wispy fog. A serene silence enveloped the entire place as if nature had granted it a transparent bubble, fragile and grand at the same time.


We rested and refreshed ourselves. Thereby, we ventured out into the town again looking for something to fill our empty bellies. Per a pamphlet, the Butter Masala Dosa from the Town’s Kitchen was one of the specialties. We tried that out. Thereafter, we set out on a course for a waterfall which we had heard of. As the car rolled amidst the old coffee plantations and ancient forests, one could feel a surreal sense of pleasure, of a deep-seated freshness calling out.

You know when they say the journey matters as much as the destination? Well, this trip was about the journey. Life has entangled us in its tempting enormity, only to make us realize it wasn’t that but magnificence we crave.

Eventually, we reached the Bhadra Tiger Reserve gates, with no sign of a waterfall. We were guided to a river, though. A little walk and there it was. An elegant stream of swirling waters. The rocks guided it gently, towing the water into a ripple. We waded into the water. It was blissfully cold and a splash of the manna served an unknown, magical purpose. The stones jutted out here and there, and the bed was sandy and loose. Trees covered both banks, and the river seemed to stretch on endlessly.

As we were about to leave it all behind, the sun peeped out of the undergrowth, a fiery yellow, and the evening transformed. We never found the waterfall, but that objective took us through another extensive estate, another mass of timeless beauty. None of us regretted the absence of the waterfall at the end of the day.

The night was suffused with the sounds of the forest when we were back at the homestay. A single light shone like a beacon at the tip of the mountain. The stars held the sky in a dazzling embrace, showering us with sparkling diamonds. I held my book and read. I slept peacefully that night, all cold and warm.

Part 2
We had decided to scale the Mullayanagiri peak that day. It stands tall at 6332 ft., the highest peak in Karnataka. Another journey amidst the rising mountains. As the car gained altitude, several peaks focused into view. A humongous layer of rich, dense fog covered the mountainsides. We decided to trek a part of the distance. The winds blew with a considerable force. As we climbed, we could see the peak. The clouds, thin and light, traveled with great velocities towards the peak, covering it in its envelope once, and leaving it be the next moment. It was a dynamic flow of nature.


“Everything has a rhythm, everything dances,” as someone once said.

The peak. The clouds which mesmerized us from a distance passed through us now, leaving a shiver in my spine in its wake. This place had a strange sense of a story about it, of memories no one has etched about in stone, but sprinkled forth into the air. A stone structure surrounded a temple built on the top. This wall added to the crude elegance of the place. One could look down at thousands of years of history, and at the reminders of the modern marks we had managed to tarnish it with. The contrast was profound. The mountains and valleys and lakes stood majestically in the distance.


A quiet cave hid under the structure. The scent of moisture and earth tingled the senses. Water caressed the walls, forming a narrow stream. The shadows of civilization lurked about.

It was hard to bring our hearts to leave the place. All good things are transient, we knew.

Our next destination was again in pursuit of a waterfall. Waterfalls, or rather, non-existing ones, had been our lucky charms then. We reached the spot through the same forests and mountains that graced the region and our minds and hearts. As it turned out, there was a steep climb to reach the waterfall. We had almost decided to rent a jeep when that silly mind-trick called second thoughts deprived us of it. It was almost a natural conspiracy. After much thinking, we set about on a course for the place, trekking. The first few minutes were steep, as we took the shorter way instead of the road.

Didn’t I say that this trip was about the journey? That trek brought to light the most beautiful sights of Chikmagalur. The slopes were covered with plants, swaying gently in the wind, reminding me of Wordsworth’s dandelions, mustard-like in form, all gay and soft. A little into the walk, the landscape was covered with gentle hills, all consistently green, a satisfying sight. The beauty lay in the sobriety of it.


Then came another gem. The mountains were layered with different shades of blue, the colors mingling with each other and with the cottony smoke, which formed another stratum. It was an amalgam of the sea, turquoise, navy and wonderment. The layers kissed each other, parting another layer to awe upon. We went through bushy regions and finally reached the top.


The view was as great here, if not better. A single rock jutted out of the mountain, its surface seeming like a death mask. The plains lay beneath us, green and white and watery and lost. The waterfall turned out to be a disappointing little stream of water flowing down a rock. We absorbed the view and made our way back.

On the way, back down, we found an old, abandoned, broken structure. It was made of heavy stones. Lovesick couples had etched their undying affection on this tangible surface of time. I love such places, personally. They make you think of a story and history, of what it could have been and what it has become, of people, lives, and romance, a window into the past.


It was time to go back.

We started driving back towards Bangalore. We stopped on the road for a break. I stepped out. I could feel the cold, ethereal moisture on my skin, not enough to wet me, just enough to settle on the tip of my skin, tender. There was a dense undergrowth on both sides and the leaves were glazed with the humidity. A solitary bird drifted aimlessly, singing its rueful song. I walked on until it was time to go back. A sense of loss surrounded me. But it was time.