Sound of Sin

Sinner I am
For chasing your smile
for riding away
to dance in the darkness
I was a silhouette
you were a heartbreak
all I saw was the night sky
stars peppered it
you embodied it
you were a tightrope
I couldn’t find my balance on
I slipped and swayed
but you held me
with your voice
then let me fall
and when you told me
you’ll be leaving
I didn’t think
you’d be going
so I woke up
to my own reticence
embittered by longing
emboldened by loving
I woke up
to find you losing
your golden dreams
your twisted sins
Now I’ve learned
to avoid the chase
but when I knew you
it was never a choice.

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In memory of

Could we trade the next gush of wind for your soul’s return

could we end all sorrow with your laughter

could we go back to the beginning

to when forgetting was a passage

forged from brighter memories.

Can tomorrow take her back to you

can you wish upon the next shooting star

from the bed of roses you lie on

wish for just one more day

just a few more minutes

for her to tell you.

I was absent in my presence

expecting assured tomorrows

I ran away as soon as I heard

I had to use the night’s darkness

shroud myself from the guilt, numb

I didn’t feel pain , just emptiness

just a void where snatches

of our conversations

of conversations about you

spiraled, hurled through my continuum.

I drowned it in the sound of the sea

the vastness of the sky

the grains of sand

each one stuck to me

like the words you never heard

the love you never had.

She’s broken but strong

she deserved to know

who they were, what they’ve done

maybe in a parallel universe

she knows and it’s all okay

and there’s no coffin

and no tears

no silence

and no fears

Maybe one day she’ll know

and when she does

I’ll be there, kuku

I promise you.

Silence

Do you know how loud it is
the sound of silence
it deafens and drowns
each passing sound
seconds into minutes
flowing into my aging river
where you drown in my silence

I’m not unable to hear
I just hear the quiet
louder than you ever could
louder than I wish I would

You write down words
to tell me that a bell should ‘clang’
and a plucked string
should sound like the letters ‘ting’
You feel only certain frequencies
but I’m the ‘specially abled’

For me a bell can go ‘plop’
and a guitar can sound like
a warm cup of coffee
our mother’s sobs would sound
like a crumbling phoenix
that rises from its ashes
when she smiles

I could tell you
the hands of a clock
don’t tick, they sound
like my heartbeat
I could tell you
that our father’s laugh
sounds like Orion’s belt
on a clear night sky
I could tell you
if I knew how

You hear sounds
I hear silence
You hear noise
I hear quiet
You hear colours
I hear the canvas
You hear matter
I hear space
You hear riot
I hear peace
You hear me
I hear me

Sometimes my ears
hey lift their veils
and they listen to you
and the universe
they tell me you sound
like a honeybee
buzzing, prancing
from flower to flower
finally settling
in my arms

I make you scream
and touch your neck
I make you laugh
and hold your cheeks
Now I understand
the resonance of joy and pain
the vibrations of you vocal chord
how they should have been
reflected in my ears

I’m your Beethoven
your musician gone deaf
your artist gone blind
you imagination gone wild

When you sing, I hear you
I see your every inflexion
I feel your crescendos
I notice every note you hold

They pity me
that I will spend
my existence
in quietitude
these fools who fear
death and the unknown
But I shall exit
just as quietly as I came
because one of my
senses transitioned
a long time before
the rest of me
was ready.

Blood On My Hands

Do you see her writhing in pain, slithering like a slippery noodle twisting through chopsticks, fingers outstretched one second, curled up, knuckles red, the next?

“No fever? See a doctor, drink more water”

Water made her throat run drier, she could imagine its walls like the floor of an arid, cracked desert that’s long gone, no flood or prophetic Moses could heal it now, for the sun would take away what was given in a second, leaving behind a thirst that would stick to the roof of her mouth like the plastic feeling of dried up glue on a child’s finger.

“Blood in your phlegm? See a doctor, drink more water”

Blood is not news to a woman; blood is a ritual. Blood is the alarm bell that goes off to remind her twelve times a year that she is, still, a woman. Her indifference was a constant, to nosebleeds and coughed up blood, both painless, both signs that the veins that sewed our flesh together are not the work of the finest tailor.

“Headaches, exhaustion? See a doctor, drink more water”

Throbbing, like the first night, except this time there was no pleasure involved, it was everywhere but there, there was no duty-free guilt and no stupid giggle to end the pain. Her head throbbed, her arms ached while her legs went limp in protest and her chest was drafting a letter of resignation. White flags everywhere, strewn all over the bed, crumpled tissues filled with the inheritance of her times.

“Still alive? See a doctor, drink more water”

Not dead yet, beyond it without having passed it. A convenient bubble of nonchalance that excused her from having to care about the living, they were alive enough to care and to protest those who didn’t. She didn’t know when to bring her bubble down, she didn’t know where reality ended and her feelings began, where pain flowed into life and stirred the waters of victimhood. All her smiles were subterfuge, all her screams only rehearsed echoes.

The doctor gave her water and a strange white pill.  She lies crumpled under a bed of rust coloured leaves but they say she’s happy now.

 

2Q17: I learned

I learned about magnitude. I learned that there are problems I need to solve alone, that no one else can solve for me even if they tried and there are problems which I can never solve alone, no matter how much I try. I learned that in order to solve the big problems, you need to solve the little ones first, especially the personal ones.

I learned what is important to me, what I want my life to be about. I want to fight climate change and save the environment because I have seen with my own eyes the true wonder of nature. You can travel the world and you can go trekking in all four corners of the globe but you can still not have understood what nature is capable of. You need to watch plants grow, you need to see how humans depend on them, you need to see the love between animals, something a lot of us lack. You need to live it, you need to be a part of it.

I learned that touring is different from experiencing. People visit several places, they sign up for all the guided tours and book all the cruises, but they come back the same as they were before they went. They come back exactly the same but with more material possessions. They go places and see wonders that humans created but they do not want to understand or interact with the humans who built them.

I learned about inter-dependency; how globalization veiled inter-dependency by offering us means through which we don’t have to know who created the things we use. I learned how this is dangerous.

I learned about loss and how we grieve it. I learned that animals grieve too. I learned that true strength lies in acceptance; that maturity can be measured by how fast we come to terms with events that shake us. I learned to emulate the Bhutanese; death is a part of life, and we have no reason to not joke about it as we do every other part of life.

I learned that a little humour goes a long way.

I learned that materialism is the key to misery. When you are able to sustain yourself and be happy living on the bare minimum, then you realize what sustainability actually is.

I learned that love can mean different things to different people and that’s okay. I learned how to build a fortress around my heart and why that’s not a bad thing.

I learned that there are different truths: the truth, the official truth and personal truth. The second is a half-truth, used by most governments to brainwash their population. The latter is the truth about your life experiences, your beliefs and your thoughts. Do we have the right to lie about our personal life if it does not impact other people? It is a question I am still contemplating the answer to but right now, I believe we do, but only if it does not affect anyone else’s life.

I learned that consistency is better than a few strong hits amidst several misses.

I learned to cherish the energy and enthusiasm that youth brings.

I learned the meaning of the word ‘home’: it’s much more than a place or a people and it can’t be identified purely from someone’s passport.

I learned how to write less but more; less words but with more meaning. I learned to appreciate the nuances.

I learned that the world is twisted; that it all boils down to power, not just money. So I learned to stray away from the mainstream.

I learned to discern lies, to question everything and when to speak out.

I learned most about the climate; or my lack of knowledge on the subject. I learned that we have crossed several tipping points that we shouldn’t have in our goal to stay below a 2 degree Celsius increase in temperature. I learned that it’s too late. But I also learned that being realistic is the best way to adapt and that sometimes, hope is the mask of fear.

In 2017, I learned to not plan out 2018 because life will come as it wishes anyway.

Farewell, Free Speech

How much trust do you place on humanity? Let me tell you, my dear cynics and optimists, a story. Give me a few minutes of your time and allow me to transport you to a parallel universe, to a purely hypothetical situation in a made-up planet that may or may not be a reference to our own. It is a story about lifeforms, on a giant purple globe that plays host to a multitude of birds, beasts and relatives, with flora and fauna to match Durrell’s wildest fantasies. There is one species on this planet that is unlike the rest. This particular species has evolved over the span of a few centuries, a minor blip in the timescale of planetary evolution, to be the most intelligent organism amongst all. They developed tools, created fire, invented the wheel, and then accelerated their way into the realms of artificial intelligence, quantum mechanics and beyond, into the kind of technology that would put even Asimov to shame. And yet, contrary to what you would expect, they were the saddest of all species, forever whining and complaining about this, that and nothing at all, eternally discontent with what they had, always looking to wage war on other lands, chasing treasure and glory like stealthy magpies.

On this planet, there were hundreds of nations created by this species, which we shall now refer to as the Zorks. There was one particular nation, which, like a well-known secret, held the planet’s economy in a tight grip, had military bases that sprung up like mushrooms on almost every other nation’s coasts and had forced their way of life onto the rest of the Zorks in a move that us humans would refer to as a neo-colonialistic one. It was called Cameria. The Zorks, as a consequence of their epic wars and disproportionately high consumption rates, had always known that they were destroying the planet they lived in. But what could one do? Most Zorks became armchair activists, crying injustice from the comforts of their futuristic abodes and passively watching the horrors inflicted by their fellow Zorks. But unbeknownst to them, the most sinister threat of all was the almost complete takeover of their planet’s media by Cameria and its allies. They had ingratiated their way into everyone’s minds, touting honesty and transparency as the pillars of their journalistic ventures. More powerful than physical rule was mind control and Cameria knew it and made the most of it. Advertisements were designed to create wants, not to fulfil existing needs, Zorks were made to believe that Cameria was all-knowing, all-powerful and always right. What’s that, you say? Why didn’t they revolt? Oh mon dieu, revolutions are out of the question! You see, the Zorks had become too mollycoddled to step out of the veiled system they thrived in and observe it from the outside. That’s too much work; after all, why stand out in the sun and rally when you could wage effortless wars on social media platforms controlled by Cameria?

Sounds uncomfortably familiar, doesn’t it? Don’t worry old chap, it’s just a story. But I must warn you that fact is stranger than fiction. Now it’s time for you to go back to the humdrums of your world. If you think about this, it will weigh you down and when that happens, as Rumi once said, ‘Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there’. Till then, do ponder on the question I started this piece off with.