Navaratri 2011


The tears come easily.
The breath is shorter, harder, louder.
But not as hard as
the sound of my pounding heart.
My legs, a little stiff
and unused to the exercise,
are still the best-behaved part of me,
but without breath and heartbeat,
they can’t do much.

Why do you perch so far away, Amma?
and why do you make it so hard to reach you?

And yet, I resolve,
that I will reach you in these ten days
and make you relocate
to a place far more convenient
—my being.

Mahalaya Amavasya, September 26, 2011



Four steps forward.
One breath.


Three steps forward.
One breath.


Two steps forward.
One breath.


One step forward.
One breath.

One step forward.
No breath.

Please take me forward,
I plead.


One laboured step.


Now I can’t move.
Or breathe.

But there you appear
and I catch my breath
in gratitude.

September 27, 2011

Saptami, or,
Six reasons I am not speaking with you

You don’t see me.

I try. I struggle.
I flail. I fail.
I splutter. I drown.

In front of your eyes.
But you don’t see me.
You’re not looking.

Life is one long curriculum
and you are a teacher.
But you are a teacher without mercy.

You are like those old-time schoolmasters,
half-hearted, distracted,
good at shouting
and rapping on the knuckles,
but not much else.

You do not know
that you can destroy the student
if you withhold positive reinforcement

I am that student of yours
who is losing faith in herself
and her world,
because you are a callous teacher.

My misery holds pleasure for you.

if you were all the things they said you were,
if would be hard for you to watch me suffer.
But you love it.

What else can I conclude
when watching me wilt,
seeing my spirit crumble,
you just make things worse.

You seal off every avenue for me to speak up.
I have no one. I don’t even have you.

You let my sadness,
anger, resentment, bitterness,
my sense of failure,
consume me like cancer.

And it’s time for popcorn (or payasam?)
for you.

You enjoy my heartbreak.

You’re a tease.

You give me great gifts—
talent, intelligence, conscience,
compassion, discipline, integrity.
You give me a family
that lets me live,
that lets me dream.
You even give me faith.

And then you relegate me
to a life doing the most inane,
tedious, mundane, brain-numbing things.

You hold back fun.
Fun in my work.
Fun in my life.

You dangle opportunity
and then mine the road that leads to it.

You destroy my reasons
to wake up alive in the morning,
one by one.

You’re not listening.

Why should I speak with you
when you’re not listening?

You don’t hear my sobs.
You don’t feel the reverberation of my anger.
You don’t notice the loud crashing and splintering of my heart.

You’re just not listening.
You really don’t care.

In fact,
it is not that I am not speaking with you.
It’s you.
You have abandoned me.

For the first time in my life,
I feel no joy, no enthusiasm.

There is a dullness in my brain,
a numbness in my body
and a constant heaviness in my heart.

I have lost my abiding sense of abundance
and I am about to lose faith.

How can I keep faith in someone
who has abandoned me
to this place
to this fate
to this life?

When you have abandoned me
with whom should I speak?

I had no one else.
I have no one at all now.

October 3, 2011


All the other daughters have gone home for Ashtami.
I’m still out and about.
Since you abandoned me
and I stopped talking to you,
I have no home.
Nowhere to go.

But sometimes in my heart,
I search for my home,
I search for you.

I wander around the gardens of life,
observed but not noticed.
I too look for doorways
—I see doorframes and giant carved doors
but they don’t let me in.

The path is forlorn and cold.
My clothes are too thin all at once
and cold winds of indifference cut through them.
My boots are not waterproof
and they soak in water,
leaving my pinched feed damp and chilly.
Clouds hang low and the light is dim.
Everything feels ominous.
I am afraid.
But I have nowhere to go.

There is no one else around me.
No one to greet me with fake cheer.
No one stops to ask if I need help.
No one commends how far I have come.

Well, some do stop,
but they usually need something,
and I have less and less to offer.

These roads were not so lonely.
These clothes once kept me warm.
My shoes have taken me miles in the past.
And somehow I could always find my way
back home, back to you.

But now that you have abandoned me,
there is no shelter in my life.
There is no sustenance, no safe space.
My aura is no longer my armour.
And I can’t find my sense of abundance.
My heart feels cold and empty
like the kitchen shelves of a flat lying vacant.
There’s a touch of something chilly
in every corner of my life.

And so I can’t come home like the others.
Without you, there is no home.

October 4, 2011


I really don’t like fighting with you.
But when I feel like you have abandoned me,
I get really scared,
and then I get really mad.

I feel let down
by the person I trust the most
and I feel alone and insecure.

So you tell me
why I have not felt your grace
the last few months?
Why has every parameter in my life
taken a turn for the worse?

Health, wealth, fame, work,
influence, relationships, creativity
—all feel stretched and fraught
in a way that signifies one thing
—your absence.
And you can only be absent
because you’ve chosen to abandon me.


Every year I set out to look for you.
But I can only find you
if you choose to be found.
So I guess, that’s it.

Tomorrow I will know whether you want to be found.
Maybe I will learn why you abandoned me.
Maybe I will have to figure out what my life means
if you are not my lifebreath.

I never would have expected this of you.

October 5, 2011


So, no lyrical prashastis for you this year.

But the fact is,
when you abandon me,
when I stop talking to you,
without you,
there’s not much life in me either.

I am tired and cranky all the time.
I am quick to anxiety and full of fear—
fear of forgetting and failure,
fear of losing creativity.

My brain seems to be enveloped in fog.
It receives, processes and responds dully, slowly.
My mind is blank.
My body and mind are slow… slow… slow.
My heart is lead with tears unshed.
The only thing that remains animated
is the sea of hands grasping at pieces of me—
of my time, my energy, my mind,
my creativity, my enthusiasm, my being.
And tiresome as that would be anyway,
right now, it’s worse because I have nothing left to give.

There’s nothing left
without you.

And that’s the truth.

October 6, 2011


I have to get beyond this.
Beyond hurt.
Beyond feeling abandoned.
Beyond the heartbreak and dullness.
Beyond anger.

I have to find you.
I have to talk to you.
I have to bring you back in.
I have to hold on hard
to the split second
when I catch a glimpse of you
after great effort.

The truth is,
without you,
there’s no point at all.

And who else can I ask for help?

So, help me.

Give me breath.
Give me heartbeat.
Give me rhythm.
Give me life.

Give me music.
Give me colour.
Give me laughter.
Give me life.

Give me health.
Give me stamina.
Give me strength.
Give me life.

Give me patience.
Give me perspective.
Give me equanimity.
Give me life.

Give me courage.
Give me initiative.
Give me boldness.
Give me life.

Give me words.
Give me grasp.
Give me brilliance.
Give me life.

Give me money.
Give me means.
Give me power.
Give me life.

Breathe into me
a piece of your essence, mother.

Let me be creative.
Let me speak truth.
Let me be you,
a goddess in my right.

Come back.
Let’s not talk about why you left.
I’m speaking to you now.
Won’t you come back and meet me halfway at least?
Just come back. Now. And never go away again.

Vijayadashami, October 6, 2011