Writer’s Block

Days I spent
Thinking
and thinking
and thinking
Finding excuses to procrastinate;
After the lunch
Or Netflix
Or sleep
Or Netflix again
Or read
Or a bit more research
And then ofcourse
Netflix yet again,


So many days I have thought
Passing by the same old roads
Eyes seeing everything new
yet registering every thing same
Time flying by
As I think
more
and more;
Unstructured
random memories
coming from different corners,
How do I weave a story out of them?
Plain and simple
I can understand
and yet can’t translate.


As the clock’s hands tick by
And I think
think harder
sitting by the window
breathing in the air
without mask
listening to the music
without earphones
Memories of green farms and rustling leaves
Blue sky dotted with gray monsoon clouds
As I gaze
And think
I think even more
About the people I have found interesting
The people I want to write about
About the places
About me
About my life
About their lives
About non-lives
About semi-lives
About changing the world
About the changing world
About being immortal in this universe
And yet utterly
Insignificant.

Probably it’s time to stop
And turn all that thinking into prose
I miss the days when the words would just flow
and flow
and won’t stop
pushing me to write
and rewrite
till late into the night
words flowing like music
words moving like dance
words coming straight from the heart
words making an honest art
But now
How do I weave the fabric of my mind?
How do I dye it with the ink of my pen?
How do I?
When there is so much
And when the nib touches the page
The magic disappears.

***

Lockdown days, it’s fine.

Lockdown days,
When from your window you look at other windows, from your balcony you look at other balconies – children dancing, children playing, children doing jumping jacks every single morning, or just sitting with their heads resting on the railing looking bored; mothers teaching their kids, women sweeping, watering the plants, drying the clothes, grandparents offering water to the morning sun, fathers standing by the windows of their rooms talking to their bosses loudly enough to let the entire building know.

Lockdown days,
Pigeons flying, shitting, breeding, eating, plucking your favorite plants while you curse them under your breath, or out loud. They don’t understand English anyway, and in case they do they still don’t give a fuck. Children coming out in the evening, cycling in the society campus while you gaze from above wondering if it’s safe to step outside, men and women walking and jogging wearing N95 masks, the lone girl sitting on the bench reading a book. Same pinch, you say, as you read yours 8 floors above.

Lockdown days,
Rushing to get the groceries before 10 AM, careful not to touch anything or anyone, or if you do, sanitize your hands! Sanitize your hands all the time!
Cars running on the distant streets, swiggy delivery boys delivering your food, big basket delivering your groceries albeit two days late, amazon delivering your other needs or addictions, while you are cooped at home taking an active interest in your neighbourhood. Or jumping from one screen to another, the only travelling you do these days – mobile to laptop to TV and back. Online meetings & Netflix TV series while the plants in your balcony keep growing – do you finally know what it feels like to be us? They ask. To be static, to be still, to be grounded to one place. But not quite, says the purple flower that just grew. And wilted a day after.

Lockdown days,
About outcries on social media; Where’s Remdesivir? Where’s Oxygen? Where are the hospitals? Where are the crematoriums? Where are vaccines? Where is the government? People from across the world reaching out and asking – how are you? I am fine, thank you. Well thank God. Yeah, thank God. Where’s God? Your new hobby is to visit the worldometer website the thousandth time, watch the curve peak and peak, and drop and then peak again. Where’s my life? Coming in a month, or next month or next year. Or never. Mobile on aeroplane mode please.

Wait, there was this meeting you had to attend.

Lockdown days,
Children forgetting where the schools are, employees forgetting where the offices are, employers forgetting what the increments are but the joy of not commuting though, of waking up 5 minutes before the class, of multitasking – cooking and meeting simultaneously, with formal shirts at the top and shorts at the bottom – let’s login, let’s keep our camera on (or not), am I audible (or not), is my screen visible (or not), is my Wi-Fi working (or not). Is it still March 2020? Or not. Has the time really passed? Or not. How the fuck did China contain this virus? Or not. Where’s my office? Where’s my home? What’s the time? What’s this place? What’s this day? In the middle of space time continuum – Einstein, I think I’ve reached singularity.

Albert stirs in his grave.

Lockdown days,
Nightmares of stepping outside home without masks, nightmares of not washing your hands enough, nightmares about what does the new variant of virus do? Nightmares about who else died? Do I need to wear one mask or two or three? Fuck it, empty your closet and fill it with PPE suits. Are the vaccines still effective? Or do we need a new one? Who am I? Who are you? Is my mom well? Do people exist out of screens?
My own company is becoming boring. Netflix is boring. Dalgona coffee is out of fashion. I don’t want to build my hobbies anymore. My friend’s grandmother died. Fine. Friend’s father died. Fine. A relative died. Fine. My favourite actor died. Fine. Sometimes, it feels like death is just two steps away. Fine. Sooner or later the virus is coming for you. Fine. You reassure yourself with recovery rates. Good, you should. It’s fine. You are here, in your room, breathing, surviving. Yeah, you are fine. Everything’s fine. Everyone’s fine. The sky is falling. But that’s fine. It will rise up again someday. This is the new normal. This is fine.

***

Melancholy nights

Melancholy nights
Reminding you of
failed love affairs
embarrassing mistakes
futile struggles of life
the meaninglessness
the blues
and the greys
everything that shouldn’t return
coming back –
memories that can’t be made again
people you can’t meet again
roads that cannot be taken
things that you shouldn’t have done
words that you shouldn’t have said
wiser choices that you could have made, but you didn’t.

Melancholy nights
when the moon peeks from the formless clouds
stars blink through the mist and dust
when the streets go quiet
and the crickets come alive
when there’s no one in the room
but you
and just you.
Are your cheeks already wet?
Are you already missing the life that you never really had?
Dreams that were never going to come true?
Through ashes and smoke
Through spirits and songs
The world runs and runs
And in this melancholic night
you are left alone.

To be unlucky in love

To be unlucky in love
to have your heart broken again
and again
and yet again.
To feel as if you have been used
and to a certain degree been willingly abused
To know
that somehow you have known all along
that past can’t be turned into present
that present can’t be turned into future
but yet you gather the pieces again
to assemble something
that resembles a heart again –
a little bit more bulletproof than before
battered
and ridden with holes
still vulnerable anyway
only to be offered
and rejected yet again
back and forth
back and forth
and to be back to square one again.
Is there an end to this?
Or maybe you can expect
everything and anything but love
in this ultra abundant world.
Is there a medicine
to let go
and get right back up?
To accept
but be incapable of feeling love?
Is there a poison that turns heart into a stone?
Is there a way you can move on
unmoved?
How do you find hope in this mess?
How do you find strength to lift this off your chest?
And how do you stop being a fool?
How do you follow the unsaid rules?
Is there a way that memories can be erased?
Is there a way that fresh starts can be made?
And yet nothing changes
You continue to stay who you are.
Is there a way to stop bothering?
Is there a way to stop longing?
Is there a way to accept the abrupt endings?

I know there’s nothing wrong
With being unlucky
Perhaps there’s a latent desire
to be ultimately left alone,
With amicable traces
of now dormant volcano of emotions
exploding now and then
everytime, everytime when
I find you.
But you disappear
terrified
petrified
to become another forbidden name in my history
In late night drunk thoughts;
What if this?
And what if that?
A ghost
An idea
A dream
Now lost forever.



Death Anniversary

I wish you could see me growing into an adult,
And I wish I could see you growing old,
I wish we had more photos together
I wish we could go on that trip we dreamed of,
finally when the schools were over
finally when the exams were done
Even for the youngest one.
Delayed gratification
now delayed forever
Will I see you in another life?
And will you see me?
I wish I could ask for your forgiveness
I wish I could forgive you
I wish, I wish you were there
with all your glaring imperfections
that bothered me so much so long ago
But who’s perfect anyway?
Maybe we could learn together
maybe we could understand each other
maybe we could grow together.
I have borrowed so much from you
your genes
your nose
your nature
your passion
your love for words
I wish I could pay you back.
Possible that I am not the person you wished me to be
I wish I could know for sure
I wish we could argue
I wish I could know you
I wish I could know the stories that I was too young to hear
I wish I was curious
I wish I had asked
But it’s too late now
It was too late nine years ago
The void you have left
Is deeper and darker
Time doesn’t heal
Time makes it tolerable at best
And now here I am
wishing to hear your voice
to see your face
to have one last hug
one last time
once again
before I forget forever.
But none of this will ever come true.

Yes, fuck that.

Because of course you gotta have
skin that’s fair, smooth and glowing
better teeth, better nose,
hair that’s long, dense, shiny,
body that’s not fat, that’s not thin-
that’s just perfect
like your flawless heart
for you as a woman can repress that tempting voice
for you by default know what’s the right choice,
and your love and love alone
can heal the entire world
how virgin!
so pure
so beautiful
when you walk in, the winds blow
when you walk in, animals talk
pumpkins turn into carriages-
people fall in love with you
over one glass shoe
oh but you must run
before midnight to do all the chores
which they’ll ensure that you always have more
be pretty,
be smart,
be rich,
and finally, be a mother of four
and oh be soft-spoken
and oh be tolerant
yes, some sacrifices and compromises would deem necessary;
the cost you bear to be able to bear a child
how you bleed
to hold a life
inside you
safe and secure
now you gotta stay safe and secure
under the protection
that you don’t necessarily require
but they will ensure
that you do.

Yes, fuck that.

The Evening blues

Lately,
words have been failing me.
Lately,
it doesn’t seem like there
was
or is
or will be
any point
in anything that
I have ever done
or would like to do.
Lately,
the world has been failing me.
And even when it wasn’t
I feel like it always was –
more lost than ever before
because even the dream’s
been temporary lived and gone.
And there isn’t a new one that could replace and stay.
And the old one doesn’t go away,
like a ghost haunting an old house
wanting something
and yet it’s just too late;
Echoes of a dying wish,
the life is gone brother!
And you don’t matter,
you don’t have any matter in the first place.
Lately,
I can’t speak.
Because I don’t really think I have anything to say.
I feel old in my youth
as if I have already lived way beyond I was supposed to.
Lately,
I have discovered a bit of joy
in being
at an utter unease with everything perfect
or could have been perfect.
Here I am with the evening breeze
romanticizing the distant chaos again.
Lately,
I have been feeling weak –
A familiar face,
hanging around with a dictionary definition
ensuring that any sort of hope doesn’t escape
and corrupts me all over again.
Caution:
Don’t fly.
Because you are not a bird.
Hues of the autumn
amber, orange, brown
like leaves you fall to the ground.
Dissolving,
take away this pen
take away my immortality
I don’t want to be remembered.
I don’t even know what I am.
So why should you?

I give up

Yes #blacklivesmatter, and brown lives matter too. All shades of it. All languages of it. All religions. Women matter, equality matter, migrants matter, farmers matter, healthcare matters, hygiene matters, air quality matters, drinkable water matters, education matters, elephants matter, animals matter, sparrows matter, birds matter, trees matter, forests matter, rivers matter, oceans matter.

But what doesn’t matter and end up mattering a lot?
Caste, class, ranks and mindless consumption
False promises, and poor execution
Plastic character, and useless designations
Violence, hatred and discrimination,
Greed, stupidity, and chaotic administration,
Fake news & misinterpreted data,
Endless blame game and misleading media.

I dream of a better world. And when I look back, I do see progress – it’s more of a zigzag curve than a linear graph. But it gives me hope that people have stood up against injustice in the past and changed the world. For the better. Yes, often the world requires a brutal wake-up call. Often that means millions die for no reason. Is it necessary that we repeat that pattern yet again?

But who am I? I don’t have the voice that can influence people with power. Sometimes and these days more often, I don’t even have the energy or the motivation to speak. I am not alone, I know that. I know people who care, I know people who care much more than I do. I know who are taking actions believing that even small ones matter. I was a believer too.

But the mess is too huge, this mess is too complex.

I know way too many people who don’t and won’t, for some reason or the other, beyond or in their control, knowingly or unknowingly, won’t give a fuck. And there are some people, like me, with their deep but more often superficial understanding of the problem may continue to learn and be better and someday hopefully be powerful enough to be heard. But today I am not one of those people.

Today, I give up.

How (not) to be an Engineer

To become an Engineer
you become a rat first
then you become a hard drive
you try to learn from the great minds of the past
Newton, Einstein, Maxwell, Heisenberg
you try to learn all the fancy concepts
chemical Bonds, optics, mechanics, electricity
theories after theories,
equations after equations,
if you are lucky,
if you are the selected few,
who instinctively knew,
you may dream of being a human again.

Two years of struggle;
They will lie it’s the hardest you will ever go through
no TV, no cable, no internet
your friends – your books, your pens,
your daily practice sheets
then the D day comes
with its gigantic stamp
You, to score 130 are smart
you, to score 129 are dumb
unless you have a quota,
in that case, you will do just fine.

Congratulations, you’ve somehow made it.
You have officially entered the paradise.

Really?
No.

The two years you spent preparing for a “good ” engineering college,
they forgot to tell you what an engineer is
four years you are going to learn engineering
they will again forget to tell you what an engineer is.

Semesters after semesters,
as you get introduced to new theories, new formulae, and new ways of life
there is Laplace transformation,
and there is your transformation too-
a drastic one
red eyes, and long hair,
you listen to Pink Floyd now
they will blame you for your “wrong” habits,
for you slipping grades,
for your lack of respect,
for everything that is wrong with your life,
and everything that is wrong with their lives too.
But they can’t be blamed for the most important thing they forgot to teach
the most important thing that the internet and books can’t teach you
Character, motivation, inspiration, a dream.

No, No, No,
too easy to blame it on the system
so blame it on yourself
convince yourself you are not worth it-
there’s always that one student,
who kills himself or definitely tries to,
there is still nothing wrong with our education of course.
You continue mugging up theories
that you vomit later on the answer sheets,
After all those grades tell you if you are an engineer or not.
They mostly tell you how well you cheated.
Or in case, you are one of those good ones,
they tell you how well you licked a book.
Was it not about understanding how nature works?
Was it not about building cool creative stuff?
Was it not about being an artist of machines?
We were supposed to help humanity
and all we learnt was
to make money the fastest way.
at best.
Chasing numbers after numbers.
Chasing meaningless milestones after another.
Where was love?
I only saw desperation
I only saw insecurity.

And next thing you know
is that there are some lame ass people
from some lame ass companies judging you
whether you are good enough to be exploited.

Two results:
some people see through your bullshit and tell you to fuck off right away
some people see through your bullshit and tell you to fuck off after you are hired.

It’s a cause for celebration
Welcome to paradise.

Really?
No, welcome to corporate slavery.

I am not an engineer anymore,
just a degree holder
(for which I didn’t even get any graduation)
They say
‘God! you are such a cliche.’
The best you can do with your degree now is
to cut them into small pieces
and make roaches out of them.
Actually that’s not the best thing I can do,
the best thing I can do is it roll the whole thing and kill cockroaches
and say that I use my degree to kill cockroaches.
‘Is that a metaphor?’ you ask. ‘You obviously mean the cockroaches of the society, right?’
No, cockroaches. Actual cockroaches.
I like to crush them with my degree.
Just like my degree crushed me,
my confidence, my esteem, my self-worth.

‘But hey,
By the way,
Why did you want to be an Engineer anyway?’
I don’t know my friends thought it was cool,
my parents thought that it was cool too,
it wasn’t though
it was their convenience
and mine too.
I became an engineer
because there was nothing else I could do
too smart to be an artist
too impatient to be a doctor
too ignorant to be a lawyer
And then I failed.
They tell me it’s because I didn’t study
I agree.
But it’s not the exams I am talking about.
All my milestones were mirages.
My ego-centric survival technique, a sham
Maybe I will move on.
Maybe I won’t.
Maybe all the stupid conditioning will wear off.
Maybe it won’t.
And maybe they will realise-
that they are educators, mentors, role models,
not mere lecturers
or a malfunctioning judgmental Google.
Maybe someday they will ask
What the fuck are we teaching our youth anyway?

Or maybe, most probably, they won’t.
But will you?

*

A World without you.

In a world without you
we find new meaning
we find new ways
we find new freedom.

Strange,
it still seeks you sometimes
in a blue moon dream
in the forgotten corners of the room
your photo
your diary
your handwriting
your name on the first page
now on my lips.

A world without you sometimes comes close
to being a world with you
if I could just extend my arms a little bit longer
maybe we can still touch
maybe we can still talk
a world without you is entangled with your memories
heavier with new perspectives
maybe you are actually disappearing
the way I am slowly appearing
the sunset and the moonrise
a world without you
is an end and a new beginning
new purpose
new discoveries
novel realizations
fearsome, fearful, and fearless
brutal and yet kind
a world without you runs
exactly like the world with you,

except every little thing has changed.