2

Kafkaesque – I

Coming to terms with the absurd toxicities that gird
The unreal, the unsoothing rootedness of day to day

The palanquin of musings that takes you from
Place A to place B, crisscrossing destinations that

You visited at time x and y, and as you do, you over
Run the locked out possibilities inherent in the law, in

Herent in the interpretation of misspelled law. A nicety
Of domain will allow you to gaze at the maze of endless

Possibilities, some nasty, some not. A pragmatic domain
Of actions will swear fealty to order, but order is an acrid

Reminder of iron law that runs counter to fate, counter
To the whiff of, remembrance of fate. Iron law shifts gear.

2

Khauf aata hai

behisee ki tajalli ka koi waqt muayyin to naheeN
beKhudee ke ta’ayyun se Khauf aata hai.

jub lafz-e-pawan raakh ko sulga na sakay ga
uss tapish-e-be-hausla se Khauf aata hai.

kaun keh sakta hai aag mumkin hai ya ke naheeN
havis ki iss Khush fehm ravish se Khauf aata hai.

lo aa gaye saamnay,  aankhen bhi haiN be qaaboo
is saaKht ki wehma-gehmi se Khauf aata hai.

ash ash ke samandar haiN, wah wah ki qataaraiN
kumbaKhtee-e-ta’arruf-e-be-sabab se Khauf aata hai.

2

Hanchi

Hanchi is a South Indian (Kannada) tale of young girl who is first desired by her brother leading her mother to banish her fitted with a clay mask (hanchu) over her face and golden hair. An old woman takes care of her and arranges a job for Hanchi as cook in a rich household which eventually leads to her marrying the son who falls in love with her after seeing her take a bath. But here she is the target of a lecherous old holy man, Guruswami, who is the household’s chief counselor. After three of his evil attempts are undone by the clever Hanchi, he succeeds in finally accusing her falsely of adultery and arranges for her to be put in a box. She is again saved by the same old woman, who replaces Hanchi with a mad dog in the box who fatally mauls Guruswami. The old woman then invites Hanchi’s in-laws for dinner of sweet rice that Hanchi is known for and tells the true story behind the old man’s evil designs. (summarized from A.K. Ramanujan’s “Folktales from India”).

I: The mask
That a clot of moulded clay is enough to ward off
The unwanted gaze: let it transpire and the forest
Air will gnaw at the fabric of the ground of all being
Till wrong is righted or till both mother and brother die.

II: The bath
The rules of proportion collide with rapturous dance
Precipitating unveiling as if time had nothing better
To do, nowhere else to go, but to persist in the void
Accumulating evidence of want, of balance of want.

III: The holy man
Antics of brahmanic indolence will get you only so
Far: what remains unrooted remains so; what speaks
Of being unmoored keeps the syllables of discontent
Heavy with unrepentant, unholy dollops of distaste.

IV: The mad dog
It is not the box that can contain the rabidness of
The dog; it is not the box that can reveal the inch
By inch failing of the yardstick of faith; but the seal
Of containment, the slip of tongue, the lost rhythm.

V: The sweet rice
A sugary aftertaste is the reminder of the arsenic
Undercurrent to follow soon; the lull is only as good
As the storm that will ensue; for here is maya, the
Guarantor of false positives, intended misoutcomes.

2

surrogate fire

According to historian Mubarak Ali, the Abbasids (750-1258 AD) quashed political dissent using a network of spies among other means. The climate of oppression forced dissenters to develop a subculture of secret codes and identities. This culture of secrecy in turn gave rise to a tendency towards esoteric interpretation of scripture that in time led to a subversion that privileged resignation over resistance: the first Sufic orders were born.

Too long under the covers and the secret mutates;
A tampered empiricism, a secondary telling; not
Doubt but a mutilated strain of truth thirsting,
Thrusting. The scrap of disdain that informed
Fight is now the lulling of soul. Guilt of surrender
Shucks pride, takes flight. As unknowns assume

Their trajectory on a constellation of infinite riddles,
You are left wondering in a maze only the chosen
Are condemned to navigate. The secret thrives in
This maze of loopy contradictions that severs all
Links with the real, cuts out air, reeks of dark. It will
Uproot you lest you unmask it with rapture and skill.

4

salaaKhon ki yaktarfi

kya shub-o-roz ki munafiqat ki aazurdgi ki 
                  mumaaniat ka koi halka phulka sa,
                  seedha saadha sa hul mil sakay ga, ya phir se muNh moR 
ker hum Khalish ke seenay may ja ghusaiN ge? 

ke ab tak meray lahoo ka zewar taRap ke 
                  tasveer tak raha tha, darindagi-e-
                  tareeKh ki uss ko kya Khabar thi, salaaKhon ki yaktarfi 
ki uss ko kya Khabar thi.

magar wo lamha guzar chuka hai, 
                  aur ab woh behiss ghaRi ki 
                  behisee ka waqt poora hua hai; subh-e-ummeed ye keh ke 
saakit ho chuki hai.
0

Prime song

If you allow the diction of primes and moduli
To seep in, if you permit the proper allocation

Of happenstances to permute themselves
Into a blissful cohort of isomorphic wholes,

It dawns on you, allowing dawn to be a
Non-representative member of the set of

Holes warped into spacetime by the brute
Ness of a lived unwholesomeness, it dawns

On you that the primed possibilities of livid
Abundance are due to be outnumbered in

Theory, and soon in fact, so take recompense
At laudable affinities, half-lives and truth tables.

If you lisp the prime numbers till they
Sound just right, and not hesitate to

Mispronounce them oddly/evenly, they will
Slice right through your prism of angular

Hesitations and tabular premonitions such
That so and so theorem promulgated from

Above just has to be such and such, but
That is not how it goes, does it? That is

Simply the improbable trying to argue its
Hyperbole lemma into its own bit of real

Estate. Grab the primes, let loose their
Pronunciation, and they will burst into song.

0

Modernity

“The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions without being disillusioned.” Antonio Gramsci

Also to dust off rust that clings to the hoary silences
And unbegotten riddles of a transcribed fate muted

By a plastic slogan engineered by teflon mendicants
Shy of their place in an unhinged history, that too is

The challenge, and to dust off the dry resolutions of
A tepid history, an unwoven unsung history, trapezing

Aloud, immersing inside, appeasingly indolent in yet
Another gasp of dust air, molecules devoid of zest

That pulls the neutrinos and anti-neutrinos muscled
In a tight embrace of unmanufactured, unformulated

Thick moss of what the eye sees when it is given the
Care to see. That too is the challenge, and to dust off

Caricature, puzzle, drivel, and weight from discussion.
To round off the appeasement of rain and some flakes.

2

Ex.ploit/Em.power

Ex-

- tract: land to be isolated, titled, massaged, pulverized for maximal maximality.

- pert: momentary flush of hormonal zest in an otherwise untidy emotional jungle.

- hume: portly thinker whose popping off in 1776 coincided roughly with the industrial revolution; sceptical for good reason.

Em-

- pire: French for the worst.

- battle: proof of the efficacy of slaughter.

- bitter: after-taste of 2.5 centuries of kool-aid.

2

Recurrence

“What if impulsive, delicate bird
one instinct made you rise
out of this life, into another’s,
then from another’s, circling to your own?
You are folded in my eyes,
whose irises will open
to a white sky with bird and woman gone.” Derek Walcott (from his poem, “Guyana”)

Recurrence is the dead silence of the heartless noon
           Belonging neither to the certainty of the
           Precipitated moon nor to the improbable out
           Pouring of phrases allowed with stingy
           Grace, a hollowed out sense of remaining
           True to the repetition, the steady thump
           Thump of a wary heart, a quickening quick
           Enough for a child's sense of proportion.

Recurrence is the most recent annulment of the pre
           Varication of whim, the new instalment
           Of story, of rhyme, the building up of
           Yesterday in the mist of now. For the
           Meter to start effecting, the efficacy
           Of the myth has to give. For the thump
           Thump to stay true to the repetition, the
           Greys are allowed to persist in tandem.

Recurrence is the outpouring of this, of the untamed
           Thus, of the poem's longing for bird, for
           Woman, for the newness of word to spill
           Over and to shriek. A final word of caution,
           A parting shrill of care, a deafening of
           Syllables aligned with song's want of care,
           And a few parables of old, each one a pebble
           Of some life, a grain of solidity in thick mist.
0

Sampled Verse

The tangerine outcomes of die-cast possibilities
arrange themselves as if odour is to sense as
numbers are to math, the inklings of diminished
faith clamor to listen to a roar, a whistle and

A twist of amour, lots cast, argumentative asides
factored in, elaborations bamboozled as they too
have a say, and the broken filaments of restituted
outcomes form the basis of a new sample space.