Posted in Poem

Silence Of The Skin

Recently I had a chance to collaborate with Smriti Gautam on a project with subject that we share a mutual interest for- women and the overpowering emotions.

Here is a glimpse of a very strong emotion- insecurity, that women face often and how they deal with it or choose to live with it.

Artworks by Smriti Gautam

A birth mark that looks a lil’ uncanny
A beauty spot in place revealing which feels funny
Scars from the everyday battle called life
Etched on my skin is my story.
Gazing at the color-
The pensive pigments and frivolous freckles
I see myself from a stranger’s eyes
The eyes with a shattering voice caging me in notions of beauty
Peeping at the mirror- I stand, I quiver, I introspect
A narrative of glory was written only to be trapped in qualms of unfortunate desire
Alas! I cover most of it-
Forging a smile attempting to embrace silence of my skin.

Days, weeks, months and years pass
I question who am I-
I discover many talents and some experiences worth tooting
Only. If only, I had the courage to stand tall with no fear of those wretched eyes and unkind voices
Alas! I stand covering myself in a piece of cloth constantly feeling naked.
The day I break away from the chains of being wanted
The moment I learn to savour my unconventional beauty
That day shall my skin recite the glorious tale of “becoming”
Till then I’ll stumble upon zones beyond comfort wishing to nurture who I am.

A big thanks to Smriti Gautam and all the lovely ladies who shared a piece of themselves and their stories with us.

Posted in Article, Experience, People

Summoned.

It is not every day that you are summoned to court as a witness for a six-year-old case but there is always a first time, and this was mine. I opened the door to a policeman amidst my work-from-home task, baffled to see him, shocked to realize why he was there, irritated to know that the summon was for the very next day, and reluctant to go because I had work to do. All these feelings were transient until he said I’d be handed over a warrant if I did not show up; that turned me into a quick decision-maker I never knew I was capable of being. I informed my friends- the complainant and witness 2 (me being the witness 1 living in Delhi) who live in Himachal and both were as unbothered as I could empathize with. My dear complainant even suggested that she will say she can’t make it because she lives in another state and I should say that I am currently out of the country. We laughed at her naivety but it was my blank passport that truly mocked me. It was then decided that I will go and test the waters, and figure out if it was time for the friends’ reunion just at an unusual place.

     Six years ago while we were in Delhi during our college days, the three of us were on our way to visit some art fair or museum or crafts market, the complainant’s mobile phone was snatched by someone on a motorbike. We filed an FIR, the device was found, identified, and returned. That’s most of what I can recall from my hazy memory. Cut to 2022, I find my mother guiding me to not speak too much, be wise with my words, stick to the court decorum and I wonder how difficult a mere conversation with a judge could even be. I look around the courtroom trying really hard to relate it to the ones shown in movies and on television. From the Trial of the Chicago 7 on Netflix to FIR on Sab TV, I run it all in my head. With simpler furniture and less dramatic witness box, a scratchy glass wall to protect the judge, the public prosecutor and the stenographer from covid, the advocates with their cases waiting in the room instead of a supportive public as the audience, the judge simply shutting the over-smart advocate instead of the audience cheering the heroic one up, the court was different from the ones shown in movies but not any less interesting. In an attempt to compare the characters I realized that the young advocates are handsome, and the old ones are purely grumpy.
      This was a State vs Accused case. I got my attendance marked at the court and waited for my turn. The petitioner and the defense counsel had agreed to compound the case, but this could be done only in presence of the complainant. To compound is the equivalent of ‘fitoos’ in Hindi slang(IYKYK). However, my statement as a witness was needed. I went through my previous statement from six long years ago, memorized all I could, and was constantly reminded by my mom don’t overact up there and talk as less as possible. The accused and the defense counsel tried to be friendly with me for their benefit but I was taught well by the petitioner. However, I found my mother sympathizing with the accused and listening to his side of the story. I mean.. What! Every single person stood up when the judge left the room for a 5 minutes break. Everyone stood up when she came back. I mean.. Why! From having zero knowledge about the Indian judicial system to a little something from a real hands-on experience is what I achieved this day.  

   I was called to the witness stand. While waiting to be attended to I started jotting down pointers for my new blog post on my phone that is when the public prosecutor yelled that I should put my phone away or it shall be seized. Wow! Nobody had handed me a ‘courtroom for dummies’ handbook. The public prosecutor asked me relevant questions and the stenographer typed my statements with incorrect spellings probably thanking the grammar check. As I contemplated the depth of questions she was putting up, she asked if I was upset about the yelling. I giggled and said no. She suddenly shushed me for giggling and said this could upset the judge. No wonder everyone else (my deemed audience) was sitting with cold expressions. The defending counsel was allowed to cross-question me once the public prosecutor made me understand that I am supposed to listen carefully, understand, and only then reply. He smashed me with questions and concluded that my friends and I never met during the stated date of the incident, in fact, according to him none of us were in Delhi. I stood there shocked and the defense counsel reminded me of men on the planet I had dated and got gaslighted by. Congratulations! Here’s a job for you unemployed fucks. Thankfully, the public prosecutor and petitioner were there to break things down to me. My job as the witness is done. The case shall be compounded only when the complainant shows up on receiving the summon or worse- warrant.

To be continued..?

Posted in Poem

I Now Sleep Well

After ages of tossing and turning on wrong side of an empty bed
Asking myself questions about the world, the crises and vividly my own existence
I lay awake- no more; battling the torments of purposelessness
I lay naked with a blanket of thoughts keeping me warm to spend a peaceful night
No man beside- just tomorrow’s ordeals to make me feel alive.

As the sun rise- I shall embrace new beginnings with dawn
I shall set foot for my journey-
I know of directions, destination yet being anticipated.
After a day’s hardwork- I’ll smile for trying
The food will taste sweeter with flavors of progress
I shall then sleep well- visited by dreams brimming with meaning
Might be nightmares; just a little kind-
For my body shall lay too dog-tired to pay any heed.

Posted in Poem

Why Do We Love?

Exhausted by one, traumatized by another
People are fickle yet they love each other
Are we desperate, needy and alone?
Wait, let’s not set that undertone.

We act fierce; irony- in the interest of life so farce
But isn’t it healing when a friend sees your scars?
People are annoying- with those quarrels and bickering
But isn’t it cozy when a parent listens to your qualms?

People bring drama- chaos muddled in heaps
But why does it hurt when a beloved weeps?
We wish we had never known someone
But why do we tear up to see them leave for a distant land?

Happy curious excited astonished envious, wrath fear sadness confusion jealousy
Emotions too twisted to decipher
Not as layered as a person
Yet here we attempt to unravel each other.

In times of uncertainty
My thoughts being naive- they brim with curiosity
Maybe, maybe I feel and might I even understand
Still- can someone answer my question in words that are clear
Here again I ask- ‘ why is it that we love’?

Posted in People, Poem

A Meal So Scrumptious

Image source: The Japan Times

Not one not two- there stood a queue never-ending
Each one splendid with joy
Holding a spot for the friend beloved-
For a gathering dressed down- a little too rugged
Ushering the loved ones gleaming with joy
What was the occasion! I could only wonder as a passerby.

Curiosity led me to the front of the line
Whilst I heard the intense remarks of a day being gracious
Oh to my surprise! It was a celebration
Oh to my dismay! An ill served meal was the occasion .
Hungry stomachs and tired hearts were being fed
But what happens to the day that comes next?

Coins scarcely managed for a day of survival
Shall now be kept aside for a daughter’s dowry dragged till the law-approved age
Or even better saved for a son’s education
Empowering him to work at a humble position in an office barely fancy-
An upgrade worth aspiring from the startling slums!
With dreams being fuelled- indeed, the meal was scrumptious.

Posted in Artwork, Photography, Poem

The Cupid Paradox

Garment – walking__vertical
Muse – Rakshit tariyal
Creative direction and photography- Akash Patwal

The roses on earth are colored pink, yellow and white
Somehow it is always the red that them people crave-
Layered and beautiful, tender yet fierce
Erotically scarlet- so has he been told
The cupid struck the arrow
But he understands not
Not blind, but colorblind-
The rose he sees is not red.

Two people meeting together,
At times even ‘some’ becoming one
The usuals, straights, queer, extraterrestrial what not-
All the glitters, butterflies, drama and hate
The cupid knows what did he create
But he feels not.

The magic in the air, a spell hard to get rid of
Red flags decorated as dainty-
A little too in love to ignore
A sweet disaster worth the taste, a tempting high worth the chase
The cupid sees the forbidden fruit
But he desires not.

Posted in Poem

I Am Not Superstitious, Touchwood.

Flip flip flop flop, flip and a flop-
The flip-flops on the floor went on quite a toss
Nothing unusual just a pair lying upside down on the floor
As I stare at them trying to decode where all have they been
Appears a friend rushing, she slaps her own face-
A reflex to deviate the quarrel that shall follow
I smirk at the peace bearer for missing out on her lessons in science.

The diva in me stood awake one night
Before dinner I proceed to paint my nails pretty from pale
Cutting them in the right shape- I dare not compromise on the tiny streak of glamour
Click! I cut them off-
Appears my mother horrified, she banters about the disrespect-
A fear masked in the name of disobedience
I pity the tradition for not evolving with time.

Are you afraid of them too?
I asked my grandmother looking at the cat that just passed by
She stood in silence for a while
As I noticed the color black
Appear her words calling the creature demonic-
Waiting to escape the years of bad luck
I sympathize with the feline for the misconstructed symbolism.

I share the day’s details with a man of wisdom
Seeking logic behind actions
Too proud as the one being rational
Bragging about the mind boggling progressions
Appears the thought I shouldn’t have let out-
“I am not superstitious, touchwood”.

Posted in Artwork, Painting, Poem

The Painting That Could Not Be Completed

Painting in progress

Can I call it art-
If the thoughts were too muddled
Leaving the canvas with blotches of chaos
Not draining the colour alone,
Not exhausting time alone,
But also the artist?

Can I call it art-
If the painter was looking for peace,
Wondering if her brushes had some skills bequeathed
Only to realize that more was required-
May be a deeper thought, an assertive reflection
A master stroke that might evoke a loud reaction?

Can I call it art-
If the existential crisis daunted upon the artist?
With all those ifs, whys and buts-
A gesture to move on and never return to the exacerbated canvas
Alas! That painting- that could not be completed.
Will it still be called- A R T-
If I am the artist?

Posted in People, Poem

A Family Reunion

Image source: Unknown

Alas! I can’t paint a soiree
With Victorian costumes and gestures that speak of grandiose
The year being twenty-twenty-one,
It’s just four people; and three screens.
Living in time zones with different days and nights
Measuring distance in kilometers- and also miles
Each day they try to stay together
Haha- to no surprise failing miserably.
But tonight it is special
The siblings laugh at their usual banters-
For they have learnt to put away the dullness quite adroitly,
The mother asks them to come back home just like each day-
Not for too long; may be just a visit till new memories are created for her to hold on
But tonight it’s the father who imparts new and the unknown
He sheds a tear of joy
And reveals that he stands tall with pride, acknowledging the two kids who try to now be adults
May be, it is the empty glass of whiskey beside the vacant dinner table
The two children: unaware, awkward and shy-
Gleam for a moment with joy- untill they return to their usual banters and frivolous complaints
The year being twenty-twenty-one
It’s just four people; and three screens-
And a million emotions that timidly scream.

Posted in People, Poem

The Labour Chowk Pageant

Image Source: Unknown

He is handsome,
Just a little worn out and tired
Each morning; early- even before the sun rises
He stands amidst the streets with a wish to finally be admired.
He dresses up worthy-
Adorned in his rusty tools and rugged clothes
Soaked in the ambition to go to a new a home this morning-
Hoping to work himself up for the next few days
With someone needy of his skills
With someone willing to put a price on his advice
Or merely a meal or two for his loved ones in return of his patience to accept himself as a fool.

But sadly, it’s an auction-
Rather a sale with offers and discounts!
Where he competes to showcase his best-
The catch- at bare minimum to make the ends meet
Tomorrow he might cause ruckus,
Day after- a havoc,
But it is today that he must act like a gentleman, or a sheep with a worth
Else, he might have to go back to his own abode-
To empty stomachs and eyes with disappointment.