Thursday, April 2, 2015

Monsters in the house

 In the recent incident where a woman was molested by a man during a flight journey (watch the video), the said man in the incident is a 60+, well-educated, well-earning man who has a daughter. What would have that daughter gone through, when she saw this video of her father on her Facebook feed? My poem seeks to explore this breed of males, who think that they can hide behind a façade that they create, an image of the educated family man and successful professional who is leading a perfect and respectable life. My poem is an attempt at voicing the reaction of his daughter. 

 While the countless rapes and molestation cases that come to the fore in the daily news show that the perpetrators are mostly uneducated or little-educated, coming from rural backgrounds; the fact that such behavior exists and goes unnoticed in “normal” families is a case in point. While in the so-called more ‘cultured’ families, the more educated men from honourable professions may not go as far as attempting a rape; there is no doubt that they definitely indulge in inappropriate behavior, even if in minor degrees. 

 We think that such acts happen to others and in other families, and we choose to keep our eyes and mouths shut when we see such acts by men within our families, men who could be our own brother or father. For the sake of not creating a stir in the family, or not letting relatives and neighbours know, members of such families silently bear such acts perpetrated by the male member, or ignore it simply because they need to face and interact with that person for the rest of their life. It is time the Indian family wakes out of its conservative mould at the cost of its daughters and sisters.  
My poem is inspired from Sylvia Plath’s poem 'Daddy'.

To count numbers in petals,
And see colours in an eye,
You taught me the letters,
And shapes in the sky.

My first teacher,
My partner in debate,
There was never a day in school,
When I reached late.

From caroms and chess,
To basketball;
Teammate, cheerleader –
You were all.

I was the little girl,
The apple of your eye,
It didn’t take long,
For the truth to dawn by.

But even as a child
I sensed something amiss
As I noted your hands
Touching that and this.

Of course who would suspect
When a man approaches a child
And gently squeezes her bum
As he pulls her beside.

Or when he sits in a car
In the front seat
And caresses the bare legs
Of a little kid – his niece.

From kids he moves on
To nieces grown up
He doesn’t know to talk
Without feeling them up.

‘Oh uncle, you’re funny’
He believes, so the niece thinks
But unknown to him
In her eyes he sinks.

‘Oh beti, you’ve lost weight’
Or, ‘become stout’
Are his excuses
To scan their bodies in and out.

He could be related –
A brother, uncle, or father
That makes you wish
You had another.

He opens magazines and glossy newspapers
From the last page
To leer at half-naked women
Less than half his age.

He waits for his family
To leave the hall
To switch on the television channel
That’s playing women’s beach volleyball.

No matter who the person
He will even letch
At his daughter’s friends
He is such a wretch.

Caressing other women with smiles
He cascades sugar-coated words;
While he scowls at his own wife,
Harsh and rude shouts he hurls.

He waits for his wife
To get busy in the kitchen
So he can sneak out and talk
To the neighbourhood women.

Salivating at every woman,
Forgetting his age
He’s oblivious to the fact
That he’s staring at his grave.

Walking on the road
His eyes on anything that’s female
A little child, a young girl, or woman
He targets without fail.

With squinted eyes
He scans her head to feet
And flashes a lascivious smile
Through yellowed teeth.

Breasts and buttocks,
Buttocks and breasts.
Are the only places
Where his eye rests.

Such men, oh Daddy,
Are everywhere.
Just to walk on the road,
Is a nightmare.

To walk alone peacefully,
A woman can’t afford;
Daddy, Daddy, you bastard,
You’re that man on the road.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


ഈ ചുവന്ന മണ്ണിൽ അലിയുന്ന പച്ചപ്പ്‌,

ഒരു  അൽപം  കരി  കലരും

ആകാശത്തു  നിന്ന്  ചോർന്,  മണ്ണിൽ  വിരിയും

ഈ  പുഴയിൽ  ഒഴുകി  പോകുന്നു  ഞാൻ

നമ്മുടെ  കേര നാട്ടിൽ

ഓർമകളുടെ തീരത്തു നിന്ന്,

എൻറെ  ഹൃദയത്തിന്റെ  വാതിൽ .

മനസ്സിനെ  അലട്ടുന്നു  ജീവിതത്തിന്റെ  പോക്ക്,

ആശിക്കുന്നു  സ്നേഹമുള്ള  ഒരു  വാക്ക്, നോക്ക്.

ഓർമകളുടെ  നിലവറയിൽ  കെട്ടിപ്പൊതിഞ്ഞു

സൂക്ഷിച്ചു  വെയ്ക്കാം  നേരത്തിന്റെ  ചെപ്പിൽ

വിലപ്പെട്ടത്  തന്നെയാണ്  എല്ലാം

ഈ  സന്തോഷം, സ്നേഹം, സൗഹൃദം.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Early Morning Musings...

As a nocturnal being, waking up early in the morning can be epiphanic, particularly when you wake up naturally, unplanned, and refreshed. The visual and sensory experiences that greet you are those that elude you during the rest of the day, and night; almost being revelatory.

To begin with, you realise that there is nothing to beat that ever-so-slight early morning cool breeze. No fan or gusts from air-conditioners, or even the much-favoured sea breezes match the poetic quality of the zephyr at dawn. To take it further, early mornings bring you closer to nature, especially when you are living in a bustling city. Firstly, this serene period before the onset of noisy vehicles and traffic affords you the sounds of birds and squirrels that are hardly perceptible otherwise. This is also the time you can catch hold the sight of the dwindling population of sparrows. With not much activity on the streets, my vision is drawn to the trees in the vicinity, and for the first time in my seven-month stay in this apartment, I notice the presence of Coconut trees, Pine, a Mango tree, a Neem tree, and some Golden Shower Trees (Cassia fistula). There is also a tree species which I had seen from the window of my hotel room in Port Blair. I also spy a bird’s nest in the fig (Peepal) tree across the window, and lo! A kingfisher poised on the cable running between my building and the one opposite.

The dusty coconut and Golden Shower Trees that I was blind to!

Being early, you are also granted the spectacular sight of the passing flights of migratory birds. And once they pass, you also become aware of the antics of your not-so-exotic local neighbourhood pigeons, who also present a commendable show of group flight over the tops of buildings.
Yet, one of the fortunate spectacles is being able to catch the first rays of the rising sun, and more importantly, knowing the exact spot it rises from. This gave me a first – the sight of the pristine white building opposite me glowing in the halo of the sun-beams behind it; whereas otherwise I have always had to keep my curtains drawn due to the exorbitant brightness caused by the sun shining directly upon it. Seeing the tops of buildings gilt-edged with the golden hues is also rewarding.

The spotless neighbours, with the Pine and Fig trees

Coming to the more human level, it is interesting to observe the common breed of joggers. But what arouses the interest is the vast difference among them. A couple where only the wife is attired in the proper gear of walking shoes, yoga pants and sweat bands; while the husband trudges along in flip-flops and trousers. The solitary dude rolls smoothly showing off his sculpted biceps and calf-muscles; while another hobbles huffing and panting under the burden he is trying to reduce. A slim-figured belle with her music strapped on, as her high pony-tail swings in pace with her measured trot, looking right out of some commercial for a health drink. The bloke with a dog tugging along in front of him, but is more interested in his phablet; it is hard to understand who is walking the other. The three wise men dressed alike in white t-shirts and black trousers discuss the performance of the yellow and blue jerseys at the IPL match last night; while a squad of tiny footballers in red jerseys troops into the playground and begin their warm-up.

The three wise men, rapt in post-match analysis

Early mornings also reveal the secret elves – who get your work done while magically remaining unseen. So now I know the lanky boy with the roll of newspapers under his arm; the topi-wallah silently dropping milk-sachets from door to door; the car-washer who leaves your automobile sparkling for you; and the faceless sweepers paving the way for the day’s pedestrian rush.
The next to hit the senses are the aromas of freshly-brewed teas from the thele walla chai-wallah that are so full of life and invigorating, as opposed to the sanitised synthetic salubriousness seen in television commercials. Fragrances of cheap sambar-dosa from the chai-wallah’s neighbouring push-cart, and those wafting from the kitchens of flats next door signal the beginning of the day’s grind.
The honking cars, barking dogs, exhaust fumes, and the intensifying sun awaken me from this beautiful early morning stupor, for it is not ‘early’ any more. Who says you forget to blink only while sitting in front of computer screens; ask me as I’ve sat these two hours without batting an eyelid at these early morning discoveries. At the end of it, the personal achievement remains going beyond the mere drawing of curtains as the daybreak enticed me into venturing forth and sitting awhile on the dusty ledge of my window, from where I could drink in these sights and sounds of the early morning bliss.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Book review of Asura - The Tale of the Vanquished

Hola everybody!

I would like to share with you a book review of (click on the titile -> ) Asura: The Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan. The book is authored by Anand Neelakantan, and reviewed by Prasanth Nair. This review was first published in Complete Wellbeing magazine, Volume VIII, Issue No. 2, December 2013.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Confessions of a Cat Lover

Confessions of a Cat Lover was written for, and first published in Complete Wellbeing magazine, Volume VIII, Issue No.2, December 2013.

The world is polarised between dog-lovers and cat-lovers. While no one likes to find fault with dogs as they are the eternal symbol of best-friendship; cats, unfortunately, are notoriously victimised by the anti-feline. Just last night; I had a big argument with someone I had just met, endangering our budding friendship. The polemical debate? He, a dog-lover and cat-hater, versus I, a cat-worshipper, indifferent to dogs.

The ardent cat lover that I am, it breaks my heart to see how much these gentle beings are misunderstood and subjected to extreme psychoanalysis. The first words of accusation that spurt out of the professed cat-haters being that cats are emblematic of cunningness, stealth, and deceit! Moreover, there is a strong case for why cats are favoured more by women, as I learned to my horror during the argument. As my otherwise-friendly friend put it, women are like cats – they fake affection to go after a fisherman with their tail perked up, and when they gain their prized piece of fish, they turn their backs, flick their tails and strut away in smugness. The fisherman is forgotten, along with his act of kindness, for now the cat has gotten what she wanted. If you haven’t picked up on the analogy already, he was hinting at the ­­capricious nature of women to enchant unsuspecting ‘innocent’ men, catch them in their nets, and cast them away after satisfying themselves with their own version of fish. I had begun to lose track mid-way of the quarrel as to whether we were defending our respective preferred animals at all.

I therefore have to see myself as this defender of cats—and no, that does not entitle you to call me ‘Cat-Woman’. Though, with the incidental alliteration that my name has with my favourite animal, I am sometimes given the sobriquet of “Catty”. I don’t see why these benign creatures should be seen as anything other than divine manifestations of angel-like serenity and beauty. C’mon, they were deified by the Egyptians!

Other than dissecting cats psychologically, including accusing them of being lazy and selfish, dog-lovers [read cat-haters] have this compulsion of dismissing them as good-for- nothing, unlike dogs [the ferocious hounds score brownie points for their knack of assisting mankind with their intense sense of smell, memory, alertness, loyalty, blah-blah].

Objection, my lords and ladies! How can you afford to shut your eyes to all the cleaning up you have to do running after their poop? As for cats, I doubt there is another creature with such an intrinsic sense of cleanliness. What about all the ruckus dogs create with their incessant barking at the hint of a guest at home, not to forget the street-dogs that either rouse you from your slumber, or never let you sleep at all? Case-in-point: I am constantly asked by bewildered friends when I talk on the phone, what I am doing out on the roads or in my balcony at mid-night; and each time I have to tell them that being in the innermost room of my house on the 4th floor is not sound-proof enough to shut out all the barking coming from the roads.

Cats, on the other hand, are the most peaceful companions for all ages. They radiate a sort of Zen, with their calm demeanour and closed eyes – a picture of pure meditation and tranquillity; you can almost see the halo.

Yes, cats do have a mischievous streak to them! Take the scratches on my arms and legs, for example. I have sometimes noticed the questioning look in strangers’ eyes, wondering if they are signs of domestic abuse. Or when my favourite piece of fried pomfret vanishes into thin air, the second I look away from my plate. Oh, but aren’t these just adorable idiosyncrasies that come along with the package? They bring out the inner strength in me when I face the tirade of censure I receive from my mother when she finds the blanket full of cat-fur, or the freshly mopped floor with little paw-marks of dirt from the garden. Or the hollering I hear from dad when he gets bitten, only because he stepped on mademoiselle’s tail that was so impudently laid right where he placed his foot. Ah, the pleasure of defending my love. Makes a true knight in shining armour out of me, eh?

I must say that a wave of change is now coming. Thanks to Facebook celebrity Grumpy Cat, cats are now being viewed more respectfully, or at least the grumpier versions of them. They are now seen as paragons of sarcasm and in-your-face retorts that I am sure many of you secretly envy them for. They will stand no nonsense, nor bow down to doggish slavery. They are their own masters and command human subservience. The debate of superiority between cats and dogs ends thus-
Dog: Humans feed me, pet me and love me. They must be god.
Cat: Humans feed me, pet me and love me. I must be god!