Labyrinth

​The universe is a labyrinth of what is right and what is easy, what is socially incorrect and all the petty desires and insane fetishes that the human mind is capable of having in its apathetic glory. And we’re trying to get through, you and I, pretending we knew, pretending we threw breadcrumbs on our way here. And what we know is, that our beds will be cold in the summer, even when the sun steps down and kisses our pillows. What is know is that we’ll be together as long as you keep your hands off my ribs that are bound to rupture at the faintest touch of whatever you’re made of, because they can only take so much dirt, and only another million of my apologetic ballads that I write to them on days when I ache for something I’ve never had the privilege to regret later. So let’s be, till the last petal of your rose of trivial joys withers, and we realise that we’ve wanted much more. Or less. Let us wander, into each other’s heads keeping in mind the boundaries of their dreams and crossing the ones of our own. Let us forget that forevers cease to exist the minute one whispers them into another’s ear, and let us drink each other’s sorrows in the form of whiskey and slow kisses in hope to feel less deranged. We hold maps on our backs to destinies we’d never care to reach, but let us try anyway. It is futile to tell each other it’ll be okay, so let us roll in the fragrant filth of our dead lilacs in no hope for a better tomorrow; let us share each other to an extent till we don’t feel vulnerable or ashamed to be creatures of a million universes stitched into one. 

– Shreya. 

Love

Love.

I have it stuck somewhere in the wounds on my wrists which were long stitched back by a man whose beard smelled like old books and temporary romance, with slender fingers that held me only to shatter what was left. He never liked me without makeup and so I kept it on, until I didn’t.

Love.

It is tangled up in the greasy hair of this man I met a few sins ago, who read me poetry and sucked my navel till it was colorless. He adorned my tresses with pieces of me that I dropped and all the dark that I spilt and spit. He painted the burns on my spine and I let him, till I realised the colors abated my nightmares. Nightmares that I needed to remind me why I was.

Love.

It lingers on the decolletage of the woman with a blue mane, who’d whispered “beautiful” in my ear while I watched skinny women dance on tabletops, drunk. She held me through the wails at night and left when she felt I was ready.

Love.

Of all the sanity wringed into pretty bosoms.

Of all the screams locked in tar-dripping veins.

Of the kisses that never penetrated the body.

Of the morsels of guilt I gulped and never relished.

Of the journey I would never pack bags for.

-shreya.

Anna

If I were to, in my utterly austere use of words, describe the ache she brought on my heart, I would say that never had I ever felt the pangs of icicle smiles and her fingers playing the piano on my skin so atrociously. Her tongue sticking over her upper lip with her hand holding a paintbrush poised over a canvas, so meticulously weaving an image in her head of what never was, to what she was about to give birth.

I’d often tell her that she could have any man she wanted and yet she lay, curled up, in a worn-out couch of a raven-haired man, reading his shitty poetry, lips pursed, thinking of the cruelest way to tell him how a particular piece very agonizingly sucked. “That’s it”, she’d say, “It is because I could have any other man that I choose you”, and I’d never know what to make of it, but I needn’t worry till she pushes open the exit, leaves my shuddering ribs to rot and never returns.

This woman, the largest jewel on the crown of my sins, very carefully rips me apart and dances on the bloodied, gory floor. My Anna, this woman with slender fingers who preferred tea but whose hair sent whiffs of coffee wafting through the street, sweet Anna of bitter love, my redemption, the fire that keeps my lungs from burning. And when you’ve been so close to the sun’s fury, every other inferno seems as puny as life.

She

She didn’t render me speechless,

Instead evoked in me

Questions and wonderment.

She didn’t melt down any walls, only

Brought me fists full of broken bricks from hers

And we lay in our debris,

Sipped secrets in whispers

From each other’s lips, and walked

The deranged paths of our past

With winter clutched to our bosom and

Release pouring from our eyes.

I Know a Woman

I know a woman whose eyes don’t hold the stars. They simply manage to capture the reflection of you in those short, rare moments when you are most susceptible. She’s the water that holds my ankles to the ground when I stand in a small stream and throw ashes of my soul into it; she’s there when I take birth on the other side of the river.

Her eyelashes are the hammock on which my heart sleeps and the sighs that escape her gelid lips are its lullaby, while she breathes the universe, all of it, at once, and lets it go spill by spill of her drink. Her elbows, etched, scraped, blotched, rest on the edge of the horizon and she becomes the light on days the sun is too tired to look pretty. She’s another kind of light, one that draws you to it and terrifies you at the same time,one you often feel tossing somewhere in your bosom; each ray of her a telescope that gave an insight into her story.

A story left incomplete on purpose, secrets you can’t focus on, for she alone holds the power and the privilege to dig into the valleys of her chest and study the remnants, the stones, the bones, the ghosts.

I know of a woman, the streaks of whose brown hair are roads that were meant to lose yourself in, and live the life of a gypsy in her candescent halo.

This Poem Is Colored in Asperity

God,

If you exist, I’m not your biggest fan.

Children with scraped feet

Run roads doused in the blood of man.

Women wear scars like jewels

On bodies beaten, whipped,

Lips weathered from pink to cyan.

 

God,

If you exist, you must be blind.

Men cloaked in pretense pluck every

Flower from women’s gardens,

Each lily that they find.

 

These are the men enshrined,

Eyes kind, hearts malign.

 

Ladies, lads

Dressed in rags,

Hope in their pockets falls out like change.

 

God,

If you’re there, you aren’t the nicest.

I hereby question your kindness,

Your sanctity.

You’re draped in infidelity.

 

This poem is colored in asperity.

 

The protectors of your land

Die in its name, you are to blame.

Lands where the truth is strangled

With a rosary for a garrote,

Where lies are tamed – you’re to blame.

 

God,

If you’re there,

Why did you keep all the seraphs to yourself

And set loose all the monsters here ?

You’re answerable for each tear.

God,

You’re the destruction

And we birth in its debris.

Imitation

Sometimes I can’t help but notice

That the world imitates your quotidian rituals.

When the vermilion sun

Drops into the horizon,

It reminds me of drowsy mornings with you

When you dip a biscuit in your tea.

The clouds prance about like rabbits

Like the puffs of air that escape your mouth

On a cheerful winter morning

And fog the car window.

Your pink fingertips that caress my face

Just like the wind is bound to;

And I could swear that the first leaf

That falls as autumn knocks at our doors

Is shaped exactly like the tear

That trickles down your cheek

and succumbs to your palm lines.

The summer winds gush into my room

like your letters that arrive

Through the mail-slot.

And there are other clichés

Like your breath in my lungs,

My heart in your hands,

My wings on your back,

And surreal epiphanies

That make up our love

Which are etched

On the inner lining of my skin;

They’ll melt out of me in my grave

And mingle with the mud,

Birthing saplings of suns and stars.
So, do not ask so much of me,

To forget you

And your laugh that echoes like

Howling storm winds,

For the universe breathes your breath

For you are embedded in it’s very heart

And the heavens dance to its beat

And hell kisses the ground

That your feathery feet sweep.

– Shreya.

To Ananay

I loathe this new year vibe that people can’t seem to get enough of, their heads submerged in its apathy. And I, I am trapped in a time between the 31st of December and the 1st of January, a space where I ricochet between certainties and doubts, between people I was bound to lose and the ones that slipped from my fingers like silk sheets that hold the whiffs of my midnight storms and dawn-kissed sighs. 

I look under my pillow in the early morning of the 1st, and all the tears I shed and bled glisten like vermilion stars. For the millionth time I think of you, who I hadn’t thought about since days and now can’t get out of my head, not that I was trying to. You deserve to be remembered, if not missed. Your freckled face and swift steps, sandy hair that you always kept short, eyelashes that shone pure gold against the sun; I don’t claim to know you completely, just a little to keep you alive in my mind. 

I think about all the times we spoke, and how I never realised I would feel your absence forever, the worst part being, I never told you this. 

They wrapped you in soft sheets that hold no meaning, clothes that don’t define you, lips pale and slightly parted, and you don’t look anything like yourself. 

While people around me curse the year that just passed, I question hope and weep at the hearth of vague memories of you, Ananay; I pray that people keep telling and showing love to the ones they hold dear, the ones that make a difference, who place warm palms on their chests to thaw it for a while, whose fingers fit perfectly around their waists to help them walk on edges of cliffs and across broken bridges. 

Things once again are left unsaid. 

There’s regret, remorse, sepulchral school halls where you roamed and no one will ever get over how they could hold your hand one more time or whisper childhood memories into your ear to make you feel fine. While they talk about how nice you had been, I think about how strangers could have become friends and we shared the same skies but never sighed with each other and we could have. 

Ananay, there are people who visit your family but would never have otherwise; they are pitying and hoping it never happens to them while the ones who love you promise to remember you between laughs and nights of wonderment. We promise to think of you, to keep you alive and your heart beating in sync with ours till the day we come across you when all hope is lost. And maybe it’ll be tomorrow, or tonight that I see you again.

 Till then, I’ll embrace the ones I love and kiss temples of the people who pour sunlight into the chambers of my heart. 

– Shreya.