Vanilla

India

Circumlocution is my revolution!

Message from Writer

I'm Vanilla, but I prefer chocolate by a mile. Vanilla is also an adjective, which pretty much describes me. I love to write, and I love to review! cheers :)

Published Work

Playwriting Competition 2020

Arranged

ACT 1


                                                                    Scene 1
We open in a bedroom shared by two young sisters. A colorful wallpaper adorns the walls, a big bunk bed lies in the    middle of the stage. Other typical bedroom items: a desk and a chair, a bean bag, a book shelf and a guitar lie    around the room. MYRA, the older sister, is in her pyjamas. She is sitting on the lower bunk and smiling at her phone, texting someone eagerly. TIA, the younger sister, is wearing a nightie with two pigtails. She enters the room, startling MYRA. MYRA stops smiling but continues looking at her phone, feigning indifference. TIA walks towards the bunk bed. She tries to peek behind MYRA’s phone, but MYRA quickly hides the screen, frowning at TIA. TIA innocently climbs up to the top bunk and lies down.

                                       ...

Playwriting Competition 2020

Arranged

ACT 1


                                                                        Scene 1
We open in a bedroom shared by two young sisters. A colorful wallpaper adorns the walls, a big bunk bed lies in the    middle of the stage. Other typical bedroom items: a desk and a chair, a bean bag, a book shelf and a guitar lie    around the room. MYRA, the older sister, is in her pyjamas. She is sitting on the lower bunk and smiling at her phone, texting someone eagerly. TIA, the younger sister, is wearing a nightie with two pigtails. She enters the room, startling MYRA. MYRA stops smiling but continues looking at her phone, feigning indifference. TIA walks towards the bunk bed. She tries to peek behind MYRA’s phone, but MYRA quickly hides the screen, frowning at TIA. TIA innocently climbs up to the top bunk and lies down.

                                                                        MYRA
        (groaning softly)
Tia, you forgot to switch the light off again!
    
                                                                        TIA
        (facepalms, whispers softly) ...

Poetry and Spoken Word Competition 2020

Your name, in my dying language

We made the first language by
mimicking animals, then slowly,
meaning edged its way into words and sounds
like a sandstorm interrupting
the bloodiest of wars.

a war of tongue and breath

A dance;
languages became a dance
that my tongue practices
and now perfects.

Now, the dialects die
like wild species of birds
extinct.

Pages of indecipherable scripts
sinking like dead corals
in a leaden ocean.
Did they believe in a god,
a thousand years ago?

In this festival of death, your name,
becomes a goddess in one language,
becomes a crime in another
and I speak both languages

a war of meaning and people

your name isn't long
a sip of air, a sharp syllable
caging you inside this four-letter existence

But my language has history of blood,
it was born of wars and cloth
My vocabulary doesn't understand borders,
and carves incomplete meanings
like unfinished statues found in Buddhist caves.

But at night, when the road falls...

Love After Love

Who cares about sunsets anymore?

sand gets between your toes while you eat noodles
sitting on a rock next to the sea,
looking at brilliant brown sautéd onions
instead
of the horizon
ignoring the sunset
(oh, you know it's glorious as always,
but nothing beats the feeling of 
conquering hunger)


You laugh as you eat, confounded at your ways
You understand yourself so perfectly
oh, why do they spend their lives looking for love?
it's right here
between sandy hair and salty fingers

Have you ever
sat down with your regrets and talked to them, 
like old friends,
confronting their nostalgia?
Then hugging them, 
and parting ways,
(you're so impressed by yourself for still being okay!)

you know your body,
every stretch mark/knotted hair
like a map of home
But your iron will, your weary hands
you love the small things about you
the pauses, the thoughts, 
because you realise you still care about things.

The noodles finish, so does the sunset
you've just met...

Refuge

it does not mean

Refuge does not mean that you life is a 'situation' from which you need to be 'extracted'.

Refuge does not that you read the newspapers and watch the news frantically so that you understand what is going on around you.

Refuge does not mean that a heavy weight settles on your heart every time you take a step further from your home.

#ListenFirst

ventilate

I have observed, in my all my years of inexperience and childishness, that in a conversation (provided that that the conversation is not on the verge of turning into violence), if you do not reply, the other person always continues speaking. And most of the times, the things they say after the silence are generally made up of words that need to be aired the most. 

A teacher telling her story in class, a friend puzzled over a future choices, a guy angry with his parents, almost all of them need silence, silence from the listener, to help themselves get to the tougher parts of their story. The silence you give them, they take the silence and make a stage out of it, grab a imaginary microphone and voice the deeper parts of their story. Their fear of being vulnerable is slowly eaten away by silence, as they realize that they are real and the things that they are dealing...

Bread and Light

cake and rain

There is a bakery 
behind my school
hidden,
the owner, retired army officer, 
bakes only for pleasure.
I buy bread on the good days
and cake on the bad ones. 

There are only four
months out of a year
where it rains
but for the other eight
i imagine it raining anyway
the drops sliding off glass
bouncing off concrete
melting paper into strips and carrying it away
as if trying to tell me
to surrender my past to the sea. 

Writing Goals

DREAMS TO GOALS

WRITING GOAL #1
Carry a notebook specifically for your last year of school, every single day, every single event. Write everything that you can use in your novel (which has the setting of a school) before you lose the school experience forever.

WRITING GOAL #2
If you feel frustrated, write. Write it on an Instagram story or a piece of paper, but show it to someone. Make it metaphorical, lyrical, or simply free verse, but remember that someone somewhere might relate to it.

WRITING GOAL #3
Collect your poetry. In the form of posters, make your own stupid art. It really gives meaning to your poetry. And looks nice. Try and make a book out of it so that when you feel low and useless, you can look at it and tell yourself that your life isn't completely wasted.

WRITING GOAL #4
Write more at night. Write poetry, write paragraphs, write words, write punctuation, I don't care. Just go out...

Strike

i've been learning in different ways

don't teach me on blackboards and books and pencils in classrooms full of benches that constrain me
i need to observe butterflies for my project and distribute colours in old age homes
i need to experience careers before i push myself into them for the rest of my life
i need someone to teach me that money is as important as passion and you cannot exchange them
i don't want to learn punctuation and pronounciation i want to learn what i can do before i realise what life is really made of.

Invisible Cities

Aquaria

We've been drifting afloat for quite some time now. Water below, our city has been built up on purity, on movement. We celebrate the tranquility found in the noise of flowing water. Our houses float, made up of wood and corals. Sometimes they halt, stopped by a mess of seaweeds, but we always manage to pass through.

Our births take place underwater, where the newborn rises from the water, swimming before it can cry. The water eases the pain of the mother, the sand cleanses her, the sun dries her. We learn from waterfalls, from meanders, from fishes fighting warm currents and from frogs resting delicately upon lotus leaves. We place our dead in coffins made of shells, and jewellery made from glass. We grieve little, we reflect more, as the water teaches us that life is ever-moving, ever-dancing, ever-growing and ever dying.
 

Mad Libs

twin

Kiara is a fifteen twin, who lives in Mumbai. Known for being shy, intelligent and cautious, she wants nothing more than to return to her own city and former school and stay with her friends. She pretends to be practical, when in fact, inside, she really feels lonely and nostalgic. Kiara’s biggest fear is being caught of sneaking in. What Kiara needs is confidence to pull it off; the biggest thing getting in the way is her twin. 

Travel Writing Competition 2018

The Good Bay

‘You can take the boy out of Bombay, but you cannot take the Bombay out of the boy, you know.’ ~ Salman Rushdie

If you have flip-flops, an empty stomach, and a fiery desire to see India, but only a day in your pocket, you should spend it in Bombay. If India is a land of contrasts, Bombay is certainly the museum that manifests it all.

Sit in a black and yellow taxi (or a kaali-peeli, as they call it) as it drives by the most expensive house in the world, Antilla, and admire the new-fangled panels of metal and grass of the vertical palace. Yet, a few miles ahead you will pass through the largest slum, Dharavi, with families of five living in a single room, where you would notice the countless satellite dishes budding from the roofs of the shacks. 
    
Named Bombay, or 'The Good Bay'by the Portuguese, who had colonized the city in...

Where I'm From

You can't take the city out of me.

I look into myself,
A magnet on the fridge,
A picture on the shelf.

I am from the room
above the non-stop highway,
the bright traffic lights, 
gold and crimson slip and spray
on my bedroom walls, all nights
I don't need a night lamp. 

I am from the turmeric
and cinnamon and cardamom
from the kitchen 
of meals that reflect the moods
of the walls of the home. 

I am from the crowded streets 
and the insignificance 
felt while standing alone. 
 
I am from the messy houses
and the messy streets
from the roads with craters 
that remind you of the moon
during monsoons. 





 

FACT

Wings

"There is a one in a million chance that you will be in a plane crash, Nana. Really, people die more in car accidents than in a plane disaster."

You said this to Nana when we were driving to the airport in the rain. I remember feeling a little lonely as I drove alone in the front, while you sat in the back, holding Nana's hands and convincing her that nothing would happen on her first flight. You asked her to trust you and your flying skills, at which she made a sound between a snort and a laugh, saying you were the clumsiest grandchild she'd ever seen. I smiled a little at that, but hopefully you didn't notice and pretended to be offended by her instead. You didn't really mind, you wanted her to relax and enjoy. 

I realised that I should get over my loneliness, and the gloominess I felt whenever you flew away; this was important to...

Subtotals

numbers for an indian girl

Languages I know; fluently: 2 (Hindi and English), not so fluently: 3 (French, Marathi, Punjabi, in that order). 
Siblings: 0. Number of first cousins: 9 sisters and 4 brothers. Number of second cousins: infinite. 
Festivals I celebrate: 10.4
Festivals I want to celebrate: 19. 
Times I have been asked to describe my interest and hobbies: 74
Times I didn't want to: 112
Schools I have attended: 5
Schools that I didn't want to change from: 1
Number of crushes I have had: 3
Number of fictional crushes I had: 32
Times I have slammed a poem: 2
Times I wanted to slam a poem: 2000
Times I have stayed awake all night, deliberately: 44, unwillingly: 17
Weddings I have attended: 6
Weddings I enjoyed: 1
Times travelled in a train: 84
Times travelled in a flight: 26
Times travelled alone on a flight: 1
Medals I have: 14
Certificates I have, excellence: 12; honour/merit: 34; participation: 41.
Number of nieces...

Paint Swatch

Thunder

Thunder is the colour of lightning in the darkest night sky: the shocking purple that stuns the sky for a millisecond. 
It is a flabbergasting colour, the one that catches the eye third in a room of all colours, after the brightest red and white.  Often accompanied by a loud, deafening sound and followed by a shivering silence, it is pleasing to some and dissonant to the others. Some days, it also soothes, like a quiet, pondering colour, when found in the tips of orchids and in the skin of ripe aubergines. It could disturbing in a fresh, deep bruise near the eye, and could be mesmerising when found on the edges of a nebula, light years away. Mostly, it is dominated by and stuck between the near black and a vibrant violet, and often lost in the palate. 

Five Beginnings

Novel Beginnings

1. Character Picture:

​She loved the top bunk. Firstly because having one didn't make sense, especially in a city like Mumbai, where flats had dimensions in feet and rooms were claustrophobic. Secondly, because she had fought for it with her parents, who were in favour of a queen sized bed, a lesser hassle, but she had triumphed after a glorious war. Her twin, Kiara, didn't mind anything. Thirdly, waking up on the top bunk was an adventure, one that chilled her bones but also thrilled her: to escape hitting the ceiling while sitting upright, to not hit the blades of the ceiling fan while stretching, and to climb up without the ladder, without using the ladder. There were seven different ways to do that. 


​2. Dialogue: 

​"Ma, but I really don't want to go for this exam. Even if I do win it, you know I will absolutely refuse to shift to Delhi!"
​"Why, what's wrong with Delhi now? It's...

For the Future

To Be Opened In 2118

Dear Stranger,

I hope that you find this letter in a readable condition, since I thought it would be difficult to preserve a thing for a hundred years. I’ve tried to print this on plastic and seal in a bottle with a cork and leave in the Arabian Sea, the traditional way. Hopefully, this has not disintegrated. 
 
If you have found this letter, then I assume one of the following:

  1. You haven’t shifted to Mars, or any another planet, yet.
  2. Global warming has caused large glaciers to melt and you are subjected to great floods and have currently found this bottle in the water that has entered your house.
  3. You could be a cyborg and probably speak java and are decoding this letter in an effort to learn about history and perhaps, what to you would be Medieval English.
I would begin by apologizing for any distress to you, because if you are in a crisis, it is probably...

Love in 13 Words

​Always

I could never understand how Mother gives so much without wanting anything back.

Intersection

In My City

In my city
​If you lie on the roof
​of a sixty-something skyscraper to stargaze
​you'd have the proof
​from the stars, stray and ablaze
​that you are still as insignificant.

​In my city
​If you drive on the bridge over the sea
​that separates cities and mountains
​you'd see
​and wonder at the waves, whelming and wanton,
​and not at the beams that hold up the bridge.

​In my city
​If you walk along and look at the coast
​from your house of wood and metal and brick
​you'd want to boast
​that the water tries to worship and lick 
​your feet and your hands and your soul.

In my city
​If you notice the electric tower rising in the skies
​across the highway, the lonely street
you'd recognize
​an emerald creeper climbing, not discreet
​unaware of electricity, but thriving on it.


In my city
​If you stand on the beach and see the sun drowning in the sea ...

On the Last Day of the World

Last, But Not The Least.

On the last day, I would watch the sunset
and etch every colour in my mind, 

and then walk by the airport 
to watch the flights pass by at night
soaring and shining,

and stay up to watch the stars implode
one by one,
until the darkness swallows them

and then hug my mother at night, 
and not set an alarm for the next day.

I would certainly not say goodbye,
for there's some hope left, right?
 

Omniscient Lens

The Feeling Of Faith

The morning after Diwali was always the longest. 

​Diwali was usually in October, when the rains had decided to retreat from this terrifying land. This terrifying land, because the people couldn't decide whether they wanted to be friends, or enemies. Whether they wanted to care about the land, or their enjoyment. Whether they should hope, or realise that it was all going to be the same, in the end. 

​October was when winter started to seep in, quite sneakily though, forming mists and dissipating before the Sun could catch them. But the morning after Diwali was the only one where the smog dared to form and rise with the sun. 

​After all the cosy rituals in poor and wealthy homes, the grand aartis ​that took place along the banks of the Ganges, the bursting of crackers in dilapidated streets, and the lighting of diyas ​in remote huts, it is night. People are excited yet relieved, happy yet tired. The...

Third Person Limited

The Tang of Blood

This was War. 

Angry and anxious, Fera could feel the war drums pulsating in her veins. As if her heart could burst inside her, and coat the land with her blood, along with many others. She shivered in the cold wind, but she was not sure if it was from fear or from the need to move her limbs and lift her weapons which made her head pound. Horgan looked at her, scowling. The horrific smells of artillery, the tang of blood, the fear that could make a person choke- Fera was stumbling over her courage. 

Horgan opened his mouth to say something, but then pressed his lips into a thin line. His gaze was focused on Fera. Fera wondered if he was trying to see her soul, and understand what she was feeling. She had never seen War, and hardly heard about it from the soldiers. Only legends, baseless and misty, supported her beliefs, that she was on the...

Ask Michael

Some Questions (and Fears)

Dear Sir,

I changed my dream two years back- from aspiring to become an astronaut to dreaming to become a writer. Words have always fascinated me.  There was a phase where I could see nothing for myself, save working hard to write a bestseller, then explaining my stories to people, posting on social media about sequels, and the like. But recently, my parents warned me about the difficulties that this journey has, the initial struggle that is marked with rejections and failure, and the low rate of success later. I realized the practical fears about this field. 

So I had a few questions about the entire process. How exactly difficult, or easy, is the publishing process? How long is it before one can expect some sort of recognition? Is writing a single job, does it involve sitting at home and typing, or is there a lot more to it? Also, for a mean writer, does publishing a book provide enough...

Living in Music

No. Now. Nowhere.

I was born in one city, brought up in another, and I think I will shift to a third. But I want to live in the fourth. 
Where is everyone, exactly? Where are we going, and where are we looking, and where are we breathing freely? I think in this mess of places, we will ultimately end up nowhere. 

Nowhere is somewhere. 

"Where are we going, today?"

Leave a map and all its lines, for another time. 

"I don't know, we're just searching for freedom, even though we have no idea what it looks like." 
"But don't you think that if we ever see freedom, and probably touch it, we will never come back?" 

We drive by the side of the yellow coast, we exhaust the engine in climbing a tropical hill, we almost touch our black tyres with white snow, where we touch the blue sky, and we drive through green plains and brown plateaus and over every geological...

Flash Fiction Competition 2017

Needle And Thread

Watching him make the final touches, I rant about my latest heartbreak. Not that it was depressing, but he nods anyway, arranging the sewing machine with deft fingers.

“Have you ever been in love, chacha?” I ask.

The old, grey tailor was my only friend in the neighborhood. He wore the dullest clothes, but hid intricate stitches in our traditional clothes. Everyone trusted him.

The rusty needle pierces the cloth with a steady rhythm.
In. Out.

“Yes. But the pain wasn’t worth it.”

When he hands me the shirt, I wonder how he managed to stitch his own heartbreak.

Writing Small

Electrified!

The atom was going crazy with all the electrons buzzing around it. It was tired of being all charged up with the electricity around it. 
Splash. Gasp. Hiccup. Bubble.
Water. The atom was drowning!
At least the electrons made some new bonds as the atom dissolved. 
 

Truths and Untruths

10 Things your parents (secretly) wish were true.

1. That you can still beat that topper academically, what's-his-name-again? The-one-whose-mother-gloats-so-much-that-my-ears-bleed, and the-one-who-wears-oily-spectacles. Because you totally have the potential but haven't used it. Yet.

2. That one day they receive a call from the headmistress that you, wait for it... have heroically and magically and impossibly (and incredibly) saved a younger pupil from a car accident, and make the headlines in the town newspaper.

3. That one day, you suddenly discover your 'one true talent' and quickly hit the nationals in that field, so that your mother can finally tell the neighbours that you have gone for practice and not fooling around. (and can accidentally add the dimensions of your trophy).

4. That one day, you are finally realise that you are doing nothing with your life (except watching Netflix) and are determined to make up for that entrance exam.

5. That you are some day, recognized for the true prodigy you are and finally sent to college early.

6....

Your World in Three Senses

Melt. Knelt. Felt.

The air is silent, still in mourning.
After 72 years.

The only inanimate survivor of the atomic bomb stands before us, proud of its resilience. On the top, there is a naked dome, with ring beams as shriveled as metal can be.The windows are empty, but some of them are incomplete, like gaping mouths. The walls, stripped to their bricks, are only brown and black. The bricks are still in their place. The bricks are slightly displaced. The tourists stare at the wounds of the structure. A cat enters the ruins, pawing at the fallen bricks. What once used to be a promotion hall, is now a ruined witness to one of the greatest crimes. Broken, burnt, and blackened.

Bandaged, but never healed.

We walk around the dome, imagining, wondering, what we never could. The day it happened. It was as if the sun had fallen upon them. The fire that burst in their sky, making temperatures burn their roofs...

Lexical Catharsis

How it always starts.

She knocked my breath out when she slammed me against the lockers.
Tears sprang up to my eyes as I felt the cold metal handle dig into my spine. 
This was it, wasn't it? 
I was the nerd, she the cheerleader. I was the one with more curves in my cerebrum, she was the one with curves in her body. I was the one with spectacles, and she was the one with highlights of an exotic colour in her hair. I was the hidden corner of the room, she was the brightest light in the room. 
And yet, when I prepared to wince when she pulled her hand back, I felt a strong hand jerk me out. And the sting on my cheek never came. 
The only thing I saw was were sinewy arms, pulling me behind him. And then I saw his black shirt. And his brown hair curling at the nape of his neck. 
And then I heard...

Writing for Children Competition 2017

The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars

Illustration : https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/7a/ab/06/7aab063510e6f301ce3963d1c9a2e07e.jpg

(Picture: A girl sitting on a bed next to the window, through which a full moon is visible.)

The sky was starry. Emma lay in her nightdress, in her bed by the window. She loved sleeping here. Today was special, because the moon was full. 

And today was even more special because Miss Ellen had loved her drawing. It was a blue ferris wheel, looking over a colourful carnival. She had even stuck the biggest smiley sticker she had on Emma's drawing. 

Slowly, the light dimmed and Emma's mind wandered.

The ferris wheel had blue cars. Emma was in one of them with a fat boy busy eating a lollipop. She didn't know him, and when she said hi, he didn't reply, so she shrugged and looked out. 
The wheel was rotating now. There was a funny feeling in her body, like her stomach was bouncing up and down. She didn't find it ticklish, but the rude...

Mixtape

Touching The Sky

These songs are not in any particular order, but they are definitely on repeat. 

1. 'Capsize' by Frenship, Truce EP
'Your silhouette is burned in my memory,
Rubble left from the moment that you left me.'

2. 'Polaroid' by Imagine Dragons, Smoke + Mirrors
'Love's a polaroid, oh, better in picture
Never can fill the void.'

3. 'Dazzle' by Oh Wonder, Oh Wonder
'Not in it for the money,
Just in it for the thrill.'

4. 'Scars' by Tove Lo, Allegiant
'Yeah, everyday step by step,
We dare to love again.'

5. 'Dangerously' by Charlie Puth, Nine Track Mind
'Knew we would crash at the speed that we were going,
Didn't care if the explosion ruined me.'

6. 'There's nothing holding me back' by Shawn Mendes, Illuminate
'Oh, I've been shaking
I love it when you go crazy.'

7. 'Lifetimes' by Oh Wonder, Ultralife
'Two degrees, you’re spilling seas
Toupée queen
Oh, won’t you take a ride with me?'

8....

Walking

My father, and my love.

He was quite old. Greying hair, no longer thick. Thinner skin. Thinner smiles. Only his booming, low, laughter made him bold. 
And his gait could be a funny thing. It would vary with his mood. When happy, he would walk lightly upon the earth, as if on a regular evening walk. He was almost skipping the day he received a bigger assignment.
When angry, his steps were forceful. If the earth were glass, it would surely crack now. 
By most of the time, his walk was carefree. His arms at the sides, they hardly twitched. If one had enough time to look up, he did have some grace. 

On the other hand, she was quite young. She walked, well, loosely. As if she had nothing to lose, nor anything to give. Her arms would sway, her fingers graceful, never fisted. Her footsteps were slow, but not exactly graceful. She would stumble a little, especially when she stopped. But mostly, she...

Into the Woods

A Lone Tree

A tree.

A lone signal with many lights
Turning red for the rain,
Yellow for the sun, 
And green for the summer hope. 

A lone orphan, a lone parent,
Never seen its family
But takes after them
The seeds exploding.

A lone bark in a school
Freshly raucous in the rain, 
Bright in the summer holidays
And tired in the winter exams.

A lone beggar, a free hugger
Arms always opened wide,
Leaves always a bowl
Smiling with drooping branches.

A lone house, a lone inn.
Birds land and fly, bats hang
The nests held by old hands,
Never hurt by a woodpecker.

A tree.
 

Timeless Counsel

Adwise

I wake up in the morning
Don't let everything affect you. Wear a shield on your heart, and welcome only what you want to. 
~my mother, with faded clothes and shining eyes. 

I sit before noon. 
Don't hide too much. Even if you are empty or full, you will still be balanced. 
~ a glass of water, precariously balanced on a table.  

I eat at noon. 
Walk slowly. Look down sometimes. You never know where your next step will land. 
~ my sister, sometimes an athlete and sometimes a monk. 

I sleep in the afternoon. 
It is important to burst sometimes, especially when you float. 
~ a bubble. 

I walk in the evening.
Learn everything. Try everything. Taste everything. Be everything. Think everything. See everything. Listen everything. Feel everything. Forget everything. Don't remember everything. If you try, you lose everything. 
~my father, with small hair and far sightedness. 

I watch at night. 
Keep moving on. If you...

Poetry and Spoken Word Competition 2017

From Dewdrops To Raindrops

I peer in the mirror that the dewdrop
holds for the sky to coif its cotton crop.
    My mind muffled and muddy, tries to stray
    trying to tidy its thoughts on a tray.
 
I see a sea blue expanse of desert
with no white clouds when no wind tries to flirt.
    Emotions, echo, ebb with emptiness
    a tide, adrift with abandon, aimless.
 
I discover the drop threatens to fall
on the edge of its life; thin, green and small.
    My memories flash in vivid waves, chime
    they tug you from within, drown you in time.
 
I look up to see the black clouds whisper
when the drop trembles. Is that their thunder?
    I shudder in darkness, did I daydream?
    lost, I see the leaf sweat along the seam.
 
I feel the rain falling fast on my face
cool and warm and calm as it tries to trace.
 ...

Atelophobia

Atelophobia

The fear of imperfection, of not being good enough,
or not doing something right.
The fear that consumes my mind through the day
and at night,
Leaves me staring at the ceiling, too tired
to fight.

The fear the whispers into my mind
when I talk.
And quietly follows my footsteps
when I walk.

This fear and my diffidence are
thick friends
They smile smugly and lock me away
from my dreams of resplendence.

Why do the giggles and the shy glances seem evanescent
when they are not?
Why are the words stuck in my head like this
black dot?
A dot that wouldn't go away how much ever
you wash the cloth.

But,
it's a small dot.

Small enough that I can ignore it and
make someone laugh and talk.
Small enough that I can ignore it and
keep my head up when I walk.
Small enough that I can ignore it when I fall and ...

Op-Ed Competition 2017

Egalitarian Education on Earth

Yes, your child has grown up, and now it’s time for you to chalk out their path to the future by taking the first small step – school. But how do you pick one? If you are in India, you would be surfing the internet for differences in the state, central, Indian and international boards. If you are in the United States, or Australia, you would be considering between private and public/state schools. In the UK, if your child is pursuing higher education, then it is a decision  between A-levels and International Baccalaureate (IB).

Education is a growing necessity, and quality education is being sought actively for a stronger future. It is, therefore, a pity, when some forms or boards of education, are considered incompetent or perceived weaker than the others. Even though students are taught the same basics, the same math and logic, their system or type of education creates differences among them.

As cultural and linguistic differences decrease...

Writing Synapses

Objectify

PROMPT: Describe an object

Do this: Sit up, close your eyes and turn your head in another direction. Be still, and open your eyes. And fix your gaze on the first object you see. It can be anything, your house keys, an apple, an apple core, even a blank wall. It could be your laptop charger. A dust particle. Whatever you see, don't dismiss it! And you see two objects, choose the first one.

How would you describe this object? What is your relationship with it? Is it something you use everyday, like your fridge, or is it something you never noticed, like a dark spider web? Do you have any memories with it, like an old locket with nostalgic pictures? Most importantly, what does this object represent to you? Do you see hope in a beautiful scenery? Do you find comfort or ignorance in that attic corner? 

Be sure to include where the object is from, whether you have bought...

I Remember

Remembering Remembering

I remember the day when he gave me an empty notebook and told me to fill it up, like I would want to fill up my life. I remember that it was raining too hard that day, or that night. I remember that I had woken up hours before dawn because there was a thunderstorm. I remember watching the sky fascinatedly through the glass window, because the thunderbolts disappeared before my eyes could catch them. I remember the sky was purple, but I don't remember when I had walked in the other room to discover that blank notebook near the window sill, and I hadn't remembered to shut the window.

I remember reminding myself that I was a seven-year old and my memory was not yet fully developed. 

I remember that the blank pages had become wet and wavy, as if the rain was trying to prove that it could create waves too, like the ocean. I remember not liking...

Glassy Eyes and Crystal Dreams

Dreams,
Clear crystals, 
Bending beams
Of hope into every direction.

Transparent.
Unbroken glass. 
The future apparent.
But untouchable. 

Scatter
Sand grains
Small wonders when fused together.
By the flame of passion.

Dreams
Glass pane.
Hammer makes a scream.
Shatter to the floor to abuse my toes.

Smooth
Sandpaper scolds.
Clear aspirations that soothe
My insecurity.

Crack.
Small incision.
Threatens front and back.
Away from shine.


 

Beyond Reason

Wistful Wonders

I
Tell me, how does the plant break rocks, 
when it bows to the of the breeze?
Why is the sound of water tripping over itself
trying to sooth and put my mind at ease?
When is the sky going reveal itself
Behind the clouds that tease?
Where can one find their souls
that constantly with emotions seize? 

II
Tell me, how does trust and close their eyes,
In the silent darkness?
Why does the sunlight show the path,
and then threaten blindness?
When is the earth going to fall
From its dizziness?
Where does the moon hide 
its scarred hideousness?

III
Tell me, how were we made,
Of ash and dust and shadows?
Why do we wade through life, 
But pretend to wallow?
When were we made,
to count our pleasure and sorrows?
Where is our soul
And from who do we borrow?

1V
Tell me, how did we forget,
what we are when we have enough?
Why did...

Your View

I Say

1. In order to enjoy using time, you must know how to waste it.
If you can't allow yourself to be a bird for five minutes, the other fifty five minutes make you a mule.

2. You need to try it at least once to say something for the next time.
This applies to food, places, books, and even people.

3. The amount of time you spend looking good must be lesser than the time you spend practicing gratitude.
No one likes rotten interiors.

4. The time spent while crying is equal to the time spent laughing, in a lifetime.
When they achieve a balance, you change or die.

5. If it affects someone else, you can't be the one to take decisions about it.
Who are we?

6. Luck is what you have before birth and after death. Not in the middle.
Yes, where you were born, and not what you do.

7. You if don't be competitive somewhere,...

Invented Cartography

Memorising

Third city in three years. How is it that this still turns out to be different?

Aren't cities supposed to be same, stretching buildings defending the sun with their glass shields, lonely green gardens desperate for a tag of 'open space', and painfully vivid malls with underground parking that looks like the perfect setting for murder.

But then there are those magically peaceful houses with lonely driveways and mystical by-lanes and Royal Poinciana trees throwing confetti as you walk on the red brick footpath. 

Our house, is located on the second floor of the newly embellished double flat building. We, Mom and I are on the second floor; we always prefer the terrace. The differences to other cities are visible, there is large verandah in place of grilled windows, a different room layout - with the bedrooms on either side of the hallway (previously they were on the same side). I take the bedroom on the left, a smaller, darker...

This I Believe

Looking At My Hands

I believe that
What you give around, 
That little smile, when your heart would pound,
That needful advice, desperately profound,
That handshake, when you were second, with the one crowned,
Doesn't always come back, and gets lost in the town.
Sometimes, it needs to be found. 

I believe that 
The effort doesn't make you the achiever.
The load doesn't make you a griever
Because millions have gone through the fever.
The effort and load arm also balance the lever.
The arm that goes around the shoulders of a deceiver,
The arm that supports the believer,
The arm that makes someone else a beaver,
Sometimes, also makes, for humanity, a weaver.

I believe that
All that glitters is not gold.
That your future cannot replace the old,
That someone beautiful is not always there to hold,
That a magnificent tale is not always told,
That there are some slips in the sculpture mould. 
That snowflakes are not pretty when the child...

WILD

The Shore And The Sea

There, behind the fortress of the wild palm trees,
Was a clandestine romance between the shore and the sea. 

The shore, with a serenity that shamed the wisest,
And a shimmering skin of sand, the smoothest.

Sprawling across, till where she lay free,
And curved where she met the sea. 

Where the sunlight turned the sand to glitter, making eyes blink.
If the shore had eyes, she would blind with just a wink.

Towards the sea, mysterious footprints run,
Like wisps of hair escaping in the sun.

The sea, swinging between fierce and calm as ever.
With some trapped emotions which threatened to sever.

Shades of blue playing hide and seek with the sun's gold.
But unrevealing about the depths of secrets they hold. 

Stretching farther, till the sun on the other side.
But, still touching the feet of the shore wide. 

Waves wooing the sands in the lights.
Performing serenades on moonless nights.

The shore turns wistful, for the...

Newsworthy

Bans, Borders and Bulls.

If I had a diary, it would be something like this:

November 8th, 2016.
Mother is cooking. Father is watching the headlines on television. He says that it is important to know what is happening in the world. I am doing my homework in front of the television, looking at the newsreader, wearing copious amounts of makeup, with some annoyance.

The next thing I see when I look up, is our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, standing against a blue background. He is announcing, no, fulminating the vices of black money, and says the words I did not know will cause such a commotion then: "From midnight, the 500 and 1000 denomination notes would not be legal tender."

Surprisingly, the effects of demonetization were seen before midnight itself. An hour later, around nine in the night, as our family goes for a night 'drive', we see long queues of cars at the fuel stations, and ATMs as well.

We had celebrated...

Becoming Human

The Lonely Moon

Every night, I looked out
For the moon.
Like a devotee, faithful and devout, 
Searching for a boon.

My mind couldn't fathom,
Constellations from the stars.
The cold moon, in a cloak of platinum,
Smiling wryly, from afar.

I saw him pacing around,
In a garden of darkness.
Was he brooding, around,
Alone in the vastness?

For he had hollowed scars,
But not any close friends.
He was closer than the stars,
But without incandescence. 

I wondered if he was jealous?
Weary of loneliness?
At Mars, Phobos had Deimos
And others ahead, had countless.

Was he insecure, and careful,
Of Neptune, where hues of blues swirled,
Of being more beautiful?
But then, it slowly unfurled. 

The reason why he roamed,
The earth, looking at every corner,
Moving quickly when shadowed, 
And pulling at the water. 

The night he disappeared,
It dawned upon me.
That he just feared,
Sharing his lively

Earth.

Missing

I'm changing cities. 
Flying like a bird. 
Displaying abilities. 
I never knew of.

But it takes tremendous energy to adapt.

Adapt to the confusing roads.
To the weather and the cold.
The monkeys, the toads,
And their language.

But it takes tremendous energy to love both. 

The city of my home
And the city I visit.
In the former I roam,
In the latter I talk. 

But it takes tremendous energy to get the best of both worlds,

Because, at the same moment.
You lose the best of both.
In one, you miss the spring's scent.
In the other, you miss the people 

And it takes tremendous energy to change.


 

 

Open Prompt

Questioning Reality

What is going on?

Is today 20th December, the day you call Tuesday?
Is this day going to pass away forever, just to give the others way?

Is the Sun a star, as you insist?
Is it just a huge light bulb hanging in the sky, or does it really exist?

Do we really die?
Do birds really have wings that fly?

Did that King really rule over the country?
Or was that just another one of your story?

Is this reality, or is this a dream?
A figment of a child's imagination filled with gleam.

What if all this a is a lie?
What would we do if we found out the 'why'?

Why were we born, or why do we die?
Why do we live and why do we cry?

What is your name is not yours?
What if you are surrounded by people who are not yours?



But then, what if it is out there?
Out there...

1 Photo, 100 Words

Lessons from a Cnidarian

They stared at the silhouette 
of a rising jellyfish
disappearing into the water.

He told her,
Jellyfish have
no brains,
no hearts,
no ears,
no heads,
no feet,
no legs,
no bones.
Their skin is so thin that they can breathe through it.

She nodded,
That's why,
they are 
so calm
so satisfied
so electrified
so electrifying
so graceful
so beautiful
Because they don't have things to worry about."

He asked, 
But then
Aren't they heartless?

She smiled,
They are.
They aren't tethered to this world.
Which makes them light enough,
to simply breathe,
to simply live,
and simply rise. 

1 Photo, 100 Words

Lessons from a Cnidarian

They stared at the silhouette 
of a rising jellyfish
disappearing into the water.

He told her,
Jellyfish have
no brains,
no hearts,
no ears,
no heads,
no feet,
no legs,
no bones.
Their skin is so thin that they can breathe through it.

She nodded,
That's why,
they are 
so calm
so peaceful
so satisfied
so electrified
so electrifying
so graceful
so smooth
so beautiful
Because they don't have things to worry about."

He asked, 
But then
Aren't they heartless?

She smiled,
They are.
They don't love
or hate.
Which makes them light enough
to simply live
and simply rise. 
 

Signing Off

See you.

Dear Change,

You paid me a big visit last year, when I shifted my school. You kept meeting often from there, as if trying to remind me that you would never die. That you would keep visiting me and have small rendezvous around the corner, for forever, until the day that I ultimately die.

I never knew that I would write a letter to an immortal recipent.

I also never knew that you would be stubborn. That if you were asked to go away, you would glare back, and and stand until the person would push around and be forced to change its way.   

But you and me never met like that.
We crashed head-on. So hard that I'm still finding my way back.

But it's lost. Or disappeared at least. That sense of comfort, that one feels when taking a road more taken, is gone. 

In fact, I stand on this road, so confused and drained of confidence...

Missing

I'm changing cities. 
Flying like a bird. 
Displaying abilities. 
I never knew of.

But it takes tremendous energy to adapt.

Adapt to the confusing roads.
To the weather and the cold.
The monkeys, the toads,
And their language.

But it takes tremendous energy to love both. 

The city of my home
And the city I visit.
In the former I roam,
In the latter I talk. 

But it takes tremendous energy to get the best of both worlds,

Because, at the same moment.
You lose the best of both.
In one, you miss the spring's scent.
In the other, you miss the people 
 

 

Self and a Statistic

On the screen of a laptop

Her eyes glow with interest as she delves deeper into the tragic past and the beautiful present of a magnificent monument, countries away, for a school project on the screen of her laptop. 

Meanwhile, a stranger's eyes glow with interest as he delves deeper into her profile on social media, countries away, wrecking her future on the screen of his laptop. 

Self and a Statistic

On the screen of a laptop

Response: Her eyes glow with interest as she delves deeper into the tragic past and the beautiful present of a magnificent monument, countries away, for a school project on the screen of her laptop. 

Meanwhile, a stranger's  eyes glow with interest as he delves deeper into her profile on social media, countries away, wrecking her future on the screen of his laptop. 

My December Competition 2016

December in Delhi


December 2015.

Winter is not good for a polluted city like mine. December, being the main month of winter in India, is always the coldest.
 
All things in nature huddle together in winter, trying to find, or steal, some warmth from the other.
 
The clouds creep towards the ground. The fog and the smoke meet and embrace, and together try to steal the little sunlight before it touches the earth. The smog becomes denser, trying to wrap the earth in a heavier, grayish blanket, like the people sleeping in woolen quilts in their homes.  Evening darkness approaches faster than before, as if the smog did succeed in robbing the sunlight. Even after twilight, the smog refuses to diffuse. The air becomes thicker, but the world puts on an old, dull, sweater and wraps a muffler around its neck and walks on.
 Some evenings, it coughs and some mornings, it can see its breath. But most days, it...

My December Competition 2016

December in Delhi

December 2015

December is always cold, being the main month of winter.  Winter is not good for a polluted city like mine. All things in nature huddle together in winter, trying to find, or steal, some warmth from the other.

The clouds creep towards the ground. The fog and the smoke meet and embrace, and together try to steal the little sunlight before it touches the earth. Evening darkness approaches faster than before, as if the smog did succeed in robbing the sunlight. Even after twilight, the smog refuses to diffuse. The air becomes thicker, but the world puts on an old, grey, sweater and wraps a muffler around its neck and walks on.

This year, my father decided to travel to escape the harsh winters. Migration he called it and 'Better to get the sun somewhere than get closer to that old, rusty heater at home' is what he said. We decided to migrateto...

1 Photo, 20 Words

Starburst

My nebulous thoughts formed a perfect sphere.
Resplendence quietly brushed against the circumference.
I discovered new vibrancy and iridescent colours. 

Why I Write

Getting out

It all started as a diary.

I wrote rants to crumple them up and then burn
To forget those moments of unexpected turns,
That no one cared to inform me about
Because I was a child and I need to learn.

It went on to become realisations

All those epiphanies
And life lessons and philosophies
That could flow from a 12-year old mind
Of wishes and whimsies.

It turned round the corner to confrontations

To see myself and figure out
My difficulties, my dreams and 
my doubts,
That I died to reveal to someone
But I didn't dare signal or shout.

It went on to become dreams.

Dreams that I know wouldn't ever be real,
But I still wanted to feel.
Because dreams clashed with realities,
So hard that it took forever to heal.

Today I write,

For all these reasons, and more
Like to comfort and amuse and explore
All the dangers that I can't.
I write to get out...

Names, Names, Names

Names

A breakfast joint: Filltered
A new smartphone: Iridescent
An eyeglasses store: Eye Site
A dog pound: Barker
A highway: Western Bypass
An island resort: Whitney
A new constellation: Eyrie
A pet polar bear: Fairy
A nail polish color: Rose Gold
A new butterfly species: I can't think of anything!

10 Words

Closing the Calender

1. Cracks
2. Cold
3. Crystal
4. Cardigans
5. Cleaning
6. Candies
7. Caramel
8. Carols
9. Christmas
10. Closing
 

10 Words

Closing the Calender

1. Cracks
2. Candies
3. Carols
4. Cold
5. Cleaning
6. Cardigans
7. Caramel
8. Christmas 
9. Crystal
10. Closing

The Peace of Wild Things

Dreaming to sleep

My heart pounds in my head,
My chest feels empty.
My eyes overflow as I lie on my bed.
Staring at the blank ceiling.

I hate the present
I had loved the past.
But it is so far and distant,
that I'm losing it fast.

My breathing slows,
My minds slips.
A memory flows,
Chasing the darkness in my eyelids.

I find my solace in memories.
Drowning in them thoroughly,
Memorising my reveries.
So much that I'm tired.

That day of camping in a tent.
That day of delicious food.
That day of my achievement.
That day that I can't remember.

My tears cease.
My heart calms.
My breaths ease.
My eyes droop.

And I fall asleep,
Hugging my precious dreams.
As they try to seep.
Through the darkness.

Novel Writing Competition 2016

Nefelibata

I try to run faster than I had yesterday. I lift my feet as soon as they touch the sidewalk, not wanting to waste any time, and also to push my exhaustion as far as I can, because the beach is just a few meters ahead. I can feel the saline air on my face. There, my legs would stop running, and then my mind would start.

Everyone on this planet has an escape. Escape from their lives, their present that they didn’t accept. Escape from school for the young or from work for the old. Some even wanted to escape their past, and some, their future. Everyone had different mediums. The desperate took drugs, the stressed took alcohol, and the naïve took the playground. I was young too, only thirteen, but the park held horrible memories for me, remaining as scars on my knees and elbows. Bullies and stupid kids were dangerous.

Instead, I escaped through dreams.

It was...

Unnamed

Blank

It is the crescent moon in the darkest night.
It is the electric bulb's blinding light.
It is the blank page, awaiting a pen.
It is the shell of the egg of the hen.

For some, it is beauty and joy,
The flowing gown of a bride coy.
The cloth on the table of a lavish feast,
The cloth on the shoulder of the holy priest.

For some, it is emptiness,
A colour without hue or happiness.
The cloth that covers the respected dead,
And the flowers that are offered and spread.

But for all, it is the colour of truth,
The colour of the peaceful youth,
That is easily hidden by the black:
A small lie or a kingdom's attack.

It is in the eyes of the fierce and brave,
In the hair of the serious and grave.
In the diamond of a beautiful ring,
In the feathers of an angel's wing.

It is the colour that is light...

Novel Writing Competition 2016

Nefelibata

I try to run faster than I had yesterday. I lift my feet as soon as they touch the sidewalk, not wanting to waste any time, and also to push my exhaustion as far as I can, because the beach is just a few meters ahead. There, my legs would stop running, and then my mind would start.

Everyone on this planet had an escape. Escape from their lives, their present that they didn’t accept. Escape from school for the young or from work for the old. Some even wanted to escape their past, and some, their future. Everyone had different mediums. The desperate took drugs, the stressed took alcohol, and the naïve took the playground. I was young too, only thirteen, but the playground held horrible memories for me, remaining as scars on my knees and elbows.

Instead, I escaped through dreams.

It was my favorite word. Dreams. I loved dreaming, and my favorite place was the shore. The...

Walk

Sarah loved to walk.
Walk on the road on her way to school. Or walk on the clouds of her dreams. Clouds, she called them, because they were dissipated by the slightest disturbance, or interruption. She knew she couldn't stop, because life itself wouldn't stop.
Walking took no mind. Instead it busied the body, leaving the mind free to wander. Where? She didn't care.
And this was her mistake.
Walking too far, left her strayed from home. Wondering if anyone else had ever come here. Dark, it was. She was in the woods, even though she lived in a city. She had no idea where she had walked.
Was walking meaningless? If one had to return?
She quietly stopped, even though her fear was screaming inside her heart. She turned around, one-eighty degrees, she told herself.Sarah started walking where she thought she came from. And she walked backward. Backward, to where she had started.
Walking, yes, but alone, in dangerous...