Fantastic!

The guy said, Fantastic! Over the phone.
Fantastic! Fantastic! He said rubbing his palms
together in glee. A radiant guy. Who had won-
just won- a publishing contract for a book of his
erudite economic essays; his first. Fantastic!,
unwittingly he said to his caller- by the sound of her
voice a demure lady from the publisher’s office.
The demure lady herself was fantastic. Polite and
happy to help. She explained the draft in detail.
Not that the essayist guy heard anything. Fantastic!
Fantastic! He kept repeating showing clearly
he didn’t know what else to say.

The lady said she too once studied Econ. A long time
ago. Far past than he could count the years with his
fingers, she laughed. Her professor, Professor Bhalerao
had been strict. Had taught her a marginal cost thing
which had not been so bad, but, Mrs. Surekha Patil’s
lectures on behavioral economics had been fantastic-
and the theory of games?- she rushed- the prisoner’s
dilemma and all?- kind of fun! She laughed again.
Indeed, she had read all the essays by our essayist-
the whole book!- despite her ignorance and lack of
time after a job, and being a mother of an autistic son.
But. Truly. He wrote well.

Thereafter the conversation was over. For the guy kept
mum. The lady stood on her toes, the heels by the
wayside- waiting- the phone in her hand turning warm.
She flushed. The world turning down on her: happiness,
doubtful. Unknownst to her a tall tree had taken root in the
essayist’s room. Splaying branches into the future- its
fickle round leaves of probabilities swayed- the ripe yellow
fruits of payoffs were hanging at the end. He said, I don’t know
how to say it, but, you are lovely. Will you go out with me?
The lady laughed. Nervously mentioning a bottleneck.
The guy said, Listen, I have calculated.
You, me, and your son, together. We will be fantastic!


Shout

Please, please, I am a good guy-
But I want to shout.
There’s a hush, so what?
I want to shout.

Even if you are there
or not there- after dark-
laid bare in bed, or clipping nails,
or staring out of the window to the cold-
or reading out, in light, two friends and
a bear: children’s grim fairy tales

There.
I want to shout.

I want to shout.
I want to shout.
I want to shout.

For a reason unknown, for unfelt pain
A lungful of cry, a shriek profane-
With no word of rage, with no disdain
For the hell of it- I want to shout.

But, the greeter in the mall
says, shhhhhh-
But, the teacher in the hallway
says, shhhhhh-
But, the preacher of the good soul
says, shhhhhh-

“The life is so profound and brisk-
Why can’t you feel the bliss… of no sound?
Keep quiet or go away from here.”

Please, please I am a good guy-
But I don’t want to go.
Not me. Not like this.
For the silence of a frow is
an impossible thing.

And there-

out in the open, deep in the dark
for me silently it larks, forever-
an urge to fill up the void-
with a shout, and an-

Echo.

Echo.
Echo.


16 Sixteen Word Stories in 2016

1. Frauds

Abe drew his knife. “Is he looking?”, the boy whispered.

“I hope so”, the father said.

2. Kindness at Zombie town

Blood trickling down. The old man lent his umbrella.

They don’t eat what they don’t see.

3. Long Journey

“Goodness needs no intent.’ The co-passenger said waving my purse at me.

‘Next time, I buy.”

4. Mary

Upon hearing Mary said, “John ain’t my son, Isaiah. You are. Come down…look after me.”

5. World Cruise

My penis envy was not apparent till I married a Filipino girl on a world cruise.

6. Gravity of a Romance

Without looking away from the apple, Issac said, “Could you wait, Kathy, till I solve this?”

7. Royal Affair

Kalpurnia sobbed, “Big breasts?”

“No, no”, Caesar said.

“Tall? Lascivious?”

“No freaking way.”

“Then?”

“A teenager.”

8. Broken Roof

When Mt. Everest melted, Kalki was at Pamir. Water poured in to fill up the roof.

9. Laughing Matter

‘Haha,’ thought the mother hyena. One thing to kill the woman.

The baby would be another.

10. Sixteen and Counting

“One… Two…”

“What you counting?”

“Words in my novel.”

“Really? How far could you go?”

“…Sixteen…”

11. R2-D2

D’Qar bound, R2-D2 bleeped, ‘It’s not that I don’t feel regret. Just that regret repairs nothing.’

12. Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

When the children are asleep, I stay awake.
For my gift.

– A good father

13. A Poet’s Sexuality

‘A poet’s sexuality is a strange thing’: Neruda wrote in the morning and snored all night.

14. Time Pass

“Kiss me.’ the dragon nudged the princess. ‘There isn’t much to do till the prince arrives.”

15. Bad Dreams

Putting children asleep, Mrs. Goebbles had a terrible vision. That she had crept inside their dreams.

16. Blind Lane

One lane. One house. One tree. The tree jumps. The house giggles. The lane turns blind.


Sadness is Not a Precious Thing

Your sadness is not a precious thing
-The indulgent fool!-
The precious is a landowner’s land trove
( For God doesn’t make land anymore. )
The precious is a beautiful woman’s sneer
( At things. At people. At you. At less. )
Her monopoly on consensual sex, and
the alcohol that kept you going despite
that horribly low feeling is extremely precious.
The precious is what you yearned for and
fought for and killed for and snitched for
and what you rightly knew precious and
acquired them as yours ( Deservedly so )
and showed them to the world and said,
‘Look, look, this is mine, and that? That’s mine too.’
That power of invoking green monsters in
others is truly precious. While your sadness-
your incompleteness- your lost faith- you
keep it unknown, hide it inside a dark vault-
under a shade, below the ground, with
a dead body that is yet to be yours.


A Song on the Radio

A song on the radio, an old song
on the radio from the days of
my boyhood and anticipation- to
grow up throughout the summer,
any moment expecting love-

The promise of the days- a deliberate
softness of the sun- the swell of a
rose bud against my touch; no more
the song carried them in its heart-
In indifference it began.


The Winter Saved Me

The winter saved me.
Those who live on this side
of regret- the humid side-
know. The rain is not a relief.
Just an utility to grow the
year’s grain. Therefore,
the mud and the hurl of
unclean water, the food
from the yesterday’s pooja,
party; strewn on the road,
in unlit rain, its horrible
stench to be taken lightly.

The winter saved me.
Those who hover on this side
of the rim of guilt –
the burning side- know.
The summer is not a relief either.
A long wait for utility rain.
The skin of weary thin patience
is veered against the cloudless
sky; at the prickly heat farm
at noon, canopying the acres
of dry, cracked land that no
farmer’s hand fan soothes.

Belies the autumn: Oh, the
autumn is a joke.
An apology of a season.
An imposter in a sunny dress.
Comes and leaves like Gods. Thin.
Omnipresent. Hence, worthless.
The hope of a coward.
No one to cling to when the
hope turns dew. Or chaff.
Silent foot moulds lay awake
on the deserted rice field to usher
the threshing men home.
But, no one comes.

The winter saved me.
In the spring that I had known
the green leaves in the garden
of moss had known again green.
The color of ill that had splayed out
spleen bile blue; and the tremble, the
sweat, the sorriness scratching the
throat, the cough, the dark black
weight of the door- the sullen
door- are neatly stacked
in convenient almirah folds:
the useless, motionless past.

The winter saved me.
The winter saved me, else I would
be the flame of the pyre, a forlorn star
watching the world grieve between her
stitching chores and pelting of dry water
drops on the tin roof while red, blue birds
bring home food from furlong far.
Ice, ice, ice- don’t come back twice-
smashing blinds, but I was on the road
carrying the rice cart from home
to the success city, in a bitter blizzard.
And the winter killed me.

The winter killed me.
The winter saved me from being sadder.


His Dream

When he climbed upon his usual bed
after the noon meal, summer time,
the memories of his unusually long life
didn’t come out to render him a shade,
console him with the dream of a bicycle.
Rather he saw his dead sisters had
appeared from the crypt of his old sorrows
and hanged themselves from the roof;
squirming their vapour bodies, wiggling
their shadowy limbs in the air like they
couldn’t wait any longer to anoint him.

Appropriate not to repent then, he thought:
this, going from nowhere to nowhere, really
an abrupt dream between the dreamlessness,
mingled with blood, bone and the vagaries
of light, shadows and the economics of life.
Why worry then, with the making and seizing
of thoughts and the Sense of I: an aloof
property of the body at best: an unnecessary
burden, till the sense dies, till the old sisters
vanish in the meaningless waft of sky?
With this hope he opened his eyes
not to see the same orphaned dream again.