River Ride

The ride across the river soothed him. There was something in the gentle flapping of the sail, and in the way the prow cut through the still water that eased the clamor in his soul. The river flowed around him like his dreams at night, lazy and indulgent. He looked at the horizon and thought of the love he had lost, found and was in the process of losing again. The sky looked like a painter’s canvas waiting to be filled with the fluffy figures of clouds, transformed by experience.

He wondered where he was going wrong. Had he not said the right words? Was he not trying to do the right things? Was his habitual silence to be interpreted as indifference and coldness at best and even malice at worst? Was it hard to see that it would be the same on this side of the mirror too? But then he had always misunderstood relationships. Invariably, he would be caught on the defensive unable to put his point across. Inevitably, he would succumb to what was being said and thrown in his face like a dirty shower of autumn leaves, dried and aged. It was an endless circle of poignant pain.

The boat executed a slow turn around a bend. A bird flew overhead calling for its lost mate mirroring his quest. The trees on the bank stood like wise old men conferring over some important detail not understood by life. He ran his fingers through his hair and was reminded of a similar action from the past. How different things were then! Everything was new and innocent. The shape of things experienced could be caught in the hollow of the palm like an earthen lamp aglow for a festive evening. Nothing was to be lost but there was everything to be gained and stored in the form of burnished memories.

Now on the horizon he could see his approaching destination. The time had come again. Should he follow the path laid down by his heart…or by his mind? Once before he had followed the path laid down by his heart and had thought he had succeeded. But that path had been a disguised circle and he was back to where he had started. He wondered idly whether life was a series of concentric circles arranged to look like the ups and downs of a mountain road. Everybody came back to the same point in the end. Perhaps it was only perspective that changed, not the path.

The boat bumped gently against the jetty and people gathered at the gangway and jostled to be among the first ones to get off. Yes, he thought, the time to face the truth had come again.


Too many times
I have stopped
Too many times
I have thought

Instead of

Saying what
That matters
Saying what
That counts

And now
At this moment
When I suddenly
Your presence
In my heart

Like the whiff of your perfume
Like the taste of your tongue
Like the curve of your smile

I know
For sure that
I love you


Those rides
On the bike
While the evening
Let off its last breath
I remember them

Those wet kisses
In the green room
While time lost
Its temper
I remember them

Those long looks
In dim diners
While love lurked
In our eyes
I remember them

Those warm hugs
On the rock
While the wind
Whispered our names
I remember them

Those silly fights
Over little words
While the days
Crept off the calendar
I remember them too

That last goodbye
On the road
When the sun shone
On our golden tears
I remember the most

Final Light

The auditorium is huge. It is an ocean of space built in three levels. Diffused lighting lights the whole place. The light makes the space expand further, pushing the corners in and masking the details. The light lacks quality but makes up with its evocative display of vast space. The stage is the focus of the brightest lights. It shimmers like a mirage. The curtains hide in the corners like nervous stagehands, streaked with fine dust. And it is quiet. Quieter than even an empty house. The silence covers everything like cold dew. It drips from the dangling microphones, it fills the chairs flowing in like waves and it gives shape to the shallow shadows hiding under the seats.

I’m lying in the center of the stage, stomach ripped open. My fingers clutch the intestines crawling out of the jagged hole. I want to scream but the silence is on me too. It covers my mouth with a dry kiss and the screams struggle at the back of my throat. I do not want to fight it. I want it to engulf me. I squeeze my intestines harder.

Everything explodes.

Space expands and then contracts into a thin but intensely white line. I close my eyes and embrace Death.

(final part in a trilogy of short pieces loosely based on the themes of light and death)

Second Light

The chairs are empty, three of them under the lonely spotlight. All three are draped with a white cloth. One is slightly in front of the other two as if wanting to stand out solely in the light. One is without a cushion and is made of pink plastic. The other two are wooden and have cream-colored cushions. They do not look too old and appear to be waiting for someone. Someone to come and occupy the empty space and throw an additional shadow taller than that of the chairs but blending in with their manufactured uniformity. Perhaps they are like the Sirens of Circe placed there for people fate has abandoned in the alleys of failed ambition.

Time passes. Now there is a man. He is sitting in the plastic chair, the least comfortable of the three. He is foaming at the mouth. His hands are clutching a thin black rope made of plastic. At his feet lies a disposable syringe, old and ugly. His eyes try to concentrate on the spotlight as if by doing so he can find all the answers he ran away from every time. But it is too bright for them. His pupils dilate suddenly. The light overwhelms him and rushes through his open mouth, up his nose into the brain. As everything turns a brilliant white he sees a young child walking away from him, hand in hand with his mother.

(second part in a trilogy of short pieces loosely based on the themes of light and death)

First Light

It was night and the lights were flashing, long streaks of them, white and bright. The air was still but not heavy. There were people around, curious and concerned. They were standing in groups, their collective whispers a pleasant background hum, faces lit up like old paintings in the intermittent light. Dull yellow tape marked off the inner from the outer. Bored faces on the inside going through the formalities. Their actions familiar yet unfeeling. Their clipboards and pens glinting under the flashing bulbs, the chalk lines flowing together to form an unknown constellation of connected paraphernalia.

In the center, the body of the woman, oblivious to all the sudden entropy. Her arms splayed wide open on either side, pointing to some lost direction. Her eyes open to the stars, taking in the empty splendor of the wheeling heavens above.

(first part in a trilogy of short pieces loosely based on the themes of light and death)


One by one they all left, like migratory birds on the journey south, each taking a moment to look back and take in the surroundings one final time. The light outside profiled them against the darkness inside. They stood like solemn sentinels keeping guard over some hidden truth. I was in a corner, my territorial integrity intact from their invisible stares. Their extremities twitched and twirled from some internal rhythm. Or was it a new nervousness on their part? Perhaps they thought that I would leave my corner and claim more of the space outside. Or perhaps they feared that I would find the truth they had been hiding all along. I did not care for the answers. I was content to just sit there and observe their individual coronae visible in the momentary eclipse of detail and shadow.


when the shadows begin
            to lengthen
the huge distance between
            you and me
I take a deep breath and
             play back all
those quiet moments we
under those trees and rocks
            when the sun
was low and the light fading
            our fingers
tracing skin textures and
            our lips
wrapped around each other
            like symbols
of a love yet to be defined
            I miss you


These keys
That I tap
For sonic delight
And literary sunlight
Produce packets
Of ancient lore
Covered by cobwebs of thought-bore
I blow away
The colluding threads
With the breath of my dreams
So do you see them now?
Lilac-colored tales
From the digital entrails
Of the cyberoptic underground

Bittersweet Bookmarks

You lived
In my eyes
As a traveling teardrop


In your hands
I saw the crochet work
Of love corrupted


Across the room
You stood
Waiting for my words
To roll out the red carpet


The night
Came to pass
In the space
Between our raised eye-brows


The stars
Put to sleep
My passions; reawakened


Sunshine stooped
To enter
Our eyes lowered
In mutual shame


Those words
You dropped
Like coins in a box
Now clink, whenever
I call out your name


These tears
Fall on the floor
And turn into
Letters of love


Let me leave
These words
In your heart
As bookmarks
Of our love


The rain fell like warm feelings, wetting my heart with the tears of yesterday. I wandered down the street moving in and out of the long shadows. The street was mostly empty reflecting the state of my mind. My eyes stared at the way the raindrops rolled off the edge of my fingertips, drop by drop, and one after the other in slow motion. I like rain and the manifold forms it takes. The late summer evening shower is the best, washing away the heat and grime of the day with a gentle whisper. Lo! The sun peeked out of the corner of a cloud like a shy child. I bathed myself in this sudden radiance, cleansing my emotions with the weightless photons.

The sky opened its arms for me. I covered myself in the warmth of its blue embrace. Eyes closed, hand folded over my chest I fell into an ocean of dreams. Seldom does one find such a perfect stillness, a stillness which can be sliced with the edge of a sword. I traveled far, as far away as possible to a land where deserts wrote poetry with sand and rocks radiated wisdom with their silence.

I touched red water with my feet and kissed blooming flowers with the edge of my tongue. I held warm flesh in my arms and caressed the sinuous curves of beautiful bodies. I fought ugly moods and played with splendid emotions.

Green memories tumbled over each other in my head in an effort to gain the gift of permanence, each one a box of feelings and hidden insights, each one a window into time distorted by the play of light and thought. I moved on, counting the cobblestones receding under my feet like milestones of the mind. In the distance, I could see my destination appear out of the wet haze.

Nothing mattered anymore. The days may roll and the nights may flow but my memories will still be secure in their niche. I can listen to their mellow voices whenever nostalgia shoots its melancholic arrows again.

I opened the door and entered the white room.

(a personal ode to the utter visual splendor of the Chinese film ‘Hero’)