Silences and voids

We all have been there, slowly getting sucked into them, against our wishes, helpless.

We try to navigate our way out using whatever device we can engage – tact, humility, stupidity, sometimes verve, but the more we try to fight the silences and voids in our lives, the more deep we fall into them. They keep expanding over time, enveloping our nights and days, our thoughts and dreams, with their suffocating embrace.

They unsettle us even more as we grow old and mature, forcing us to strive hard in filling them with pettiness, mundane undertakings like small talk, work which doesnt interest us, food that dont appeal to our palates, love that is never there, each of these undertakings no different than a random fling, a bizarre nightout, so that we can forget that the next day won’t be any different.

But then, maybe the right way to handle them is to let them be, to not fight, to not ignore, but to be comfortable in these uncomfortable silences and the soul numbing voids. Maybe that’s when we will start to see them for what they really are, and maybe it will be the revelation that we all live our lives for, the beautiful essence of existence, the exhilarating truth about everything, in its primordial and therefore most powerful form.

This is how the optimists talk, the ones who have subscribed to religions and faiths.The rest of us must try to forget or try to fight till we fill our silences and voids with rational answers. Oh, how wonderful it would be if we could only believe.


…on the fragile bridge

The sound of the ripples
kissing the banks,
of the wind rustling
the leaves of the banyan,
the sound of bells
from a place far away,
is it a temple, I wonder,
a church, or probably kids
rushing out of their school.
These sounds make me calm,
as I add to these
my sigh of relief,
for I am finally there,
with everything real,
and in it you are too,
at the other end of the bridge.
Your presence wavers
in the heat of the winter sun,
in the pounding heart that goes on,
and I know you hear it,
and the sounds like I do.
You too feel the urge
to make a move.
But we know, another step
and this bridge will crumble,
we won’t even
take each other’s name,
for our voice might shatter
this surreal beauty,
waking us up from this dream
into each other’s blinding reality.


imagination is not always fiction..

“She is not the typical fiction writer who conducts methodical research and then labors to produce a faithful simulacrum of a time or a place. She doesn’t bother about each and every detail of a major event that will form the backdrop of her novel, just a facet, an anecdote enables her to recreate the event in a way that fits well into the plot. If she visits a place which appears in her work, she doesn’t research the social, economical or historical aspects, instead she wanders in the streets stopping at a building, or a mossy wall from which she creates the whole building.”

As I read this critic review of N’s latest novel, I remember her telling me with those wondrous eyes – ‘The outside world is a place from which to snatch inspiration, details, people and feelings.’

It was one of the first animated discussions we had on the subject of writing, where we debated with passion at extreme ends of the spectrum. But she wasn’t forthcoming with her views at first, this conversation for instance happened many months after we were well acquainted. Once you get to know her, you develop a real sense the power of human imagination, and how to be vivid about it. It’s a feat I still cannot manage with finesse.

Also, I find it a bit queer, but then I am an insufferable realist, judging people at the first go. I knew there was something amiss when I met her the first time. In a room surprisingly crowded for a book launch, N looked lost, misplaced, a beautiful pearl among the oysters looking for empty chairs. Her beauty was however not in the feminine projections or the curves that are the usual indicators. It was her face, with a small forehead, her inquisitive and ever wondering eyes, the sharp nose, full lips that she never put lip colors on and a curving chin. It looked out of place in her unremarkable body. But place is what I had saved for S, who was late as always. I was so moved by N’s appearance that I had offered her the save seat as if in a daze.

She was thankful, of course, but the way she offered her thanks had wrenched me out of the charmed state and then put me off. She looked through me, a smile that betrayed it’s distance, in response to an old joke that one recalls, or a pleasant memory that visits us out of the blue. She belonged to my world, was present in that room, but i was certain it was just one of her imaginary identities, another N was probably visiting the streets of Cairo, and another kissing me passionately, but that was just wishful thinking. I had tried to make harmless, mundane conversation but her responses had made me regret my decision and I started preparing for the wrath of S.

On our subsequent meetings, N started acting more sane, and social. She would engage me in conversations about things that ranged from the most petty to subjects like molecular biology, or say theoretical physics. But her presence wavered, one instance she is listening to me intently and the next there she would have the lost, glazed look. Even though she was against explorations in the usual sense, she wanted to explore each and everything she could. What she wanted from me were those little triggers to set her imagination soaring. And once in flight, she had no use of me or my views.

This applied to our love too, or whatever you might want to call the relationship that was between us. She took cues from me, my actions, inactions and confessions, but that was all she needed. Breaking up was an equally surreal moment, she was right about most of the things, on how I am never sure about what I want, of how I am years younger to her, but what remains with me about the event is how she calmly told me that she loved me like no one she ever did, and how she had taken all that was to take from me, in form of inspiration, details and feelings and how she had built me in her imagination, in her soul, that will remain so even if I wasn’t there. In a way she taught me the same, the N I loved remains etched in mine no matter what I read or hear about her.


The lure of dark literature

Why are we attracted to dark literature?

The art of living, as the wise gurus tell us is to be thankful, to enjoy every moment of it, every breath we take. To the practical mind this translates to finding happiness in every moment and the mind concedes the futility of this search. However, it sees the logic in the search for a less ephemeral and less insignificant happiness, one that transcends concepts like moments and breathing. This practical and average mind, average because of the number of beings it rides on is far more than the other types therefore makes people live in the search of happiness.

With the platitude elegantly established, we will attempt to address the question in the first line which must feel misplaced in the paragraph that it finds itself in. We might even modify the question, now that it feels happy to be back in focus and therefore amenable to changes, and ask what is the happiness that people derive from reading dark literature. For, if reading the material is not making them feel good, then they wont belong to the club of averages. And if that was true, there would only be a few lovers of the dark writings, the irrational being the minority. On the contrary, tragedies over the ages have held a greater veneration than any comedy or writing of the type that justifies why we should be thankful for the gods, for mankind, for our existence and such things as world peace. Contemporary literature is also mostly dystopian, it reeks of suffering of the individual, a pain that one must live with, in every moment and every breath. A darkness pervades every word that comes out of the melancholic souls of these writers. It is overdone to such an extent that to a discerning reader, discerning being a euphemism for the cynic, this blatant display of darkness starts to seem pretentious.

Discerning or not, we all enjoy the books we read, and that takes us back to where we started this ramble. The question remains unanswered. Instead of jumping into the arena and proffering an answer let us remain on the sidelines for a little while longer and examine the nature of the contradicting states of happiness and sorrow.

Happiness compels us to seek company. It makes us look outwards, mostly because everything looks good when we are feeling so. It induces the urge to spread it around. Happiness demands dissipation of the inadvertent answers it conjures up.

Suffering and pain on the other hand makes us look within. It makes us introspect as we are flooded with questions. Everything we believed in, we loved, we thought of ourself, lies shattered to pieces rendering us incapable of expressing the gruesome reality that lies within to others. Suffering is inherently implosive, it leaves us stranded on the island with a heavy backpack of these debilitating questions.

Given these definitions, and being forced to accept the definitions as they are offered, we might re-establish the platitude that no sane person would like to indulge in anything that leads to the island. At this juncture, one might feel like giving up on the answer out of frustration with the author or one might persevere and delve further as one does while reading dark literature. The reader and connoisseur, or even the sceptic of the dark must understand that though the author has been striving to apply the question in the purview of grand schemes and ubiquitous definitions, the question is not pertinent to darkness in life, it is about dark literature.

Reading is an exclusively private activity. Even though some might cite book clubs and public reading, those same members of the clubs and the audience would understand the frustration of expounding the inexplicable more than the outsiders and the non participants. Reading, as we all know and which we in our personal spaces are doing right now with this post, is a private affair, but so is suffering. The subject matter resonates with the verb when we take up writings of the darker shades. It also seems promising because it relates and joins us in the search for the answers to our suffering. As a result, we tend to immerse ourselves in the work instead of the detached, flippant attitude we wear while reading something comical or something uplifting.

The reason we love dark literature is also because of the fact that we all suffer, unless we are the smiling gurus making others aware of their suffering and then providing ecstatic vacuous solutions. Dark literature provides us with perspective that might equip us not only in answering the questions that fester, but also prepare us in coping with life as it would unfold, both on the introspective and the emphatic grounds. The art of living is not about finding or acquiring the state of happiness in every moment, but in accepting the nature of the contradicting constructs that life is made of and reading till you drop dead.


You and I, me!

You bemoan our thoughts,

never resonating.

I delight in the footsteps

always rhyming.

You read to lose yourself

in your books –

their similes, metaphors

and the images.

I seek to find myself

in everything I peruse –

subtexts, layers,

and pauses between pages.

Looking for magic

in a reality mundane,

you let out a sigh.

Perceiving reality

in everything magical

gives me a high.

That romantic song

you listen to

tapping your foot,


reminds me of a dirge

of exhumed memories


You embrace

the brilliant sun,

when I serenade

the lilting moon.

A sensitive son

who will inevitably

fall through.

You are the detached reason,

I the reckless action.

A virile daughter

consumed by her

insatiable passion.

Always in dissonance,

you plot a sweet revenge.

Introspecting afterthoughts

though desire you to change.

I am no different in that

intimate scheming aspect,

disgust I may show,

but for you

I have unfounded respect.

And we were destined to meet

between the gray horizons,

in the vast meadows of oblivion,

where the sagacious stars shone.

Wavering between

a grueling duel

and a riveting duet,

when the flaws

glowed lucid

in our cogent arguments

making us fret,

making us look beyond,

the facade

and everything

we thought we knew.


And then I saw the mirror,

I saw you, as I see you,

and sadly you did too,

as you do too.


Flight of the outlier

conceived in a grey tomb

it grows in the conditioned womb,

discussed and debated by the quorum,

a shade of black in a primal form –

‘evil is dark but develops a shade of grey

judge we must not,

for even God let the devil have a say.’

acquiesced thus,

conceit and contempt deliver it,

suckling at the tragic, and the trodden,

it gets nurtured by wounds forgotten.

pricks hurt it more as it grows,

longs for clean slits in violent throes.

tricks learnt not with gracious flair

but excruciating fits in its hideous lair.

ambition makes it sad

and contentment precludes.

standing tall, feigning a calming glance,

an upright nemesis with an unjust stance,

consciousness in a suspended state,

rising with glee,

it mocks the likes of destiny and fate.

gaping at the moonlit night,

stars push him to rage as it takes flight.

shining eyes of the beast

marvel at the murmuring feast,

twisted tentacles wrap around

as it devours everything on the ground.

night breeze now carries

the rot of the slain dreams,

as an inimitable thought,

it pervades the once tranquil mind,

forsaking the lure of heaven

for hell is all it wants to find.


Denouement of escapism

the fences created to
keep out the others
boundaries invented for
a safety even further
limits exerted when
imagination flew unchartered skies
comforting are these ploys
but that which keep ourselves in ties

the secrets concealed for
sustenance of conscience
excuses invented to
avoid the inevitable finds
furtive glances when
passion soared in immoral skies
deluding are these schemes
of a bruised ego that forever lies

the space offered to
bloom out of a romantic gloom
tranquil voids invented for
absorbing the incessant clamor
distances extended when
reason reigned the moonlit skies
these are the circumventing expanses
in which a suffering love dies

it’s not darkness
because you closed your eyes
it’s not silence
because you stopped listening
it’s not the fences,
secrets or distances that stand
when your soul judges
and you have nothing to defend