Guest Writer: ESP (esprambles)

My poem got published in the Sudden Denouement Collective as a guest post. The collective is a group of exceptional writers, and I say ‘exceptional’ because of their concept of divergent literature. Do spend some time reading the posts on their blog.

Sudden Denouement Collective


[photo: Louise Brooks]

A flight for another day

Equipped with the wings
of love, freedom and justice,
the Icarus in me flies towards the sun
ignoring the wax and the flimsy threads
that keep my faith and sanity together.

The wind whooshes past my ears,
deafening, drowning the wise voices,
of a grim father and a solicitous mother,
of everything that I have read or have known.

Eyes water as drops of my past leave me
and the future appears as a mirage
flickering beyond the clouds
which I know conceal much more.

Riddled with doubts,
taking refuge in my doubts,
I feel safe as I cannot tell
tears from the blinding raindrops.

You who block my flight, questioning.
You the judging one, would you resist
not swimming towards the horizon
of your thoughts, of the vast expanse that is you,
of your relationships stretched to eternity.

Would you in…

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The inescapable curvature of attraction

Every love story starts
on a meandering path,
among the red spires
of antiquity, pickled with
dragons and veiled ladies,
or with a surprise swipe
towards the right,
guided by a profile
with a proverbial picture
that minced no hashtags.

The numbing tangent
that usually ensues
feels like a daze
without the chemicals, of course.
Towards the end however
every story longs
for a convex arc
to make it real,
for something true,
reminiscent of all
that we once were.

Everything curves
and coils back, they say,
riding on not just
the seductive words
but also the body of an
ophidian paradox.

Even gravity is borne
of the space time curve,
gravity of your thoughts
and actions are dictated
by the space and time
of your life’s transcending arc.

The circle of life may
seem broken at the tangents,
following love, family or dreams,
going astray on singular tracks.
Each may digress beyond us,
beyond logic but always
looking back wistfully,
they recount often
about how it began,
and of the curve
they originated from.

They teach us to follow dreams,
to aim bigger and better,
to be relentless, preserving faith
in ourselves and in others.
But when you see ethics bent
for building the arches of success,
what attracts are the curves
of rectitude that when aged,
ride not just our senile backs.

Attraction needs
a better explanation
than that of following a curvature,
for we know the truth
of our coiling wishes,
and the recoils of
a resurgent conscience
every time the elusive line
we think we are following
curves back to where
we started from.


Waiting for Ms Godot

“How can he keep calm and listen to the lies,” M says looking at her hands.

She is talking about her dad, whose life as far as we have deduced is a slideshow of all the ‘keep calm’ memes.

“Who is telling lies,” D asks without interest. He is always on autopilot when talking to M, or even if he is in her vicinity.

Bhai of course, he and his wife,” M seems to have moved on to examining her fingernails, they are painted blue, but not immaculately. M has never been the type who cared for her looks, maybe because she is genetically endowed with looks that cannot be improved upon. I say this with authority because M and I grew up together, with playing the doc memories and all.

“Oh no, don’t start with that again,” I say when I find her looking at me quizzically because I am examining her nails too.

“You know what your problem is, you cannot be friends with anyone.”

“Especially not women, because you don’t listen,” D says, earning a glare but ignoring it, continues, “you lack the necessary patience.”

“And you listen to me because you are patient?” Under M’s scrutiny D as usual takes refuge in his smile and looks at me for rescue.

“C’mon it’s not like that and I have patience when the topic is new. We all know the reasons why M is upset and why her dad avoids conflict. People get polished as they age, the ragged edges of their thinking or their behavior get sandpapered with the grains of time. I have seen the transformation in my dad, not sure of mom though.”

“Mom’s are different,” D agrees.

“I don’t think so,” M shakes her head at us, “my mom is exactly like him. Sometimes I think they prefer Bhai being devious rather than being honest with them. Maybe you are right, they do seem like they want to avoid conflict. I can’t stand it.”

“Of course you don’t. It’s the optimism, we still believe in the inherent virtues of humanity as we have been taught by others. Life on the other hand teaches pessimism, especially to the ambitious.”

“This is another problem why you can’t get along with women, you say more than you listen, and you say such things that they either have to agree with or risk appearing less wise.”

“D is right, you need more humor and less of pretending to be a philosopher.”

“She means,” D says with wise eyes, “you act like an old man, philosophy when used as a word in conversation is always an euphemism.”

“Yeah I get it, though I think we are approaching my problem from the wrong end. You guys forget I am here to meet a potential wife, not make friends.”

“There lies your third and the biggest problem, more than anything else you need to be friends with a person you are going to spend your life with.”

M is right, D nods.

“Well the evidence doesn’t support your claim, I have more friends than you, mostly women too, including you.”

D nods again.

“We are not talking about your Insta friends.”

“No, he has more on Twitter.”

“Ah Twitter is for the old, the tired or smoothened ones as you say. Why won’t you act your age.”

“A woman on Insta is better than two on Twitter,” D adds seriously.

“Shouldn’t you be on Tinder if you are looking for women?”

“No, not that I tried. Not Tinder but TrulyMadly. Women using dating apps are the ones who are either filtered out of the girlfriend race or are there looking for prospective husbands because matrimonial sites are being handled by their parents, uncles and aunts.”

“Haha I don’t believe that”

“No really, the first question I was asked on TM was where I work and do I have a LinkedIn account. It was such a shock when I had been debating on how much I should fudge the height and length stats.”

“I hope the executives on the matrimonial sites realize their true competition is from dating apps,” M says giving me that knowing smile.

“I hope Tinder executives in India realize their clientele are not sex craving women, but brides to be who want to choose for themselves,” D seems scandalized.

“Where’s this one from, the one we are waiting for. Dating app or Matrimony site.”

“Matrimony, a discovery of Mamaji‘s account created for me. He has called me five times already to give the same instruction. I should behave because she comes from a renowned family.”

“So you could misbehave if she didn’t come from a renowned family? What is a renowned family anyways.”

“Mafia! Bride Corleone.” D likes his joke and goes for his infamous hahaha.

“He means caste, most likely. He was telling there are very few women profiles from our caste on the site, says most women are going for love marriages and why cant I find someone myself instead of giving everyone a headache. I never asked them to.”

“I hate this caste thing, at one point mom said she would be ok with me marrying a boy from another religion rather than that from a different caste. How the fuck does it matter, even Modi and Shah have removed caste equations from politics.”

“Oh, where do I stand,” asks D anxious, “higher, lower or am I from a caste at par.”

“Haha very funny, you stand in the friend zone,” M says acting coy and then adding, “for now.”

She overcomes the awkward pause by turning towards me and asking, “were you not dating that NIFT woman.”


“Two what”

“Two of them. But they don’t want to marry him.”

“Why, is there something wrong with you,” she winks, that knowing smile follows.

“There must be,” D chimes in, “though I guess he over played the boyfriend role, now can’t even cameo as a potential husband, not even in roleplay.”

“Funny, what makes you so sure. In any case I don’t want to get married.”

“Married in June, you mean,” they laugh together.

“I think it is her,” I say pointing to a tall woman who is coming towards us, she fits the photo I have been sent. D and M look at the pic on my phone and at her with suspicion. I am not so sure myself, always been bad at faces.

“She looks taller than you.”

“Yeah that’s what Mamiji said, not a good match. But Mamaji was insistent, he says I can either ask her to stop wearing heels or buy myself high heels.”

“Are there shoes with high heels for men”

“Thick soles”

“You must not talk about height with her”

“Assuming, he wants to marry her”

“Well if she is tall, I won’t mind her as a friend. Never dated a girl taller than me. Do gimme more tips.”

“Look at her eyes when you talk”

“I am sure he knows that,” M says frowning at D, “my tip would be to ask her questions that have answers in affirmative, if she lets you that is.”

“Ok here she comes”

“And she is not the one”

“What do you mean yes questions”

“When you ask a question that makes the other say no, you are forcing them to commit to something, to take a stand and that makes them critical, and by inference illogical. I read it in a book.”

“So you never tried it yourself”

“No of course not, it sounds too philosophical”

“Hence, applies to you” D adds.

The women in heels takes a U turn and comes back to us, with a question in her eyes. I try to answer her in a yes, with my eyes that I never trust.


Social media collectives and collective opinion

Everything that exists on social media can be classified into two categories, personal updates and personal opinions. In both cases the emphasis is on the individual, everything personal is put on display. To the ones who subscribe to the personal updates, riddled or shall we say adorned with pictures of the person in all hues and shades, it may seem as if people are craving being judged. To others who indulge in discussions, be it about events, social issues, religion, history, politics and anything that can be discussed, it may seem like people are not only offering opinions but also judging others, not with facts, evidence or statistics but with the same opinionated thinking that they unscrupulously put on display.

In this post I am going to focus on the latter aspect, about opinions that we all on social media seem to have, or acquire out of compulsion, on each and every topic that exists and even the ones currently coming to existence as the millennials exercise their feeble creative inheritance to engineer new topics and prompts. At the outside it may sound ominous but it is not, at least in the sense that every individual is now enabled to voice the thought without hesitation and in the process mankind may come across ideas that the so-called experts or the authorities, the ones chosen to deliver these ideas would have missed. It is in a way the truest form of democracy, one that goes with an underlying implication of being another name for anarchy.

There are no universal truths anymore, no guiding principles, no consensus or authority that asks for proofs or witnesses. To take the premise even further and being a little harsh, one may say that logic and reason are becoming a thing of the past, the world will indeed become existential like it has been prophesied by the existentialists. These great people however seem to have never truly believed in their philosophy, they were after all the divergent disciples from the school of rational thought. Rational thought would have predicted, from it’s trusted methods like implication or induction, that in such an absurd world nihilism would reign supreme. Instead what we witness is people finding meaning to their lives, and even the utterly clueless standing for something, thus fighting the sense of insignificance that percolates from the world around us.  There are social media groups, and subgroups that cater to a specific variant of a specific idea, say of an utopian society, that one can choose to be a part of and get the satisfaction of doing something good, something worthwhile with one’s time.

It is no surprise then that the insufferable intellectuals and the liberals, who are really the most prolific on the medium hate social media as much as they love it, enumerating the ways in which it is destroying the fabric of humanity, of fairness and of the death of their romantic notions of an intelligible debate. They cringe at the increasing endorsement of the anecdotal content by both the audience and the participants, people who on their part have grown wary of the complicity and the innumerable nexus that rule the unsocial media, expert opinions, editorials and the government dialogue. Beyond the rant however, these skeptics proffer a few good arguments, one being the power conferred to the executive of these sites that could potentially be misused, a great example of this being the Facebook experiment.

The growing rank of Reddit is evidence of the shift in the arena for unhinged discussions, sometimes insipid, and many times insane but still carrying the alternative, the avant-garde thought of the millennials, people who have a say and the energy to shape the democratic world of today. The only problem as I have reiterated before is the rise of extreme individualism and of niche groups, the age old glaring issues that plague the concept of anarchy. The same is the biggest concern of the sites themselves, as they find ways to increase their user base and advertising income. Reddit for instance carried out an experiment(video below) to gauge the cumulative effect of opinions and beliefs of millions of its users and the result was surprisingly contradictory to the general pessimism and unfavorable notions we carry about social media, or mankind in general. The lines between these two are blurring away too fast to our conditioned slow eyes.


June weddings

As the sun goes waning
after another June day,
I find myself waning too,
in the park alone having taken
a detour that doesn’t make sense,
wondering about June weddings,
about things not making sense
because not only logic,
they seem to be governed
by space and time
and by stories with no ending.

Just when the missing humor
is about to try the cloak of sarcasm,
I hear laughter sounding
like it lacks a reason,
made of freedom which comes
only from abandon, of a child,
who is surrounded by family,
each casting a shadow
in the tilted sunlight,
like bars of a prison
guarding the laughter
along with him.

He tries to escape
but is dragged back,
each time with a different
but seemingly caring hand.
They look at him and discuss plans,
for him, I wonder,
each taking their turn
to lift him for assessment,
to caress him with love
or just engage by shaking their heads.

It looks like a performance,
a song and an act
performed in unison,
a perfection that
he is not interested in,
for unlike me
he must have watched it before.
Instead his eyes go back
to that one direction
which I follow
to an abandoned football.

One last dash with all his might,
one last attempt finds him
in the arms of a bigger male,
and he looks at the ball
with dejected eyes.
The laughter fades into a yawn
as the bigger kids come
to fetch the ball
and kick away his
hopes without a care.

I watch the setting sun
as expected of a poet
and wonder how
this child would grow up
to face another
such June sunset,
and see the merits
of the prison he grew up in,
laughing at why life and
it’s stories without endings
makes no sense
like the faraway June weddings.


The clouded judgement

magic in his finger tips,
in his wallet
and those perfunctory puffs,
a wand, white,
that conceals a poison,
only he would know
what it takes
to conjure these
clouds of pleasure.

losing the battles
against his thoughts and time,
he inhales a sooty relief
with a countenance divine,
to soothe the losses
his wearisome woes,
only he knows the price
his darkening soul pays
to indulge these lethal
clouds of convalescence.

closed eyes that betray
an obsession in introspection,
an excuse to shun the world
to explore the universe within,
you may not enjoy his acts
but would imitate when put on the stage
for insulated minds never realize
that all it takes to rise and reach the sky
is to shed the weight of the self
and feel others in the nascent
clouds of compassion.

Written in response to Clouds and World No Tobacco Day


The Left, Right and Center of Indian politics

The concept of left and right wing in politics comes from the French revolution when members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the king to the president’s right and supporters of the revolution to his left. This distinction in political ideology has been adopted globally since the 20th century. However, application of the distinction varies significantly between nations due too the difference in the political and socio-economic structures.

The political timeline in India has been largely occupied by one dominant party, the Congress. Congress party started with socialist inclinations of Jawaharlal Nehru and shifted more in the direction under his daughter, Indira Gandhi. This tilt was mostly due to the competition that comprised of leftist parties like CPI(Communist Party of India) and socialist parties like Praja Socialist Party led by Jayprakash Narayan that criticized Congress for not being socialist enough. The dominance of left wing politics in the early years seems logical considering India started as a poor post colonial country and riddled with social issues like caste that affected both the Hindi and the Muslim communities. The leftist ideas however failed over time on both of its core aspects, economic and social.

Left advocates looking inward for economical growth, for a greater government control of the market but a fledgling economy needs to let the market evolve unhindered and to be part of the global ecosystem to flourish. The social structure in India is not well suited to leftist ideas of consolidation of the backward and the poor because of the caste system which divides the population into groups that don’t see eye to eye. With the decline of the left, Congress moved the other way introducing market reforms but still toeing the socialist line of doing most for the poor, trying their best to please the different castes and in the process keeping the social fabric intact. With time and with anti incumbency creeping in, the political landscape fractured with many small parties emerging in the arena, each catering to specific castes or regions. This happened around 1989, when even the right wing BJP saw a rise.

Fragmentation led to entropy resulting in unstable governments at the centre and every party trying to make the best of the opportunity. Almost as if they had learnt their lesson, people voted back Congress to power after a hiatus of two years. The Narasimha Rao government brought in rise of the right, both in terms of significant economic reforms and transformation and in terms of a steep growth of BJP as a national party, which later managed to run a non Congress government at the center, the first non Congress government that lasted a full term. The rise of the right however didn’t effect the growth of regional parties which now resorted to align either with the Congress or the BJP when it came to central government politics. These smaller parties were and still are essentially leftist but only so far as to dole out favors for their supporting vote bank. Leftward leanings of these parties rule out association with the rightist BJP, a fact that led to the emergence of UPA, a coalition of parties headed by the Congress that won back to back elections.

This period of ten years from 2004 to 2014 saw a romance and breakup of Congress with the last of the surviving left, and a stream of scams that were conveniently exposed when the left quit the alliance. Media was and still is sympathetic to the left, at least the people who work in the Media are. Fed with the coalition politics and corrupt parties catering to their vote banks, India was aching for an alternative, but not a right wing BJP with a Hindutva agenda. Hindus are inherently religious but in the soft sense, that is; not in an imposing or adhering way but religion to them has been throughout history occupied a personal space. This however doesn’t mean there have been no orthodoxy or militant variations, but these aberrations never appealed to the majority of the community. Even the worst sufferers within the religion, the lower castes, that have been oppressed by the upper throughout history and even now, largely don’t want abolition of their cruel religion but want a better economic status and respect within it. Therefore, even if BJP tried hard to polarize during the UPA years, it didn’t register with the Hindu voter.

Giving up on the old unsuccessful guard, RSS promoted Narendra Modi with mixed credentials of alleged unsurpassed economic growth and alleged persecution of Muslims in his state of Gujarat to the fore. RSS, Narendra Modi, or probably his second hand Amit Shah must have gauged the reluctance in the Hindu majority to overtly side with the right and given the environment of scams crippling UPA, came up with a plan of slow seduction. Modi projected himself as the messiah of progress, of economic development, of make in India, generation of jobs, and in the process wooed the Hindu majority, across regions, prejudices and castes. 2014 saw a resounding victory and the real dawn of the right. It also brought into picture the futility in indulging the Muslim vote, which is what every other party was doing, in the process dividing it to insignificance.

Modi government has delivered in terms of steering clear of scams, the GDP growth has remained in the 7-8% range, and there are many successes of the government in terms of infrastructure development. Economic reforms or growth figures however don’t win elections as is evident from the failure of Congress after Narasimha Rao term and BJP after Vajpayee term. Modi launched a string of socialist schemes, which have had reasonable success thanks to concepts like direct direct transfer to bank accounts. BJP under Modi has therefore not been a pure right wing party, but like Congress of the earlier era, it has struck a balance.

The elections this year saw the right acting like it with Modi bringing in nationalism, and pride to the narrative. The Hindu majority now doesn’t only have an excuse of Modi’s clean and successful governance but also a lack of alternative, to go and vote en masse for BJP almost all over the country. Muslim vote, even if undivided thanks to better awareness and pre-poll alliances made for the sake, has still become irrelevant in the face of a consolidated Hindu vote. If there were doubts about the future of BJP under the leadership of Modi after its first term, they are now comprehensibly addressed.

BJP seems to have taken the place of the proverbial single dominant party that India is comfortable with. Congress started with a left of center stand and BJP is now placed right of center, which wont change into further right as the leftist media is prophesying, because Modi is an astute politician. He must be aware that success lies at being in the center, however you may read it.