Welcoming 2018

नए साल में सब मोहब्बत कर रहे हैं
और हम हैं कि शिकायत कर रहे हैं

वक़्त तो आ गया है कि वक़्त बदले
पर हम फिर वही शरारत कर रहें हैं

‘अठरा में सुना है कि सब है माफ़
हम भी इंतेज़ार-ए-इनायत कर रहे हैं

लोग बनाने लगे हैं सपने हकीक़त
हम हकीक़त ही क़यामत कर रहें हैं

इजाज़त थी पढ़ने को एक ही मिसरा
हम फ़िर तौहीन-ए-इजाज़त कर रहें हैं

नए साल में सब मोहब्बत कर रहे हैं
और हम हैं कि शिकायत कर रहे हैं

Misty Mountains and Silver Fountains

Misty Mountains
And Silver Fountains
Are no longer that far.
Notice that today, they are
In our very homes here,
So much to my fear,
As Man’s dirty parody
Of the Dwarvish Morian tragedy
In which the smaller children
Are overrun by the taller adults,
Who with firebrands held in their teeth
And rising mountains of ashes beneath,
Puff out immaculate misty rings
That float skywards on their wings
As Fallen Angels set to do their share
Of hanging on, as Death, up in the misty air.
And so the children are slowly choking
On the abject indifference of indiscriminate smoking
While not-yet-old men are dying of their dragging faults
And silver coins are pouring out into bolted vaults.

The Kindle is Sexy Back

Dear Kindle,

I like how you’ve lost weight.
I like how you did that just for me.
How you’ve let go of the gentle curves
And brought in a sharpness about you,
The small of your back angling down to the hips.
I like how you’re no longer slightly inside yourself,
How you’ve chosen to come flush with your body.

I like how you are a Voyage now:
I like how you promise you’ll escape with me
To wondrous worlds of pure delight,
When I come to bed with you, tired from the day,
Turn you on and enter you, submitting myself fully.
I like how you’ll now understand my whims
Turning a new leaf when I press you lightly on the side,
Adjusting yourself to the brightness of my moods.

I hate myself for this, but I also like
How you’ve bitten the forbidden Apple
And have decided to act all pricey now,
Claiming a lot more from me, upfront,
For the novelty you have brought in with you.

I like how I’ll wait for the day I have you.

Yours always,
Minstrel Minnu

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Prices of Purchased Affection

I always went shopping with Munna.
He knows where exactly to go:
Where the clothes are just bad enough
to skip the retail stores, but not so much
that you can figure out that they are discards;
Where the sweets are made in boiling ghee
And not the oil that sticks to your fingers
Thicker than the grease on your bicycle chain;
Where the vegetables are just out of farms
And the women from the countryside
Do not know the trickeries of bargaining.

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More than meets the lie

Untruth, once said, is a burden:

On my mind that must keep track
Lest it should lose itself wandering
In the wilderness of imagination;

On my heart that must beat louder
To drown the cry of conscience
Till it chooses to speak no more;

On my eyes that must keep open
Against the weight of shame
That pulls them to the ground;

And on my truth that had to be hidden
Because it was not good enough.


You asked me today
What I would write about you if I ever did.
If I could paint you, you would know.
I wish my words could paint your mind
As the oil colours the canvas of cloth.
I wish you could see what I see.
I see a rising sun,
Red with shyness,
Trying to hold back her brightness,
Embarrassed that the world can see her.
I see this rising sun,
Aware of her potential for brilliance
When she ascends the young firmament of receding stars.
But she is afraid of doing so. Not so early. Not now.
She does not show that she likes
When people appreciate her beauty.
She enjoys it and becomes redder.
And her redness, the innocence of her reservedness
Spreads slowly across the wet canvas of the sky behind her;
Clouds, dark and ominous, start getting silver linings.
The things that were scary, are now in better light.
She does this without knowing it.
She feels that by lighting up the sky,
She has somehow exposed others around her as well:
Exposed to the eyes of people
The eyes that criticise beauty as much as they condone it.
But she also knows deep down that it is her destiny
To rise one day to the zenith of this firmament
And once there, resign herself to full brilliance.

Resign herself is what she thinks of it.
Pride is what she needs.
She bows her head and hides her face,
Hoping the darkness of her hair is cover enough.
She does not know that when those eyes open
And stare directly into the eyes of mortals,
It is no less beautiful than a sunrise
For they are too brilliant to look directly into.
And poets, unlike painters, can only draw
Inspiration from nature.
They lack the vision of originality.
And so they have to reduce a picture
To a metaphor, an imperfect parallel. A glimpse.
I am incapable of painting better than this.