Sunday, February 21, 2010


My chestnut steed is ready. No supporters, no gawks, no critics. No fanfare. No audience. My target, at once formidable and vulnerable, is waiting unaware. My longbow is restless, in a flaccid grip. I have to get ready.

I try to control the storm that is my mind. I gaze at distances beyond – plains, valleys, mountains, and unknown seas. I think of past and present. Here and now, there and then. A synesthetic mixing of time and space. I mount my horse.

I let go of my thoughts. The rightness of it. The selfishness of it. I bring in the emptiness of Zen. The target does not matter anymore. It does not, not in the end. What matters are me and my bow and my one shot. The rest is vacuum. And when my arrow finds my target, I will find myself. In that perfection of the process, I will discover who I am. My horse breaks into a gallop.

I sit erect on the saddle. My left arm is outstretched and the length of the bow is a steady perpendicular. I draw the string to its limit. It seems to produce music, a martial rhythm ushered by my pounding pulse. My arrow waits in bridled power. Silence envelops me. The world comes to a standstill. I move at breakneck speed.

And then, the moment suspended in time, I see my target. I release my arrow. It whistles through time and space, beyond mountains and seas, beyond yesterdays and tomorrows.

As I ride away, the Samurai in me slowly vanishes. The void of Zen gradually fills with a clutter of stifled feelings. I am less sure of myself now. Did I really shoot the arrow? Did the arrow find my target? Was I ever a Samurai or just some street cupid, manipulating my own story? And will I ever find myself? My bow is in my hand. Will I get another shot?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


“I see a teddy bear. Look mama, that white fluffy one up there. Two ears, a big tummy, white paws – don’t you see?”

I squint. I try. I don’t see. “Ah maybe.”

“You don’t see it,” she says. “Now it is a train.”

“Train?” I squint harder.

“Yes, there is the engine, and smoke going up. Do you see?”

“Ah, you mean that patch out there?” I try harder.

“Yes, so you do see it, right?”

“Maybe,” I say.

And thus she points out cloud shapes by the dozen, a submarine there, a dinosaur to the right, a tray trolley down below, pushed by an elephant, leaping over a rhinoceros, vaulting from one feathered fancy to another, rhapsodic in her imagination – my little five-year-old.

“Slow down,” I say, “slow down,” my adult mind panting to catch up.

I wish to be a child once more, conjuring shapes and imagining specters.


“Do you know how much I love you?” I ask him.

“How much?”

“Suppose I have a magic pot that always fills up to the brim with the sweetest of honey,” I say.

“Suppose I drink it all up?”

“It fills up again to the brim. It will never be one drop less. That is how much I love you,” I say.

“Suppose I have a red rose which has infinite petals,” he says.

“Suppose I pluck a petal every second?”

“My flower still has infinite petals. It will never be one petal less. That is how much I love you.” He says.

“We love in shapes,” I remark.

Indeed, in a multitude of shapes – sometimes a dainty fairy, sometimes a grotesque gargoyle, sometimes as expansive as the sky, sometimes as minute as a microbe, sometimes a god, sometimes a devil, sometimes a storm, sometimes an evening breeze – we pattern love with our adult mind, etch it with our adult imagination, but when we stand back and look, it changes its shape, disconcerting us with its fickleness.

“Yes, we all do, my dear. Our own pareidolic fancies.” He says.

“We are still children with our cloud shapes.” I say.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I sit under a tree, sheltered, leaning on its harsh trunk, and enjoy the stillness of an autumn afternoon. A few yards away, a lily pond glistens catching the slanting beams of the sun. My beloved lays his head on my lap and sleeps a blissful sleep. He smiles as if relishing a sweet dream. The leaves do not stir, even the grass hushes its whispers, and let him dream on. I lean back on the harshness, contented, and at peace.

And then a mute rustle, something vague, intangible, as if Silence is shifting on its heavy seat. The tranquility makes way to watchful waiting. There is no threat, at least not yet. A snake in the grass? Storm clouds in the horizon? I look around. And then, I see Him on the other side of the pond, in a blur, phantom-like. A mirage? I wonder. My beloved still sleeps peacefully, vacantly.

He walks across the pond. Not an illusion now. Clad in crimson, with searing red eyes, dark, hairy chest, at once magnetic and terrifying, He stands beside me, towering high. I wonder if He is a yaksha, or a god – or the God of Death.

Who are you? I ask.

Don't you know me? He smiles mysteriously.

Are you the God of Death?

He does not reply.

Where is your buffalo? Your noose? Your mace?

He smiles again and sits beside me, leaning back on the same harshness. My beloved does not move.

Have you come to take my beloved away?

Are you the Savithri to his Satyavan?

I am silent.

Will you follow me, even to the netherworld?

Will you grant me boons? I slyly ask.

What if I have come for you and not him?

Do I have a choice in the matter?

What if you do? Will you not still come along? With me?

He looks at me searchingly. It is as if I am set ablaze.

I look away.

He starts to sing melancholically, melodiously. Music quells questions, at least for a while. Can the God of Death sing, I try to think, but then my thoughts begin to pirouette around His song, losing meaning and reason. My beloved sleeps on, unaware.

My eyelids grow heavy. I lean my head on His broad shoulder. I traipse my fingers on His bare chest, His dark curls trapping temptation. I feel His heartbeat, strong and steady. Can the God of Death have heart?

I doze. Until something warm falls on my forehead. I look up and there are tear drops sparkling lustrously in His deep eyes. He looks inconsolably sad. Can the God of Death cry?

Why are you sad? I miserably ask.

He shakes his head.

The song reaches an end. He gets up and begins to walk away.

Shall I come along? I ask, anxiously, expectantly.

No. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

Are you the God of Death?

He does not reply. He does not look back. He disappears.

My beloved stirs and looks at me sleepily, his love-laden eyes smoothing the poignancy of parting that I feel.

I want to wake up too. But somehow, I cannot.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


When music weaves a silken cocoon around me, my feet inadvertently tap. When rhythm seeps into my sinews, my body unashamedly cavorts. When melody becomes one with my soul, I dance – impetuously, unstoppably.

I dance like a maenad. Music intoxicates me and in that frenzy, I forget myself. With hair flying wild and with unsated desire in my eyes and my limbs, I dance for my Dionysus, my wine god.

I dance like a priestess of Hathor, in an ancient Egyptian temple, with confidence and abandon. I am a lover, a wife, a mother, a sister, a woman. I celebrate.

I am Salome and I dance before a king. As I remove my veils one by one, I seduce and I kill. When I get his head on a platter, will I be satisfied? Will I start loving the one I mercilessly killed?

I dance for my lover, like Radha to her Krishna. Without inhibitions, without coyness, confident of being loved, beautiful in his eyes, I sway in deep ecstasy to the rhapsody of his being. My feet move to the rhythm of his heartbeat, my hands to the cadence of his song, my eyes seek his unabashedly.

And when passions exhaust, when senses succumb to surfeit, I dance like a god. Like Shiva. I dance the cosmic dance of creation. Life reverberates, universe sings, cycles come and go, time flows eternally, and my dance never stops. I dance away illusions. I dance away goodness and evil. I dance away cause and effect. I destroy to revive. And then, there is neither me, nor you. Just this eternal union of energy.

Thus, I dance a world in my mind.