Come clean.

Courtesy: Sunshinecity (Licensed under Creative Commons)
Come clean,
Because those twinges of guilt
Will poke you in places
You didn't know existed
And then colour your dreams
In shades you'd have never chosen
They will invade sentences
Pushed back from the tip of your tongue
At the very last moment

Will come too close for comfort
Caress you with icy finger-tips
While you plaster on a fake, brave smile

Will come chasing
Even as you try to outrun it
On legs already tired
By countless deceptions

Come clean,
Because the mirror will tell you stories
You don't want to see
Random words will show you insights
You don't want to hear

Your heart will sear
Doubts will knock on your door
The sound echoing
In the corridors of your wrinkly sleep

You will be a ghost
Of the self you used to be

Come clean,
Or you may wait
Until the fruits of all those lies
Are too sour to eat.

Morning bloom.

Pic: Ankita Shreeram
The sky unflowers
From ink to light
Stretches lazily, and sneezes
Sending the clouds a f l u t t e r
They dot the sky
In different directions, patterns
Each seeking -
A different vagabond destiny.

The trees stay aloof
By now, immune
To the charms of the waking sky
Until one is teased by a passing bird
And giggles,
Sending whispers of cool wind
Into drowsy windows.

The wind sneaks
Into sleep-soft skin and puffy eyes,
Curled up bodies and slumbering blankets,
Until the whole world unflowers
To join hands with the morning sky.

The trees have ears.

Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, 2014 (By Ankita Shreeram)
The trees have ears too. They grow attentive, when there's something magical in the air. Like the sound of the sarod. And the tabla keeping pace with it. And the cheers of an adoring audience. Some of whom are hearing these instruments for the first time. And some for the millionth. For some, it's the first time their soul has been touched this lovingly. For others, it's like coming home. But for all, it's something more sublime than the everyday living experience. Something that transcends daily trivialities and makes that moment the only one that matters. Something that makes the hair on their arms stand to attention (perhaps they have ears too) and the moisture collect in their eyes in a way that's neither happy nor sad. What the moisture does is to make you feel connected to your own life force. Most times, I feel like I'm leading a stranger's life - performing actions on autopilot while my true essence lies restlessly elsewhere. But back there on the steps of Asiatic Library, with Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan performing for me in flesh and blood, I didn't feel that way. My fingers strummed the air as though they'd always been familiar with the movement of the sarod. It seems almost impossible to believe that this music did not always exist. That someone actually crafted the instrument and divined the ragas. Because why else would my body, mind and soul recognise and sway along with it as though re-igniting a friendship forged through the ages? The trees maintained an unearthly stillness, even in the cajoling breeze. Even the light of the setting sun seemed muted, as though paying homage to the magnificence of the sarod and the tabla. And I felt timeless. Ageless. Care-less. For once, everything made sense. Everything was perfect. Nothing was amiss. The ever nagging doubts and fears at the back of my mind lay subdued. And nothing could have convinced me that the feeling wouldn't last. I'm convinced afresh now as I write, with Amjad Ali Khan infusing magic into my ears. What is time after all but the space between two strums of a sarod or a sitar? Eternity lives on, in the endless alchemy of a single note of music.

A case for routine.

Courtesy: QuotesEverlasting (licensed under Creative Commons)
Call me boring but I like routine. I like stability. I thrive on seeing the same faces and hearing the same well-loved voices everyday. My favourite sliver of the sea and my standard order at the cafe I've always cherished - they bring me peace. They bring me comfort and a smile that never lets me down.

I like waking up in the morning, knowing exactly what I can look forward to; the familiar streets that I will tread on and the well-memorised routes I will take to reach my destination. The assurance of having a job and a home waiting for me everyday; of a life I have created consciously (with a little help from others, and lady luck) - they help me sleep at night. They make me express gratitude every morning when I wake up, to the ray of sunshine that filters into the room with precisely the same slant everyday.

I like the hypnotic lull of my similar days; the way I can sink into them without a care. I like how I can float along on their security, while my mind explores uncharted territories. Because if both my body and my mind are cast adrift - I will be too lost. I will be too busy trying to forge a new way to enjoy the strangeness and the newness. Adventure should come in the right doses; like surprise shots of tequila. Too much of it and you may not be entirely sure of who you are - when you look into the mirror.

I feel the need to speak up for monotony because too much is made of excitement, wildness and free-spiritedness. And too little is made of the charm of things one can rely upon to lift one's spirits. Yes, nothing lasts forever, and that's all the more reason to value and nurture the people and experiences we do have access to. Waking up in a different place every day of your life will eventually tire your spirit. Because you need time for things to sink in deep. You need time for love to grow on you. You need time, for things to mean something to you.

I like being anchored because there's only so much change one's spirit can take; only so many spins one can regain balance from. I like it because only then do foreign shores seem truly alluring. Only then do alien lives and sights and sounds excite me with their intoxicating unfamiliarity. I like it because intoxication is good only in short bursts - make it perennial and your mind will ail.

I like routine because without it, travelling wouldn't seem as magical as it does on those rare moments that I'm able to get away and take a few greedy sips from the sea of adventure. I like it because only then do I appreciate the times when life takes an unpredictable turn; when a chance occurrence brings me face-to-face with sweet chaos.

I like routine because this life is not that long and I'd rather see a face I love every single day than a million faces that I might never learn to love.