Dreaming of sleep

When you’ve had one hell of a day and you’ve got to go to sleep soon because you’ve another such day lined up, and sleep seems like a distant dream, read a book.

Let the words seep into your mind like water droplets seep into tissue paper. Absorb them, keep them and feel them.

When it’s 12am and technically it’s another day, and you still can’t sleep, write something.

Write about your day. Write your plans, write your past down, write down some poetry. Write it all out. Let the paper be your listener and the ink be the words you mouth.

When it’s 2am and you are still tossing and turning in your bed and adjusting the sheets over and over again, reach out to the water bottle beside your bed.

Gulp your thoughts down. Let your worries go from your mind to deep down into your stomach. They sure can wait until you wake up to a new day.

When it’s 4am and you still can’t sleep, walk out of your room. Go to the terrace and feel the morning air on your face. Listen to the birds waking up.

Stay there and see the sun rise. Watch the clouds shift aside to make room for the sun. Stretch and know that despite what happens, the day with always have a beautiful start with a sunrise and a beautiful end with a sunset.

Relax and walk back to your room. Only this time, think about the sunrise. Sleep won’t seem like a faraway dream this time.


Naming the constellations

It’s one of those nights when I look at the sky and name the constellations.

The winds are just as chilly as they should be on a winter night and the sky is just as clear as it should be after the clouds have been swept away. I rub my palms together and blow a puff of warm air into them in the hope of keeping myself warm.

I look up. There are thousands of diamonds studded in the sky. I start naming groups of them.

I name the first group with the name of my mother. Her tears were just as shiny as the stars. I name the second group after my father; his hair was just as white as the stars.

I name the third after my brother because I was reminded of his pearly whites. I named the fourth after my lover. The stars reminded me of her beautiful, bright eyes.

I name the rest in groups after the names I had thought of for my children and by them, I’m struggling to keep my eyes open after every single blink.

Stars make me sleep. They always have. And on the nights when there are none of them, I just can’t sleep. It feels like my family isn’t around; a part of me isn’t around.

But little does anyone ever know whether I sleep or I am wide awake.

You tell me, who cares if the dead man in the coffin under the ground is asleep or awake? Who cares if he is naming his own constellations or sleeping underneath the same?

Happy Diwali

Today is one of those days when I have to take my four-year-old with me to work. There is no one at home to look after him. My mother-in-law has left for the village and my husband is in the brick factory.

I feed my child and I dress him up in the best possible clothes I can find for him. Then we walk out of the house together, with him holding onto my finger and me carrying a tiny tiffin with some food for him.

I am a house maid. I go to houses to do the dishes, to scrub the floor, to wash the clothes. And honestly, I don’t like my child going there with me.

You see, I can see the white, marble floors and the wooden cupboards and the AC and the television set and not lament on our poorer state of living. But my son walks into every room with me. He looks at everything in awe with his mouth gaping open.

Then he asks me, “Ma, let’s get one of those, shall we?”

To that, I always say, “Soon, son.”

Today, I am halfway through scrubbing the floors. Madam wants me to clean it thoroughly because it is Diwali. I look around and see my son peeping into one of the rooms. The room is decked up with fairy lights and it looks enchanting. He just stands there and watches the lights the entire time I do my work.

While we return, it is 7.30pm. I wait for him to ask me, “Ma, let’s get one of those, shall we?”

But no question comes.

The moment we turn into the lane our house is in, I see the reason. Our lane is decked up with fairy lights; different colours of fairy lights and it seems as if the stars have fallen down from the sky and on our lane. The reason behind those decorations? Diwali.

My son runs towards them and starts jumping to reach the lights, to touch them. He seems so happy that I can’t stop smiling.

He doesn’t want one of those lights that he sees from the houses I work at. I don’t have to promise him that we’ll get it soon. As it turns out, he already got what he wanted.

I get a diya from inside my house and light it in front of my house. And as I look at my son smiling and playing with the lights, I murmur to myself, “Happy Diwali.”


Dear Mirror,

It’s been long since I met you,

And I couldn’t think of any other way to greet

Than a formal, “Hello. How do you do?”

Hey, do you remember

What my thoughts look like?

Or my flaws, or my fears?

Or my smiles or my tears?

And we know that gradually

Things get tainted, vision gets blurred.

So long it’s been, old friend,

That I don’t know if I’m myself anymore.

Our last meeting had ended in a fight

And I had examined myself all night;

From back to front,

From side to side,

From my head to the tip of my toenails

With my fingers separated and arms spread out wide.

I examined my tears, which you thought were childish,

I double-checked my jokes which made you cry.

I re-thought over my statements which hurt you but were not meant to;

I stayed up all night, I had to try.

I apologised over and over again,

But a sad, bitter, angry, mentally turmoiled self

Was what you saw in me back then.

I swear I was just fine,

Do you think it could be just you

Overthinking that time?

But you know

I can’t speak when I’m blamed.

No word came out of my lips;

Not a single word to clear my name.

And so, I let it be.

I hid myself from you.

I guess I did that well,

I used to be good at playing Hide & Seek too.

Do you remember how bad I am

At maintaining a diary?

I didn’t need any,

Because I had you.

Now, with no one to be myself with,

I really don’t know what to do.

I have forgotten my face.

My lips are in dearth of words.

Thoughts are all my mind has,

A lot of them, fluttering around like caged birds.

I have forgotten to mouth sentences to you;

My gestures have been limited to a few.

And when I try to talk to you

I start examining myself all over again so as not to hurt you.

So, here I am today,

With all my courage tucked safely in my heart.

I wanted to ask you

If we could still embark upon a new start.

We have come a long way, you and I.

You were a person, my best friend, my mirror.

I miss you, you know.

And you know that among everyone, I hold you dearer.


I was never much of a gambler. Well, not until I met you.

With you, came the silent promise of a friendship which could last a lifetime. I used to be a person who used to severe the ties once some relationship turned into a burden. But with you, I took the gamble.

With you, came love and your love came with healing. For someone like me, who had enough unhealed wounds and unhidden scars, love was the forbidden forest and healing was a distant dream. But I ventured into the forest and I dared to dream. With you, I took the gamble.

With you, came the feelings. I used to dread the flood that feelings were. I used to ignore them, lest the flood might turn into a tsunami. But with you, I took the gamble.

With you, came the definition of being complete. I was happy, but I wasn’t complete. I was that one piece of a zigsaw puzzle which couldn’t fit with any other piece. But you made me feel complete. With you, I took the gamble.

So, call me a gambler. Call me a fool who has gambled all her senses away. Call me someone who has gambled her life away for the sake of dreaming of a life with you.

Yes, I am one now. But I was never much of a gambler. Well, not until I met you.

A Deserted House

I was once a deserted house;
Touched only by the sun, the winds and the rains,
Until you walked in
And kissed away all my pain.

I was once a deserted house
Which housed a deafening silence.
And then, you whispered to me
And your voice was the only thing my ears could sense.

I was once a deserted house.
I wore the look of a haunted one.
You took possession of me
And made me look like something you’d own.

I was once a deserted house,
Avoided by many, mocked by some.
You turned me into something beautiful
By turning me into your home.

Six Words

“Ma’am, can I have one minute of your time?” I say as I step forward to greet the young lady who might be returning home after a hectic day in the office.

“No, no. I don’t need it,” she says and storms off throwing those six words of rejection on my face.

I am used to that. I sell insurance cards of banks outside the office premises and who cares about cards these days, anyway?

But it’s my job to stand there on the side of the road every evening from 5pm to 11pm and to coax every single one of the passersby to atleast take a card from the lot that I have.

A few take my cards. Some out of curiosity, some out of pity, only to throw them into some drain after walking a few steps so that I don’t see them doing that.

Some people are concerned that they might hurt my feelings. I smile. If I were them, I might have done that.

Some of them shoo me away like I am some stray dog. I smile. If I were them, I might have done that too.

At the end of the night, when I stop at the nearest stall for a cup of tea, I hand a couple of cards to the vendor there and to his wife.

I walk back home with the cards placed safely in my rucksack. I open the door of my flat and I set the bag on my sofa. I rummage through the fridge to find something to eat and watch the television for a while.

I set my alarm for 6am. I have another day of work tomorrow. I have to go to my job as a salesman in the nearby mall in the morning and then as the insurance company card seller at evening.

I am sixty now. I live alone. My wife is a cancer patient. She is in the hospital. I am trying to save enough money for her treatment.

I dial a number.
The voice on the other side says, “Don’t worry, Sir. She is fine.”

And with those six words of consolation, I sleep.