When You Were Born


Unlocking the cage of my womb
When he set you free
You fluttered like a caged bird
And played the ‘first cry’ impromptu
Before I could hold you in my arms
You lay there, like a wrapped chocolate bar

Your big eyes staring at me in fright;
the only organ, I thought, you inherited from your mother
Your sharp, bright-pink tongue sticking out;
Was a sign of an eloquent orator you’d be
Your loud, shrill cries; echoed of your father’s voice
It’s confusing sometimes, who you resemble the most
For I remember ‘the womb talks’,
Narrating in detail, our family tree
I must have sung praises in your father’s name
Because you stole his infectious smile.
His high impressive forehead,
And a ‘gifted’ temper tantrum.

I go back in time,
when you were in my womb
Holding you tight,
dancing like no one’s watching ‘us’
Today, when I see you tap your feet,
On hearing a beat in the music;
You remind me of ‘me’
All the times you stumble and rise instantly
Don’t sob, don’t complain
You remind me of ‘me’
When you battle those dramatic mood swings
You remind me of ‘me’

Whenever you refuse to retire after a tiring game,
Asking me to assign you a new task.
Whenever you maturely walk the garden;
With your observant eye, taking in every detail
Whenever you grab the confidence to say ‘Hi’ to the unknown
Compelling even a shy person to return your smile
Whenever you look impeccably beautiful
That beauty tells us: you are ‘you’
Be you, be 'you'nique forever..!


Not until she'd let him go


With a sound of her anklets
And a thumping heart beat
She walked towards that door
Undoing what everyone once told her.

Moving the curtains in one corner
She braved the sunlight
Letting the sun caress her face,
with utmost balminess.

Every time she tried to resist him,
her anklets played aloud.
And then rising onto the very tips of her toes,
She stepped into her own steps.

When her anarkali skirt swirled around,
at the throb of her ghungroo rising
the golden bells fell one by one.
But nothing stopped her.

She continued to transcend,
she was still enchanted.
The sun was setting behind her,
but she’d never stop.

Not for the sun.
Not for the moon.
Not until she’d stopped repeating,
not until she’d let him go!


My Travel Diary - BALI

Day 1

Bali is gifted with a unique charm, it's magical! In fact, I felt like we had traveled back in time. Such polite people, such magnificent, art-inspired architecture, as if Gods have really lived in here; and somehow spared this one piece on earth away from all the noise and cruelty. 

The hotel (Ramada resorts in Benoa) was huge, clean, and had a spectacular garden that had a spread of trees and plants type for virtually all landscape needs and wants. It looked absolutely stunning! We had to climb down the stairs to reach the restaurant that was attached to the cottages and the garden. A blue pool surrounded by bull like structures, as if guarding the water ushered right in the centre. The entire property was aromatic that smelt of green tea (aiding to let pass my mug of everyday green tea).

As we were tired we slept until evening and later walked to their beach side property, where they served vegetarian food. Before hitting this Thai restaurant we strolled on the streets and wondered how this city was not a victim of heavy commercials, unlike Goa in India. Although, it's too early to conclude on its commercial segment but Bali definitely has its authenticity intact, at least for now. 

There were colourful dresses hanging on the streets, and how can a woman like me who swears by her wardrobe miss but enter to shop. I wanted to buy a Bali dress but didn't like the colours. So we politely told the lady we would return tomorrow morning. To which she replied, "Okay, you, you are beautiful!" Now what can I say! For a dusky woman like me where having a dark complexion in my country is still considered ‘ugly’, and where fairness crèmes are treasured in dressing rooms believing it would transform them into white beauties - here in some strange land a woman told me that I look beautiful. I was obviously very happy and replied to her, "Teri ma khasi." In Balinese language it means, thank you! 

We had garlic tofu for supper, coupled with veg spring rolls. Post supper, I narrated Darshan (dear husband), a story authored by Khaled Huseini, I was amazed how keenly he listened to the whole story (that was to do with Afghan war and the story of siblings who lived in Kabul). He, to my surprise enjoyed it. At that moment, Dev, a waiter at the restaurant joined us and told us some interesting facts about Bali - that how they all worshipped Ram, Krishna, and Shiva, and that it was the only Hindu island in the otherwise Muslim dominated Indonesia. Dev was a Hindu and a vegetarian. Yes, that’s very rare - finding a vegetarian here, and as Dev informs they are only 5 percent.

The beach side walk was impossible to evade and so we were there soon after we bid adieu to Dev. This is probably the off season and so there were only two other Indian couples who accompanied us, silently admiring the dark sea. They left, but we stayed back and kept staring at the twinkling stars above. Darshan had never sat this idle in his life ever! Call it his agitation for stealing his impatience for a while or he trying to appear calm and peaceful, he wondered, “how there is only one sky for the entire world.” When he realized how! He started giggling at his stupidity…!

Then, the most striking moment was when we saw a huge cruise moving slowly on the water. The cruise was lit beautifully and we could here some music playing in its top deck. It was beautiful! 

Day 2

The second day was awaited with utmost curiosity and keenness for obvious reasons. After having our breakfast (which only Darshan had the pleasure to enjoy) since the buffet was dominated by hams, freshly baked breads that smelled of eggs) I got to eat only fruits and cornflakes for being the modest vegetarian that I am. Even for an Indian non-vegetarian, the food here is quite different. Sometimes even Darshan didn't eat. 

Our guide, Patra was waiting for us - a very punctual man like every person in Bali. Unlike us Indians these people worship time, and hate it if someone kept them waiting. We did. He soon forgot about it and greeted us cheerfully. We hopped into the Suzuki car and started to reach the venue to watch the Mahabharata dance show. On our way we saw Arjuna's statue - holding a bow and an arrow in a warrior stance. His statue was positioned in the centre of the road amidst the traffic signal, in a shining silver colour. Arjuna looked like a pompous King. This was just the beginning I thought, for the whole Mahabharata awaited us.Of course, they cannot show the entire Mahabharata but I could only recognize Kunthi and Sahadev on the stage. It was depicted in the typical Balinese way; with their folk music playing in the background, their stunningly designed authentic Balinese costumes, and the stage decked in the most ethnic form. The Balinese dance was graceful and truly entertaining. I was yet again fascinated by how Darshan was slowly taking interest in my interests, must say, more than me he watched it very keenly.

Our next visit was to the Lord Vishnu temple. While we were still reaching the temple our guide Patra tells us that their temples are open on the top, they have no roof, and that it has got something to do with positive energy. And the most interesting aspect of their worship was that they were allowed to wear foot wears inside the temple even while offering prayers. Now that was very, very interesting I thought. Before I could question him, Patra continued to tell us its significance, "in Bali we believe that you should enter a temple with a clean mind and that a dirty mind is more impure than dirty foot wears." I promptly exclaimed, "wow." This also made me realize that Balinese are naturally gifted philosophers. I told Patra, “you seem to be a guide for 'life' as well.” He laughed..! 

Though Patra told us,there is less crime in the city, which is why there are a few policemen, I never saw one. The architecture in Bali looked very mysterious, the temples especially. At every entrance of the temple there are animal like structures carved in black stones safeguarding the Gods and every hotel’s entry ways are more or less designed in the same fashion. Also, they love animals, so much so that they have frogs, lizards and pigs carvings in stone. Their peculiar fascination for lizards was beyond my understanding. I found them everywhere on the walls of the hotel in the form of an art collection. The most appalling one was the figure of a lizard etched on our door (our room number was mentioned on a wooden figurine of a lizard).

Before entering the temple, a very cheerful lady (who is smiling all the time) wrapped a cloth around our waist. It was like a wrap around - a type of a skirt which is generally tied around the waist. Although the temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu (their supreme God), Shiva also existed there. On the left side corner a Balinese musical instrument (painted in red and golden) played beautifully in the background. Tourists were allowed to play without posing any restrictions. The music had a calming effect on us; we yearned to listen to it for long. 

Our next visit was to Mount Batur. In the year 1986, at Bali's Mount Batur a violent volcano had erupted and since then it has become a thing of a tourist attraction. We were here on the top of a hill after visiting an art gallery. A hotel stood rightly in front of Mount Batur, staring awkwardly into its naked green body - that sometimes clothed itself with clouds, and the next minute undressed slowly as the clouds traveled from one mountain to another. The mountain is called Kintamani, but it turned out to be 'chintamani' (worrisome) for me as the entire place smelled of meat. There was no way I was gonna be eating here. I refused to step in and settled myself into its outside lounge. From here I could see the mountain clearly, almost close. That how beautiful it looked, cannot be explained in words.

After that, came the turn of driving into the city. To see how much I was wrong about Bali not being the victim of commercialization. Ubudh, a shopping haven for shopaholics! I gave up my worries on why there is no place affected by 'marketing' and indulged in my favourite activity- shopping. I bought an antique, bronze bell and a dress. Darshan failed to understand my idea of purchasing antiques for home decor, he also at loss of words for my 'shopping' skills finally agreed to do the honors - the payment!

While we were paying our bill, the shopkeeper told us about Shahrukh Khan. Yes, this man is so popular here. Every Balinese jokes around saying, "I have a friend in India. When you go back to Bombay say hi to him, his name is Shahrukh Khan. We, we love Bollllyywuudd.. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai…" they would say and giggle." He was the only Indian superstar they recognized and adored, religiously! 

In the evening, we were invited to dine at an Indian restaurant Queens of Tandoor (for my survival, I thought). It was then I realized that our Indian cuisine had everything that it takes to pamper my otherwise saddened taste buds.

Day 3

From Sea walking to parasailing that only Darshan was brave enough to attempt, the last day was adventurous! Not that I didn’t attempt to parasail, I had put on my safeguard to take the plunge to fly – but when I was told I had to do that all by myself, all alone, I unbuttoned the safety jacket and gave it to Darshan. He laughed together with the Korean tourists who were waiting to take the ride. I was certainly embarrassed after that incident. I had not fluttered my eyelashes, not until Darshan had landed from his ‘solitary flight’. But he was all smiles and wanted to go for the second time – to which I obviously said ‘NO’. We then drove back to the hotel. 

By now we were completely exhausted and all we wanted to do was sit back and relax in the hotel’s garden, as that evening we had a flight to catch – to return back to Mumbai. While we were sitting in the garden, the guide at the hotel suggested us to visit Geger beach and in a little while we were on our way to the beach.
On reaching, we realized, it surely would have been a great loss for us if we had left Bali without admiring this ravishing aquatic beauty. The water in the sea was crystal clear but remotely it appeared blue – like a mirror to the sky up there. A temple stood high on the right end of the beach. Its architecture looked skillful even from the extreme distance. 

Like all good things come to an end, our romantic escapade too ended soon after we headed back from the beach.


A letter from Our Unborn


Dear Mumma,
While you were sleeping,
I heard somebody knock on the wall of your womb.
I opened the door and there stood an Angel!
She picked me up and gently placed a pillow in your womb.
I locked the door, and pressed your womb tenderly,
only to assure; you don’t feel empty from inside.
The Angel then clasped me tightly and covered my body with a silk towel,
With a flutter of her magical wings, she flew me up to the 9th cloud.
Over there, millions of Angels queued up to cross the threshold of Heaven,
Each one of them had babies wrapped up in their arms.
The Head Angel appears and announces;
“Welcome to Heaven, children…!
All you babies are going to be born in the month of November.
Before you all embark on a journey within planet Earth,
It was God’s decision to organise a two-day orientation programme.
Come up here, enter God’s kingdom;
And He will open wide the gates of Heaven for you to enter.”

The pearly gates of Heaven were spread out.
He stood there right in the middle of a clouded mountain,
But none of us could see Him – the Majestic one!
We could feel a creative force sitting enthroned in the golden sanctuary.
When He picked me up to take a stroll on earth,
To show me where I was going to be born,
I felt guarded – like I was back in your womb.
On reaching America, a regal voice declared, “Look at your mother, there…
Oh No!...not your mother, she is her twin sister,
Although, I have created them I got confused.”
He then flew me to a place that had no space - not even for The God to land!
In fact Mother, there is more space in your womb than there is in Mumbai.
“Meet your Mother, child – there in that sari shop!
Those big,expressive eyes admiring yet another expensive sari, giggled He.
And that man with wide smile, who does not stop talking on the phone,
the one who has reached home but wouldn’t enter,
not until he is done with his tele-conversation, is your Father.”

The next morning, our Earth-voyage continued.
This time, to view darker side of what was going to be my world.
A world where a priest,who worshipped and adorned Goddesses in his temples
would return home only to beat his wife – another woman!
A world where dark-skinned babies are only a shame for the family,
Unless He is Lord Krishna – he would then be called ‘beautifully dusky.’
A world where a baby girl is abandoned soon after her birth,
And if a mother bore a son she would hear whispers of rejoice and cheer!
A world full of materialistic him and her; who have fallen from grace,
Who have let slip the real charms of ‘simplicity.’
A world where the rich are ruling – building temples for Him,
bribing Him with golden crowns, and adorning Him with silken robes.
“What they do not offer Me is ‘Love’
For I have wealth in abundance,
I need no rupee, no dollar!” sighed He.
Mother, how do you survive in this cruel world?
If I am born dark, would you be ashamed of my skin colour?
If I am born a girl, will I ever hear whispers of rejoice and cheer?
“Go child, go, prepare for your new journey,
For each one of you will be My Messengers,
Spread the power of Love over all humanity
And bring the world back home,” were His last words.

It was time, time for the great Gates of Heaven to come in unison,
Giving The Lord His solitary moment back,
Until His Children of Heaven returned the next month.
One by one, Angels pick up their babies preparing to return to earth.
The Holy flight landed safely.
You were still sleeping, mother.
Your eyelids closed against the dim light of dawn,
Breathing deep and relaxed;
before waking up to another day of turmoil.
Before you realise; you were tricked by your unborn.
You are totally oblivious of my heavenly adventure,
And of many such tricks that await you, Mother.
The Angel unlocked the door of your womb,
The pillow was detached from you,
I had returned to fill your womb.
But before the Angel bid adieu to me,
She whispered, “You are a baby …!”
Mother, now I know who I am – a baby boy or a girl!
I won’t tell you, mother (Unless you discover it yourself bribing the doctor)
Wait for me, Oh Mother!
Wait for my arrival, Oh Father!
Wait you everyone, Oh nearest and dearest!
Until I am born, keep guessing – Who I am – a baby boy or a girl?


Don’t come my dearest kin


Come for your daughter,
and not for your matter.
How can you forget, you women?
Don’t relations matter more than your ego?

Yes, you offered donations.
I cannot thank you for it.
Because… you ‘gave’ with no pretension.
Today, all you do is, just that!

We have done our duty,
we fell on your knees nearly,
asking you to return,
you shoved us away pompously.

Why should we beg you?
Loved ones don’t ask for alms.
Enough is enough.
We’re not going to prove nothing.

You’re not going to understand,
Listen to your ego,
it can do no harm than it has already done.
So, I let you free. Go away from our life!

Stay blessed, and please don’t come.
Don’t come for your daughter, for your sister.
Don’t come for nobody.
We don’t await you, no more.


My mother is my baby!


When I walked alone to bring you back home,
I saw you standing waiting for a bus,
The bus, u never waited for.
You looked back tirelessly,
perturbed... but with hope!
Hopelessly, I walk up to you.

When I saw you there,
I saw a kid.
A kid annoyed with her mother.
Here, I come… my baby!
Come back home,
play the same old game,
But if you lose,
accept it with poise.
You don’t have to be a ‘mother’ all the time.


In the kingdom of vices


In the kingdom of vices,
your mother is not the Queen.
But, you will be the Princess…
You, Oh Princess!… you will grasp after time.
That beauty is short-lived,
that life in the empire is momentary,
that child-like innocence is passing,
that all this is happening,
that you are mistakenly in the wrong,
that these ‘wrongs’ will meet you tomorrow,
that this present is not your future.

In the kingdom of vices,
before you take in,
all this will be gone.
And that present,
will be your only present.
You will abhor beauty,
you will write your past.
And that past, will be your only present.
Like your mother, you will be a mother,
like your mother, you will not be a Queen.
But, you Oh Princess!… you will bear a Queen.