March 20, 2012

Short Story- 28

She was playing by herself. In the corner of the attic, facing the column. A line of dusty light, coming from the high window from above, illuminated her.

"Oh pillar" and she clapped thrice.
"Caterpillar". Thrice again

I stood in the side and waited for her to stop. She knew I was standing there waiting. She had a smug smile about herself. But she seemed relentless.

I lost patience. 
"Where is that box?" I asked her.

She stopped playing and looked up at me. That annoying smile was still playing about the ends of her lips. She looked impish. Close cropped hair. Twinkling black bead-like eyes that were small, but somehow appeared big because she opened them wide. As if having prayed for big eyes and not having them, opening them wide to compensate.

"Which one?" she asked, smiling knowingly.

"You know which one"

"No I don't" she said, and let out a silly giggle.

"The memory catcher's dream box?" I told her.

"Look around. Can't you see it?" she asked, looking at me with pity and still smiling.

I did not reply. I continued to stare at her.

"You are in the box," she said.

"You are lying. This place is in ruins. The box is wooden. It is carved. It smells of sandal. You KNOW it! You had it first!" I argued.

"It crumbled." she said and suddenly looked sad. Tears welled up in her eyes slowly.

I kept looking at her. I couldn't believe it!

"How could you?" I asked, nearly choked.

"You grew up and lost the key. Why did you grow up? Didn't you like it when you were me? WHY DID YOU GROW UP?" she shouted and wept.

She tugged at the ends of my dress and collapsed in a heap on the floor near my feet. 

From her pocket, a key fell out.

March 14, 2012

Off the top of my head-11

They always escape- finding little gaps in the brick wall. I had left those for little stems to shoot out, green as the pensive ocean. But they used it instead. They never left stealthily. They loosened the bricks more, when they shuffled their way out roughly- gaps widening and making my wall look shabby and unromantic.

Sometimes I wake up to find they are gone, and then, only the graffiti is a remainder. Colourful graffiti that will constantly claw my eyes till they will pop out of their sockets and crawl into the secrecy and warm safety of my treasure chest.

They never stay. Either it is not cosy enough. Or it is too cosy, lavish and luxurious. It is never a Goldilocks state where they can snuggle in the crevices and let the wind cradle them. It either gets too hot or remains too cold.

The wall was built with hope for mortar. Slowly time, patting it gently to ease, knocks off crumbs first, and pieces later.

Someday, the wall will fall. And there needs to be no escape. There never would be a place to stay in the first place!

Postcards with love

I will dig out from my chest of unwritten postcards
and on the one most faded and with curling edges
old and most cherished
I will write you a love note today

Leave me then your address scribbled on a torn slip
tuck it under my doormat when no one is looking
And when the world goes to bed
with stealthy footsteps I shall come to pick it


March 11, 2012

In fond memory of Ashish Lakhia

(PHOTOGRAPH by: Mohammed Farooq)

It was a hot Sunday morning. I was woken up by the phone to hear Ashish Lakhia had passed away. Ashish Lakhia-collector of things, writer, documentary filmmaker, artist and a man brimming with stories was no more!

I couldn't collect myself. Snatches from my film kept playing in my head. His voice echoed.What is it with voices? Why do they always hold so much more?

We fled to the Jama Masjid. Anywhere else, and we would have split into two like a peapod. On the way to the masjid I had seen a fire and emergency water tank while Lata's voice constantly resonated the line '...chale hi jaana hain' from 'Baahon mein chali aa' and I couldn't shut it out.

In Jama Masjid, there was silence and the metronome of a bird. It was bright.I wore my glares and wept behind it. It felt funny to be hiding little things like tear drops in such a wide expanse. Could I get some glares to hide the weirdness as well?!

The silence, the stillness, the incessant voices in my head- everything was driving me mad. How can someone who talked so much, who collected things like a hoarder, who left behind scores of memories even in those artifacts, not exist anymore?

He was brimming with fantastic bizarre and wild stories. His eccentricity was what drew me towards him as a subject for my documentary film, and made him endearing. There was a lawless charm about him that enchanted me even the first time we had met.

I hate the past tense when it comes to people. Death can't make a clean cut, ever! It always severs so shoddily-parts of the flesh dangle loose and messy. 

There was something about the open space of the masjid that reminded and settled for me that Ashish Lakhia wouldn't walk and talk again- in life. But I have some memories strung together when I want to hear the crazy genius again. When I wish to hear a tale. Of some fascinating object. From that fascinating man.

Rest in Peace Ashish Lakhia!
Watch The Creeper, the Alien & Other Stories, my documentary film about him:

March 04, 2012


"Dream on but don't imagine they'll all come true
When will you realize Vienna waits for you

Vienna- a word I've come to toggle with. Give it meanings at different phases of life the way I please to. Mid-way I started to be fascinated with the concept of the actual city. A city pf possibilities, of miracles. Before Sunrise, assured me it probably is. "Daydream delusion, limousine eyelash" used to echo in my head along with "I’m a delusion angel, I’m a fantasy parade". Words that were so mystical in nature to me that I once drew them. With bright orange and fancy pink. Fuchsia almost.

Vienna also remained the shape-shifter it had been. Words that rang true every time Billy Joel uttered them in his wonderfully clear voice. I always imagined him to be around the corner with a baby grand, flirting with its keys and not looking me in the eye, but looking deep into my spirit still.

Mostly, I wanted to cry every time I heard the song. Weep in the corner like Jennifer Garner did in 13 Going on 30, where I first heard and fell in love with the song. How did Billy Joel scale over preachy and reach that spiritual beyond that those words echo with! Vienna always felt like mine. Like I own it in my many ways. Somedays as a thing. Some times as a person. It was always more painful when it was a person. But Vienna had some old-world-charm about it. Where I could snuggle and sit and feel finally at home and accepted. Vienna never wanted me to work harder, or be better, or look prettier or thinner or slowerdumbercommonplace! Vienna wanted me to be me and always promised to wait for me.

February 20, 2012

Off the top of my head-10

Life crumpled like a paper left to burn alone. No wind to tarry its death, no water to douse its fears.

Off the top of my head-9

She and struggle, went back a long way.

As friends or as foes, she never could tell. 

Off the top of my head-8

To yearn, is to sign up for slavery to whatever you yearn for. Nothing can distract you from it.

Toilet Grafitti

They used to scare me- those grafitti of human anatomy that lined the walls of train toilets. No one
spoke about them to me, but of course, everyone must have known they were there. But to a little kid,
these were as scary as spooks.

Everytime I travelled by train, I used to instantly go and check the toilet, fearing their presence . It
used to worry me that people resorted to such obscenities. I vividly remember,, once reading “fuck
the nun” in the wall and discovering, to my raw horror, that there actually were a bunch of nuns in my

That night, I did not sleep well.

The next morning, I ran to see if the nuns were safe. They were talking amongst themselves normally and nothing seemed amiss. I breathed, relieved!

Many years later, after obscenity has become more common and human failings familiar, the toilet
grafitti does not bother me.

But even today, every once I enter an Indian train toilet, I scan the walls for fading ball point ink marks
and wonder which of the many I share space with, have such dark secret obsessions.


Heat licking my bare neck
like snake fingers!

Exposed metal grilles
slaking thirst, drinking heat.

Glass shards reflecting
rays piercing like needles.

Sweat droplets on the temple
water sprinkler on plants at noon.

Hot air gushing into the caves of the nose
melting the stony blockades.

Water down the throat
killing my insides with its heat.

Blue nerves thawing slowly
geyser water at work on bare skin.

Steam collecting on mirror surfaces
when a breath is made captive.

Near invisible waves in air,
slowly escaping a plugged iron.

Amalgamation of rice, dhal, salt
in a secret pot of hot air.

Potato on water, boiling
bobbing up and down, like excited kids.

Cackling oil in cauldrons on fire
witch dreams coming real.

Matches and magnifying glasses
little magic brewed at the backyard.

Foot dipped in the beach at noon
white heat scalding to a near death.

Engines puffing and panting
with the weight of people's hopes.

Buildings dancing to still air
heat waves dictating their moves

Pieces of heaven stoning the earth
asteroid showers and celestial fireworks.

Water snaking its way through hills
like curled up swords on a mossy throne.

Dried up ponds dreaming of better days
as the last drop bids its goodbye

February 10, 2012

A parrot scratches
at my window pane
little marks on the glass.
I can see them
especially when the sun rises
the little scrape glints
catching the light
I move away
thank god
there are no cracks!

February 06, 2012

Memory Catcher

What do I take from everyday
the little notifications?
the stolen glances
or reflections on the monitor?

what do I string together
into a sparkling chain
I could dangle around my writst?

When I walk around 
I know it would ring
of all the laughter
that we shared.

"Where I let the silence take over"

(Title Credit: Somdutt Sarkar)

It was like a silent syllable that suggested, merely by its presence. But somewhere a red giant burst, a supernova exploded, and a dying star ceased to exist. And something new was about to be born...

February 04, 2012

Off the top of my head- 7

It is a Saturday. Your work is going good. You ate idlies and vadais for breakfast in Aapnu Amdavad. You are listening to your chosen music.

Some days you are happy to just be.

January 15, 2012

Off the top of my head- 6

Three years can change a lot of things in one's life. It can change cities, perspectives and life itself.

When I first walked down the pigeon path in college and got pooped by those ever diarrhoea-ic pigeons, I came back to the room and shampooed my hair clean! Today, after three years, I walked all the way back to the room as a matter of fact, understanding that where there are pigeons, there would be poop, and simply washed that part of my hair and my hands and went back to my routine.

At times there is no time to shampoo. All we can do is remove the crap from our heads as quickly as possible and go on with our lives. Off the top of our heads, literally!
© Dryad's Peak
Maira Gall