I’m on my way to school, 
wearing the same grey plaid skirt 
that I’ve worn since the past 7 years, 
I untangle the pleats,
one by one,
my heart tangles a little. 


I sit in the assembly
we’re discussing laws today, 
right to life, 
right to freedom of speech and expression,
right to privacy,
section 377. 
“it is a sin,” shouts a voice from the back, 
“abnormal,” shouts one from the front,
“should not be allowed,” chimes in from my side.
The audience growls in unison, “abnormal”
I see myself mouth the same word 
over and over and over and over again.
I fall in with the crowd,
today I am normal. 


I paint two girls in my art class, 
there faces fairly engulfing each other, 
her hand over her hips,
the other wanders a little wildly, 
i taste the shade of their lips on paper.
13 minutes later,
my art professor tears the sheet in 32.


middle of my day, 
we’re out in the field, 
tiffin boxes and laughter, 
empty tiffin boxes and laughter.
I make a list of 43 ways, 
to tell my friend 
there is a closet,
that I refuse to hide inside. 
She giggles,
and I smell sunshine, 
44 ways now. 


the washroom cubicle is a closet, 
that I walk in and out of, 
in and out, 
in and out, 
in and out, 
in and out. 
I’ve heard metaphors 
help deal with reality.
I’m not closeted anymore, 
I feel naked today,
I stare at myself 
in the broken scarred bathroom mirror
that my school hasn’t changed 
in the past 73 years, 
I refuse to wipe off my tears today, 
today I’m normal. 


my friend borrows my notebook
to copy the last 3 sentences of today’s classwork. 
As I hand it over,
covered in the uniform brown paper,
I remember the rainbows, 
and hearts, 
and “I want to 377 you”
scribbled over the last few pages. 
I snatch it back, 
I remember I’m normal today. 


i see colours a lot differently, 
I don’t wear black or white.
I don’t want to.
black and white, 
the closet I do not feel
like locking myself in, 
I don’t like calling it a closet either, 
my closet’s very colourful, 
it has 53 different shades of yellow,
it feels a lot like home. 
I call black and white a box, 
the brown cardboard box
that you sell your old newspapers in. 
I don’t want to be yesterday’s newspaper. 
I don’t feel at home there. 
Today I’m normal.


I’m on my way home, 
wearing the same grey plaid skirt 
that I’ve worn since the past 7 years, 
I let the pleats stay tangled, 
as I untangle my heart. 
today, I’m normal. 

_untangling the pleats 


a few days ago, my friend shared her story with me. This is dedicated to her; more power to you! 💙

voice notes to a stranger 

(i) hey, 
I’m sorry about the fight last night, 
I spent the entire night awake thinking 
of 27 different ways to apologise, 
each one was more sorry than the last, 
but I don’t know if any of them was sorry enough. 
Please call me back, 
give me a chance to think of the 28th way, 
maybe that would be sorry enough. 

(ii) hey honey, 
you skipped breakfast today, 
and left home early
so I didn’t get to see you. 
I’m a little worried, 
we’ve to take Shinzu to the vet, 
he’s been very sick these past few days, 
maybe he misses you, 
I do too. 
Call me back when you get this.

we have our submission due today! 
this is important!!!

(iv) hey kid, 
your mom’s been worried about you, 
I don’t blame her, 
you’ve been a little distant lately. 
maybe you’d like to talk about it? 
I get off from work early, 
maybe we can go out for a walk? 
got to go, talk to you later honey.

(v) hi, I thought of 14 more ways to apologise, 
I don’t see you around or I would have done it already, 
please let me know where you are, 
I really want to talk to you. 

(vi) the corridors stink, 
there is this awful stench, 
I do not know where it’s coming from. 
anyway, where are you? 
I’ve called you twice already, 
can’t get through, 
are you coming??

I’m worried, where are you?? 
I’m going to the library, 
we have to work on extra matter for the submission, 

(viii) Honey, you have to get home soon, 
Shinzu is freaking out, 
he won’t calm down, 
he’s really uncomfortable, 
I keep calling the vet, 
they won’t pick up. 
I might drive him myself in an hour, 
if he doesn’t calm down. 
Be home soon. 

(ix) you’re worrying me now. 
I’m really sorry, 
please call back. 

(x) this is a recorded message
from Amazon customer support, 
some unusual activity has been detected on your account, 
kindly visit our privacy settings if the last 
38 purchases weren’t made by you. 
thank you for your time. 

(xi) Okay man, I’m worried sick now, 
let me know you’re okay, please? 

(xii) I’m really sorry. 
I shouldn’t have said the things I said, 
I didn’t mean of them. 
please forgive me, 
this one last time. 

(xiii) honey, 
I’m on my way to the vet now,
Shinzu seems really sick, 
we need you here. 
please call back. 

(xiv) hey kid, 
drop in a call please, 
we’re really worried. 
your friend came over looking for you, 
I hope you’re okay. 


(xvi) I miss you. 
text me, please? 

(xvii) he..

------VOICE MAIL FULL------
no more voice messages can be recorded. 

_voice notes to a stranger
If I were to call you a shape, 
you’d be half of a rhombus, 
the incompleteness of infinity, 
the emptiness of a circle,
and the other half of a square, 
staring down the barrel,
of a fully loaded cannon,
in a field you have completely to yourself. 
I refuse to stand there,
and breathe down your neck. 

There’s a door to your left, 
wide open and inviting, 
the kind of heartbeat, 
that fills up your day, all of your day; 
loud laughter and music, 
the warmth on a chilly Sunday evening, 
the sunset on a day 
you thought would never end, 
and music, that reminds you how to dance. 
you have 14 keys to that door, 
you refuse to enter. 

There’s a door to your right, 
locked, loud and uninviting, 
sounds you cannot understand, 
a silence you don’t want to hear.
and you cannot wait to whisper 
on the other side. 
Is silence the lack of words
or the space between them? 
there are 13 locks on the door, 
you don’t have a single key to them, 
yet you refuse to not enter, 
as you hurl your upper shoulder against it, 
harder every single time, 
your blood boils so hard,
it numbs your brain, 
and the universe has to scream your name 
to stop. 

on a chilly Wednesday evening like today,
you chose to forget the door on your left, 
and sketch the one on your right, 
on 19 different pages, 
you break the lock in 11 sketches, 
and enter the room in none. 
//maybe for you, it was never about the room, 
it was always the lock. 
sometimes, I wonder 
if you felt that about my heart too.

//till the next heartbeat 
the sixty something year old uncle takes exactly eleven puffs of his cigarette as he sits and inhales the sunset at IHC. His shadow rests a little taller than him, a book resting on his lap, its pages tainted yellow over time and the corners ruffled up. there is music that sits in a little transistor next to him, quiet as if its had its chance to speak. I inhale the cigarette smoke as I sketch his silhouette across the pages of my diary. I sketch him 17 times, once every day. But it’s not enough. It has never been enough. He walks as if his footsteps tell stories that he never could. That he wished he could. There is rhythm in the way he carries the newspaper along with him everywhere he goes, though he never reads it. He’s not read a newspaper in the past three years but he carries one around with him everyday anyway. He calls it poetic justice. I don’t think I can ever understand him. He’s that book I’ve read too many times but every time I read it, it feels different. I guess that’s how it is with people too. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t. Sometimes I wish that there were emotions and feelings allotted to people that they’re supposed to make you feel and they cannot not do that. Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel differently around myself, on days I think I‘m not enough. I never think I’m enough. Nor are my sketches. So I sketch him for the eighteenth time against the sunset today. He takes his final drag of the smoke as he picks up his newspaper, his book and his transistor, walking away leaving nothing but smoke across the sunset behind.

_eleven puffs of a cigarette

monotony does not lie in watching the same sunset everyday. it’s watching the same sunset everyday and not thinking of it any differently. 

noor is 17. she spends a lot of her days dreaming of curtains that aren’t brown and tea that isn’t without sugar. she has cupboards made out of cardboards and doors made out of glass. the paint on her walls has worn out over the years. she spends her evenings hiding behind the water tank on her rooftop, a pencil in one hand and a stone in the other. she sketches different patterns of the stone in her diary, one each day. one winter evening she says to me, “I sketch what I cannot understand.” the day after that, she draws a sketch of me. I turn the pages of her diary to see different shades of the sunset and different heights of her shadows, all taller than her. there is poetry too. two lines on one page and then seven pages left blank. she says that’s how she feels most of the time. there are chords of a song she’s been learning ever since she was 15. she’s written the same chord 21 times. she says she gets stuck while playing. it reminds her of days she spent in silence wishing for music. now she dreams of that kind of silence. If I knew how to sketch, I’d sketch her. three sixty five times in a year. three sixty six on some years. I’d still never get it right. so I’d sketch a full heartbeat and write her name under it in 27 different languages, hoping she’ll decide to breathe a little more, even on days the sun doesn’t shine as bright.

_sketching a full heart
(to noor, part I) 

nothing will ever compare how beautiful it feels to believe in sunflowers and sunsets again. you draw your curtains in the morning and sketch the total of 17 times you felt at home during the past year. the music seems a lot softer, but you don’t listen to it like you used to. somedays, it feels like you’re enough and you’ll be okay even when you won’t. I won’t write a song for you today. today, you are the music. and like always, I try to match my rhythm with yours and all I hear is silence, sometimes a little too much of it that I ask myself if I was listening to music at all. but I know I was, like I know I am. there is always music around you, laughter too. the kind that makes you want to be more, a lot more. if we were two ends of the same world, I wouldn’t really know how to be. so we let our little worlds be incomplete, two halves of an empty heartbeat. there is always a home there.

_two ends of an incomplete heartbeat


how are you? I’m doing much better now, thank you. I’ve been sketching in my journal and thinking of taking my meals on time but I haven’t been able to yet, but that’s okay. I’ve been waking up a lot earlier these days and trying to fit in more time for myself and for the blue skies turning yellow during sunrise. I’m trying not to hate the colour ‘yellow’ so much. I’m getting used to it. It’ll take a little time and a couple of fallouts but I’m hoping I’ll get there. I’m trying to build a life out of doing what I love the most; write. I’m trying to write more these days This time, for me. I tried doing it for the others, spilled ink onto paper every single day but it didn’t make me as happy anymore. And I’ve realised that it’s okay. It’s okay for things that made you happy to not make you happy anymore. And I’m fine, writing for myself makes me the happiest and I’m hoping to do a lot more of that these days, to write about sunflowers and sunshine and all the people that represent yellow and red in my life; I’m trying not to hate colour as much anymore. I’m trying to be more colour these days and to write more letters to you. I promise I’ll do a lot more of that now and you know I do not break my promises. 

But, right now, all I want to say is that I’m sorry and thank you! I’m sorry for not doing this any earlier, you know I’ve always wanted to. And thank you for bringing all the sunshine in my life, for taking it away, making me hate it and helping me out of this hatred too. thank you//

_redoing sunflowers. 

//letters from emm.