Saturday, November 14, 2015

What I Can Give You

No, I cannot give you abstractions. I cannot give you heart-stopping kisses, undying love nor searing passions. I cannot give you a forever.
But what I can offer you are simple, true and real – this moment, this buttery coffee, this promise of sparkling wit, our togetherness resonating the dance of stars, this inherent sense of each other, this understanding of the passing of time, changing of dreams, of stories hiding in the eye-creases, shoulder-shrugs and yawns. I give you this moment of silence, the answers within a gaze, small empathies, indulgences, a fresh towel, a careful listening, mad ideas, this cane-chair, this chuckle at your neat, curious jokes that no one gets but me, this adoration of your smell - a heady mix of bay leaves and peanut butter. I give you my gratitude, that special chicken soup you make that I am crazy about, the fuzz on our shared blanket, your shoulder becoming a boat that holds me, the calm inside all turbulence, our insane, cackling laughter which startles the neighbour's cat, the comfortable little habits and routines that fit us like smooth three-pin plugs into life’s socket. This music, this tangible day-to-day grind, this madness. I offer you the solace of small things. How is love more real than all this? I want to breakdown this forever-ness and have it, one bite at a time.

Photo: Maria Vasil'kova

Slow Sojourns

Turmeric tinges madden the air 
pollen-suffused, ghosts of unrecalled muses 
slow swarming of bough-shivers
Twirl by twirl. Gathering. Becoming. 
A thing alive, twig-knitted sky.
moth shadows speckle-
a petalous prose intermingling
the indolent unravelling of my breath- knots
bricks warmed in a centuries’ memories
a stair creaks, lights unwind, spill-
this euphoric innerness of being
languor fills brow in slow murmurs
under my skin, bees hum
a connectedness to distant nebulae
blood thrums into nectar,
I become a honey-comb
soaking up
this unbearable lilting-
universe’s secret dance.

Image: Pinterest

Walking through Lavelle Road, Bangalore

Lavelle Road: Aloneness brims, the way back is overgrown. A seed has become a forest as dense as the words choking my throat. Here the city exists not as a scattered physical conglomeration of things but as an abstraction of imagined, unlived memories, heart-tugs and subtle sadness. A kindly, lambent entity of idle benevolence. The air was like a bite into a ripe quince. September – the month of post-card clouds, sleepy trees and sky filtering through a million dragon-fly wings. One could feel the quiescence pooling in the mouth, a rippling light weaving in and out between fingers.
I am wavering. The space between each shivery breath is so vast, it can consume heavens. Undulation after undulation, I am disappearing within until a blue unbrokeness remain.

"A Strange Place Other Than Earlobles" Now in Book Stores

Glad to inform that 'A Strange Place Other Than Earlobes', our anthology, is now physically available in Oxford Book stores in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Bhuvaneshwar.

Our 7 years

Commercial Street, September 2015: Duvetyn sky. Thunder tugs the starless fringe. A moist, expanding blue that drenched our eyes with its limitlessness. The ancient roars echoed in our bones. Minute earth-ghosts wafted up swaying to the call of a distant strumming and clung to our skin. Humid insects. Street lights in golden splashes brimming in puddles, wandering away into the tiny lanes, everything yellow and a little swoony under the gathering night.
We were more than the sum of our meals, breaths and habits. The 7 years grew behind us like wings. Each feather had a song woven into its gossamer strands. Memories distilled, second by second - condensing, dropping and mineralizing - a stalagmite of whispered stories, an infinity of unutterable tenderness in a single crystal. The quivering reflections were older, far more palpable than the real. We were floating along in the drift of voices, smells and lights. Pieces of infinities in a timeless embrace, reflections swallowing each other spawning universes.

Image: With my Nokia camera

A Poem for Growing Up

We don’t know who is stabbing who;
we may be in a circle
or a sky staring at another sky.
Broken mirrors locked
in an endless, helpless glare.

Note the word ‘broken’,
It has changed over the years
and it means unlike things to us-
An indoor game to you
an intransience to me.
Or simply the jagged corners
of our habits.

Our edges have been sandpapered
We fit now, lock and key,
a pleasantly ticking clockwork .
whirring away in synchronized chaos.

Bumps grow under our skin
Knots left by past winters

I guess it’s all part of getting used to
Getting along, getting old
or just a much washed
threadbare picture of love.

Picture: Pinterest

Saturday, August 22, 2015

At the Rangashankara Bookstore

Once at the bookstore in Rangashankara (Bangalore) I found a children's book on trees filled with amazing, highly stylized illustrations (in the style of old fresco paintings) and with actual twigs, flowers and leaves pressed in each page along with seeds that the child could pick out and plant. It was a small book just 10-15 pages made of beautifully-textured, natural-dyed recycled paper and rather expensive (Rs. 600/- I think). For a parent who is looking for a lot of pages filled with 'good, relevant, value-added' stories this may look like a bad deal. Of course, it had no mention of how to succeed in life, it didn't glorify purposefulness or busy-ness, it has no story of ambitious, morally-sound characters conquering larger-than-life bad guys after going on a series of adventures.

The idea behind the book was slowness, of cultivating the art of listening and observing, of perceiving what is beyond the peripheral and to help one live a profoundly enriching, cultured life appreciating art, the aesthetics of color, texture, history and the natural world. One had to delve into and dwell on each page - spend time meandering over the illustrations, the mouth-watering descriptions, touch the reverently placed pressed leaves and then plant the seeds.

None of the parents who walked by wanted to buy that book although many children became engrossed in the beautiful colours and textures. They simply asked the kids to 'keep it back' and when the shop assistant tried to get them interested in buying the book, they commented on how the book is so short. I was surprised to find a lot of parents saying the same identical statement:'Oh, who has the time for all this? S/he will finish it in 2 minutes and I want something that will keep him/her quiet for hours. S/he should watch some cartoons'.

I wondered on the society's preoccupation with parenthood and shaming married adults who are not parents as selfish, lazy individuals. And here I witness parenthood as a troublesome phase that one has to overcome by somehow making the kid study for a series of exams and keep him occupied during free-time with numerous passive-entertainments until childhood somehow passes by and then push him into a world were you are measured based on your monetary success. Even when it is not studies, every other interest (sports, music, art) is encouraged with the intention of making him participate in competitions and win prizes. Any alternate suggestion is furiously attacked. Offense is the best defense apparently. Economically well-off parents simply say 'Who has the time?", "He won't be interested" or "But he has to study." Middle-class parents come up with melodramatic statements, "We are thankful that we can at least send him to school" and even "It is easy for you to say, one day you will be in our position" The solution is so evident, it is sometimes right there in their indignant retorts. I am be generalizing here, but for the crowd who usually comes to Rangashankara, Rs. 600 may not be such a staggering amount, a bit less than one family dinner in a reasonable restaurant.

A little time to spare, a little imagination, a step back into your own childhood, and what a world you will unfold for your child! And such an exquisite, priceless thing to own and cherish for years! It is time to do things for the fun of it. To encourage a sweaty, exhilarating day in a park than in front of a TV, to watch interesting documentaries and children's movies from around the world than an endless feed of sexist, offensive, consumerist programs, to learn an instrument so that she can compose her own music rather than to participate in youth festivals or show-off to relatives, to draw from dreams, to develop an engaging hobby, to collect things, love a pet, to follow seemingly 'scopeless' but soul-satisfying career paths, to understand a kind of happiness which is not in buying cars and owning houses but is eating a perfect little meal, discovering and buying a rare book or having a peaceful sleep every day.

Eventually a middle-aged man bought the book, the shop-assistant eagerly said "Your kids will love the book". To which he replied, "Oh, I don't have kids. But I adore such books."

Image: Pinterest

Saturday, July 25, 2015


Interspersed among lung-pauses
indecipherable things an organ would say-
to another.
the language of the toes
talking to the grassy paths
alphabets of bodies’ hidden codes
that had forgotten what they are meant for.
the secret eternities between surface and surface,
an umbilical cord of discord.

Image: Double Exposure Portraits by Aneta Ivanova

Laundry Day

There is something so apologetic about
drying clothes.
trembling shucks dripping transparent blood-
turned inside-out,
all secret tucks and patch-ups bared-
stench of a day's routine evaporating;
sun-hued ghosts
-stitches silhouetted.
This, domesticity’s visceral scan.

Wind releases alkaline specters-
sharp bursts of briny mist.
Inbreathe stings in-
the satisfying gut-tug of a detergent sneeze.

                                        - Jeena Mary Chacko

Image: Carlos Pérez Siquier

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Mind is a corridor – dark, dank, desolate; in the deep stillness of the night an indistinct stir.. The songs whistle through in wavering crescendo until they find their nooks to sit, fluff and fold their wings and sleep.
Mind has its despairing dead ends, unfinished tales, untold lore – they exist in a perpetual pudibund swoon. When awaken, they give birth to the thorny throat beasts clawing inside a trembling neck.
Mind has it’s crawlspaces where every giggle and gasp is accentuated. Delirious acoustics makes a dripping tap unbearable, a drop in the wind soothing. Mind is a lattice of worm holes that collapse upon themselves and spawn a labyrinth.
At times you find a small snail-track, silvery like liquefied moonbeam unspooling away, rounding a corner and suddenly a door! You open and mind is a ferocious garden. Hidden by a clump of desolate shrubs you may come across a shy lily, hiding within its nervous corolla a hushed magnificence. At another end an orchid, almost lurid in its beauty. It lures you until you see a gasping bee tumbling out of its luscious, poisonous whorls.
Mind has unexplored trails laden with redolent rosettes that purl away into the forest dim.

Photo: Pinterest

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Despair is a Thing with Claws

Despair is a thing with claws
scratching across an asbestos roof;
It is the unspittable grind between molars-
root cackling against gum
a sandpaper chewed to death
(Take deep breaths? PAH!)

Despair is the screams painted on gritty sockets,
Deafeningly silent - turning into a sweaty insomnia-
onion tears over a non-stick pan, fish-stained.
The incessant drone of World Cup commentary-
all in a loop, I want to smash something-
your head, for instance.

Instead I make endless therapeutic omelettes,
the ‘woman’s’ magazine insists:
go revamp your wardrobe, you’ll feel better
The-ra-peu-tic – a black cloth rips inside my jaw.
or I could secretly make neat, non-threatening gnashes-
and prattle away – until the voices gnaw into my nails.
a blankness filled with ‘whys’,
vast, convenient and hidden inside a SHUT UP.
Old crones crawl over my forehead
Leaving furrows-
they turn to splintered singings
ear-splitting; pieces running off-
Into places inside me
(I didn’t know existed)
stalactiting in my stomach.

My despair is a decaying verse-
a drowned caterpillar, unpupated,
ants’ breakfast. How fast the flesh disappears!
The sickening irony sews into a smirk-
Where is that thing with feathers?

Inspired by Emily Dickinson’s Hope is a Thing with Feathers

Image: Pinterest.

From the Corner of My Deluding Eye

 Sometimes it is coffee, dark as the residue of unremembered nightmares lingering on the underside of lashes. Sometimes it is insomnia, like dead satellites etched on skin - dead, grey, hollow. Each with its own terrible echo. Sometimes it is that carousel that starts up inside the skin, rippling lights, that music which make the skies throw-up and drown, the rasp of untranslatable words. Sometimes it is the penumbra of an unwritten poem, a delirious line that slips away from my desperate hands. I am left with only a redolent quaver on my fingers. Sometimes it is a ghost from the chaotic part of wakefulness; its laughter explodes in my throat. My eyes trace maddening bends on the wall, a white-washed corner stretches up, a light socket becomes a hungry mouth. Sometimes it is a clench in the jaw, the pull in the eyebrow, the chasms growing on my forehead, the chortles of my empty notebooks, the horrifying nothingness of a blank page, the heaviness of these blood whispers. 

Image: Google Images

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Leaf-Shaped Hole

The ground was matted with dried rubber-tree leaves. As she neared the gates, Navomi picked up one; she was always amazed by the intricate pattern on a single dry  leaf – a gauzy map of infinitesimal roads, bifurcating, multiplying – a delicate trellis of carefully-woven exasperation.  She wondered if it was the ghost of a poem insculptured by a forgotten poet centuries ago. 

When a rubber tree leaf is completely dry, the skin flakes away to reveal its pellucid skeleton, a convoluted configuration of veins. She marveled at that fragile equilibrium which was holding the whole structure intact instead of crumbling to dust.  It was like that part of her which distilled, then smoldered and years later decomposed into an embittered abstraction.  She sighed un-selfconsciously letting the leaf float down from her fingers. There was no one watching - no Fr. Mulligan with his compassionate, slightly supercilious grin or a simpering Kochu Maria with a smirk pleated under her sycophantic smile - Navomi was free to be her own shattered self.
Her lower lip trembled, her jaws hurt. Uncomprehendingly, she had broken the love laws that dictated "who should be loved, and how. And how much." 

A filigreed elegy, a sublimated fossil of a damaged soul sailed down - earth-smelling, eye-like and so startlingly weightless.

 A leaf-shaped hole in the universe brimmed silently with bitterness.

Image: Google Images

 {An extract from a fan fiction I’d written based on the characters created by one of my favourite living authors - Arundathi Roy}


Image: Google Images

Saturday, May 9, 2015

For a Young Dreamer

Dear You,
1. Love. Love makes everything ok. Find the real thing, the seemingly impossible thing, the near-nonexistent thing – and then, love.
2. Discern and understand, in splinters and scatters, the hidden wholeness of all things.
3. Savour those little moments when you feel perfect contentedness, a perfect harmony, a magnificent connectedness with the whole.
4. Relish slowness. Live an unhurried, cultured life brimming with ideas. Reading, writing, dreaming, watching the world glide by while you sip tea and introspect.
5. Be absurdly pure, intrinsically beautiful and loftily and determinedly idealistic.
6. When you read, feel verses in the lungs, in the knuckles, in the arch of the feet.
7. Take time to sit in ignored corners – old stair bends, mildewed window-sills, forgotten parks, an inconspicuous café in a street corner.
8. It is ok to dream away a day, or spend it on Tumblr. Really.
9. Be yourself. Absolutely, elementally and staunchly yourself.
10. Get involved exuberantly in things you love. Lose sleep. Skip meals. Flout societal conventions and expectations. Obsess.
11. Read more poems. Dwell, delve and delight in the very vein of poetry.
12. Exist in your own timelessness.
13. Embrace your inner brokenness and its essential fullness.
14. Bloom where you are planted.
15. Sit beside a warbling stream purling away under the sleepy stars. Feel the pebbles, the water flowing between your toes.
16. Don’t limit your curiosity. Ever.
17. Embrace the universe.
18. Explore every cadence of your mind.
19. Study yourself every day. Hack away the inessential.
20. Take long walks. Feel the throb of a city in your muscles, in the ache of your feet, in the sear of your soars.
21. Read Nabokov. Taste the delicately convoluted trellises of unusual syllables.
22. Don’t let anyone con you into following banal conventions.
23. If you love your own company, you’ll never be bored. Don’t let anything intrude upon your precious solitude.
24. Hear music in your marrows. Listen to post rock. Transform.
25. Look beyond the reality of the world around you. When you look up, imagine wings unfurling in the unperturbed evening air.
26. Love sunsets, sunrises, the whole drama of dawn and dusk. Become one with the changing sky - an infused, swirling purple. A piece of cloudy twilight.
27. Simplify the eating experience. Discover the subtle tang in a grape, the bright headiness in a slice of papaya.
28. Understand that this is a precious dawn between two infinities off dusk.
29. Spend a day in a forest; soak up the stirrings and stillness. Talk to a shy fern.
30. Apologize without hesitation, but know if someone is taking advantage of you. If you have to grovel endlessly or listen to ceaseless tirades then move on. Life is too short.
31. Memorize a whole tree - every inch of the bark, every shade of the petals, every whisper of the leaves and fold it away among the pages of remembrance.
32. Go to a second-hand book store. Simply sit there and inhale. If you are allergic to dust, look at photographs of books on Pinterest.
33. Become a river – gently carve into the landscape and nourish the woods you pass by. Listen to the throbs and pulses of the aquatic lives. Sparkle in the sun, dream under the frosty skies and eventually become one with the ocean.
34. Live deeply in this distracted world. Become the renaissance.
35. Catch and treasure the molecules of extraordinary in the ordinary. Store them up to be recollected, drop by tender drop, years later.
36. Watch a nest being built, twig by twig.
37. Have dreams as large as mountains and as brittle as old flowers.
38. When you write, let untamed verses grow from your pores and evaporate. Write at least a page a day.
39. Be like the windows of a mountain cabin – charming, quiet and present. The perceptive lodger shall open you and breathe in the undulating landscapes.
40. Saudade.
41. Expand beyond the prison of your body and embrace this immense mystery.
42. There will always be critics. Just sail by. You are a sheer sphere in this world of foggy circles.
43. Become a tantalizing nuance, the degree of difference between blue and blue.
44. Collect bits of nature - fill your space with pebbles, interesting twigs, fronds, shells.
45. Be like a melting flake. Live in a state of infra-lucidity, peer at the world through the limpid depths of a rain drop.
46. Become marcescent - be exposed to life’s assaults and marvels and abrade away until you become a translucent abstraction, a distilled verse. No walls. No filters.
47. Listen. Listen with every fiber of your body. You will hear a mushroom swelling, a butterfly sighing, a tea leaf unfolding. Trip on that.
48. Leave behind the windows you created for others to open and see.
49. Accept the innate substance of life.
50. Wither with grace.
                                               - Jeena Mary Chacko

Image: Pinterest

Sunday, April 5, 2015

My Advice to Aspiring Writers

My advice to aspiring writers - stay unemployed as long as possible. Sponge off, starve, depend on the goodwill of friends, forage among the trash cans, freelance once a month and mooch around hospital canteens, sneak into university cafeterias for half-price anything! But until you have completed that one cosmically mind-blowing book, story, poem or even a single transcendentally beautiful line don't even think about a "career". Don't fall into the trap of taking a lucrative job when you can spend another 3-4 years in college. Never, ever get sucked down the corporate drain. You become a soulless, shallow, unbelievably fake, uncaring 'resource'. Always a little under-payed, a little overworked, perpetually tired and a lingering dissatisfaction which they convince you can be solved by spending more and more money on parties, spa sessions to 'unwind', expensive team outings and over-priced yoga and meditation classes. The funny thing is you don't even want to commit that wonderfully planned suicide because of all the fake promises offered to you - bonuses, promotions, quarterly assessments, that vague, shiny undefinable but supposedly tempting something that they dangle in front of you - always a fraction beyond your reach.

Image: Pinterest

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


How do you define this? These broken birds clawing the spaces between bones, this pale roar re-vibrating through hollows in my words, this swelling landscape of unspokenness.


Shed phantom leaves, barely-there prickle of an imagined line. Veins bird-songed through, poem-space in bus tickets. Fever spill, a pondering- sleep spoons seas into eyelids, see threads knotting quiver and quiver. We understood through lung-pauses, long guesses, held our many-ness like wounds, like weapons, this numb thumbed poem in the fragile dark. Marimayam