To Catch A Thief, You Need A Shoe 




To Catch A Thief


To catch a thief, you need a shoe
And maybe some blueberries
Skim milk, cereal-oh wait, that’s for
Breakfast- no, get cherries

A pair of socks will do you well
A bed head is a must
An itchy toe is just the thing
A sense of self robust

Spirit, willing, determination
To go get yourself shot
At least, get 1-2 fractured knees
Work with what you’ve got

To catch a thief, you’ll need the shoe
Berries are for a distraction
The pair of socks to help you creep
Up closer, ninja action

The bed head so your silhouette will
Strike fear in the hearts of men
The itchy toe will keep you awake
Where courage fails; then

Surprise the bastard in the dark
Pelt him with fruit unseen
Let him feel the point of your shoe
Poking his neck, lean! Lean!

Put your weight into it, if
You only stretch up chest high
And keep the will to get shot handy
Thieves tend to be ready to fly

Between the milk, and the stabbing heel
You’ll have a thief ready to be caught
Good thing you saved the milk for breakfast
– look at that, didn’t even get shot.



My bedroom’s the one closest to the door. So at 4 am today, when the light outside flickered on and off for a minute, being the raging insomniac I am, I bolted awake. I listened very, very closely. There seemed to be some sort of scuffling near the gate. My dogs are on the other side. After a few moments of crippling sleep paralysis, I somehow moved with leaden limbs and dread pouring through me.

There was a thief in the house. 

I got out of bed, looked for a weapon, and picked up a heel off the rack. Then I picked up the blueberry jar in front of my door and tiptoed out very, very softly- Bruce lee would have been proud. In the span of two minutes visions of my dead family were dancing in front of me. It’s a wonder I didn’t flat out run or wobble in the dark- I’m one of those people who can trip on thin air. And I knew it- the front door was open.

I crept closer to the door from the darker side, just in case the burglar was standing on the outside. Still holding the heel- in retrospect, not a bad sleepy choice – and the damned blueberries. There was a steady clack-clack-clack coming from the yard- was he trying to get into the shed? Why did he leave the door open and go into the shed? Had he run out with something?

I did a quick survey of the hall. All the bedrooms seemed peaceful enough, all the doors shut. Swapped the berry jar for a torch on the counter and sneaked out into the yard, going barefoot and slowly because ninja and all that, but I didn’t want to surprise the man and get stabbed. I went around the house- he was there, a dark shape, washing something on the outside tap??? I froze, confused as hell. Suddenly he swung around and started walking towards the house, in my general direction. Now or never!- I let out an almighty shriek like an avenging banshee and jumped out onto him.

Hopped out, more like. Dad screamed right back at me.

He’d got an emergency call at work and was leaving. All the sneaky fuss had been to make sure he didn’t wake us up- mom had already gone back to their room. He was waiting in the yard for the cab to pick him up, when he noticed the dog’s dish was lying in the grass and went to rinse it. Which is when I came charging out from the side of the house in my pajamas, holding a high heel aloft. And all the screaming woke the dogs up, who, bless them, had slept through every scrape and rustle we’d made till the surprise-surprise!

I mean, my response isn’t completely kooky. This exact thing has happened before when I was little. One of the nights when dad was away, mom got up next to me suddenly and walked straight out to the living room and chased a burglar out. She’d counted an extra head, and instead of screaming, in a fit of adrenaline fueled courage, gone after the thief before he went into our rooms. She actually did chase the man out. And he was so shocked by this charging specter out of nowhere that he ran for it. He took all the VCR and the speaker system with him though. Mom chased him into the street, and then he just ran for it. It’s weird how almost ten years later, I did exactly the same thing.

And if you think I’m making any of this up, think again. It’s now 5 am and I’m writing this down because I can’t sleep, and what the actual fuck, I nearly my stabbed my father with a shoe.





Five Parts of Her


Those who have known imprisonment, know
Freedom can be found even in a flower

And you wonder why I love rain


We were not reared in shade, in gardens
This desert has bred
Wild children


I walk in dreams, where no one sees
Be still; I know where you lie
But you do not know
My lies


They trapped her soul in the
Heart of a diamond
She sparkled like a star, and yet
They found flaws in her


This night sky stretches on like a lost ocean
It seems to me that
I am doomed to drown tonight

Five Parts of Her’

An Ascent Into Madness




Being up before dawn is quite something.

Not sleeping at all, and waiting for a semblance of a new day, quite another.
I’m sitting on the steps that lead into my backyard, lighting a cigarette for the morning, fingers still stained here and there with old blood. My hair’s still wet from the shower, and matches fizzle out, catching stray droplets. Couple of tries and I get it though. Wish I could say the same about falling asleep. Dunno if the insomnia fuels the stress or the stress perpetuates the insomnia. Probably both, and the vicious cycle has my mind turning verbal somersaults.
Not proverbial. There is no wisdom here.
The yard is damp, there’s a promise of rain. The sky’s beginning to show the faintest of gleams shooting into the sky on my right. It’s beautiful enough, I suppose. Not nearly as the tiny ember I hold in my hand. It’s closer to earth. It holds more meaning. I realize that a cigarette can bring you more calm than the promise of a new day. It’s all about perspective.
Or maybe that’s what I lack. My vision’s gotten blurry. It’s an odd sort of focus where the world kind of weaves in and out, the green of the patch of trees blending with the incongruously placed electricity poles. They’re there, and not there. My mind buzzes with a sort of frantic awakening that my lethargic body wishes it could replicate. Even the noxious tin can promising energy sitting next to me cant give me that. Nor can the rancid tasting excuse for yogurt next to it. Tastes like cow spit.
Either way.
Dawn comes rather suddenly. One minute it’s all blue and violet, and the next minute the mysteries of the darkest night are nowhere to be seen. The sky is white. It’s a blank space, a canvas crisscrossed by telephone lines- is this why it’s a new beginning? Could I do what the man said, and paint my will across in clouds? Probably not.
Would be nice to, though.
I can barely see, and yet, I see too much. I know nothing, like that idiot Jon Snow. And I know too much. I don’t want to. I don’t want to feel this vacant buzzing in my ears, of words that form rhymes in couplets and drop off stray into the unknown. I want to gather them, pour them out so that I can refill myself properly, but there’s always some more, always some more. There was an ode to a crack in the floor just now, a series of observations about the movements of ants stealing from the bin, remnants of a three hour long conversation from last night, weighing responsibilities, pressing chores, imminent deadlines. There is no possible space for silence here.
Silence. What a word.
I never did learn the ‘meaning’ of extremes. After days like yesterday, I always realize that I still don’t know how someone with so little value for their own life can revere the keeping of others’. Where did I learn these lessons? My blood on my hands is art. Even the sight of someone else’s blood, is immediately recognized as pain. My pain is fulfilment, to be felt, to be revelled in. Someone else in pain, incites the urge to heal, to help.
Odd sort of double standards, really. Most people take it the other way round, as far as I know.
So young. So full of ideals. So old. So bitter, so inured. And love. The great equalizer, binding the two, bizarrely united halves together. I have very strange dreams to live for.
At least I can see much better now, even with the ashen aftertaste in my mouth. Morning is here properly. There’s one shrub in the far corner quivering away on its own. A collective of jackdaws chockchocking away next door. Maybe I won’t have to go very far to refill my mind. There are stories here, even in this stretch of land I know as well as the map of veins in my hand. And I haven’t even begun to hear them.
But I have begun to see. Morning is here.

Are you listening, God?

The fact of the matter is, I miss God.

I sit here writing this with a cigarette dimly glowing in the ash tray, an inch from a still glass of golden whiskey, and a fresh lungful of smoke- the irony, is not lost on me. But I’ll persist. I can’t wait to talk about this anymore. It has to be now.

For months now, my sense of loss has been growing. It’s like an abrasive tack pierced inside the wall of your heart. Time and movement help the wound grow, and moral stagnation helps the infected edges fester. I’m afraid that my spirit’s grown rusted, and I know why.

This is the precise reason I didn’t want to write about it, and wanted to talk to a friend about it instead. Too much explaining to do before I can get to explaining my need to be understood, and my edges are dulled tonight. But there is a decided lack of Muslim friends who are ready to talk  reasonably about the effects of ‘promiscuity’ and alcohol and living in sin on the soul. Indeed, I could name one, and not even another, who would agree to such a conversation without resentment and judgement lacing their tone. That implacability and refusal to bend, denial of the existence of another approach to faith, was one of the prime reasons I migrated away from accepting such ramrod people as friends at all. The lack of understanding, the lack of empathy, for something as basic and essential as religion or the lack of it in a person, was completely unacceptable to me, and still is. But in leaving all the stout and rabidly vocal believers behind, I seem to have left all believers behind, and it would take some looking to point to one of those who are dearest to me and do not take the concept of God with a pinch of salt.

I left those other people behind a long time ago. The ones who would point a finger at me because I’m ‘ungrateful’ and ‘disobedient’ to my demented father, or would shun me because I refused to marry the man who ‘ruined’ me, because in time, he turned into a monster too and I’ve had enough fucking monsters in my life for a lifetime. It mystified them that I could love to meditate in the morning, after praying. They rejected the idea as alien, and foreign. Some of my closest friends in our community were appalled that I could sit at a Hindu puja all day, when my mother’s best friend had her annual party, and like every year, I was there after dawn to help her prepare the masses of fruit and flowers. Those who can’t accept that I could sit in a room full of ‘strange’ boys but love them like brothers, and want to nurture them that way too. Those who could not understand how I laid my immortal soul down at the feet of an atheist, and how he raised me up to understand my God more than the religious monsters before him could have fathomed.

And none of them could even begin to understand how those seemingly godless men were my blessing. How each of us bowed to a different name and some, to no one, and yet, they make my life so full of meaning that I overflow with love. My days were and are blessed- but I miss being able to give thanks, because these are not the things I’m supposed to give thanks for.

I miss waking up blessed. I miss making my ablutions for prayer, sitting down with my earmarked and well thumbed Quran and flipping to my favorite verses for a quick read before I moved on to the parts I’d planned to read. I miss hearing a few lines of the call to prayer while on my way to or from work, passing some mosque or the other, and repeating them.  I miss those moments when I would hold back from swearing or unleashing a torrent of fucks on whoever deserved or didn’t deserve it, because I knew at the back of my mind that I would have to answer for it one day. I miss looking at the sky and knowing I was sheltered, Even though, at a stage, I grew to be constantly angry and bitter, resentful of the freedom God chose to gave to those who deliberately stifled me, and in turn, resentful of God Himself.

I don’t know how to describe this basic need, this hollowness in my head and heart, this absolute emptiness. Somewhere on the path to independence and fierce self definition, I stopped walking under God’s hand. I didn’t feel comfortable to take His name with a mouth that reeked of alcohol or smoke, so I stopped praying when I drank, and eventually stopped praying at all. It didn’t make the slightest difference in the quantitative analysis f my faith- indeed, I fought, argued, and debated more vociferously for the honor of my religion than I ever had in my regularly praying life. I used to make it a point to dodge talking about Islam at all. In today’s world, my belief is an expletive, and while I was NEVER ashamed, I was non-confrontational with those who wanted to make a scene about it, even while I blessed them and walked away. And after I stopped praying, I believed and believe more strongly than ever. I just never counted on missing the peace of a prayer mat so much.

And all the while, the deficiency kept building. These days, it’s become an almost physical ache. I deflect my mother’s questions as to whether I’ve prayed. She knows that I’m going through a struggle, and she’s letting me find my way out myself. I ignore my sister’s silent accusatory looks, because I was the only one who she respected, when it came to religion and practicing it. Other friends who I’d spoken to about this before, gave me some strange answers about a girl of my intellect being duped by these archaic Abrahamic religions, after which I never turned to them. I didn’t want to answer to anyone, and I didn’t have to, did I? so I stopped. I stopped and at some point, I realized that God had stopped answering too. I had been looking away from the lack of communication so determinedly that I didn’t see that it had stopped.

I can hardly complain about being forsaken when I walked away, can I?

A heart knows, a heart always knows. I knew His presence so closely, and now I know the silence. And I know that all I need to do is repent, ask for forgiveness and He will, He will, He always does. He loves His flock to come to Him willingly, rather than from fear of pain or fear of His wrath forcing the realization. And instead of watching from behind the curtain when my mum wakes up in the middle of the night to watch the Live telecast of the Friday prayers from Mecca, and bursting into hot tears and going back to bed, telling myself that this life isn’t for me anymore, if I just directed those tears to Him, He’d listen. It’s not as if He’s not already listening. I don’t even know why I picked up the laptop and started hammering away at it, it makes no sense to me. I’m half drowned in whiskey and the ratio of oxygen to carbon monoxide in the room has shifted a long time ago. But I was still mocking myself, and I think I’ve had enough of chasing distractions and hiding behind excuses. I’ve had enough of this enforced spiritual loneliness.

It’s raining outside. Are you listening, God?

Where Do You Love?

Where Do You Love? 

Where do you love me,
In the course of the day?
Am I your mornings, rainy and grey?
Or sunlight, a call to another beginning?
Am I your twilight, dim and still

Am I your night?

Where do you love me,
As a companion, as help?
Am I to subserviant, or
an equal, treated well the same
as you, do you look up to
me with respect
Where do you love me, when
I’m quiet, and you’ve left?

Where do you love me, tell me
Do you know what it is
to ache?
Have you learnt yet that to love
is to accept that
You can break?
Have you hurt yet, have you fallen
and seen that I stand
ready, to catch you if needs be
Have you needed to take
my hand?

Where do you love me, when
I’m angry and
you can’t understand?

There are mountains of upheaval, and
ripples of self flagellation
There are constellations of dreams and
Figments of imagination
And if you haven’t seen them yet, as
I have,
Where will you love me
When our demons come to call?
If you still don’t know, if
you’re still refusing to see it,
-if you’re refusing to say it

Will you love me at all?


The problem with intensity, is how quickly it takes up capacity. Saturation… Like how you can have one bite of a
sinfully thick chocolate sundae, but maybe two, or three, if it’s a light vanilla. Like how you can drink your way through a six pack of beer, but four fingers of whiskey will sear into your brain. Probably why I’m okay with cigars and cigarettes- Hookah is for amateurs.

There’s a reason they call it a ‘burning intensity’. There’s also a reason that we find moments of focused emotion and energy scattered in a span of days, or weeks. Our minds do not reach epiphanies once each day- that cannot. We do not transcend except in parts. We do not look within except in glimpses. Our bodies, our nerves, our realization,
would blow a fuse. We are not built to function, with that sort of ferocity.

Even though we crave it.

We crave the fierceness. We reach for it. We retreat to lick our wounds and heal, just as quickly, too. It’s called our space. Some people need more of it, and some people need less. Some need seemingly none at all, and seem to thrive
off their day long social interactions and emotional attachments. Others are tired just by having to hold a conversation with a stranger. Making words with meaning in them… Seems like the unlikeliest thing that could take a toll on a body, but it does. Interaction is… a shift of essence. I suppose it’s only logical that it would drain us, or replenish us accordingly.
Makes me wonder about the physics of it. You seem to do both.

I wonder when I made that shift. I know how I made it, but I wonder about the ‘when’. Was it a subconscious choice? Was it a defense mechanism? I don’t know that. What I do know is that I chose to devote the sum total of my energies to loving you, and loving me. That completed me, fulfilled me, in a way I hadn’t thought possible. And those strands that I held on to, are all that remain. The intensity with which I love where I do, burns brighter than the lights of the rest of the world.
Insignificant, inconsequential. How much of ourselves we give away, how much we gain. It is astonishing how much who we choose to love changes us- as does how we choose to love.

Where does your flame burn from?

Where do you love?

Rat Killing, And Other Psychotic Pastimes.

Rat Killing

And Other Psychotic Pastimes

One of the things I grew up hearing about my father, and was thankfully too young to remember seeing, was his penchant for rat catching.

My house has two large, spread out yards. The backyard is somewhat separated from a stretch of ditches, scrubby land, and swampy holes. Ever so often when the rain has been heavier than usual, rats tend to shift from their hidey holes (which I assume, fill up with water), and show up on our side of the fence. It’s not unusual anymore, and the rats don’t make a nuisance of themselves. We see them maybe once in the morning, for a couple of days, and when the rain stops and the water vanishes, so do they. Over the time we’ve built a tenuous understanding of sorts with each other, which mostly involves looking the other way from each other. I even managed to make friends with a couple of bigger fellows who even learnt how to sit up and beg for food, or to sit on our sun-rock and wait till someone saw them, and do their begging trick. The cats remain supremely unconcerned of all these goings on, and for the most part, so do we.

Till last week, though.

Friday morning, I woke up earlier than usual. Thought I’d make myself coffee and sit in the yard, watch the morning come in. When I peeked outside, Dad was standing like a knight in boxer armor, holding aloft a Mop-Lance, preparing to sneak up on one of the rats and smack him with the pointy end. The rat was just sitting there minding his own business, probably waiting for one of us to toss him a fruit loop or something. The minute Dad went in for the kill, I nearly spat out my coffee and went running down to stop him. The rat saw me before he did, probably thought I’d gone mental, and skittered off back into his burrow. Safe, though, thankfully.

After a morning of explaining to Dad how the rat system works (and listening to a lot of rants about the bubonic plague and hygiene and what not), the entire matter was settled. Later in the day, mom told me this story- or should I say, horror story.

So apparently, this rat business has been around for ages. Since my grandparents time, even. They show up in the rains, when the lower levels are flooded, and go away on their own. But rat catching has always been a huge favorite of my dad’s. His preferred method employed a wire cage, bread, a sharp iron poker, and boiling water/hot oil. My mom first saw this stake-out-and-trap-the-rat business in their first year of marriage. Mind you, in my opinion that should’ve been warning enough, but she ‘had faiiiiith in him’, back when she was still naive and what not.

The process went like this. When the rain started, Dad would rig up those trapdoor sort of walk in cages for the bigger rats. He wasn’t after the small fry. He wanted a good fight on his hands, or something. The bread anc cheese would lure the rat in, the trapdoor would snap shut, and next morning, the torture began.

First, he’d bean the poor critter with the poker. When he got tired of that, he’d pour boiling hot water or oil on it, so it was essentially fried alive. And then, triumphant and victorious, he’d be mighty satisfied with himself for the next few days or so. Till a few months later, or till the next time it rained for a few days straight.

Obviously, mom was beyond horrified. She told me how she stated crying when she saw the brutal scene, and later told my dad never to do that again. And obviously, dad was all ‘nothing-wrong-with-that’ and ‘religion-says-you-should-kill-harmful-pests’ and all. After seeing how defensive and vehement the topic made him, she dropped the argument. But she saw it happen a couple of times more, and couldn’t take it. She pointed out that his defense of ‘religion-says’ doesn’t work because ‘religion says that you’re NOT, in ANY way whatsoever, supposed to torture any living being, pest or not’, and boiling water, oil, and those beating to death sort approaches, are even more strictly forbidden. You are, under no circumstances whatsoever, to give pain to any animal. Kill it mercifully, or just release it somewhere else. No oil and poker shenanigans.

Well, that put a damper on the rat catching. Thankfully, I should add. I don’t know where those genes went but all my siblings inherited mom’s Love Thy Rat and Love Thy Every Animal philosophy. I’ve had pet house lizards, pet spiders, pet crows, pet random assorted birds, and God knows what other animals. Other girls’ mums would forbid pets, or picking up injured animals. My mom welcomes them. We even had an electrocuted crow who she nursed back to health for three months. He actually flew away on his own two wings afterward, it was the most beautiful sight to see. Dad would’ve probably been like, “yum, yum, roast crow” or something.

He’s a lot more civilized now. The traveling and the job and the money have taught him how to maintain the veneer. But after hearing all that, as I sat opposite him laughing and joking around with his actually civilized friends, and doing a brilliant job of faking it, all I could think of was the barbarian who lives inside his ‘gentleman shaped suit’.

Rat Killer.

What Henna Means


What Henna Means

Henna is synonymous with everything desi weddings are- messy, all over the place, fussy, even smelly, but in the end, gorgeous. It’s one of those things that no wedding in indian or pakistani families is complete without. Even so far away from all the cultural roots, henna still *ahem* stains the parties red. There’s no life lessons in the leaves or the patterns, but it’s funny how much a simple ritual can signify.

Different religions have different reasons or reasonings for henna, but in the cultural hodge podge that the indian subcontinent is, henna is an absolute prerequisite for every newly wed bride, whether hindu, muslim, or sikh. There’s different patterns, spirals and leaves and flower motifs. A particular thing I didn’t know about that till today was that apparently, the groom’s name is worked into the intricate henna designs on the bride’s hands. Plus, there’s different patterns for hands and arms and legs and feet, it’s practically a science of its own! I’ve had a spate of weddings in our community here recently, and the current one’s my cousin’s wedding. Today was a looooong session of, well, just henna everywhere, really.

It’s totally not my thing. I don’t remember the last time I had henna on my hands (I’m pretty sure a butterfly on my neck doesn’t count in the traditional sense, lol). But instead of sitting on the sidelines ducking away from all the girls walking around with outstretched arms, or the so called dance floor for the ones whose hands have dried, I actually sat in the pit. And I got my hands done.


It’s messy. And it’s so, SO smelly. Not even the freshly mown grass kind of smell, or the crushed leaves kind of aroma. It’s a strong, earthy odor that quickly takes over the room (and your head, trust me). And it’s cold and ticklish, even though the ladies who apply it are seriously pro. They go swish swash swoosh across your palm with crazy detailing, and you’re done in like ten minutes, tops. It’s just… the atmosphere it sets.

But it’s beautiful too, if you look right.

It’s supposed to be a promise of happiness. Of new beginnings, and of two people starting a life together. Of families sitting together and singing and dancing and celebrating their happiness. It’s times like these when the dormant streak in me that hopes for domestic bliss, raises its head and looks around wistfully. I was sitting next to the bride, who was sitting rather gracefully for a girl splayed out like a starfish, a different artist working on each of her limbs. And the cloying surge of emotion threatened to overpower even the smell.

Just another thing I’ll never have.

Not that I particularly want to be graffitied all over, mind you. Or be one of those harried married chicks with a squalling demon baby and a straying husband. But the rest, all of it. Sometimes I find myself wanting the promise of a home, and love, and the happily ever after. Reminders of more things, just more things I’ll never have.

Never realized that flower patterns could be so depressing.

Oh well, at least I don’t have to bother with this again, at least for few years. Or till the next wedding when they manage to emotionally blackmail me into it. Whichever’s later.

That’s one thing henna’s good for, I guess. Whatever it means, but it’s good for hiding someone turning a delicate shade of jealous green. :p :p Till the moment passes, and I’m back staring exhaustedly at the people mucking about, and wondering when this torture will end.

Goddamn this smell, though. SERIOUSLY!!!!

Cheers and face masks,

Cookie ❤

Ps. Peekaboo, peekabee- you see me!