Saturday, December 08, 2012

goat days

Goat Days, written by the Gulf Malayali Benyamin and translated by Joseph Koyillapally, is worth reading and worth remembering as well. Like Yann Martel's Booker-winning Life of Pi, Goat Days captures the ordeals of an innocent man in a hell beyond his imagination.

Najeeb has the typical Malayali dream, of being in the Gulf and sending money home. His desires resemble the luxuries of a Gulf-returned Malayali: “ a gold watch, fridge, TV, car, AC, tape recorder, VCP, a heavy gold chain”. He lands in Riyadh on a visa sent by his friend's brother-in-law but the life that awaits him there does not even resemble his earlier dream.

He finds himself in a masara tending goats, camels and sheep; working day and nighting; feeding them and milking them; in fact, living like one of them. He forgets even the simple pleasures of his former life such as wasing himself or even the right to privacy while defecating. However, he finds the company of the animals more comforting than that of the cruel and inhuman arbab. He longs for his homeland, the bath in the river, the presence of his family and for rain...When Najeeb breaks out of his masara and runs away, it is a huge step towards the unknown. Like Pi, Najeeb thanks God for being with him during his ordeal.

Readable and memorable, Goat Daysrepresents the ordeals of many Indian immigrants across the Gulf countries, the reality of which is glossed over by the glittering opulence of the few lucky ones. It is surely a slice of real life. May be a goat's life.

Publisher: Penguin
Price: 250/-

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cowrie shells

Once we were both wanderers every day.
We looked at each other and the world;
Picked up cowrie shells from the sands
As we roamed the seashores together.

The shells were of many shapes and sizes,
Smooth like porcelain and treasures;
Much like our words and thoughts then
That exuded much love and many dreams.

We spoke of cowrie shells and the seas,
The words began late but never ended,
Who you were I could never know well,
Condemned to be a wanderer after all.

You remain an enigma now; a stranger with
Whom I spoke of dreams and cowrie shells.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Life in Small Pixels

A life in small pixels,
For an eye that has loved
To wander and stare at life,
As far as it goes,
Without any inherent fervour
Or the joy of life.

Joy of life,
The much-quoted joie de vivre,
Common among all cousins,
Friends and the young,
Somehow found missing,
From the beginning.

Yet the mind knows
And understands fully well;
That this life is mine alone
A sum of all experiences,
Yours and mine,
Bitter sweet.

Your eyes trailing on words
Splashed across the page,
Ah! the magic of that smile,
Cryptic, heavenly and mine,
A moment too momentous,
To capture in small pixels.

What we try to do together
Is to find beauty in the gross
And loveliness in the wordless
Limitless boundless blue skies,
To still the flowing river
Sip the magic of togetherness.

Many more days of silence wait,
Till this rambler can set forth
On faraway adventures across seas,
To watch the red-orange sunset
To feel the foaming waves dash,
Once more against our feet.

Till then, life goes around,
Prisms that capture moments
Made from minutest abstractions,
Versions of beauty around,
A mind in pastel shades
Capturing a life in small pixels.

You and Me

What brought you back to my mind, I do not know
But I do not like the surges of tears that rise,
That still rise though it’s been so many years
Since we walked away from our future happiness.

Words, reasons, explanations I cannot find at all,
But the heart wants to scrawl a few more words,
In that curious hieroglyphic that we had invented,
To encode a secret message just for your eyes.

But then the years have made us so apart
For so long that I do not know you anymore,
Nor the heart’s language or its silences,
Even my own self I hardly recognise anymore.

You have a mirror to look in; so do I have,
What we’ve is more than what could have been

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Black cat with green eyes

Monday, February 13, 2012



Your words dance across the pages,
They swirl and twirl and laugh.
Mine are like bits of coal before them,
I hide them away in embarrasment.

When I miss you, I seek their laughter,
Your lightness and your fooling around.
Then I remember that though like coal,
You hold them close to your face.

How else can I put a finger on my joy,
That comes to me during saddest hours.
How else can give a reason for your face,
Dark and long for so many dreadful days,

The dark shadows are still on your face,
Though it's been a long long long time.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

One last word

In the bright season of May
years ago our paths diverged;
not that I didn't love you,
yes, I did but there wasn't time.

Time, for us to start afresh
with stubbles of old loves,
for you, with your silences
and me with my clowning...

after the tears wore away
and my heart forgot its pain,
nothing remains of the old,
except a few flashes in words.

But now the world forgets not,
even after years of tears
it brings your name to me
in whispers and laughter.

True love it may have been
No longer live but in words.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012



In the first three months of marriage, there was no reason for disharmony. Theirs was a marriage that was the fruition of five years of love that began somewhere at college.

Yes, they had kissed under the stairs at college and they had fun at times. But they had troubles that began when their names and their religions clashed against each other.

Akash Nair and Meera George were not meant to be together, so said her parents. When Meera ran away one morning it was not at all surprising to her parents.

It was an ordinary day like all the other days. It was Akash and Meera who made it special by getting married in an empty church. He loved making her happy.

The church was open and they said the prayers, Meera reciting them from memory. Afterwards, they went to see Akash's parents who received them with love.

The days of love were lovely and beyond words. But when she started retching, she felt sad. May be it's the food, it might not be suiting me, she thought.

Then the days began on thinking of her mother getting up in the morning and running to work while managing to survive with her sloppy cooking.

What do you want? Akash asked her. In her mind, she said, I want my mother's sloppiest cooked pickles, the better ladies finger fries and the best potato fries.

Nothing, she replied and went on sulking. Was there any way in which her cravings could be answered? With the newly understood feeling of carrying a baby inside, she thought.

She hated the smell of Akash's sweat and even his shirts could make her puke. He walked out angrily on seeing her puke and slept anywhere but near her.

Tears began and so did sleeplessness. Then one day, she bought some raw mangoes and tried to pickle it in the sloppiest way possible.

The aroma was unmistakable, the same sloppy smell of home. She ate them hungrily and hastily. As she found herself happy again, she felt a nauseating feeling and she puked.

She puked in the kitchen and ran to the bathroom, where she puked again and again. When Akash turned up, he was horrified at the sea of vomit around her.

Mango pickle, she said and as he swept and washed the floor, he swore and swore at the stink. She felt a movement in her belly and she felt the baby kick.

Look at this, Akash, baby is kicking. Though there was danger written on his face till a while ago, he came near her and said, “It's my boy learning how to head”.

No way my dear, it's going to be a woman, may be she will join police, Meera said. She thought harmony was restored at least for some time.

Monday, January 02, 2012


The years have flown so fast, 
she says, in her soliloquy voice,  
a sign for me to sit up and wait 
for the final dart.
When it comes I'm already 
to swallow it down easily  
with a lot of lousy phlegm 
and heavens, plenty of patience. 
Yes, she loved listening to herself.  
You need to do what she did. 
You need to do things exactly  
How she used to do it all along
Hate and love, love and hate,  
She advises all her adversaries.

Pensiamento Fantastico: The Kitchen God’s Wife

Amy Tan’s novels serve as cultural documents that describe the immigrant experience in terms of communality and identity. They con...