Monday, December 26, 2016

Thlasik Mumang

What is it they say about winter dreams?
Tacky beads on my neck turn cool
Mingled with the chill of night.

You gave nervous, disapproving glares
When ghosts of Christmases past
Knocked on the thick wooden door-

Your memories have become mine.
And so, I felt the fascination
The excitement, the fear,
The disgust.
I felt in me
Your exquisite helplessness,
So addictive.

I saw you from a distance,
Torn. A fragment of a moment
In painful slow motion
Enacted on your face,
Stretched to infinity.
But I was mute,
Equally helpless.

I saw you rooted
Unable to move
And then you retreated
Into yourself.

I shall put away the wreath soon
And pack it in a box labeled


Monday, August 15, 2016


India is my country.
A piece of paper
And the whims of the powerful
Made it so.
Some protested,
Others did not,
Most did not have a choice.

All Indians are my brothers and sisters,
I find siblings can be very different.

I love my country, and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.
My country is not always proud of me
And does not always remember my heritage.
I tell myself it loves me back.

I shall always strive to be worthy of it,
Although worth is measured
In terms I do not understand.

I shall give my parents, teachers and all elders respect
And treat everyone with courtesy;
Even the man who feels entitled to rape me
Or abuse my man
Because we look different.
Yes, I will answer with courtesy
Every time someone asks
If I am from China.

To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion –
For what it’s worth.
Devotion. Devotee. Devoted.
Words to chew on.

In their wellbeing and prosperity alone lies my happiness,
And in my wellbeing and prosperity alone
Lies the future of the nation.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Travel Notes II: Salem, Massachusetts

Hi everyone! This is a long overdue update. I wasn't going to continue my Travel Notes series but someone asked me the other day why I hadn't, so on the off-chance that this is even slightly interesting to at least one reader, here goes:

The next literary trip I took during my stay in the US was a day at Salem, the notorious town known for an infamous witch hunt that took place back in the 1690s, and immortalized in such works as Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, among others. I honestly didn’t know what to expect of Salem; I think I expected a creepy, ghostly, eerie town haunted by its macabre past. It was anything but. If anything, Salem has made the best of its history by becoming a modern-day witch-themed tourist attraction. A little disappointing for someone who had conjured up images of dismal, Puritanical severity like me, but once I got over it, I thoroughly enjoyed the lighthearted attitude towards witchcraft and all things associated with it. Rather than denying the existence of witchcraft, I think what they tried to do was debunk myths about the wiccan religion, separating it from Satanism or the worship of the devil, which is a common misconception.

Salem has a touching tribute to the heroes and victims of the witch hunt and subsequent trials of 1692 by way of a museum and a lively retelling of the story with life-like figures of Abigail, John Proctor, Tituba and all the major players of that oft-told tale. It was a cold reminder of the power of society and human vengeance, and most of all the evil that comes out of fear of the unknown – the persecution of innocent people in the guise of morality. Although I was familiar with the story already, I think we all came out of the darkened room quite shaken after having heard the dramatic rendering of the tale by our narrator, complete with sound and visual effects, I might add.

Hawthorne’s model for The House of the Seven Gables actually does have seven gables. We went on a wet and rather gloomy day to visit his birthplace as well as the aforementioned seven-gabled house, which seemed oddly befitting.

Salem, other than the obvious nods to its traumatic history as well as Harry Potter-esque influences evident in the commercial enterprises lining the streets, was all in all a small, pretty, little village. One imagines how quiet and quaint it would be minus the touristy trappings and how someone like Hester Prynne (of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter) could have been ostracized and cast out of society for transgressing against society’s norms in days long gone.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

When You Spoke

When last you spoke
You spoke of times long gone,
You spoke of Bangkok,
Strange accents,
Stranger diets.
You disarmed with laughter -
That sound was alien too long.
Did you know somehow,
None more would be forthcoming,
The way you laughed that day?

Memories are tricky;
On good days they bring remembrance
Of golden lockets from Kuala Lumpur
Shaped into a heart
Now long lost;
The sound of mortar and pestle
When you ground
Spices, herbs, hearts;
On good days you remember
A new car with meaning in its numbers,
And prayers floating in church
Long after it was deserted.

On bad days-
But one should not dwell on bad days,
What is the point?
Suffice it to say
On bad days
You remember Pink Floyd
And Time.

And Death-
Somewhere an unwilling pseudo widow
Is drowned in the good and bad,
As she struggles to explain
To sweet fruit
Born of blighted seeds.