“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I do not look at me

I  do not look at me

In the mirror much these days.

This bald pate,

This fleshy, swarthy face

Except to brush teeth

And the vexing necessity to shave.

I do not see me in the mirror

Just the yellowing teeth

And the graying stubble.


I do not need a mirror anymore

Having seen me for

Half a century and more.

I know me well enough.


But the occasional glimpse -

When my eyes meet my eyes-

Tired, watery, dead -

He asks me silently, ‘Why?

Why did you let life

Slip away?’


Balachandran, Trivandrum, 23.01.2009


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Butcher

Sharpening my knife,

I plunge it

into the flesh of time






me, in thin, fine slices...


Balachandran, Trivandrum, 13-01-2009

From nowhere to eternity

(for Venu)

Life is a continuum


from a nanosecond to trillions of millenniums

from a bacterium to bacteria

from a star to a black hole...

In between, you and me, my dear

we weave our lives from eon to eon

how naive

to think our love is eternal!

how ephemeral are our lives,

our loves

when just beyond our fingertips

the void waits to take us back-

you, cosmic dust!

*********** Balachandran,Trivandrum, 13-01-2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The leftover

Do not look
to the future.
It needn't necessarily come.
The present is now,
whether you like it or not.
Disbelieve what smart people tell you
Past is the only truth.

The past is yours, yours alone,
Undeniably, unchangeably,
Indelible, burned onto your brain,
Scarring it forever.

On a summer morning
Shake it all down on a mat,
Lay it on the sun,
Watch it turn brittle,
Shrink and twist,
Matted with dust.
Hunched, on your haunches,
Head propped up by hands,
Watch it curl and shrivel.

When night falls,
Gather them -
The leftovers of your life.
Balachandran, Trivandrum 09-01-2009

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Life in a Fast Lane

To be honest, we looked so pathetic.
A raggedly line of people
Not more than fifteen
Standing, disheveled
By the side of the busy city street
Holding placards
Asking not to cut down trees
As around us dust swirled,
Remains of the huge trees lay
The uprooted roots like
Splayed innards of a roadkill.

We said, ‘look, the trees are our heritage’.
We asked, ‘how dare you cut what you did not plant?’
We cried, ‘how can this cool shade cast a shadow
On your way to progress?’

Cars and bikes honked us to the brim of the ditches
Where once the roots had embraced the earth.
From behind the tinted glass
They looked at us briefly, mocking
Forgetting us in the next instant.

They say the trees have to be cut
For single lanes to grow into four lanes.
Later it may grow into six or more.
Trees, then paddy fields
Hills, then mountainsides
Ponds, then streams -
Earth will be savaged
They will build more roads, faster lanes
Express highways, super highways
In the hope they can reach faster -
When, actually they are only
Distancing themselves
From the earth.
**************** Balachandran, Trivandrum 03-01-2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A celebration of trees

Did you know?
They are cutting down the old trees
Up in the cantonment area
So that you can ride
In contentment
Cocooned in your air-conditioned car.

You wouldn’t know, sir
That I have walked under their shade
For the last forty years
On and off, not everyday
On and off, light to shade
From hot to cool
From peace to strife and back
Among the old trees
As they stretched out their branches
To protect me from the glare
In between.

You wouldn’t know, sir
There were poor folk
Selling their humble wares
Seeds, cigarettes and fruit juice
The old, tired of walking
Wiping their faces with a fraying piece of towel
And looking up and sighing grateful
At the spreading shade of these trees.

You wouldn’t know, sir
That lives about which you never wanted to know
Lived in the shade of these trees.
Like the crows and sparrows
The squirrels, the kites
The tramps, the dogs
The beggars and
The likes of me -
Lives, sir, you really wouldn’t care about.

If you stepped on to the tarmac at noon
From shade to sun
You would feel the heat.
Do you feel the heat, sir?
One day, I am sure, you would
The day everything comes to a halt.
Where is your car going, sir?

************ Balachandran, Trivandrum, 31-12-2008

New Year Eve

Once again, at the gates of another year.
In this endless desert
The New Year sits like a façade,
A prop
On the other side of which
The endless desert continues.

We will go through the rituals
Of living, loving, playing and crying
Bringing and burying lives-
The perfunctory calls and messages
‘Happy New Year’-
We will go on with the play-acting,
Feigning interests new
Bidding farewells to old.

We conjure up illusions of oases
When all around the desert spreads.
Perhaps we have to,
Lest mirages turn into nightmares.
************ Balachandran, Trivandrum 31.12.2008