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

Monday, July 27, 2009

Red Tomatoes

Sitting on a rock by the hillside,
My friend brought his boot down
On the scorpion, its tail
Upheld, inquisitively.
It did not try to escape
But swung its broken sting
My friend squashed it again
Grinding his boot on the crushed remains
Till it became indistinguishable from the black earth.

We were sitting in his garden
Admiring the Orchids and Anthuriums
As a non-descript snail crept by my feet.
I picked it up, held it to my face
Both wondering at each other.
But then my friend took it from me -
The crackle of the shell cracking
Reminded me of the Pappads I take with rice.
My friend rubbed his shoe on the grass
The gluey fluid stuck the blades together.

It was late evening
We had scotch and ice by our side
And the grass was cool beneath our feet.
As I listened to the croaking frogs
I remarked on a distinctive call.
My friend picked up a palmful of gravel
Threw it in the direction of the pool
Even the Cicadas were shocked to silence.

We were reminiscencing about our younger days
How the world has changed
In the forty years since we parted ways.
How, on our way to school
Running over the culvert
Across the paddy fields
How my friend would grab
The little green grass snakes
By their tails and swing them
One swift, full swing
Like the riverside laundry-man
On to a rock and smash their heads
And laughing, fling them
Into the swampy field.
The paddy fields are gone
So is the pond we used to bathe in the nude.

It was a dark, cool night, our faces hidden in the shadows
The expensive scotch, pleasantly glowing in my belly.
In my friend's voice, I hear his spite and frustration
I could imagine the froth of dislike
Foaming at the side of his lips
Sparking and popping
As spittle dribbled down his chin.

I sat listening to him and wondered
How it would be to hold his head
Between my hands and slam it against the wall
To grind his face on the granite surface
And slam, again and again
Until his face became a ripe, red tomato.
*********** Balachandran, Trivandrum,27.07.09

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


It is nearly a year since he died;
I have forgotten the date though.
Nearly twenty years senior to me
Though time isn't really a measure for anything.

Time hardly tells you the strength of the bond -
Why, one's siblings are very often the most distant.
Friendship takes seed - hardly does it need a moment
And it grows like Jack's beans, entwining the hearts into one.

He was a quiet person - a painter, photographer
He drew funny cartoons too, though
Looking at his tall, tired frame and wispy beard
You would take him for a philosopher.

In the early evenings, I would call on him-
Sitting on the verandah we would talk -
About murals and the passing of ways of life.
He would tell me about the old town
About the river, the lakes, the old brahmins
Who owned thousands of acres of paddy fields
The temples, staggering with age
And the murals on their cracked walls
In which women with globular breasts
And wasp-like waists
With their all-knowing eyes
Smiled like Mona Lisa
Demons brandished swords
Goddesses stomped on severed heads
Women flaunted their nudity
Before the lecherous boy-god.

My friend, in between pauses
Would borrow a cigarette from me
And smoke it, religiously.

Every time I see my friend’s name
As I skim through my mobile phone, I pause -
These two numbers I will never call
No one would answer either -
Yet I pause - and brood over these numbers
Unable to bring myself to delete them.

I look at my left thumb, wondering why
It would not move over and select
The delete button - then it does -
The phone asks " Delete?"
And all my thumb has to do is press 'yes' –
************* Balachandran V, Trivandrum 21.07.2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

When I am no more

Standing, as often I do, beneath my old mango tree,

I wonder how it would look without the leaves.
Without the mangoes, without the branches
Without the birds that sit preening on them.
The thick trunk sawed off, roots pulled out
Tiles or cement choking the earth.

For one, sunlight would be brighter; and glare
Upon the tiled roof of my house.
No more yellowed leaves to sweep away in the morning.
No more bird droppings to wash off
No more bat-eaten, splattered mangoes.
No more flies swarming around
No more air, thick
With the smell of the ripe, golden fruits.
No more, the tapping of the woodpecker
No more, the screeching kites.
No more, the night heron resting
No more, the crows squabbling
No more, the squirrels scuttling.

No more, the wind-dance of the branches
No more, the chatter of leaves.
No more, the creaking swing
No more, the green, greeting my eyes.
No more, I, the boy
who gazed up the tree, longing,with love.

I look around for a fallen twig -
Last mangoes of the season dangle in the sky.
*********** Balachandran, Trivandrum,10.07.09