so i have been told.

so i have been told
when the silence finally settles,
a sheen of sadness sinks into my skin
like a second skeleton and
falls asleep.

there, it slumbers until a whisper splinters the air,
and the bones unravel and morph into masks
with eye-holes and breathing space,
until the tongues spill away

and silence quells again.

••ra’ahe khayat

Advertisements

man, and she who was but not a woman.

and so tell me how there isn’t a tongue in my mouth but just yours, that lashes against the wind in this mumbai monsoon- ripping at the vitrics on the windows, as it rains just more than sea water. because you- you were born in midst of the heaviest of cherrapunji rainfalls, with your wide eyes (reddened with age, anger, and ale, though you’d never agree), and your god, and this anatomy that most around you (namely her), call male. you were born with the sky falling at your feet, and so all too- must.

there’s a blatant dissonance between your sky and mine because mine holds on to itself even when it shatters, while yours submissively impetrates.

we belong to none but the sky above us. we learn from none but the sky around us.

and so your god, and your mother, and your woman (her), and your sky- they’ve all taught you to stand on bird bones and faery corpses, because you are man. and man- with his red eyes, and a broken earth draped on his shoulders- stands above all.

he wears crowns on his toes, because all men are kings, and the game plays itself in this black/white world as long as he lives.

all hail the king.
long live the man.
lord bless them all who bow before him.

because they who bow, their tongues beg; they who stand, theirs are ripped. they were women when they kneeled, they were beaten when they did not.

she is a woman;
i, am lesser than one.

yet you are more inhuman than me, and she is more human than you; i am but a wild wood creature with nails pierced through her lips that she with her humanity, picks at, and you with your god- hammer.

••ra’ahe khayat


forgive me if my words bruise with their jaggedness, but anger must not be sanded down- even when it is silenced. it must be let out, even if you are punished for it.

when the sun was high, & our lungs were higher with the lack of breath.

there was an entire afternoon you’d spent calculating the width of a splintered horizon, hanging from the hair-tips of your old lover’s wraith; and it was the most of you i’d seen in the longest part of ever- where the rattling in your bones resonated with the fracturing in your heart, while your fingers furiously flew over a blackened paper decaying with the distance from an unstructured reality.

and on that day you haunted me most-

with your lips scarred with her name, and your chest cavity crumbling with her memories buried inside of them like an oldest house folding into itself- you held me to the edge of your body, like an unbridled sea holds the sky- while the closest i ever got to you was when my own breath recoiled back to me.

i remember, how you were so full of equations that’d never dare to exist in the world outside of us, and how you tied every single poem of mine into a probability that existed in a line full of mathematical assumptions, and i remember, how you chanted those equalities like a desperate prayer from someone between belief and heresy, as if some uncalculated error might draw her back to when you and her- you fucked with a kehkashan slowly losing its uncentered gravity at the space between your chests.

and i remember, how your legs met the tiled land under our feet as you watched all your calculations fall apart like two lovers after they’d undone the last dredgs of their being.

and because i loved you because you loved her and because she loved this longing more than you, we stood under that afternoon sky with our palms hanging open- almost bleeding at the lifelines- just struggling to forget
how to breathe.

••ra’ahe khayat

cassandra.

199b69d8cd40ec0a93f8ffc3f64de752--dark-flowers-wild-flowerscassandra woke me up last night with her hair in my face, and her breath in my neck, and the frail beginnings of her grief tucked lightly in my palm. her breasts rested on my ribs, somewhere between two hearts- straining to unlive a relativistic heartquake that left more fault lines on our skin than this dense silence ever did; and her fingers lay over my womb- leached of all life.

she trembled- like there was an entire mos scattering in the echoing marrow of her bones, while the red in her hair insouciantly wilted into an utmost inconsolable complexion of grey; and she grew flowers on her skin with the wet linger of death she wore like a dress- draped over her skeleton like a monsoon sky halfway between falling and drowning.

i loved cassandra like i loved luna, and cassandra loved me like luna never did; and i left her after every fortnights, when luna spread herself naked across the sky bed like an unspoken of lover between three heartbeats and one parched kiss.

but she was spoken of- between cassandra and i.

we spoke of her when the concrete of the roads had turned too coarse from being unwalked on, because cassandra thought it was like our fingers- too inelegant and insensate from not touching anymore. she spoke of luna when she felt grass blades turn red from the scars in the arch of her soul, as her feet carelessly tread through them. she was spoken of when the sun took far too long festering under the long skirts of a horizon that had spent the last decade sleeping with every lost planet that sought it out, just for a chance at getting higher than it perpetually was. 

she spoke of her, like an atheist speaks of a god- with an apathetic reverence; and last night, cassandra kept praying to the god with the only comprehensive part of her she had left anymore- her longing. 

i broke cassandra like i could never break luna, and cassandra broke me last night more than luna ever bothered to.

••ra’ahe khayat

gambling my sobriety away with a god.

i’ve been drinking this cheap bottle of whiskey away with a god who stands beside my bedside every time this farce of a sky begins to shatter sometime after nine twenty-four in the evening, only to let go when it finally does. i think he thinks that i think that i have grown up enough to grow out of these feelings that rise and swell inside my throat like sea waves- only there’s no moon calling them.

or maybe there is, and my eyes have been so clouded in the dark by the crowd of rain that has crowded my lungs that i can’t begin to even make out the edge of luna’s silhouette from the crooked horizon of a raindrop.

but this he doesn’t know- the god who keeps letting me go.

or he didn’t. until last night when the gravity inside me finally broke down and brought upon meteor showers on my skin. (they’ve already caused one mass extinction, is it really so farfetched to think that they might not be incapable of causing another?) but he stood- just outside my reach and told me in a grave whisper that today-

we’d drink.

and so we’re drinking because there’s not much you can do when you finally come to terms with the fact that maybe your eyesight has been deteriorating without you realizing, and the footpath you’ve been walking on for the last year was in actuality the thin rail of line separating two opposite lanes of speeding tyre tracks on a highway leading you somewhere away from where you’ve been intending to go, and all you want to do now is go back to being half blind.

he seems convinced that this shot of bitter metal will do just that- rust our insides so much so that the outside doesn’t matter anymore, and we have long since lost sight of anything remotely resembling the shock of my miscarriage when the last of my sanity bled out of my bones, in a fraudulent attempt at calling my lover back to me.

but death never came for me that night.

••ra’ahe khayat

the eventuality of successive delay.

he keeps scattering me like birdseeds on the roads, on the twenty-third of every month, some couple hours before the sparrows wake up.

i memorize the crevices in the concrete, and he memorizes the cracks in my bones from where the corpses on his temple dug their way under my skin, and set up cities on top of cemeteries full of smoke that could just never break free of their own pyre. it’s like a routine we follow, such that Luna has about half a fortnight to forebear the consequences of her absence, before she leaves again. she keeps coming back for him though, and he keeps coming back for me, and i keep coming back for the feeling of feeling myself break every night just to be regathered right before the dawn drapes himself on top of an adulterous sky.

i lay there, some couple of thousands of lightyears under the skyline, waiting for little eclipses to tear through my lungs, to bury our verities under their beaks and for him to wrap their wings around his carotid pulse, to learn how to read a receding heartbeat with the minimal knowledge of braille.

i lay there, on the forenoon of the twenty-third of every month, like a clockwork missing time by seconds that never match.

he keeps scattering me like birdseeds on the roads, for dead birds that just never come.

••ra’ahe khayat

of that lie that never mattered.

of all the things you could’ve lied about, you lied about the one thing that never would’ve changed with the truth- of how i could always be the one sleeping in your arms, but we both would still be spending our nights between the legs of loneliness; of how i could always be your lover, but we both would always be in love with the way our hearts beat alone in our chests, unconcerned with the rhythm of another; of how you always curl your hands around my neck, never knowing if you’re suffocating me or the solitude that hangs around me like a dress whose collar ends at the cliff of my chin- that you knot around your neck like a tie- too formal to ever be comfortable in, too familiar to ever to ever let go of.

of all the things you could’ve lied about, you lied about how deserted we both were holding hands that strained to get lost in a crowd full of unrecognizable strangers.

••ari purkayastha

god is dead.

god is dead.

he died seven years ago, on the streets of mumbai- hit by a car, while he stumbled on the sidewalks, mumbling all sorts of obsolescent prayers, as the meth in his veins slowly bestrewed his significance on those half eaten concrete roads, that wrapped itself like a ragged hand-me-down scarf, around a city standing on human bones.

his body lay there for three days before it was discovered by a fisher-maid, setting up her baits, trying to catch skeletons that had somehow learned to float in just that layer of water that was reserved for the living. she never screamed. she never did anything, but walk to a nearby cigarette shop- that sold faux maturity to eleven-years-olds for just a measly price of 5 rupees (or if you were short on the money, you could always pay with the excess of the cells in your lungs), and picked up the half-broken telephone that had gone out-of-date some twenty years ago, to call men who had seen far too many bodies- in more states of decay than a lifelong sexton.

it lay there for another hour- unsupervised- before moving shadows started crowding around it with judgemental eyes, that knew more about him, than he probably ever did. there were more stories on his sullen skin than his tongue ever let on; stories full of naivete, hope and failure. stories that could probably rob the world of another century of hunting answers, in pages written by men a lot less learned than those seeking them.

but he never spoke.

those answers, and those questions, and their answers- they all gradually lost their pallor as the blood drained out of him during his postmortem. they declared that he had overdosed. that he would have died, even if the car hadn’t bashed his head in. that he had been dying long before he finally did. that he had cancer harvesting in his heart. that he was probably suicidal, because his hands looked like they had been a brutal war-ground, where the only winner were those who were not breathing. they said his wrists looked just like the humans he was rumored to have created- scarred and failed. he was depressed, they said.

his face was in the newspapers for eighteen days, waiting to be claimed- in news articles read desperately, only by desperate family members of desperately lost people, who were more conversant about themselves than the rest, to actually advertise that they were indeed lost, and in need of help.

on the twenty-first day, they burned him in a pit with rest of the homeless corpses- no one recognized him.

no children.
no wife.
no family.
no name.

no one knew what god looked like after all.

••ari purkayastha


i’m not trying to make a statement. it’s merely an idea. religion has nothing to do with this essay.

there was space, and there was the empty distance between us.

i have been, and i will always be, that pair of eyes that was too restless to ever hold yours when you spoke. i have those hands that were far too engaged in playing with themselves to ever acknowledge yours; and i have a tongue that only ever talked with the empty rooms to remember how it felt to utter words within ears of a breathing person.

so you see, how could the person i wrote of be any more real than myself?

and you—

you have been that stranger that offered me free shots of tequila, and the unfulfilled promise of a night together where we fucked more than just our bodies (where we fucked our hearts into submission, because there is nothing more degrading and beautiful than to watch your heart beat in a submissive whimper- too broken to even consider the thought of being unfaithful), and you are that sense of hurry in the crowd that crashes into me with every step, falters my path and walks away as if the collision just never happened.

you—

you, were that delusion of mine that I expected to hold me on a night when my own breathing became too silent, and the bed became a quick sand of insomnia.

••ari purkayastha

of suicides and the living.

“watch-
as your hand falters and falls between five lines of a music sheet, torn right before a hastily scribbled apology. suicides do that. they climb over your back and break your spine with the slightest pressure of their voices, while you still hear the hum-
missing a note. skipping a note like it never existed.”

•••

there are too many different sorts of variations to this song and i still couldn’t seem to remember the first line before you were gone.

i never knew that you could lose people to the turbulence of a whiskey bottle until you proved that gravity was unbiased; that a one litre bottle could be just as deep, and hold just as many coffins as the bermuda triangle.

guess you learn something new each day.

sometimes i wish you hadn’t left anything behind. voices tend to have a ghost like ability to be heard when they had never even bothered to speak, and yet they can’t be shut down- you can’t silence what’s “there” and not yet gone, because “gone” is from the global list of living people and not from the list of people i “let go”.

you can’t let go of the living.

especially not when your own lungs have been acting like a surrogate for their collapsed ones.

isn’t that how you differentiate between the living and the dead anyways? by the people who are breathing and the people who are not?

••ari purkayastha