This Is How It Ends
The end of the world will not come with fire and brimstone, or a raging tsunami that washes away both sin and sinners. No It will come unannounced, creeping in incrementally like half-baked measures or a company's takeover - hostile, but suited and booted, proclaiming that even in death, there will always be dignity It will come on a Sunday afternoon, when we have eaten our fill of rice, dal, payasam, and lies. When we are lazing about in that Twilight zone whose border begins as the weekend winds down and the coming week amasses its troops, clears its throat for a confusing war cry: "We are Week. We are not weak." What? The world will end during an unskippable ad in a YouTube video at the 29 second mark, when you are certain that the worst is almost over; that you have triumphed over corporate greed and impatience. In that second, the world will play another unskippable ad, then one more, until you see - the video you had queued up has been taken down, and all that's left to watch is the chaos of entropy in all this decay, we preserve, persevere, and lie prostrate before the Old Gods and their unsanctioned agents whose temples are ours to worship at, as we pray for our lives, and pay with our lives! This is how it ends: the world stops spinning, there's no more winning, just immeasurable loss and a few signs that vaguely point in no definite direction, as we march on to brace ourselves, hunker down in self-built bunkers hibernation beckons, when do you reckon we will wake, stretch, shake off the stench of twice-conferred failure and breathe again at a pace that doesn't need us to run, run, and keep on running on feet that struggle to simply walk?
“What I Want”
I want to spend a day just being sad. Lock myself up in my feelings, throw the key away. I want to marinate in the juices of my thoughts and soak in all the flavours. The sweet. The bitter. The spicy. The bland. So that when my goose is cooked, at least the end will be delicious. I want to spend a day with myself, asking questions, the answers to which are in books I'll never read. In that top-floor suite built from my thoughts, I want to sprawl out on a double-queen-size luxury mattress filled with feathers to make me feel I'm flying away. I've always sought flight, been faux-Superman to my problems: up, up, and away from them, to bathe in the light of an alien planet's red star, a planet I call home, but really isn't. I want to tell you, when you ask me, tomorrow - What did you do - that I did absolutely nothing but wallowed in my feelings, swam in an outdoor pool of justifications for why things are as they are. I could tell you I walked out dry, untouched by tears that salted the water, but the crust around me, would tell you otherwise. But not today. Today, I won't grapple with emotion, will stand on my trembling knees that won't buckle to send me reeling under the pressure of feeling. I will drain that pool of all its water, line that door with yellow police tape that says, more boldly than I ever can, DO NOT ENTER. I will sell that mattress for money and anxiety (this is a good deal) - why sprawl when I can crawl in lieu of walking with my head held high. I'm giving the feathers back to whom they belong, who deserve to fly, to those who are meant to live as Superman; not die as Clark Kent. I want to spend a day just being happy.
Remember jholas? each bag a statement of purpose of who they were and what they did shoulders bore responsibility for slinging on, swinging from organically in patterns, the lives - their intricacies could not come unthreaded, without serious wear and tear But we are such as plastic dreams: purveyors of polythene Jholas now enter remembered realms, brief candles on fashioned streets a final act of Resistance: in march of swing, united, sing: out, in, in, out
Elegies for Rustom Daruwala
Old Rustom Daruwala lived in an apartment building He would walk up up down down two times only once each day between third floor and fourth between fifteen and sixteen hours for one full half hour. He was the only constant amongst all the building's variables. But yesterday he didn't appear. They waited till fifteen past sixteen and when Old Rustom Daruwala still failed to turn up they went to his apartment and entered and broke. There he lay, prone on the bed he looked peaceful, he was dead. The air had a hint of ceremony in it a perfect mood for elegies. The Secretary stood at the foot of the bed and cleared his throat and said, "Old Rustom Daruwala was a quiet man He said nothing to no one So no harm ever done." The treasurer spoke next dabbing at her eyes with her handkerchief, "Old Rustom Daruwala always paid his dues Only once he was a day late But that is forgiven for a dead person." Another committee member talked about how punctual he was in his walks, "Very Good Citizen, haan", and was promptly contradicted by five others who felt Old Rustom Daruwala was more like Omega. By the end of all this it was seventeen thirty, the usual time for taking tea. But before leaving everyone did philanthropy They contributed toward an ambulance to take the corpse away
slowly slowly we pulled into the terminal I wondered why we called it that when the Schedule - Universal, unforgiving dictated but hours between departures arrival, then was the same thing I thought and as I cry/ied my tears, today are already tomorrow’s maya
Sudeep Pagedar is a Bengaluru-based writer, poet and creative solutions consultant. He was conferred a national award for creative writing, in 2004, by the then-President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. A passionate advocate for peace, Sudeep has written many poems on conflict, some of which are taught at the middle-school level in the United States of America. As a trainer, Sudeep conducts workshops on spoken word poetry, micro-fiction and creative writing across Mumbai and Bengaluru.
In 2016, he won the city-level Majhi Metro Poetry Prize in Mumbai, with his poem being displayed for the year, in India’s first ‘Art Train’. His poems have been published in journals and zines like ‘Kitaab’, ‘The Sunflower Collective’ and ‘Ex Nihilo’, among others. Some of his work has also found space in print anthologies such as ‘EquiVerse Space – A Sound Home in Words’ by WE India, ‘Isolocation’ by Ratio Auream Publishers, and ‘The Shape of a Poem’ by Red River. One of his poems has also been included in ‘The Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English (2020-2021)’ by Hawakal Prokashana.