Sudeep Pagedar

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.
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."
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 

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, 

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 

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


we pulled into the 
I wondered why 
we called it 

the Schedule - 

dictated but 
hours between 
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.