In Limbo

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When I was younger
And couldn’t even reach up to that doorless shelf
Where your cruel crafty self hid my jar of mango pickle,
I wished to be just a little bit taller
And a tad more carefree
I didn’t know then
I was unknowingly
Tossing my wishes into the well
Of deliciously ageless irony
For you see,
When I was younger,
I wished to be
Exactly as old as you,
For I felt that you had no homework
And that Papa just read news,
I couldn’t wait to be there too –
Me as old as you and you as old as me;
I couldn’t wait for time to liquefy
And slip past my fingers.
But as years went by, and university called to me
And as the easygoing school syllabus of ten months
Got compressed into tiny nuggets of three
Every time that the exams arrived
I sighed and held my breath
I longed for that liquefied time
To season those nuggets with.
Too late twas when I realised
I wanted to savour those moments,
Hoping that somehow they’d stretch themselves and
Tuck me in, like blankets in my sleep.
But somewhere along the way
Those flimsy blankets too slipped away
And now as I yearn for their warmth,
Every time that I apply for jobs
Or talk to the next gen folk,
The sign of a grown-up life
Flashes much more lucidly before my eyes.
It’s that melee of excitement
With a fear of uncertainty
And an utter dependency on self,
Whence Sophie’s choice and Murphy’s law
Seem to be playing the devil’s advocate,
And me?
I am standing in limbo
Between the devil and the deep blue sea,
Balancing my hopes on a nylon rope;
Those plans of wanting to work hard up the ladder
Seem to be laced with mettle no more
Because the ladder is frail
And its steps paced erratically
Now
Listening to them grown-up problems
Makes me think so differently
For living the erstwhile third person analysis
Is a completely different story

– Akanksha Gupta

The Hollow

Browning leaves lay strewn on the forest floor in a fair imitation of a kaleidoscope. The barren trees with spindly trunks were mourning their loss. Their silence was deafening; occasionally broken by flocks of birds chirping through the dawn, a cacophony of insects serenading through the night and the gently flowing waters of the creek.

I remember this day like yesterday. She must have been thirty-five when I clicked this picture. We were on the outskirts of the forest a few blocks away from our house. It was the first picture I deemed acceptable for entering into a photography contest. She had insisted on calling it “The Hollow”. At that time, I never understood why.

Since yesterday, I’ve been going through a lifetime of memories she left me with in her scabby old trunk. Of all the pictures in it, my eyes can’t seem to part with this one. It looks hazy now, and feels wet. I wipe it with shaky hands. It hurts; it shouldn’t, but it does. It is not so much that she is dead but the fact that she died without recalling me. It’s been five years since she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

– Akanksha Gupta

The Tissue Chronicles

There is something to be said for the transience of tissues,

From Kleenex to Gossamer;

Of Kleenex

I wish all paper

Could wither away

Like this one;

Burdened with thoughts,

Unburdening another,

And the thoughts going no further.

Of Gossamer

Some times I wonder

The others I wander

About different people

About different places

Knowing, all that there is to glean

Lies in wait in between.

– Akanksha Gupta

Schizophrenia

Says the spider to the fly,
“Always, always I snugly lie
In my web of truths
And now I’ve caught you too”

The fly, in kind, replies,
“I’ll find an escape route”

But on the sly, the spider laughs
“Oh you’re well and truly caught
No reason to deny
None of your elaborate plots
That run afoot
Can help you seek the way to lie”

The fly, however, self-assured
Wills the spider to watch
As it tells the truths from lies

Neither of them aware that
The spider is the fly

– Akanksha Gupta

Echoes Past the Point of No Return

A million voices bleed in my head
Pleading for a solid coalition
But I know the quota is limited
So I stand perplexed
Resisting temptation

You see, somewhere ages and ages ago
There was another set of voices
And though, long, I stood at the crossroads
As no storm did I hear them forebode
I discriminated between neither of the choices

Thence, teetering at the end of sanity
I waited for the next interlude
Whence I shrunk my limit to unity
Choosing the voice with the greatest amity
In anticipation of a sanguine quietude

But, as I languished in the passivity of the refuge
My voice lost all its vivacity
So for the following season of vocal deluge
I chose to rebel against the complacent attitude
Which has cost me more than my sanity

Now, as I stand at dawn of the next chapter
With the voices having returned with a vengeance
I stare at my ever-growing puzzle in wonder
Uncertain of the solitary piece I must discover
That which shall make all the difference

– Akanksha Gupta

Size Zero and the Girth of Sensitivity

I sat in a pizzeria
Munching on a pizza
An Italian thin crust
Lips olive oiled
Throat margarita’ed

A lady came in sobbing
And sat by my side
I took one look
At her stricken face
And barked “Who Died”

My bark was courteous
Without a hint of snark
But as she swivelled to me
In her bare-faced incredulity
I basked

Her tear-laden face
Turned many a shade of red
Mutiny, shock and anger
Were amongst a few
That ran rampant

“Wha-What” she uttered
“How clichéd” I muttered
And raised my brows
As she indignantly
Stuttered and spluttered

She called me many a names
I’ll spare your innocent ears
And all the while
That she spoke
She forgot to pinch out tears

When I remarked
Upon this remarkable phenomenon
Her frustrated eyes
Seemed to spit fire, screaming
‘Run, you bully, run’

But I’m not a son of a gun
And therefore munched on amused
As the mental conversation
Played on unfettered, yet
Ears infernally abused

For the lady sat sobbing still
Unspoken words, wet cheeks
It is times such as these
That I wish to let
My inner Sherlock skulk free

– Akanksha Gupta

Encapsulation

The ink of prose,

Sophisticated and staid,

Prosily stains the sheets;

Spilling words upon words

With reckless abandon –

In expectation

Of a lengthy greatness

And in want

Of unnerving honesty; 

The sort that can be

Effortlessly eclipsed

In the guise

Of poetry

– Akanksha Gupta