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I Like Melancholy, so I write in the Past Tense: Poems from NaPoWriMo 2022 Day One

by Augustus Egg

The Dismal Pensieve by Shriti Chowdhary

In the streets of Dubai,

Every glass building

Doubles as a Pensieve

Creating portals to a life erstwhile,

Unattainable to the present,

One had to summon

Melancholia, to unlock its

true futurist outlook,

It was an AI of sorts,

Trained rigorously in despair

Of memories that never resurface

Algorithms revel under the weight

Of data ancient,

That's what sadness is best at,

Tiring you out with their vastness,

Cities self mold on sustained grief,

Power grids illuminate

At the sight of unruly beta waves

Chronic barter of banter

Between emotion and memory

One has learnt to exemplify defeat

latter makes sure you never forget it.

The aristocratic anxiety of being- sad,

Yet somehow I managed to narrate its tale

In present tense,

A wretched city that never dreams of it,

Perhaps, this is what melancholy does,

It slips through 2-factor authentication

Of history and its making,

Paints the upper side of the cube with sorrow,

For eyes that only ever look down,

Are met with burden of the yore,

And for those around who stretch their arms

Around it, lift many a pensive veil.

The Present holds hostility towards history⁣ by Nida Sabiha

the kid scrapes the last two grains of rice⁣

mother scrapes the last bit of hope for two more sajdas⁣

a war deadens the voiceless cries⁣

every time it's fought.⁣

so they write stories of themselves⁣

like it's a eulogy;⁣

they write about themselves in the past tense:⁣

"the martyrs on the battlefield will be named in history⁣

but there are thousands unnamed -⁣

the mother who tried to feed her kid⁣

while keeping herself unfed,⁣

the kid who kept crying near his almost dead mom⁣

wondering why she won't give him milk,⁣

the father who promised to return⁣

with a new toy for his daughter,⁣

and the daughter who waited by the door⁣

for four days before finally giving up,⁣

the brother who laughed as loud as he can⁣

hoping to silence the bombs outside,⁣

and the sister who laughed along with him⁣

just so he wouldn't know she's scared deep inside.⁣

most of them are alive now, ⁣

most of them won't be soon.⁣

i am meant to be forgotten⁣

for the broken roof isn't as good at provoking⁣

than a man with a gun.⁣

maybe our lives weren't charming enough,⁣

so why would our death be?⁣

but let's talk about this in the past tense.⁣

for this broken roof was home ⁣

to a family of 4,⁣

and that burnt sock held dreams⁣

of a 14-year-old,⁣

that wretched umbrella shielded⁣

a newlywed from the unknowns,⁣

that cemetery used to be my hometown⁣

and i was once afraid of dying rather than living."⁣

~ history is lost in the rancor of present⁣

the soldier crumples the paper⁣

and throws it away after reading⁣

and wonders what would've happened⁣

if it was written in the future tense.⁣

maybe hope would've reigned over melancholy.⁣

"i only see a broken home, burnt sock, wretched umbrella and a barren land",

he reports to the higher authorities.

Grieving my melancholy by Srishti Saharia


my melancholy is in exile—

she has gone bowling with God

to the arcade of Eden;

she told me they will share

the last supper and even go out

for gluttonous apple pies by the bay;

she has even gone as far and beyond

as to confide in me about her

prolonged plan to commit

the seven glorious sins

under his cautious nose without

getting caught and burning

in bright saffron flames

and all that she has left me with

is the misery that sneaks in free

of cost with the company of a game

of poker against the weight of the world

that is jammed deep inside my throat

like a lump that i can neither cough

up and spit out nor swallow

like i have been raised to swallow

the sharp edges of my own voice

and therefore, my virtue.

this melancholy of mine is

mythical and monstrous—biblical, even;

she is the beast within me whom

i tame with the humility of my words

that share my throat with

the burden of the globe,

to address home,

that have the strength within them

to morph the bodies of men

with expired judgements and eyesights

—to whom the weight of my vanity

determines my sanity,

who look at me and find profanity

henna-tattooed on the side of my neck—

into paper boats that

never learnt how to float

and set sail in the sea,

so that they too can taste

unkempt promises of stability

in the vastness that is life.

my melancholy looks a lot like

the tender evidence of the existence

of moldy prayers in the puranas

—old and forgotten—

she is that fragment of my identity

that i have been playing

hide-and-seek with my entire life—

that piece of my mind i have kept

in the dark and starved of a life

and light of her own;

unlike my white-washed mouth

that kisses in english and

loves in a language so foreign,

it sounds too accidental to have

landed on and glided down my tongue

and escaped from between my teeth.

my melancholy is my hatred for

myself that has begun resembling

my own name and body.

she makes me yearn for her,

like a desert yearns for adam's ale,

because she is the landlady

of the power over me to reason

with my grief when i type 'vedas'

and autocorrect takes me on a road-trip

to 'vegas' on her sedan;

i find refuge in the nooks and crevices

of her body where my god lives.

i mourn my melancholy in her absence,

wonder if she has eaten well or no,

whether God has been a gentleman

to her or if she has already been burnt

to a crisp under his watchful eyes.

so i write to her in the past tense,

reminding her of all the days we had

spent curled up on each others' laps,

of the memories, we had conceived together

and the fables she had whispered

in my ears like vows,

pleading with her instead of reasoning

for her to find her way back home to me,

to bring back more tales from her exile;

with hope in my eyes

and the smell of fear in my sweat,

i wait for her to return,

as i recount each of her


The poem fell down by N Sehar

The poem begins with you

talking about Ancient Romans;

about their theories of Venus

being a part of the Earth's orbit

and steadily descending towards

the sun until it wasn't anymore.

And I wish to wonder how difficult

it must have been to lose someone

that apparently seemed so close,

with skin on skin

and flowers blooming;

suddenly appears distant now;

a part of a different circumference?

How does it feel to see the

calendar repeats its days

without them in sight?

You laugh; your humour rooted

in a poet's madness.

It feels as if I have known you

before the existence of

celestial beings;

before djinns,

before this body was not a body

and this poem was not a poem.

And us, travelling to far distance

together, to the textured deltas,

landscape, to the lanes, adorned

with right red bougainvillaeas in

Chandni Chowk,

to Hazrat Nizamuddin,

the lanes that awaken

the Sufi in you; those lanes-

a cynics' escape to romanticism.

See, memories leave behind

traces, hang around the cliff

before jumping but Astro-

physicists' don't. And dare

you call it vacuum!

And once you left, I didn't know

where to put all this clay

of longing,

to preserve its fragility

to give it the tenderness it

deprived me of.

So I mould it into paper,

into sizeable bits,

into ink.

And the poem,

this poem soon became


about atheism; disbelief

about religious plasticity,

about conservation

of prayers; about ruined flowers

and cruel lovers;

about absence

and thirst, about chlorine

and chlorophyll.

About past tense

because present

is a part of ruins.

The poem then wilted,

petalled off; tasted grief.

This poem



And travelled to the sun,

to far-away desserts,

to touch its bareness-


to explore its origin story;

and the intimacy with self.

Joined theatrics and

changed its residential address.

You can't find the poem here.

It ended.

Nothing will happen in the future by Chirayu Tank

After the end

of all the stages of grief, 5 or 7

comes not the relief-

but an eternal stage of melancholy.

A forever zone of sadness

where we live in the past.

"Nothing much happened in the past"

she says

and I'm counting the tenses I need

to describe when someone

jumps from his past

to take away the space

from your present


a car overtaking you but slowly,

continuously asking for space

until you're at the end

of your lane.

She calls it an accident

with me being the casualty.

"Nothing will happen in the future"

she says

Love too,

should come with an insurance policy

but with no conditions

covering all the self-damage

for the lifetime

because 'hurt' has no tense.

You were hurt.

You're hurt.

You will be hurt.

I am a leaver by Shivaani Dushyanth

This city convinced me to sleep on a mattress of its cherry blossoms,

Scudding across its mason roads carved from broken hearts,

It guided me to spend the night with bedsheets engulfed in its melancholy,

I was a stranger who wept in its tears.

Every evening, this city would awaken me in a thousand shrills of white pigeons,

It would send a basket of decayed sunsets to my doorstep on weekends,

Because it wouldn't sleep, for I yearned to stare at its bleeding canvas after a death,

I was a stargazer who fell in love.

I learnt that this city is a colosseum of unfinished birthmarks every time I caressed it,

There are half-burnt walls clinging on to its ancient history,

Piles of bricks scattered on roads for a highway to be built connecting the outskirts,

Realised that it was never fully born with the monuments of trademark,

I was an architect who built its beauty.

This city was crying and I never noticed, it poured postcards when someone left it,

Showered gallons of petals every time it was painted in hues of burning pyres,

I never admired the city until I left its cradling hands stained with photographs of its people,

This city remembers its children, and I miss my mother for I can feel its separation,

I am a leaver, who writes about the city in the past tense.

Metamorphosis in Reverse by Smita Singh

at nineteen,

i birthed grief without a name

scratching relentlessly onto the breasts

that were not prepared to milk her

calling out to the kind of tenderness

none of me was familiar with

sniffing home in the laps of a nomad

looking for a mother orphaned

at the hands of love in labour

a woman widowed by life

at eighteen,

i hugged my mother for the first time

and burnt her wedding saree the same day

my rage, the forlorn collateral damage

of a coerced matrimonial deal hanging by

the rope of violence in the middle of nowhere

my rage, misery abandoned in a blackhole

my rage, howling like a voiceless nightingale

amidst the ugly bawling crows

at seventeen,

i had my second heartbreak over a boy

who called me a sweetheart and

a slut in the same breath

a heartbreak dipped in numbness

so cold, my heart dropped to my knees

a heartbreak, the reason 'why'

of all my trashed suicide notes

heartbreak with a lonely funeral

with a graveyard angry with death

with a corpse half-alive—

hungry for a mourning

at sixteen,

the man in my neighborhood

gave me code words to utter when

he'd glide his fingers all over me

while watching T20 cricket on

the empty living room couch

i've been a 20-overs old ruin ever since

my body sobbing in the language

of wreckage so ultrasonic,

even maa refused to hear it

i do not remember speaking ever again

at fifteen,

the dog i adopted from the highway took

his last breath in the cocoon of my arms

the first boy i kissed looked a lot like

a memory capsule somersaulting

on the brain floor captivated by trauma

i looked into the mirror and witnessed

mathematics i was ashamed to learn

i tried to turn ache into poetry

and returned blood-stained

and heavier in the belly

at fourteen,

i met death first-hand through

my grandma knitting her last cardigan

on her Jaipuri floral deathbed

i skipped school because i was too

dumb-witted to pinpoint the difference

between a bully and a friend

the stains on my tennis skirt

was less bloody than the ones

wailing on maa's wrist

at thirteen,

i ate gloomy childhood for breakfast

and puked out gloomier teenage at dinner

the saliva in my mouth reeked of

the rot of my wilting chest

i learnt therapy is more expensive

than all my family's baggage combined

i died thirteen deaths of past

and has been carrying its

filthy ashes ever since

i can't sense the present;

i like melancholy, so i write in the past tense.

The white coffins of my journals by Aayushi Bohra

I do not remember the exact moment

I realised my father was not going to stop being the absent father

The pleas of a six-year-old;

To be taken to the beach

To be read bedtime stories

To be cuddled with

Falling on deaf ears

And those of a sixteen-year-old

And every number between them

I do remember, though,

Pouring my grievances that night

Into a journal

Like whiskey in a crestfallen man's glass

The first time i properly got my heart broken

Was in a cafeteria packed with high school teenagers

By a man who was nothing like a father

But also quite awfully like him

And as if the universe revelled much

In mocking my misery

I was holding the same journal

In that cruel moment

And once again, it found itself useful

The wretched brown leather-bound journal

Was by my side

Even as i realised

That i made a grave mistake

In choosing my college major

But i was never prepared

To be the girl

Well versed in confrontation

Determined to set things right

I only knew how to give my thoughts a home

In the white coffins of my journals

And carry on

As if they never existed in the first place

If you look at my journals

You'll find that i write about everything

In the past tense

An absent father

A ruthless lover

A careless friend

A bad decision

Many bad decisions

My subconscious believes

That it is to give room to new grievances

For i have fallen in love with melancholy

Without it I'm lost

Without it, there's only emptiness

And I'm not quite ready to taste the emptiness

What if i like it more?

Concrete Future by Aishvarya Parameswar

today's morning breeze hustles towards

rush hour stations, discarding lunchboxes

that taste like home in favour of polyethene

packets and crumbling coffee cups.

analogous personalities cover the

expanse of bleak metro walls,

their iron-willed suits shouldering

the weight of their extensive resumes.

estranged families cross paths in the bustling

crowds at roadblocks, their intertwined lives

separated by digital walls, unable to

recover a file of long-lost memories.

electrifying minds risk-analyse funds

of multinational corporations, but their

distinguished Mensa IQs quiver at the

sight of fickle human sentiments.

but I like melancholy so I write it in the past tense,

for the present has no time to feel or believe

in the power of words or fictional dreams

that cannot contribute to breakneck

ambitions in order to make our future concrete.

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