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
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
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
to preserve its fragility
to give it the tenderness it
deprived me of.
So I mould it into paper,
into sizeable bits,
And the poem,
this poem soon became
about atheism; disbelief
about religious plasticity,
of prayers; about ruined flowers
and cruel lovers;
and thirst, about chlorine
About past tense
is a part of ruins.
The poem then wilted,
petalled off; tasted grief.
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.
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"
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"
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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