To Be Free

To be able to speak
one’s mind.
‘I don’t agree.’
‘I don’t like that.’
‘No, I won’t!’
To be
without excuses
without explanations
without apologies.
Is that what it means
to be free?
To be able to express
in words that say
just what they mean.
And then… move on.
No pent-up emotions
no suppressed hurts
no cutting regrets
no burden
to arc my back.
Is that what it means
to be free?
To be able to just be
Image by Eskay Lim on Unsplash

In my 20s I wasted way too much trying to be pleasant. With age I have become more comfortable with not always being liked by everybody, and being more honest. I still find myself saying, ‘maybe,’ when what I really want to say is, ‘no.’ But life is too short to waste on being anything other than true to ourselves, and why would one not want to experience the sense of liberation that comes with speaking one’s mind.

Morning Walk

I know we have not met. But I know you.

Head held high, airpods in,

Gap tracks on, arms swinging.


Walking resolutely every day.

Every day, before you reach the metro station

we walk by each other.

I am the one huffing by.

Hidden silvery scars stretching across my skin

Like a galaxy’s arms shimmering in a starry sea

Storing stress in the fat lining of my stomach

Life, joy and pain in the lines on my face.

I like you.

I look forward to seeing you


Walking every single day.

I envied you your focus, and your speed.

And then one day I saw you stop. Mid-stride.

Your chin almost on your chest. Wilting…


Breathing. Chest heaving.

Holding it all together. Breathing.

As though the act of raising your head

And holding it high

Looking the world in the eye

Just became too much to ask of you today.

It was painful to witness.

I wanted to take you in my arms.

Tell you, ‘It will be okay.’

Possibly a lie,

but maybe it will come true.

But other thoughts came chasing in its wake.

‘I should leave her alone,’

‘Don’t interfere.’

I am desperate too.

I need to speak to someone

whose share of suffering

maybe greater than mine.

Silly as it seems,

I want to feel better in comparison.

To think, ‘Thank God!

Her migraine is worse than my sinus!’

Yet, there is a part of me

That wants my suffering to be unique.

Maybe all we want

As we each lug a burden too heavy

Is to be seen

And perhaps, heard.

You were still standing there

When I neared.

Just then a young woman

Ran by; heels pounding

carrying a whiff of my past with her

She reminded me of me.

You straightened up and strode on

She, obviously, reminded you of you too.

Photo by Justin Clark on Unspla

I just realised that I did not even wish you guys a Happy New Year, in my last post! Such bad manners. Forgive me. But better late than never. :). Happy 2022 dear readers. Hopefully, it won’t be a bugger all mess like the last couple of years. This decade needs to get its act together.

All That I Want…

Picture by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash
A beautiful old wooden table
with scratches smoothened by age.
T’s heart shot through with an arrow shot by J,
jostling for space with 25.8.1973.
a butterfly and a faded pyramid.
My journal on top, waiting
for me to pen secrets, hopes,
poems, petty thoughts, and some lonely stories.
Five cubby holes to stack paper clips,
erasers and those sticky notes, I never seem to need.
A special honoured place
for that smooth grey veined pebble
from Beas’ violent, rocky bed
each vein a secret tale just for my ears.
On a panel below it a happy picture of us.
Picture by Riccardo Ginevri on Unsplash
A raised platform on my aged table
to hold my favourite books and those old
jam jars enjoying their second innings,
as home for my pens, pencils, a leafy twig
and a ragged peacock feather – a gift from the kid.
An open window to look out at greenery
that spills, vulgar in its excess.
To be able to breathe
the fresh fragrant mountain air
as it wafts in, lazy on a morning breeze.
A lonely, winding path  
through tall mountain trees
the fog a not-so-distant dream
as the sunlight trickles in, warming patches,
even as the moss reigns in the shadows.
The sound of crunching leaves
as I make my way through a lattice
of light and dark; spinning ideas –
tall, shy and fantastic, to spill on the pages
waiting on my beautiful old wooden table.
Picture by Dale Nibbe on Unsplash

My Pinterest board has about 31 images of my dream writing zone. They all have a few things in common – the tables are wooden and old, they are placed near a window and the view outside is green. The value of greenery is only truly understood when you live in a desert city. I tell myself that I would be a better, more prolific writer if I had the ideal conditions. By ideal conditions, I mean at least 4 to 5 undisturbed hours, endless supply of tea, and perfect, inspiring surroundings to write.

Reality is far from it. If I get an uninterrupted hour, it is a very good day indeed. With regards to tea, I am luckier. Mom and dad are visiting, and I do get tea on request. As for inspiring surroundings – on a good day I can see the Arabian Gulf in the distance, but on most other muggy, dusty days, all I can see is a chain of under construction high-rises, and empty construction plots promising more of the same, and I want to scream.

This poem is an ode to my dream writing zone, which is more than just a writing table. 😊

White Lies

Picture by Tania Malrechauffe on Unsplash
It started with a lie… a tiny white lie.
I console myself, ‘no one else is hurt.’
Anyway, never again, I tell myself.
The lie resides in my yesteryears.
Now, I am in the future.
My tomorrows have morphed to the present.
Time turning slowly to dust.
I have made peace with truth withheld,
or so I think.
For even now when the light is turned off,
as I lie, naked in my own thoughts
the lying scar tissue niggles and squirms.
‘Shut up!’ I mutter and turn. But sometimes
the guilty scab writhes and crawls off,
revealing the lie. The tiny white lie.
Faded like an old scar
No longer so little… or white.

It is so damn hard to write at times. Life, and if I am absolutely honest, all those TWOT books, overwhelm, but thanks to this newsletter, I am writing something at the least.

A theme I like to explore through my poems, and a novel I hope to serialize soon, is guilt. As part of my exploration of the theme, I wrote about white lies – those we utter, and those we sometimes commit by staying silent. White lies are always accompanied by justifications – often valid ones. But what if truth is absolute and ruthless in its purity? Whether you believe in absolute truth or consider truth to be relative, sometimes our defences and justifications for our half-truths and truths withheld crumble and we are left staring at what we have become.

Anyways… do let me know what you think of the poem.

And Then, There Is Grief

As a writer, I wondered…
Can I create poetry that tore?
What after all, did I know
about pain too pure to bear,
or grief too deep to share?
What did I know?
I looked up the meaning
of words that stood in
for grief.
Distressed, in agony,
desolate, in purgatory, or
drowning in sadness.
Why, one could even be melancholic!
But all mere words that did not…
could not
sum up heart-breaking misery.
Picture by Michael Held on Unsplash
Now, I know better.
The words aren’t just on paper.
Tattooed into life,
they flutter on my every breath.
As always, I put pen to paper,
to seize the naked rawness of it all.
And, hit a wall.
Bearing witness to a pain
beyond the reach of medicines.
Words fail to capture
the silent darkness
of private anguish.
All the ink in the world
cannot pen the wretched misery
of this unrelenting story.
Everything is at a standstill
inside of me.
Poised to start living,
Once… Once this happens or that.
Once I wrestle the pain
down on to the page.
There is grief
Beyond the reach of meaning.

This poem was written in response to a prompt on my writing group. Walt Witman wrote, ‘I contain multitudes.’ And now our grief is reflecting it too. Layers of grieving. Even as we all struggle with the pandemic, some of us are also fighting parallel, personal battles in our own little pandemic induced bubbles. Nothing will ever be the same again – a cliché but true. We have all lost our innocence, and every day I mourn for what could have been, even as I am grateful for what is. This poem is my attempt at depicting my grief for that loss, because I can begin to manage things, feelings and vague notions only, and only when I write it out.


… of a writerly kind

A half-remembered tune melts into me.

I rise up trying to meet it… grab it

make it fully mine.

But the very acting of reaching

rips the melody out of my mind.

Just the ghost of it stays behind

to tease me with its unformed lines.

Haunted by a feeling, almost physical,

I hang on to sanity by slender threads.

There is a foreboding in my chest 

vague in detail, precise in visceral sentiments.

Picture by Andreas Kretschmer on Unsplash

Like waking from a nightmare,

heart pounding, drenched in sweat,

half-remembering details.

The very act of waking,

pulling veils over specifics

as they brush by teasing… warning,

all in the same heartbeat.

If only I could capture

the wretched poignancy,

the bleak terrain of my mind,

and pin it on paper.

Other poets do it with ease; but I struggle.

The very act of putting pen to paper

robs the emotion of its very feeling.

‘It’s alright,’ I soothe myself.

All I need is a good night’s sleep.

Not too long to sunrise, now.

I will bid the dark goodbye.

Banana Time…

I am what you call a 2 a.m writer. My best ideas for stories and dialogues come to me when I am slipping from one sleep cycle into the next. I groggily reach for my mobile and open OneNote to type in the idea. Sometimes it is just a sentence and sometimes a para.

Earlier I’d not get up and pin the idea down, certain that there is no way I could forget this gem. Come morning, all I could recall is that I had had a good, maybe even a brilliant idea, but I have no clue what it is. After the first two times of not being able to recall the ideas, and the resultant kick-your-own-ass anguish, I would just wake up and write the damn idea down. At least, I could now go back to sleep peacefully and wake up to something interesting.

Most of my 2 a.m ideas have done me good, except for this one time, when I had an idea to solve, and I mean SOLVE, the problems facing the world. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. I got up and typed in my solution and went back to sleep relieved that when I wake up the idea to solve all our problems will be there in my OneNote. Waking up, I opened the note, and my solution was just one word – Bananas.

I am sure it is a code. Or maybe we are all supposed to eat bananas. Go figure!

Would love it if you’d share your ‘Bananas’ idea :).


I have been busy focusing on completing what I hope is the final draft of my first novel. This basically means that I have let the blog slide. Apologies.

This is a poem I had written recently, and was featured in the latest (25th) issue of Dubai Poetics. (


By Binu Sivan

(Click on name link for all the poems written by me that Dubai Poetics has kindly featured.)

A half-remembered tune melts into me
I rise up trying to meet it… grab it
make it fully mine.
But the very acting of reaching
rips the melody out of my mind.
Just the ghost of it stays behind
to tease me with its unformed lines.

Haunted by a feeling, almost physical,
I hang on to sanity by slender threads.
There is a foreboding in my chest
vague in detail, yet precise in visceral sentiments.

Like waking from a nightmare,
heart pounding, drenched in sweat,
half-remembering the details.
But the very act of waking,
pulls the veils over the specifics
as they brush by teasing… warning
all in the same heartbeat.

If only I could capture the wretched poignancy,
the bleak terrain of my mind
and put it on paper.
Songs seem to be able to do it.
Other poets do it with ease. But I struggle.
The very act of putting pen to paper
robs the emotion of its very feeling.
‘It’s alright,’ I tell myself.
All I need is a good night’s sleep.
Not too long to sunrise, now.
I will bid the dark goodbye.

The River’s Love Song

This is a poem I wrote recently when I wanted to take a break from struggling with my first novel. It will be published soon in the 16th edition of Dubai Poetics out by April end. Do let me know your thoughts. 🙂

From Jalori to Manali (37)

‘My poems are born of you,’

the river whispered to the mountains.

As the wind carried the river’s gentle sighs,

high up to the land of clouds and veils

nestled in the skies,

the mountains trembled.

It had felt the young love of his beloved

as she skipped, laughed and tripped along with him.

Majestic he had stood, watching her antics,

she had murmured her delight and thundered in pleasure.

But… his silence engorged her senses.

Nothing else could she bear.

Yet, she wanted, just for once, to be held

and loved with words she could hear.

Flowing away, with time, she left her mountain behind.

Meandering amidst valleys, she heard

voices other than her lover’s silence.

Thrilled, she gurgled with delight and rushed on.

She was loved, adored, worshipped, and more.
Dhyey Ahalpara

Yet, greater as her name grew,

farther as her fame spread.

she missed the silent communion

that had created her.

She wished she could turn her waves around

force the currents back to the source.

Sometimes she raged.

Sometimes she sluggishly moved on.

Did he hear her cries and sighs?

Did her love know that she was done with life?

She moved on… tired and dirty,

loved and worshipped.

Stillness replacing energy.

And then with her baggage of offerings,

bodies, debris, and silt,

she gave up the last of her freshness –

her very essence –

to the vast blue

that matched her beloved

in hue.

As the clouds burst above him,

drenching him with her love,

he realized that she had given up her life

to once again fall in his arms and lie.



Remember Part 2

The news headlines over the last few days and weeks from India have helped push me over in to the dark side. I have always… always been so proud of India’s pluralism and tolerance. Values which are under threat now. They have always been challenged, but I personally don’t remember such a concerted effort by a segment of our populace to question the very bedrock of our identity. I am a Hindu and am very proud of my culture. I love it in all its multi-layered, passionate, chaotic glory. But I realize that just like Christianity and Islam can be interpreted and misinterpreted according to someone’s convenience, so can Hinduism. The injustices are piling up and we, as a nation and its people, have been staying mute for too long. I fear that somewhere, just like with global warming, on a more micro level, we as a nation are reaching tipping point. This is not about politics and who is in power. In my opinion all parties are equally f*@*^£d. But this is about what we as citizens expect from our government, our administrators and our political parties – be they in power or not. This is about our responsibility. Most of us are not in a position to do anything that is going to change or effect the powers that be, but we are in a position to voice our dissent, to comment, to post and argue and discuss. Maybe it is time to devote our energies not just to the latest on Netflix and the bullshit being doled out in the name of entertainment (in print and other forms of media). Maybe it is time to hold ourselves accountable and treat our great freedom with more responsibility. Maybe it is time to live with more intention.

Forgive me. I am in a crap mood and feeling bloody blue. If you are in the mood for some more of the above but in verse form, read on…

My eyes are damp.

I had thought my tears had run dry

All those years ago,

When pictures of carnage

Had covered the sheets

Of my ink-stained mornings.

Deep in the south

The blood was not shed,

Nor wars fought

As often.

But the body hurt

No matter where the cut.

The magic surrealism of childhood

Has been replaced by bomb shred

Headlines of my teen.

I remember with amazement

The day the headlines said

‘No one died

due to bombs today!’

Twenty years on

I realize that they always lied.

Time does not move on.

It always stays right there….

Mocking us

For believing that

Life moves on.

It only goes on.

The hands that lobbed bombs

Have changed.

The bombs themselves

Have changed.

We live in a world

Where progress and success

Are the new, and sadly, only keys.

Ideas like freedom and liberty,

Tolerance and safety

Seem to be old-fashioned values

For the civic books.

The pride with which I could naively say –

“Ah! But in my country I have

Freedom of thought and speech!”

Has now been replaced by

Fear, shame and a cynicism

That runs deep.

A wrong word, notion or meal plan

Can result in your face being blackened

Or something more fatal.

Worse still,

You may wake up one day

To find that

Your trusted neighbour’s hand

Wields the rod that breaks

Your back.

I remember Bilqis and her pain.

I shake with terror

Imagining the pain

She a woman, a wife and a mother


Watching young girls being raped

Her husband being hunted

And her three year old killed.

I remember…

I remember…

Thinking after every murder, every horror,

Every riot, every rape and every attack,

Every explosion and fire –

This is it.

Things will change.

It cannot go on like this.

It will change.

I no longer hold on to that hope.

As today’s beef murder headlines

Wrap the fried snacks of tomorrow,

As war veterans are replaced by writers,

Our byte hungry world will always

Find something new.

And we the ultimate consumer

Will move from one headline

To another

Just like we change our

Mobile phones and their covers.

We, like butterflies, will flit and float

Through life

Rendered utterly meaningless,

Because the very methods we use to cope

Spell the end of all hope.

Binu Sivan

13 October, 2015