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.

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.


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.


My first post for the year – :). An update into the last 21 days if you will.

2016 has been a ho-hum sort of year so far. Professionally I am doing well – enough writing and editing assignments to keep me busy. A bit too busy to be honest. But the world continues to nose-dive into oblivion, as though hell bent on destroying itself before some meteor hits it. Global markets crash, students commit suicide, terrorists kill innocents, more soldiers die. I could have been talking about last year or the year before that. The news update is the same. We are going to the dogs from the looks of it.

However, on the personal front, I like where I am going. This is the first time that I have not bothered to go through the sham of making resolutions. I have anyway never kept one beyond five to six weeks at the most. But I have started out on things that have been on my to-do list for way too long.

I am going to be a year older tomorrow. There are slivers of wisdom that have pierced my decaying armour of youth. Not that it makes much of a difference. I am still repeating old mistakes and making new ones on top of it. But there has been some growth too.

After nearly 13 years in Dubai, I am finally learning Arabic. I know… shame on me! I should have done this much earlier… but my motto in my 40s is – better late than never.

I have read The Land of Seven Rivers by Sanjeev Sanyal (will be reading that one again), Wild by Cheryl Strayed (highly recommended for lovers of treks and hikes), The Roundabout Man by Clare Morrall (I liked it a lot… the way she writes especially) and have started on The Public Intellectual in India by Romila Thapar. While the Sanyal book was a carry forward from last year (I just had one chapter to read in 2016), everything else was done in the last 20 odd days!! I am amazed.

The Dubai Poetics group have accepted two of my poems for their anthology. You can read my submissions Stay a While ( and Don’t Send Me a Memo ( on my blog if interested. Will keep you updated on that.

On the novel front – it did take a back seat to my bread and butter writing these last three weeks. I feel like a procrastinating heel. But am back at it with a vengeance now. Sada – thank you for those links and encouragement.

Sometime last year, I began to enjoy cooking… for about a month. That feeling soon passed. Nothing has changed in 2016. I still don’t enjoy cooking. I think my cook is the most important man on earth. Apologies to the husband, father, brother, Modi and Obama. And off late, I am beginning to hate even regular housework with a vengeance. My new cleanliness motto is… actually, I have two – ‘Chaos and mess beget creativity’; and, ‘It is not dust; it is star dust’.

Incidentally, I have stopped colouring my hair. I am letting it go grey. I want to know how I will look.

So, hopefully, 2016 will be a year choc-a-bloc full of great books, poems, writing, freelance jobs, and maybe, just maybe, a deeper acceptance of who I am.