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.

Today, She Gets to Play

Photo by Anthony Cantin on Unsplash
Romance has begun anew.
Lying gentle and bright
on a bed of tender laps
moving in and out
of the Arabian bay.
Madness bubbles in minds
laughter escapes lips
milk spilled on waves
as night melts into day,
The full moon has her way.
The sea smiles.
Draped in a blanket of light,
Flung, not wrapped tight,
her toes tease the shore.
Today, is her favourite day.
Today, she gets to play
With the gentle light
she secretly loves.
Even as the land tugs and pulls,
silent where he lays.

A little poem to ease back into the newsletter routine. The last few weeks were tougher and busier than anticipated, but the good news is that the kiddo is recovering well from her surgery.

This disease and its treatment are both designed in the very bowels of hell, and we (and many others) walk through it on a daily basis. The simple act of facing another day with hope, and not giving in to despair can demand every ounce of energy one has. The fight against the rage and envy that one invariably feels when we wonder, ‘Why me?’ ‘Why my kid?’ or as we watch everyone else live their cancer free lives, corrodes my insides.

At the same time, it has taught me patience and how to live in the moment. Of course, the journey is not yet complete – we have a few more months of radiation and support chemo to get through. Right now, we are in the testing, scanning and planning stage and by God! it is the most frustrating stage as we wait for everything to line up before treatment starts. But at the end of it all we have the carrot of being cancer free dangling at the end of the treatment stick.

However, we all hope to have some semblance of a routine back in our lives once this phase of the treatment commences, sometime next week.

In the meantime, on The Wheel of Time front, I have reached Book No. 11. It was tough going at times because I was irritated as hell by how the female characters were fleshed out – almost all of them were irritatingly stubborn and arrogant. And not one single woman simply crossed her arms. She would cross her arms under her bosom. Every. Single. Time. Despite that I could not set the books aside because the story gallops ahead. Am yet to watch the show though… maybe after I read all the books.

Motherhood – And You Are Angry

And you are angry at her for being careless and silly

You are angry because you wanted to write

and now… and now,

after a whole day spent being mum,

when you desperately wanted to write,

you have to be mum for another half an hour.

You are angry because you feel this way.

You are angry because you had shut the door

that hurt her finger.

All the logical explanations about

she should not have kept her finger there don’t cut ice.

She’s old enough to know better doesn’t cut ice.

You are angry because you were so tired

that you scolded her for placing her finger near the door.

You are angry as you watch those tears stream down

because of all the things you can handle on earth

her tears are not one of them.

You are angry because you are tired.

You are angry because she doesn’t blame you.

You are angry because she agrees with you

– she was being careless.

Damn it! You are angry.

Motherhood is one bloody ride

You are angry because you can’t forgive yourself.

Picture by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash

This is a poem I had written a few years ago. I love being a mom. It is a full time job. I love writing. It too is a full time job. There are only 24 hours in a day. Final result – I was often left feeling frayed and irritable trying to just hang on to some sense of identity.

Now as my daughter battles a rare sarcoma and recovers from a surgery, I am left amazed at how much we take for granted and how ridiculously small and unimportant everything else looks when we are brought up hard against mortality. I can’t relive those years again, but I have promised myself that going forward I will slow down enough to enjoy the moments – with my family and by my own self. To hell with what the world thinks a successful life should look like.

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 :).

A Quay in Girvin

Something powerful

a monster

roiling underneath.

The waves of Girvin

speak a tongue

deeper than any

I have seen.

It speaks not

for ears but

for the beating heart

and the soul that

churns within


the waves rise


resisting the pull

of ancient



that call me

from deep within.

I think everyone

should know

that one place

where they are willing

to give in.

The battlefields,

the end of a rope,

a quay in Girvin.

Poem Excerpt

Am slowly limping back into social media. My novel’s final draft is almost done, and I now realise that it is not the final draft. I want to make a few more changes… Aaargh. To paraphrase Deepak from Masaan, “yeh drafts kahe katam nahi hote bey?” (Why doesn’t re-writing come to an end man?)

So, to not hate myself or my book (yes that’s possible when you live with it 24/7) I am blogging and posting again…

Thank you for reading.

Much love



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.