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Murali Sivaramakrishnan

Murali Sivaramakrishnan


For those who love the earth
The yam is a surprise--
Versatile starch and tuber.
A treasure beyond the red soil,
The soul of earth
Buried deep within
Folds of mud and silt
Clinging to her with a million fibrous nerves
Feeding on water and the remnants
Of other lives–a life beyond
Our little selves. The coils of wonder
That uncurl over slow time.
A brown and red surprise.

The yam is solid ripple
Gushing from the other side of reality–
Live to touch and taste.
It occurs on the borderlands
Where sky and rain mix with the sun's life.
Hiding, unrevealing.
Elegant when it sends forth its shoots upward.
Standing tall as if to reunite with the light.
Forever buried in dark, till it breaks free
And splits to revel in red softness of its afterlife.


Outside our window the afternoon sun lingered
Like a child--flushed, elated,
Playing hide and seek with the old jackfruit tree.
The stench of ripening fruits
Hung over each crow's beak digging deep
Into the sweetened air. Somewhere
In the backyard the slow steady drip of an overfull tap.
The pre-monsoon breeze
Blew steady, brought in laughter from far.

Inside, the workman held the huge mirror
Against the newly painted walls
Checking this side and that.
He had marked out the edges and rims
Carefully, till of a sudden our image came to life
Before us where we stood, and your smile
Spread all around like sunlight spilling
Through our window. By now myna birds
And barbets had joined the crows.
The air was like treacle thick with cheer.
Then we were time travelers
Held in its mercurial capsule of reflections.

What twists and turns in our life's histories!
What strange leaps and bounds
Over deep valleys, over huge boulders!
Where all the silent hand of some divinity held forth
Many lotuses as we fell and re-gathered ourselves!
Look, we have come through! And now
Smile at each other's reflections
From two vacant spaces outside ourselves inside huge mirrors.
Like over-ripe jackfruits time leaves
Chunky footprints over halls, walls, streets.
We have left each other's selves
And become one in each other
A simple change of places in a mirror
Against the newly painted walls
The workman had marked out the edges and rims
Carefully just like our benevolent divinity all along.
We are etched in outlines behind his screwed up face
As he measures, adjusts, rearranges and nails. There is no dark yet.
After all, how long does it take to fix a mirror?
If there is a vacant wall and grace unbounded?
Space and time warp themselves
Beside our virtual selves. Undried jackfruit leaves
Sunlight and crows on unmarked spaces.
A mirror that reflects nothing.
The simple hilarity of time. Ripeness is all.


Neither bird, worm nor animal.
The sky, earth, or river--
Nor the sweetness that flows with the wind–
I do not love anyone or anything in this world.
The wretched self that cowers inside a wretched shadow.

But this wretched self I love, beyond anything
and savor the glory of its tender taste
all times. Do I stand to violate my shadow that now spreads evenly
like the wind stretched cloud across the evening sky?

All violent acts make me sick. I know that my small self's joy
Is tied to the immortal self of its other. Does not the wounded worm curl
On to itself? Does not the burning leaf bend and fold?
My world permits no pain. Dub not my joy as selfish--
Anymore than yours, is it, stranger? Are you not aware of your own little self's other?

I stand behind these scarlet drapes of misunderstanding and scream.
Are you too tormented? My cry
Echoing like the old queen's inhuman screech as her son draws the sword
And runs it through me--I never loved anyone but myself, as I now humbly realize.
Red blood turns the scarlet gown and drape redder. You are not different.
Are you hiding behind me, now, Polonius?



Sunil Uniyal and Ranu Uniyal: In Conversation with Charanjeet Kaur

Literary Articles
A S Mohamed Rafee: Naipaul’s India
Anindita Ghosh: U R Ananthamurthy
Indrani Das Gupta: Bama’s Sangati
Rudra Kinshuk: Agha Shahid Ali
Swati Srivastava & Avneesh Kumar Singh: Rohinton Mistry & Vikram Seth

Book Reviews
Alka Dutt: God I Am
Ambika Ananth: Ink and Line
Glenis M Mendonça: Teresa’s Man and Other Stories from Goa
Gopal Lahiri: The Reverse Tree
K K Srivastava: Rotations of Unending Time
Pramod K Das & Narayan Jena: The Whispering Grove
U Atreya Sarma: One Year for Mourning
VVB Rama Rao: Emotionoceans
Payal Das: ‘De-Coding The Silence!’

Amibka Ananth: Editorial Note
Arnapurna Rath
B R Nagpal
Bem Le Hunte
Bidyut Bhusan Jena
Javed Latoo
K N Shivshankar
Murali Sivaramakrishnan
Nar Deo Sharma
Pranshu Prakash
R K Biswas
Shobha Narayan
Vijay Kumar Roy

U Atreya Sarma: Editorial Musings
Ajay Patri: God's Own Taxi
Bem Le Hunte: Divine Confluence
Indu Parvathi: Two
Narayan: A Mother’s Grief
Neera Kashyap: A woodpecker hammers at my throat
Sunil Sharma: A story told by a maid-servant’s preteen daughter
Sushrut Bhatia: At School

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