What Was Aarushi's Crime?

Had Eve possessed a soul like sand / Without a taint of aught decayed,
Unfructifiable as land / Whereon no herbs nor forests fade,
Then her Betrayer would have sought / An acquiescent ear in vain,
And all his careful tillage wrought / No germination of the grain.

- Francis Burdett Thomas

In the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce Kate Winslet's character suffers the constant heartbreak her daughter subjects her to because she believes that tolerating her daughter's venomous actions must be the penance she has to pay for her own fiercely individualistic and ambitious lifestyle. One can only imagine what goes on in her heart when sees her daughter Vega (a character played to perfection by Evan Rachel Woods) not only have sex with her mother's boyfriend in front of her mother, but also unrepentantly flaunting her nudity in their presence.

The Talwars had no penance due when they purportedly walked-in on their daughter and their servant engaged in objectionable acts and although much has been said about the vile and heinous nature of their crime, little attention is paid to the circumstances that seed the evidence of their guilt. What has been casually filed as another act of honour killing, reveals on even the most careless objective analysis to be a case which defies any time-honored epithet.

The Talwars do not fit any die that would cast them as typical Honor Killers. They had provided for Aarushi's education and lifestyle in a manner that goes against the grain of the "Khap" mentality, add to that their own educated background and you have an anomaly which begs the question: What was Aarushi's crime?

What, in the name of all that is holy, could lead two stable, functioning units of society to commit an act which is the very antithesis of their values? The preservation of family honor as a motive reeks of intuitive bias because the even in that phrase "family" comes before "values" and Aarushi was the only family the Talwar couple had besides each other. If then, upon seeing their teenage daughter and middle-aged servant coiled in sin, Rajesh Talwar, decided to take law in his own hands and severed their bodies of life, then he must have been prepared to face the consequences no matter how great his rage.

How anger works in middle-class India is not unknown to anyone, corporeal punishment is routine but anything more is an exception. What is unknown is why a fourteen year old would become a sexual miscreant and why she would oblige a man twice her age, a immigrant labourer on top, to fool around with her? That both of them were murdered proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that their "objectionable act" was consensual. Had that not been a case, the father would proudly saved the daughter and slayed the servant alone.

From the pictures of Aarushi floating in the media, she appears to be a smart brat, ergo the theory that it was a case of teenage-rebellion gone haywire does not make sense because even the most rebellious Indian teenage girl knows where to draw the line.

Hence, If she allowed Hemraj near her, it could only have been out of a poisonous sense of retribution against the parents. Rajesh Talwar's actions must be seen in proper light: as a doting father's reaction to Aarushi's meditated, rancorous provocation and while the law does not seem to take human psychology into consideration while pronouncing judgements, civil society must indeed consider all aspects of the story before writing two average people off.

Murder is always uncalled for, but what was perhaps even more uncalled for was the rousing of parental anger by a calculative, misdirected teenager who wasn't as smart as she made herself to be.

A Reputation

a rose by any other name,
would still be a rose but a stone has a reputation to maintain
had it known that the language of its people was a game,
it would have withstood all its earthy pain

what the rose sought to remind the people with its thorns,
the stone just swallowed - a bitter refrain
but in the end no truth was revealed to the stone
nor were the rose's efforts  ever stonewalled again

because a rose, by any other name adressed,
is still a rose but a stone has a reputation to maintain

the whales never really knew

the boy in the crow's nest whistled thrice to wish two whales below, goodnight
"goodnight monalisa" , sleep tight "leo",
the moon slept carefree ignoring the fly-by-night operators twinkling in the distance,
the plagues of daylight savings rushed in from inside the due morning:
love was yet to greet my sails with its wet, salty kisses

I shook and I shivered, as I slept but I kept,
as i quivered - my tilt to the port and the cold-front frothing at its mouth in the north.
my fluttering jibs chewed through those naughty, nautical blasts of night
with nothing to protect me from them on me, no support being there
but the invisible face of this bleached night, cowled as if dressed in a monk's habit

and blessed as if bathed in the waters of the holy see,
it saw my stern snaking, shaking its wooden fists at this liquid sovereign,
looking unearthly at this ungodly hour.

we might be cadavers for this marine mourge beneath, soon all calm was flushed
down the drains of history - a time when rivers of static flowed
upon the banks of status quo
and a trillion insects buzzed to announce my cargo

To the natives who had been drinking during the day and had danced the night away, 

saw that all their hopes had dried on the docks, the next day
as my crew and I, we set sail for the far east, for mandalay!
"But wait, Opium clippers don't talk", "or do they?" I heard them say

but now,

With the passions of my masters mustered out of visions of a decadance,
and hewn out of a war, their motives - now a palimpsest of their previous idols, few
were marred, hacked and sawed beyond recognition by vanity, and mountain dew
pride and a prayer were their wings as they flew to achieve what they called the

permanence, i called the boy come morning and told him 

that the whales never really knew.

this be the worse

they fuck you up, the poets you read
they always mean to, that is their job
they augur corruption of the soul, and feed
the shoulder-devil twisting your literary knob

but they were fucked in their turn
by fools who thought they were prophets for their age
who half the time were taciturn
and half burning with some lonesome rage

poetry passes misery to the masses
it's a poison to douse the fire in your belly with
if you want to look smart, try reading glasses,
and better just stick to the sports on the telly, kid

Milk Burns

We sense a stinking mouth incanting industrial chants,
echoed by a chimney choir somewhere, singing
blood churns to milk, burns to glue

like whispers left out to dry on the grapevine
this funk is not accounted for
its equally untraceable, scrambled, real and true

in damp, unlit nostrils, this whisperlike reek from the mouth
incanting industrial hymns now addresses limp minions, announcing
ladies and gents, we're fucked through and through

we know its a prompt to a finish, this popish plot hatching
within our nostrils, an army of nasal hair is now chanting
milk burns to turn this blood blue.

all is not well

a casteist bias bleeds through your love of heavy-metal
a colorless confusion peeks through holes in my smoke-rings
our grasshopper minds jump across them, and settle
on all the promises that tomorrow makes but never brings

further contradictions and paradoxes i could list
that in our arsenal of mass-excuses ever dwell
but your carpet-bombed convictions might miss the point, so the gist
of it all is that all is not now, nor was it ever well

the future is a filament wrapped on a core of burning dreams
illuminating a lighthouse that wants to run away yet can not
because there are dangers worse than the fog and it seems,
that this is not the cape that the crew or captain sought

The Golden Age Of Silverfish

Glad that my story "The Golden Age of Silverfish" has been getting positive reviews by the readership of Reading Hour, hopefully this won't be my last short-story!

Please Support Reading Hour by buying a copy off of a magazine rack near you or better still, order all the back issues here on amazon.

Links: Reading Hour (Jan - Feb) 2013 (Amazon) | Preview | RH Facebook Page

On Complacency

Complacency is the pregnant bitch you go to bed with,
Fondling her insured curves and stroking her financially- independent fur,
it is the phlegm our minds want to spit out but our tongues suck
complacency, is but a mephistophelian mercenary chewing mercury

corruption's cousin and im/maturity's rapist,
it hides behind words and sleeps under sarcasm
lest we forget its best friend, power,
absolute power corrupts with relative complacency

Complacency, both the cause and effect of formality
Breeds little hypocrite mutant puppies who can tweet
From within warm laps and hot laptops, but remember,
this kind of complacency has consequences
(other than veterinary)


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