Monday, March 03, 2008

Secularism in India

He swats a fly,
belches, looks up
to her burqa-clad smile.
"Do you have underwears?"
"Men or Ladiez?"
"Do I look men to you?"
"Sorry! Babban Ladiez...
Ah! What size?"
"Ninety-five! Ummm...what colours do you have?"
"Blue, green, and brown!"
"All men's colours!" she frowns.
"What colour do you want?"
"Babban! Nintey-five, ladiez, pink!"
"Do you think it will fit me?"
The baniya flashes a toothless grin,
"How can I say that...I mean..."
"Badtameez! Look at the way you're spilling!"
She slams the counter, stamps a roach,
storms out of the shop.
The Baniya nevertheless wise calls out,
"Madam! Please do stop again at my shop!"

This poem is for Mahmood Farooqui. It is inspired by an anecdote he told me. :-)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Closely Observed Trains

Would you believe it
that "Closely Observed Trains"
was a film's name
in Nineteen Sixty-eight?
It was critically acclaimed,
an Academy Award winner,
even before I was conceived
one early winter.

But four decades later
I am changing slowly.
There are white streaks
in my sideburns,
a morbid fear creeps up
when I meet loved ones
as if one of us will pop off
before next such loved moment.

I recently discovered
my body speaks too.
I am distinct from it,
I am not what it is.
And now I sleep nursing dreams
of six-pack abs, youthful hair,
of rising early, jogging anywhere...

But strangely when I drive on the stretch
saddled between Nizamuddin and Yamuna's stench
I closely observe trains that I do not intend to catch.

© February 18, 2008 Dan Husain

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Every second edict
in the leaves of my
how to write bible
teaches me to avoid clichés
as if, to use a cliché, they're plagues
but each time she flings "love"
at the end of her sweet nothings
or nobody's forward mails,
the world in my vision blurs
shrinking around the edges
of l-o-v-e's four letters.

© October 23, 2007 Dan Husain

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Such is the fate
of each and every word
that refuses tonight
to come out of my head;
(as if my arms slithered up my nostrils
and pulped them to death)
laid to rest in a watery grave
stretching from your eyes to your ears.

And then we slept in deathly silence
half loved, half betrayed.

© October 2, 2007 Dan Husain

Monday, July 30, 2007

May I Borrow Some Love From You?

May I borrow some love from you?
I know you've lent it to him.
And no, I am not asking you
to take it back from him.
Just a momentary transfer,
just enough for me
to put a smile on your face.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


I have bartered peace
for a memory of you
and now it wishes me
to put to sleep every thought of you.
I managed a lullaby but
it reads a poem for heartburns.
I wish I had a word for the moment
when skin shed crackles on the desert sand.
I wish I had a word for the moment
when coal instead of blood pumps in my vein.
I wish I had a word for the moment
when heat snivels up my nostrils, melts my brain.
I wish I had a word for the moment
when your silence pours down my gullet as acid rain.
I wish I could barter again
peace for a moment
where our eyes meet and
a sweetness lingers between them.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


I see your face
but it's not there
only my eyes conjuring an image
and no, it's not love
love doesn't make one an artist
it is nothingness that makes one
scratch lines on an empty canvass