Monday, February 18, 2019

Ekphrasis Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night

Related image
Labyrinth in the sky
Needlepoint of Light and Darkness 
Each showing off her more photogenic side

I walk through the maze
A Lucy in the sky with diamonds 
Music plays softly 
Just out of reach
Drawing me deeper and deeper into the maze

I work my way out of the maze
And a big yellow moon is my only witness
I made it!
I made it out of the dark night of the soul
And nobody knows
The village is asleep 
The lights are dim
I'll sleep too
And the sun shall greet me tomorrow 
Like nothing ever happened 

We'll get coffee and go about our day 
Griping and moaning and counting our lucky stars 
As usual

Every night now
I'll look out the window 
I'll wink at the moon
She knows
                                                                                                                             ~   Sonali

Sunday, February 17, 2019


Amid all the grief and anger, I hope there is room for clear-sightedness that we can move on from the cycle of violence and revenge to peace and prosperity for all. Many years ago, I saw this carved in stone at either the Shalimar gardens, or the Chashme Shahi, in Srinagar - "Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.” “If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here" Amir Khusrau.

It was my parents' 17th wedding anniversary. We were there, the 3 of us, and my grandma. One of the happiest vacations of my life! I am so homesick for that feeling. I hope we can see past escalating violence and return to a new normal of peace and cooperation. Europe was laid to waste after the world wars. They rebuilt their countries, learned to stop fighting, and grew in prosperity. Why can't South Asia do the same? A modified version of the EU model could be the solution. Efforts to curb terrorism and efforts to build infrastructure would be combined, lessening the load on both economies. The insurgency would end.

This is a love letter to the Kashmir of my memories.


8 O'clock
"The hot water is ready," Mummy said
I unlidded my sleepy eyes adjusting to the slanting light coming through the blinds
I slowly woke up to the whitewashed room, colonial in proportions, pre-independence in decor
I took in a deep breath of fresh mountain air unfamiliar to my Hyderabadi lungs
This felt like my new home, oddly
We'd arrived late the previous night to a midsummer Srinagar
I was enraptured by the affectionate friendliness of the two people we'd met so far
The one serving chai in a beautiful firan, and the one who chauffeured us to the dak bungalow
It certainly didn't feel like slick affected touristy affection
These people were the salt of the earth
On the way there, there were The Boulevard, the glistening Dahl dotted with houseboats, the Char Chinar, now three, explained the chauffeur, as one had died
People walking around at midnight, tourists and locals alike
Little shops selling wazwan, carved mementos, silken and woolen wear lined the streets
"This is a party that shouldn't ever end," thought my 16-year-old self
It was like my mother's instinctual ear picked up on that thought
She asked the chauffeur if it was safe to be out walking this late
He said yes, and that summers are short here
And that he would love to park by the side of the pavement so we could look around, and not a fly would hurt us
Or, perhaps, return another night, if we were too tired from our bus ride here from Jammu

                                                                         ~ Sonali

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


She's an island far away, cold, remote, uninhabited
Yet every government sends it's PhDs to carve out a piece of the island
To stake a future claim on it
All under the guise of science and "testing".
Think again

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

A Modern Day Miracle

Don't ask me to explain because this defies logic
Only hear me out
In what universe do you witness
A series of unfortunate events proceeding in reverse order?
Now that's a miracle, if you ask me
But miracles are always suspect

How would you know, since people are opaque
That they might have holes in their souls
Like some have holes in their soles?
They could walk by you every day and you would never know
Unless you have eyes that can see souls
Would you notice that they suffer?
Would you offer them solace?
Or perhaps a solution for their problem?
How would you, good citizen, if you didn't even know they were hurting?
So, we come back to the clairvoyance of those who can see souls
Not many people can
I can't, I know that for sure
But those who can do exist
I say this not to frighten you
Because, heck, who wants a soul reader in their midst?
I sure wouldn't
I would feel like I was being stalked all of the time!

And so we come to the bizarrely beautiful conclusion of this story
Imagine a train wreck that slowly unravels itself
The train cars put themselves back on the tracks
The people heal and come back to life
Their souls and their corporeal selves are back together again
The holes in their souls seem to have healed too
For I can see them smiling genuine smiles
I am almost certain there's an invisible healer of souls and such
Somewhere hereabouts
The engine starts to sputter and hum as it pulls away from you
Soon it is seen picking up speed
A horn toots far, far away
And you wonder if that was all just a dream

                                                 -   Sonali


Monday, July 2, 2018

My Spirit Animal

Peace is a strange animal
Furry and sweet
She walks by my side matching my stride
Most of my days
But she senses my moods, and the naughty little girl
Runs away when I need her the most
That is, when I am fearful

She's with me when I am feeling strong
But fear is an emotion she cannot tolerate in her bestie

I wish she would stay by my side
Cuddle with me, and drive away the blues
When I am afraid, but she won't, or doesn't yet

My spirit animal is in training starting today
She stays when I say "Heel"
'And though she be but little she is fierce'
I need to remind us both of that

"Heel, little vixen, we're walking through the forest
You be my guide and I will be your protector"
                                                     - Sonali

Monday, June 18, 2018

Breathe life into me

It takes a village

Have you ever watched the iron monger at work?
When the iron leaves the forge, it is malleable, hot, tender to the touch that shapes it

Ever watched the Potter's wheel until you got dizzy? 
Here's to you, you thing of clay, spinning on an axis not of your choosing 
Until your new identity has been assigned to you 
And you are going into the fire soon
For your Creator to finish the job he started 

Medium - rare is not my favorite kind of steak
I like mine well - done
But the chef's been thinking I'm ready to be trimmed and served with a side of lettuce and garlicky rice

The carpenter had time on his hands and started to carve into his finished product, a headboard 
Every nick of the chisel took away what didn't belong to the rose he had imagined 
He has yet to burnish the wood so splinters remain barely attached to the rose

The gardener had seen that the vine was dying and set about to resurrect the plant 
He pruned and watered and applied every effort the man at Home Depot told him to 
Two green leaves and a dried up tendril is all we see at the moment

The Lord have mercy on unfinished projects 
They really could go either way 

                                                             - Sonali

Friday, June 15, 2018



Some spoke Wheat, some Menhirs, some Daggers, some Oil
Others spoke Hex or Vitriol or even the Avada Kedavra
Along came Polly Glott who could converse with us all
Because she spoke the universal language called Love

Babel - movie
Wheat= agrarian society
Menhirs= stone age
Daggers= metal age
Oil= fossil fuel burning-age

Along Came Polly- Ben Stiller, Jennifer Anniston movie