November 8, 2017

circular logic

don't stop growing up
because it means that you are
somewhere, still a child

October 24, 2017

October 23, 2017

hanging together

pastel shades, and nude and neon
tiger stripes and polka dots
pitch black, pure white
logos, letters, hearts
ankle length, knee length and somewhere in between
padded and not, maybe an underwire
bikini, boy shorts, boxers,
all fluttering about gently in the breeze
content in their little spaces
but often nudging one another
swaying to the sound of the birds
intertwining briefly
as if playing Chinese Whispers
giggling at the gaffes, teasing, mocking
smelling more like rain as they dry out
hanging together
enjoying their time out in the sun

such a pretty sight
the clothes line

October 4, 2017

that right shade of grey

i wish i could draw
and colour and paint
the pictures i see so clearly in my head
because sometimes, words fail me

pictures of you, me, them, and others

in different postures of agony and upset
and happiness, too, at times

set in different shades of blue from aquamarine to navy
and yellows from lemon to ochre

climbing tall, rocky mountains
and relaxing in calm, serene valleys

listening to mozart, at times
and then to linkin park

i see the faces, the expressions, the body language
but i can't write them down so well
because my words appear to show two ends of the spectrum
creating a dichotomy, splitting inherent connects
and only showing black and white

yes, i wish i could draw
and colour and paint
because black and white blend so well
on a palette, but not on paper

and that right shade of grey is all i need sometimes
to make sense of my life

September 17, 2017

a fine balance

what happens
when two rocks that have borne each other's weight
by gently adjusting positions
through rain, waves and storms
are battered and about to give way?

will they
equally split the pressure
so that both are only weathered
or will one take the entire load
and end up being completely beaten?

which is
the better option?
the immediate or the imminent?
the sudden or the gradual?

will there
be another rock
that will some day squeeze into that space
and balance things once again?

would it
know where to sit
and when to move?
or would it just pretend?

but, did that even matter?

September 13, 2017

the circus

ah, the circus
with the funny clowns,
and the flexi acrobats,
the crazy trapeze artists
and the whip-snapping ringmaster

so much noise
so much drama
so much excitement
in the ring and outside
what a fun, action-packed place the circus seems

except when it's your life
and you're stuck
juggling all of it and more
day in and out
oh what a bloody bore!

September 6, 2017

what's the point

i sometimes wonder
what's the point
of doing anything

of protesting
silent or not
of marching
peaceful or not
of holding slogans
scripted or not

what's the point

it's always the same people
the same faces
the same sorrow
the same determination
the same everything

what do the others see?

a gathering at town hall
or at freedom park
or at the press club
people standing until they are asked to leave
because it's time for the next event

yes, it feels pointless

but then i see my kids
standing in the midst of it all
excited about a slogan someone handed them
understanding some things
and curious about the rest

and i remind myself
that that is the point
and that i must never stop doing something

August 20, 2017

The Very Tired Butterfly

Published on Madras Courier

i saw you lying face up
when i went to the terrace this morning
you were in a corner
with your feet up
in a position of surrender
a position that showed no fear
a position that you, maybe, took when you finally went to rest

i kneeled down and peered closer
your face looked peaceful
and i could almost see a smile
that's how one looks in death, i suppose

i turned you over
you were so beautiful
like a tiger
orange, black and a bit of white

what did you eat for that orange to glow?
clementines aren't so bright.
what made the black look blacker than pitch?
blueberries aren't so dark.
and that pure white, where did it come from?
did you eat fresh snowflakes when you last played?

what all did it take for you to become a tiger, oh butterfly
and was it too much that you couldn't hold on for just one more day?

August 17, 2017


one bright sunny morning
a sudden gust of wind
blew hard upon a tree
and forced it to bend down
and look into the lake

instantly, it sprang back!

it was horrified by what it saw
its leaves had withered
its branches had dried up
its bark had changed colour
it looked beaten
but why?

it had basked in the warm, summer sun
but gotten burnt when it had stayed too long
it had shed its layers in the cool autumn wind
but shivered when it had shown too much
it had been coated in winter's pretty snowflakes
but been blanketed during a storm
it had been at spring’s colourful best
but allergies had made it blue

while it pondered all this
it was struck by another thought
was it beaten, or had it just been weathered?

wasn't it still standing?

yes, it had changed
it didn't have a choice
it had been frightened
of what it had become
so it hadn’t looked
until the push from the gust
had forced it to see

and once it had seen
there was no going back
to another time or an earlier self

so it embraced the gust
the second time around
and let itself be gently swayed
to look into the lake

and it held still
and looked long and hard
at its reflection

August 14, 2017


the insect managed
to escape the spider's web
could they do the same?

August 8, 2017

July 31, 2017

what does it take

what does it take
for the sun to peek out of a cloud
and show off its reds and oranges
however glaring they might be
even just momentarily?
'you're too bright, you're too hot, you're too sharp
go back and hide behind the cloud'

what does it take
for a caterpillar to come out of its cocoon
and show off its rainbow colours
and brand new shape
even if only for a few days?
'you're too colourful, you're not pretty, you're so big
don't pretend to be someone else'

what does it take
for a circus clown
to remove their mask
and show sadness and despair
even if only rarely?
'you're not supposed to be sad, you have to make me laugh
put that mask back on so we don't have to see you'

what does it take
for us to be
and let others be
every single day?
to show off our colours
in the midst of the colour blind
to take any form or shape
in a sea of moulds
to remove our masks
among those wearing shades

what does it take?

July 27, 2017

How Roger Federer Made Me a Mature Tennis Fan

Published first on The Ladies Finger

For the first time since 2012, my fingernails were intact post a Roger Federer match. I also didn’t think twice about moving around, changing posture, or getting something to eat in between points. And most importantly, I didn’t gush immediately on Facebook. Instead, I posted a rather dull status update the day after and used a neon blue background to draw attention to it — ‘a boring final, an incredible record, and a mature fan. life has changed ☺.’
To explain this, I must elaborate a bit on my past as a national tennis player. Most of my contemporaries — girls, especially — played double-handed backhand, which made my single-handed stroke stand out. I also loved to play at the net, something that was again fairly uncommon then. I explained to myself (without any scientific research to back it up) that I could do both of these with ease because I was a ‘tad heavier’ than most others, and hence had stronger wrists. Whatever the reason, I became a fan of anyone who played in a similar manner.
Remember Pete Sampras? Yes, the same one who looked a little unkempt at times, stuck his tongue out while playing, and wore knee-long ‘shorts’. I loved him! I defended him vehemently when anyone I knew made fun of him, his clothes or his emotional nature, but I wasn’t superstitious when he played. And I don’t recall crying when he lost, which when I think back now might seem weird, but I’ve finally understood why after so many years. The LA Lakers. That NBA team dominated my mind for almost the entire time that I lived in America, and my superstitions and emotions were reserved solely for them. I sat in the same spot, wore the same jersey, cried and gloated alternatively, and trash talked incessantly. I became a different person, one who was maybe not as appealing to her friends who were on the receiving end, but I couldn’t care less. They were my team, and I was their biggest fan.
But back to Federer, whom this story is on.
I had watched him at the US Open in 2002, and at the time, Federer’s only claim to fame — other than his beautiful poetic style of play — was his victory over Sampras at Wimbledon the previous year. He eventually won his first title in 2003 and began rewriting history books then on. It was around this time that I moved back to India where the NBA hadn’t made such an impact yet. So out went the Lakers from my head and in came Federer. (It also helped that the Lakers stank for a good five or six years before they went back to winning a title).
There was no need for any nail biting in the early part of Fed’s career. He blew everyone away, except for Nadal on clay. 2009 was an epic year when he won his only French Open title, which I was sure was only because I wore the same clothes and sat in the same spot suffering with pins and needles and not because Nadal wasn’t on the other side of the net. He also broke Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon. I paid no heed to time difference and never missed a match no matter where he played. I blogged about his victories, discussed his genius shot-making with whoever cared to talk to me, and sulked at his defeats, replaying crucial points in my head. ‘What if, why didn’t he, how could he,’ and other thoughts plagued me when he lost even though it wasn’t often. Every time he was to play in a final, I would have sleepless nights. I cried even more than him when he lost the 2009 Australian Open.
Then came 2013, and with it his Grand Slam drought. So many almost-wins but no Grand Slam titles. Nothing worked — for him or for me. He always looked a step too slow, and it always felt like he had played one shot too many. I always followed the same pre-match and during-match routine, including not jinxing it by talking ahead with anyone, but it felt like I was one routine short. My blogs were melancholic, focusing on a time gone by. My conversations were mournful, but I began to accept that his end was nearing and that I should just stop, for my own sanity.
So I began to watch his matches with zero expectations, but it wasn’t easy. Every final or semi-final he lost, I would tell myself that it was OK, but I was worried for his Grand Slam title record. Seventeen was good, but with Nadal and Djokovic snapping at his heels, especially with the latter playing more and more machine-like, I was afraid that he would be overtaken. I was afraid that every match lost was a missed opportunity to widen the gap. But all I wanted to see was that brilliance, even if it were only in flashes. And he shone!
Somehow, I made it through four years and then came the 2017 Australian Open. Before every match, I told myself that he wasn’t going to win and was later pleasantly surprised when he won. When I realised that he was playing Nadal in the final, I wasn’t sure how to react. Was I going to be the nail-biting wreck or the laid-back mature fan who didn’t care about the outcome? Although I didn’t do any of the pre-match superstitious prep, I was a bit nervous. I knew how much it meant to him, and to me, but I decided not to go psycho.
I sat back and enjoyed the high-level tennis that was being played, and applauded both players equally. I didn’t curse Nadal for taking too much time in between points. And I didn’t yell at Federer for hitting the occasional backhand at the bottom of the net. As the fifth set began, I prepared for a loss. I don’t know if it was my bad vibes, but when Federer went down a break, I was tempted to shut off the TV and walk away. But I didn’t. Instead, I marvelled at the composure Federer displayed, the sensible shot selection, and the determination with which he pounced on open opportunities — something that is rare when playing with Nadal. When Federer broke back to even the score, I knew he was going to win. Something told me that he had broken through that barrier. And so he had.
I kept my cool through Wimbledon last week and so did he. Using his skill, smarts and sensibilities, he took apart his much younger opponents one by one. I wasn’t jittery even once, not even in the final despite knowing what was at stake in the context of records. I was happy that he won, but gone was the floaty feeling, gone was the gloating, and gone was the Facebook update — for good. Maybe I’ve broken through the barrier as well. I can’t imagine feeling this way about anyone else ever again, but…
While I watched the Wimbledon final on Sunday, feeling cool as a cucumber, my daughter walked up to the TV and looked at the score. Although Federer was leading, he lost two points back to back just then. She immediately said, “I think I’ll go back to what I was doing, ma. I’m bringing him bad luck.”
What’s that saying? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? Or is it the tennis ball doesn’t bounce too far from the player?
Rekha Raghunathan played tennis more than she did anything else in her life until she was 20. She then worked in finance and management, until she rediscovered an interest in writing and editing. Mum, editor, and blogger are her three current life roles.

July 19, 2017


everywhere i turn, i am reminded
of times that were great
and even ones that were good
why, i'll even take the ones that were better
than now

and it's not just at home
but on the streets
as i walk past stores
and restaurants
and tea shops

sometimes i pause
and think for a bit
i try to relive
i try to recall
memory, and muscle memory

those times that we chatted
even something irrelevant
those times that we hugged
and maybe when we kissed
or held hands

i have to be honest
that it's a struggle
thoughts are so powerful
and they sometimes
override memory

that's the thing
memory fades, quite quickly too
i haven't forgotten the feeling
but i have forgotten the feel
yeah, there is a difference

what helps then are reminders

pictures, as faded as they may be
 and keepsakes, no, not ones bought
but a tissue that we wrote on
or a coaster stained with booze
a shell that recorded more than the sound of the sea
a bill from a bus ride
a goofy smiley scribbled
a codeword we created

to keep going

July 4, 2017

friendship and chocolate

thick hot chocolate
coats and warms my cup and heart
like old childhood friends

June 28, 2017


a silent protest.
their first of many, i hope.
never in their names!

June 27, 2017


what happens when you
see your life differently?
how do you un-see?

June 20, 2017

June 6, 2017


like cookie dough
like a cookie
but she was firm under fire

June 3, 2017


wind won't stop blowing
the ocean won't stop churning
let go and let live

June 2, 2017

an end, and a beginning

almost five years now,
honestly though, more like ten
i've moved on, have you?

May 13, 2017

on mother's day

i'm not sure how i feel
about mother's day
even though i've been a mother
for more than a decade

do i need a particular day
to feel like you care
breakfast in bed and gifts
can't i get them at other times, however rare?

i wonder sometimes if i deserve it
have i really been so great
or have i just done what i was supposed to
as determined by the fates

i've birthed and nursed and cleaned
and fed and wiped and burped
i've read and sung and danced
and clapped until my hands hurt

i've sat down when it was time for lessons
and read and taught as well
i've cut out pictures from books
and cursed the glue for its smell

i've driven back and forth from classes
and then played down in the park
i've run up soon after to make dinner
before it's gotten dark

as much as i hated those PTMs
i've gone to school off and on
to smile, sign and say see you soon
before the next term rolls along

i've done all these things
without thinking about them a lot
but do i want to feel special on one particular day
no, but here's a fond thought

i want you to remember
all the things we talked about
when we weren't discussing lessons or chores
yes, those few times you didn't pout

about friendships and love
and about the world that we live in
for there will come a time
when all of it seems like it's sinking

then, i may not be close by
and yet i won't be far
so call, ping or text me
let's catch up in a bar

and talk, cry and laugh
about everything under the sun
we'll need it, and then some more beer
before we go off and have some fun

that's actually all i want
this mother's day and the next
and the next, and the next
cheers, until you send me that text

May 11, 2017

0 numbers

one two buckle my shoe, three four shut the door
and so on went the nursery rhyme
but what would've happened if there had been no numbers
since the beginning of time?

we would've learned history
without having to learn dates
they would've just been stories
of people and their fates

we wouldn't have complained
in english class
about the number of pages
we had to read, to pass

when we sketched maps
in geography
scaled or not
we wouldn't have to worry

science labs might've been
so much fun
explosive, likely,
they would've become

not to forget physical ed
and the bore
of counting sit ups and
push ups galore

and imagine not having
a math class ever
arithmetic, geometry, algebra

accounting, taxation
and similar subjects gone
no P&L and balance sheets
to make us moan

have you realised by this time
that numbers and i mix like milk and lime?
yes, their coming together makes great cheese
but only in small doses for me please!

May 10, 2017


it's been just a week
but memories of four years
feel like a lifetime

May 1, 2017

may day

it's may day today
malls and stores remain open
for labour to splurge

April 28, 2017

why do humans speak?

humans miss signals.
a tender look
a familiar smell
a gentle brush
an unspoken word
hence, humans speak.

humans miss sensibility.
tears equals weakness, but anger means strength.
hence humans shout.
sadness equals depression, but revelry is a panacea.
hence humans scream.

listen, think and feel. don’t always speak, dear humans.

April 22, 2017


moves are painful

they force you to look at
all the stuff that was boxed up
all the things that were hidden from sight
all the dust balls that were quietly swirling

they force you to decide
what to keep and what to throw
what has done its time and what has a few years
whether something still has a place in your life

they force you to recall
moments from photos
memories from keepsakes
milestones from cards

they force you to confront
what was beautiful before it turned ugly
what was memorable before it became a memory
what was once your life before it killed you

they force you to say goodbye, even if only temporary
they force you to express, which you may not have otherwise done
they force you to appreciate, when you might have taken for granted

moves are painful but they are necessary
to help you remember why you did what you did
to help you process why you're doing what you're doing
and most importantly, to help you see why you're better for it

April 18, 2017

the dance

she was awkward on the dance floor
two left feet was an understatement
there was no grace

he wasn't graceful but he loved to move
his body was loose
there was nothing tentative

it hadn't been long since she had seen him dance
but she wanted to dance with him
she wanted to feel as free as he felt
she hoped that he would ask her, and wondered why he didn't
but she didn't take a step towards him

he'd seen her move in her awkward way
and found something endearing about it
he glanced at her off and on hoping for something
but when nothing happened
he decided to take the plunge

he pulled her, but not too close
he also pushed, but not too far
and he twirled her about at a dizzying pace

she was tentative, but she didn't say no
she hesitated, but began to try
and soon they were dancing madly together without a care in the world

one song, then a few more
the time just seemed to fly by
with onlookers watching in envy

but they were both tiring
they had begun to step on each other's toes
it wasn't obvious at first
each giving in to the other's misstep

soon they were completely out of sync
moving with no apparent coordination
each pulling the other in a different direction
with the twirling leaving them faint

so they suddenly stopped, both were jolted apart
completely unprepared for the disruption
it had been brief, but it had been intense
and both couldn't figure out the next step

neither was happy, they felt weary
so they decided to step back a bit
to take a break from dancing with each other
and practice their moves on their own

it felt a bit strange to be back to dancing alone
after such a whirlwind time
they glanced at each other, and they shuffled their feet
forcing themselves to stay in step with the beat

it took a few songs but they got into it
they didn't feel as stiff
and even managed a smile

was it the music that changed
or was it the rhythm in their heads
something felt a bit different

slowly, and hesitantly, both held their hands out
to see if the other would take it
and they moved closer together

he took one step out and she followed
and then it was her turn
back and forth like this they went
and there even was a twirl

they were happy to be dancing together again
but both realised that something had changed
and were eager to discover each other
but this time more slowly
without treading on each other's toes
unless they were doing the newspaper fold dance

April 11, 2017


how vague and one-sided it becomes
how seamlessly it merges, yet also tears things apart
how it brings back a fondness, or unleashes wrath
how it formulates new feelings conveniently overwriting the old

what was once affection turns to anger
what was once concern feels claustrophobic
what was once best left unexplained, becomes inexplicable

was it a joke, or was it masked prejudice?
was it a shoulder to lean on, or was it a crutch?

same people and same situations, but disparate memory.

March 25, 2017


parched land and dry wells everywhere
hot days, getting hotter as time passes
but dark clouds loom
and a small bit of green struggles to break free

long days and longer nights
never-ending pile of deliverables
but an unexpected ping
and an offer to share the load

a sleepless night and a tired morning
upheaval and uncertainty yet again
but wide smiles and tight hugs
from big mouths and little arms

hope is easy. sometimes.

when what we want, happens
when how we envision, others see
when what we see, is beautiful
when whom we want, is there

but there are other times when
hope takes a rain check
hope goes missing
hope seems impossible
and hope is all but a lie

but don't stop dreaming
reach out
look up
hold someone

read and write
sing and dance
run and jump
stretch and fly

do what you do best
do your best
and hope

March 18, 2017

black dog

the dark cloud covers
but its approach you can't feel
till it is too late

March 16, 2017

technology - part one

the other day,
i was flipping through old photo albums.

no, not the musty, dusty kind
that have spent many years in many cupboards.
or ones that have moved around in cartons and containers
from one city to another, or even across the oceans.

not the ones that make you turn your head every which way
because the photos are hanging in odd positions,
clinging to the pages because the glue has dried up
or to memories because they have faded.

not the ones which have a cover
with the date and occasion embossed
sometimes in gold
where you know what's coming before you even turn a page.

not the ones that require you to climb up stools
to reach the top most shelf of an old, tall cupboard
open, close, open, close
until you find the one you're looking for.

no, these albums are handy
and really so
in the palm of your hand if you want it
or at least on your lap.

they are neatly organised
almost as if designed by someone with OCD.
and you can organise them further
any which way you want.

by day
by date
by people
by place

they are smell-free,
but maybe an effect for that will come soon.
the photos don't move,
but you can animate them.
they are in frames that can't be changed,
but that's likely a malfunction.

but you can do other things to them.

want to make them happy?
apply some sunlight.
want to make them muted?
apply a fade.
wish the person's face was bigger?
apply 'the crop'.
wish it was shot at a different time?
apply a filter.

they'll never get lost
unless you forget to back them up.
they'll never age
unless you have a fall.
they won't stop evoking tears of sadness or joy
despite not being touchable or smellable
and they'll never be out of reach
unless you walk away from technology.

March 7, 2017

is there an easier goodbye?

special covers,
lines highlighted,
the smell of time,
dog-eared pages.

the one line that healed,
the one tune that choked,
scratched beyond recognition.


gang of girls,
PJ parties,
chocolate and calorie sharers,
fellow drunks.

scratched and dented.

it's never easy to say goodbye
to a missing book, a favourite tape, that pair of jeans, friends or a lovable car.

yes, i know change is the only constant.
i've learned it enough at school
and i've experienced it enough in life.

people come and people go, and it's the same with stuff.

keep the connections and the memories, and let everything else go.
that's what i tell myself, and that's what i've done, too.
i think.

because then, it's easier to say goodbye.
just slightly easier.

My baby couldn’t latch on to my breasts

This post was first published on Zenparent in November 2016.

I remember it like it was just yesterday. Nurses standing around me supposedly helping me understand Nursing 101, which was to get my six day-old daughter Aditi to breastfeed. She hadn’t figured out how to latch on, and we were both struggling. She because of hunger—she was yet to regain the birth weight that she had lost—and I because of the worst possible pain every time she tried to nurse. The nurses weren’t helpful in the least because all they did was to keep reiterating that breast milk was the best and that formula wasn’t the way to go, even if the child was crying due to hunger (these are also the same nurses who looked at me with disdain because I had decided to take an epidural.) Something in me snapped, and I decided that I couldn’t deal with this lack of sensitivity in addition to all the other things—hormones mainly—that I was dealing with. So I left the hospital and instead turned to the internet to find an answer to my nursing woes.

Breastfeeding support groups were a dime-a-dozen. Most of the forums were US and UK-centric but breasts are breasts and breastfeeding is breastfeeding whichever part of the world you’re in, so I began to read. I learned about the different holds—football (American, obviously!), cradle and side-lying are the ones that immediately come to mind—that had worked for different people, and the immense relief they felt on accomplishing what felt to me a mammoth feat. I tried them all and failed. The more I read, the more of a failure I felt. While words of encouragement were aplenty, they all had an undertone of sympathy—poor you, you aren’t able to do the one thing that most mums do and must do at any cost.

My mum told me a hundred times over to start Aditi on formula, but I wouldn’t hear of it. This, despite her telling me that she didn’t nurse my brother or me and that we grew up on Lactogen—something that I love to eat in powder form even today! In my defence, I had just moved back from the US a few months earlier and was fresh with information on how breast milk is the best milk. In addition to the La Leche League, the most famous support group for breastfeeding mothers around the world, I had been introduced to numerous other sites that had me convinced that if I didn’t breastfeed, I wouldn’t have a bond with my child, and that neither of us would be healthy in the long run. Most of the forums that were set up to offer support seemed militant in how they pushed you to breastfeed at any cost.

Try as I might, I didn’t succeed, but instead of listening to the sensible advice from my mum, I turned to technology again. Enter (drum roll) breast pump. As the name implies, this gadget—available in single and double—pumps the breast for milk. It mimics a child’s suckling motion and ‘tricks’ the body into lactating. It was tough at first because I was not only dealing with engorged breasts but a urinary tract infection thanks to the episiotomy that left me with a high fever and unbearable pain.

The principle behind nursing is simple. You feed a baby whenever it is hungry. It takes the body a little time to understand how much milk and how often the baby needs it, but once it gets it, it gets it. End of story. With pumping, however, it isn’t that simple. Since you can’t pump just when the baby is ready for a feed, you always have to be one step—or one pump—ahead. You’re on a schedule, and one that can’t be changed so easily because the body is ready with the milk whether the baby is or isn’t, so you better pump it out!

I got through four months in this completely mad fashion. I barely got any rest, but I was sure that I was doing the right thing. Breast milk was best, right? When Aditi neared the five-month mark, her paediatrician asked me to introduce her to solids. I don’t know if it was coincidence, but she also began to sleep a lot better from then on. With better rest and sleep comes…ummm…more sense? I realised that I couldn’t go on pumping endlessly because it was taking a toll on me. (Hats off to those working mums who continue to do it through their child’s first year or more!) So I slowly reduced my pumping, and by the time she was six months old, I was completely done. She was on the bottle drinking a formula called NAN which stank to the high heavens, but I didn’t smell like a milk factory any longer so I didn’t care!

When my son was born two years after this experience—yes, many ask how I had the guts to have one more child—I decided even while he was inside my tummy that I wouldn’t put myself through the experience of pumping even one more time. I couldn’t. If he didn’t latch on, he was going to be on formula. With steely determination, I put him on me minutes after he was born and voila! He latched on immediately like he’d done it all his life! (Well, yeah, he had!) I was relieved on so many counts. I could sleep when he slept, I wouldn’t have to wash and sterilise bottles, I wouldn’t have to get out of bed at night to warm up the milk, and most importantly, I wasn’t a failure. It’s funny how that thought that I had failed with Aditi had stayed with me. We got through nearly 9 months of nursing (not exclusively, though) until one day, he pushed me away. And that was that.

I have shared these experiences with my children and the conversations they bring about are always interesting. I’ve corrected my son Yuv quite quickly when he hinted that he was smarter because he latched on while Aditi didn’t, but I can see that she still thinks about it and wonders why she wasn’t able to. It will take a series of conversations that will come with time for people to understand that nursing isn’t the only determinant of how good a mother you are. It’s not even only having a child biologically, and it’s not even only being a mum to a human. Yes, the love and bond between a mother and her children is special, but so are the bonds of many other relationships—and they don’t have to be only by blood or breast milk.

I started this story saying that I remember it like it was just yesterday, but it’s been nearly 11 years since Aditi was born. I’m happy to say that I have a close bond with both my children despite one not being breastfed at all. We are all in pretty decent health, too. Yes, there are moments (many) where we all get on each other’s nerves, but it’s not as if the breastfed one bothers me any less.

Why this long ramble? Because I hope my story brings some comfort to new mums going through the struggle, tending to a new born, accepting the changes to your body. Hang in there, ignore preachers, chat with your friends (preferably ones without children), and get a glass of wine once in a way. You’ll at least get a few hours of sleep. And so might your child.

Rekha Raghunathan is a full-time mum and editor and a part-time writer. Madras and Bangalore are her homes, and Roger Federer is her obsession.

February 23, 2017

phantom menace

a thin, white, minty stick the size of my ring finger
with a bright red tip, the memory of it still lingers

i've smoked it many a time
with friends
i've tossed and caught it well
like the movie star
i've held it between my teeth
to look cool
i've blown many rings

phantom sweet cigarettes, are they to blame
for the fascination or is that an excuse, lame

what you see when you light up is probably just my frown
but it's because my heart beats a lil' faster knowing that yours is slowing down

February 21, 2017

benevolent babas

left and right i turn,
bearded men with palms raised
compete to bless and sell

February 14, 2017

February 12, 2017

boxed-up feelings

i wish there were boxes inside of me
and that each of them was labelled
with all the feelings that i'm feeling right now 
clearly demarcated

fear, anger, sadness
confusion, love and envy
each one sealed in its own box 
without them getting all muddly

because, in and out of their boxes,
they very often seem to jump 
causing mayhem in my mind 
because they treat it like a garbage dump

was it anger that caused me to act in a particular way
or was it sadness, instead, that had plagued me through the day
how can i forget fear and confusion
when both emotions have left me in a sticky situation

out pop joy and love
suddenly giving me some respite
and in go the others
thankfully without much of a fight

many a time i notice
that all of them sit tight
inside their boxes, doing nothing
especially late at night

and it's at these times when i am blank
that i write about how i feel
with objectivity, i think
that helps me, with life, deal

i wonder what would happen
if i switched around the labels
would they act their new part
and spin me some new fables
or would they continue to jump
in and out with glee
and leave the acting of the part
solely to me

February 9, 2017

raindrops on my face

the breeze felt warmer,
the road seemed longer,
and the trees didn't sway as much.
there was a stillness.

she felt more deliberate too,
like she had to think before taking a step.
the fluidity was gone,
and so was the lightness.

it was a usual evening.
she was off on her walk
just the predictable routine,
a few rounds around where she lived.

but something felt different, something felt off.

was it the tunes?
but she had heard them before.
was it the place?
but she'd been there so long.
was it her thoughts?
her head was so full!
was it her heart?
it felt so heavy.
whatever it was, it was too much.

suddenly, something changed.

it got cooler and the leaves began to rustle.
the breeze blew her hair every which way
and she felt herself moving faster.
faster and faster!

she felt a few drops land on her face,
and then, the tears which had been brimming for awhile, flowed.

January 20, 2017

any town

moulded plastic equipment, child-safe of course
waveboards, skateboards and roller blades in a rush
beyblades spinning, basketballs bouncing
trash talk with foreign accents at every corner
gated community with ID cards to enter and exit
spic and span walkway regularly mopped
swimming pool, fancy gym and manicured green spaces
california palms neatly lined

bengaluru, not bangalore

January 19, 2017

the story of ori

a dog! should we adopt one?
the kids had been asking
we had thought about it too
but it seemed a little daunting

would it be a lot of work?
we'll clean her poop
they said with a smirk
and then we went into a loop

going back and forth a bit
with one of us feeling unsure
her reasons were many, all legit
but he, he was sure

sometime around then, i chanced upon a post
of a goofy looking cutie, with eyes the colour of toast
a black and white body and one floppy ear
she looked so perfect, and out went my fear

it felt just right, was she the one?
to show to the family, i wanted to run
i hoped that they would feel exactly the same
and be even more excited when i told them her name!

what's she called, they asked with glee
oreo i said even more excitedly!
i said to the kids that they could change it up
no it's cute, no need, it suits the little pup!

so we set up a time to go and meet her
june 12 post lunch is when we greeted her
i was nervous, but they didn't seem to be
felt like they had decided, you see

we met her at the park at her foster home
wagging her tail and bounding along
she was so friendly and she was so free
we knew that our lives had changed immediately

she walked with us and got into the car
oh she enjoyed her ride even though it wasn't far
excited and thrilled, were we all that day
our love had multiplied in so many ways

it's been six months since she came home to us
yes there have been times when i have cussed
when she chewed up spectacles, wallets and toys
all the while looking extremely coy!

she knows she can get away with this and that
she just rolls over for a belly rub and pat
oreo aary kumar is her full name
ori, my third munchkin, she became

January 11, 2017


one week since i fell,
the scrapes and bruises have healed.
scars, old and new, stay.

January 5, 2017


oh come on
it's not so bad
it happens all the time
and it will happen again
it's just a small scrape
and a little bit of blood
it's not so bad
i say

his eyes well up
even more than when he came home
his lips quiver
and his voice shakes
it's small but it hurts so badly
and it's bleeding so much
you don't know how I feel ma
he says

i've fallen a lot, and i know how it feels
so bear with it just a bit
a little medicine, it won't sting
really, it won't
i've used it a lot
you're so brave, come on
i say

aaaahhh it hurts
you lied ma, it stings
you don't know how much it hurts
no I'm not brave
don't touch it
just leave me alone
he says

and i do, i walk away

lost in my thoughts, i wander the aisles
lost in my thoughts, i check off my list
lost in my thoughts, i pay the bill
lost in my thoughts, i step out of the store

and thud!

too lost i was, i paid no heed
to what was on the floor
bags, purse and more scattered around me
a sharp pain, one that i had forgotten
and a smear of blood that wouldn't stop
and a heavy feeling, one that i can't explain
is what I took back home

the stinging didn't go away
neither did the bleeding
and the worst part was
that the tears didn't stop
i told myself all that I told him
and i did to myself all that i did to him
but it wasn't enough
it wouldn't go away

i thought of something then
about memories and remembrance
how fleeting they can be
and about hurt and pain
how fresh they can be

maybe what we need
is hugs and commiserations
not, despite what's all around,
bravery, or stories of it

he saw my wound, maybe he felt my pain
he called it gross and smiled
it was his turn to put on the meds
and it was mine to cry
he hugged me and I cried some more
but it wasn't in pain this time

January 3, 2017


come december every year we tend to take stock
of the things we set out to do when it was 00:00 on the clock
of the new things that we hoped to try 
and some old things we wanted to modify 

somehow everything seems possible at the start
even those half marathons, not for the faint of heart 
but as the months go by the optimism is faded
leaving us only more and more jaded
12 months go by with another 12 to follow
should we make a new list today or wait until tomorrow 

why does this happen at the start of every year 
january arrives and fills us with fear
because december is just a few months away 
and the cycle will repeat until the end of day