Wednesday, April 18, 2018



Yes I was raped too.

When I think of how innocently Asifa must have followed a monster disguised as a man into the forest. Was that the last time she smiled with those big and beautiful eyes that lit up her face?

When the horses she took out to graze returned without her. How they must’ve wished that they could speak of her whereabouts. How helpless they must have felt as the family panicked and the local police waited for 2 days before they filed a report.

When she would’ve had that first thought of realization as to what a grave blunder she made by trusting another human being. She must have resisted with all the strength a child has, trying her best to escape.

When she was drugged and held captive in a place of worship. She must’ve prayed to God then, asking for help, for mercy. Was that God a Muslim? Or was He a Hindu?

When an 8 year old was brutally tortured and gang raped by 8 men. As if she paid a barbaric price for every year she lived as a girl child. Repeatedly, time and again, again and again, for 4 days.

When she was mercilessly strangled, then stoned until she breathed her last. Her soul finally escaping her badgered body. As her life faded in front of her did she recall any happy moments of her preciously short life or was her last breath just a sigh of unimaginable relief?

When her mother, father and siblings must have found her lifeless fractured corpse, left abandoned somewhere in the bushes. Did her body weigh the same as when they must’ve hugged and loved her previously or did it feel like they carried a lifetime of unthinkable grief, so heavy that even the worst death penalty for her offenders would barely balm their pain?

When her family could not bury her in their graveyard and had to walk 7 miles to bury her in another village because illiterate religious and political bigots rule the day in a country where might is right. They are the true devils in disguise.

Yes, surely I was raped too…

Of my shocked senses as I read of what they did to her, of my respect as a woman, my grossly overlooked safety in my motherland, my blood curdling screaming gut and my continually attacked identity, they were all assaulted. My trust in humanity, in law and order, in fairness, in equality, in democracy — in the religious fanaticism and political agendas of my country — lie stripped naked.

Being a woman, I felt raped.

Only that I wasn’t.

She was.

And no words can condone or console her silenced voice.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Been there. Felt that.

6 Questions you shold not ask me

Well, me or anyone else for that matter.
For the most part, asking each other questions is encouraged. It shows us that people are interested in who we are as people and that they care, or at least pretend to care. However, there are some questions that you should avoid asking, primarily because it will make the other person upset, uncomfortable, or pissed — particularly if you don’t know them that well.
Having said that, I’m pretty sure most of us have gone through those annoying moments when you really wanna box the other in the face or between the eyes, legs, hell, wherever one can reach and scream, NONE OF YOUR FREAKIN’ BUSINESS but instead you force a smile and reply some seemingly sane nonsense.
And honestly there could be more than 6. Questions that is. And people too…there is no dearth of ‘em on this planet but let’s just be lady like about it and say it’s only 6. Like those quick tip posts on self-improvement which are supposed to help you grow as an individual. Try. Please. At the least try, give me hope hallelujah!
So here we go…
1. What happened babe? You look tired/sick.
Seriously. Haven’t you met them? Those acquaintances you bump into at parties, who start a dialogue with that question. And here you are, having taken like 2 hours to get dressed, applied every trick of make up to look air brushed and natural, and you say, I look tired?! Like really?! This is your conversation starter? You may be asking out of concern, but that concern makes me look kind of like shit. So just keep your question to yourself unless I’m panting uncontrollable, crawling on the floor, start sneezing or coughing up a storm.
Do you honestly expect me to continue talking to you after this? Right after you have dramtically tried to ruin my confidence do you really want me to hug you, appreciate your candidness, whilst I compliment your dress, handbag, your hot fuchsia lipstick?
Yet what I ended up saying: ‘Really?! No I’m fine,’ and then go on to make an excuse for some retarded reason as a compensation for your faux concern, ‘maybe coz I just had a really busy day.’
However what I really wanted to say: ‘No I’m not tired. In fact I can run all over you and complete a 5K marathon of the choicest words without even asking for a glass of water. Shall I?’


2. What’s wrong? You have changed.
Gosh! These are those who call themselves friends but really are on the periphery of your friendship circle. Far from the core but still in the ring kinda thing. And they will meet you after a gap of weeks, months, sometimes years and insist they can sense that something’s wrong with you or your life. ‘You’re just not the same, where’s the old (include your name here) I knew.’
Please note that these so called friends will have made no effort in this period of absence to keep in touch with you or check on how you’re doing. Yet all of a sudden they now have the right to make a judgement call on your personality. Where’s Judge Judy when I need her, dammit?!
And I politely said: “No really, nothing like that, all is well. Come on, I am the same.’
When I really should have said: Yes. I have changed. It’s called evolution! Clearly something you’ve missed altogether. Aka growth, maturity, wisdom, better person… anything ring a bell here?! You know, people change. That’s usually a good thing.

Thank God for it!

3. Are you pregnant?
Oh! This one’s so tricky, so unless you’re 100% sure someone is knocked up — please — don’t ask. Ask someone else who might be a little more in-the-know. You can ask someone how they’re doing (while not staring at their belly) and if they want to tell you about their uterus’s houseguest, they will.
But more often than not you will get those nosy aunties and/or those whose curiosity killed all the cats in the neighborhood, whose sole survival depends on the fertility of your sex life. Regardless then, if I have my Lumbar 5 and 6 knotted in a twist which has me sitting up and down gingerly or if I have gained a few extra pounds they will be there to remind me that there can be a feeling far worse than it.
Is there good news? They ask.
I’d almost apologetically reply: ‘No, just my back.’ And then go into the back story.
What I’d like to have said: ‘Oh! It’s just my stomach. Some days I wear it out like my shirt, it kinda hangs out then. Other days I tuck it in, like this… see! All gone. Amazing isn’t it?! It’s Gods miracle. You wanna try? Suck it in. Come on, suck it up! And I guess I’m due to watch you get super embarrassed in about 20 seconds from now.’
People! It’s no rocket science to understand why ‘are you pregnant’ doesn’t fly. You really can’t be too cautious. I’ve chatted with a friend in her eighth month and still waited for her to bring it up first. Still less awkward than a false positive. If you still don’t get it, as a general guide, use this chart.

Hope that clarifies.

4. How is your English so good?
Now this one I get all the time especially here in the United States or when travelling abroad. I wonder why Indians are assumed to not be able to speak English well. I don’t understand why people make it sound like a big deal. Why do they think that someone with good English can only be American or British; and an Indian speaking good English is some sort of wonder or miracle?
What I’d say: Thank you, English is really almost like the first language back home.
What I wish I had said: ‘So is yours, thank you.’
‘Here’s how; It is the medium of instruction in education, formal language of business and law in the country. The standard use of English through media, internet and information technology has made it a universal language in a country which speaks 22 major languages, written in 13 different scripts, approximately 1652 rationalized mother toungues, with over 720 dialects.
All of the above factors keep reinforcing one another. It’s no wonder then that there is a good proportion of Indians who can speak basic to really good English.’

That will be all for today.

5. Another holiday? Oh what a life you have, you are so lucky.
This one will resonate with so many of you who have a job like mine which requires you to travel. Like all the time. Therefore trust me, it’s NOT a holiday. It’s work. Another day of making a living. Not complaining… Totally grateful coz I love what I do and I do what I love but no, my bags don’t have flip flops, sand or souveniers in them. So, clearly you have got it all wrong.
Yet I’d answer imploringly: ‘I wish! But no, not at all. It’s a work trip, you know that.’
When I’d rather have said: Ya right. Would you like to join me whilst I consistently pack, unpack and repack with the efficiency of a crazed robot, live life out of a grey suit case with a red ribbon, marry jet lag and PMS across time zones?

Come; join me on my holiday!

6. If you don’t mind can I ask you a personal question?
Yikes! This one takes the cake. You’ll be at a party or at a social gathering and you’ll have that one sample case who will plant this question and many a times not even wait for you to reply. They will just go ahead and ask you the most intimate detail of your life.
I don’t even feel like elaborating on this one. Let’s just put it this way…if you’re my close friend you wouldn’t need to ask me. Most likely I would’ve already told you what you’re about to ask me. You’d already know. So it really comes down to only two options.
Are you a close friend?
Are you not a close friend?
Trust me, it’s not a trick question. Coz if you’re not then you don’t get to ask and if you are then you wouldn’t ask, you’d know, or we’d have our own ways of talking about it which surely would not include this question in a public setting.
And yet what I’d end up saying is: ‘Yeah sure!’
Whereas what I wanted to say is: ‘No!’ — Really nothing more than that. Just that, two letters, NO!

Thank you!

Basically as a thumb rule, if you’re not sure whether a question is appropriate to broach, chances are, it’s not. When it comes to curiosity, discretion is certainly the better part of valor.
Fortunately I have come a long way since then. I learned the art of speaking my mind assertively because it hurt too much to bite my tongue all the time.
So there you are. My ½ a dozen. Add to it by all means. I’d love to hear yours too.
Go ahead, answer that if you may.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

5 reasons why I must leave you… even though you say you love me

A poet’s decision

1. Your love is largely understated

As n when you can, a time available kinda affair. There’s a slot for me. Which I compliantly fit into. Moments of recluse, nothingness, peace of mind or what you term as when, ‘I’m free.’ Which is further filtered to the time you actually get after you unwind, rest n relax — what do you call that? Oh! Yes… the quintessential, I need my space! Obviously, I therefore am mostly out of sight and out of mind as let’s face it, in today’s times firstly those moments of solitary serenity are few and far between. Add to it the sifting process and you’ve bestowed me with a few minutes of an afterthought before the manic of life takes over again.

As a result my love is mostly overstated.

Frequent and frantically insecure attempts to keep me on your mind. Regardless of whether I’m free or not. I make the time. Take the time to stop in the dead middle, (beginning or end) of any kinda day. Just to let you know that I exist. We exist. Hoping to catch you in your ‘free time.’ 

Other times, unconsciously trying to show by example that love is beyond the right time. It’s about being there every time. Anytime. Through all times. It is in fact in the chaos of life that love can calm the most. As well as provide the magical thrill to an otherwise mundane day. 

Like a sugar rush, love has super powers.

Yet mine seems like an overdose. One which you dodge and regulate. I’m drained off my mojo

As a poet this is an essential ingredient of my survival.

2. Your valid reasons reek of missing inclination.

To all of your 101 reasons not to call, text or meet me all I can say is when there is a will, there is a way. 

Furthermore, when there is a will, lovers make a way. 

Love is the spur. The medal at the end of the finish line. Lovers don’t only meet to stop and smell the roses. They run the obstacle race, the triathlon, the 100m dash, whatever it takes to stay together, close at heel, soul to soul. 

As a result your explanations are often met with over the top emotional outbursts. 

Effort. Initiative. Attention. Validation. Prioritization. Mere reciprocity are the words that come to mind. 

And after having been with you through thick and thin. Walked the extra mile. Bent backwards. And forwards. And in all ways, always reliable…


On call. 

On text. 

On eye contact. 

On instinct. 

On a vibe.

On a sixth sense

Enough. No more. I cannot omit pieces of me to make you comfortable. Like it doesn’t matter. Like it’s ok. When it’s clearly not. After years of having done this and living with no expectations, I now have forgotten how to respond. I simply react. I cry. I snap. I yell, shout and scream. I dramatize. I patronize. 

Above all, I realize.

I realize — this — this is not me. Like a fish out of water, I feel out of character. 

This is not my truth. 

As a poet my truth is my triumph. My truism is my strength — my USP. 

3. Your words fall short.

Words are magical. They can as well make you feel elated, appreciated, cherished and loved mostly in as little as just three words. 

Yet, there are none between us. No cliché words. No creative declarations. No candid affection. No dirty talk, no pure revelations. 

So typically mine as well go unrecognized. No reply. While I muse the shit out of you — you remain unimpressed. Uninterested. And indifferent. 

Occasionally your stingy me too’s to my abundant I love you’s make intimate conversations. Apart from that my love life is generally a monologue. 

As a result I have none left.

Off late, I have nothing to say. I have resigned to a silent death. A deadly silence. Trapped in muteness, I find myself at a loss for words. Like my words don’t matter. Like I don’t matter. 

As a poet, I cannot let this happen. It’s only words. Words are all I have. 

4. Your actions speak louder than your words.

Missing in words. Acceptable. Missing in action too. Unacceptable. 

Your random appearances between your constant disappearances are exhausting. You are just never there when I want to share my dreams, my life or just my day. The pining for you, the aching, wanting, waiting has slowly but surely been replaced with an emptiness on some days. And bitterness on others. Your presence now only highlights your absence. Like just when I get used to living without you, there you are, a reminder of a remnant love I want to learn to live without. 

Your white lies, lame excuses, lack of enthusiasm to make amends and my willingness to believe anything you say just to save the day is pitiful. Inconsistency defines our relationship. It plays mind games. Messes with my heart. I cannot function normally.

As a result I have trust issues.

Roses are no longer red. They carry a different hue. And violets are far from blue. Love is a myth — never true. 

I now doubt everything you say, do, hell I even doubt my thoughts, my beliefs, my ability to love and be loved. 

As a poet I am in love with love. Transcendental love. There is a fine line between reality and fantasy. I live both with conviction. I can walk the line for you and soar the clouds with you.

You take away either and you have left me with a broken identity and a damaged soul.

5. Your love is mediocre

There are too many mediocre things in life. Just average. Our love cannot be one of them. 
I cannot live with ordinary. I crave extra ordinary. I never wanted something good or good enough. Rational. Practical. I want crazy. A can’t sleep, can’t breathe, can’t live without your love kinda feeling. 

I want your whole life, I want to give you all of my lifetimes.

I want butterflies in my stomach and fire in your belly. I want to then be water and flow into you. Douse you with desire. Melt into your hard spots. Soften you, fill you up with tenderness until we breathe love like we breathe air.

But this is merely poetry, I hear you say. 

As a result my madness remains misunderstood.

You see the poetry, do you not see the poet

For one is the echo of the other. Like conjoint twins, we co exist. 

Regardless of you then I choose to keep my madness. I’ll stay with it, hang on to it and hold on to it for dear life.

This craziness is what keeps me alive.

As a poet that is why I must leave you. Consider me gone.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Simple Poems to Make You Look Within and Beyond

This is not just poetry. The book really has no beginning, middle or end.
Windows of Reflection: is in fact a journey; one which walks you through the deepest thoughts of your heart, the farthest reaches of your imagination, across the tenderness of your love and the nakedness of your soul.
The author, Tasneem Kagalwalla does not use complicated words and winding verses, instead speaks intimately, opening up along its way many windows of introspection.
In its simplicity, lies its beauty.
Along with the written word, this book is also a visual treat. Photographer, Maisam Darwish communicates skillfully with her lens; making her black and white images a marvel to unravel.
Come; if only to discover and delight in the depths of your soul.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Foreword — Windows of Reflection

By Dr. Shefali Tsabary

Here’s what she had to say….

As a clinical psychologist I am privileged to help many individuals and families heal from their past and create new stories of courage, reflection and insight. I believe that it is when we explore our inner worlds and gain self-awareness that we are afforded a new perspective on our lives and through this, the possibility for change and freedom.

This insightfully and articulately written collection of poems, Windows of Reflection is an invitation to go deep within yourself and discover all the parts that were ignored, denied or abandoned in the process of growing up and being conditioned in culture. Tasneem’s ability to use different emotions etched with simplicity allows you to enter a still and quiet state of contemplation through which you will eventually emerge — if you allow yourself — into a more quintessential “you.”

Our relationships with hurt and pain are often skewed. Hurt or pain is viewed as an intrinsic failure of the self, certainly of the other and definitely of life. But hurt and pain need to be redefined. Its entry, its presence and its ability to transform the self is phenomenally outstanding. I believe there is nothing more pivotal in the journey of conscious living than the understanding, integration and evolution of hurt and pain.

Tasneem beautifully depicts how pain can in fact be used as a vehicle of growth. As it turns out then, hurt is not something that is so dark and dire and disruptive, something to be avoided at all costs. On the contrary, it is something that is profound, inevitable, intrinsic, and quite possibly, one of the most powerful portals of consciousness we can have.

I am positive Tasneem’s life-coaching expertise has given her the tools of insight and awareness to delve deep into the oasis of the human psyche. Her poems reflect her intuition, sensitivity and fearless willingness to internalize the vast and complex range of human emotions. Her ability to notice a myriad of different sentiments across different life stories is what makes this book a soul searchers delight.

“When we share our stories what it does is it opens up our hearts for other people to share their stories. And it gives us a sense that we are not alone on this journey.” — Janine Shepherd

So come and go or come and stay… I assure you this beautiful offering: Windows of Reflection will always remain open for you, night or day.

For life is an open book. Full of blank pages. Do write your own story along the way.

Dr. Shefali Tsabary
NYT Best Selling Author
International Speaker
Clinical Psychologist
Parenting Expert 

To say that I’m feeling honored, special and ever so grateful would be an understatement. Thank you sounds weak.

Windows of Reflection. Coming soon. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Personal Life Update

So she has been a dream for the first 10 odd years. A challenge for the next 10 plus years. She sat on all kinds of burners — front and back, over another ten years.

Sometimes I re-stirred her. Other times I let her temper at the mercy of the ways of the Universe. Once she even burned her steam off. Exhausted. From all the efforts which brought no fruit. No signs of bloom either. So she aged with me. I let her burn, somewhere deep within.

Life happened regardless.

But she… she was never forgotten. She had become a calling. A passion which I woke up to, imperative, in the middle of many nights. A compelling urge through numerous manic days. Persistently stalking my thoughts. Like a gentle reminder in all my fervent prayers. She stayed with me.

Until she made me what I am today.

Windows of Reflection. Coming soon.