The phone rang in the early morn
It was you like many other days
But this morning was different,
Your voice was not the voice
Your hello sounded like a goodbye today.

Why do sounds change color?
Why do visions sound different?
Why do lovers stop feeling the hearts’ beats?
Why does love sound, look and feel like
anything but love one fine morning?
Why do hellos mean goodbyes some days?

20th June 2017

© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2017



The eerie silence continued but from afar came a slight tapping sound after a while. I waited like a drunk waiting for the barkeep to give me another shot, the tapping became louder, not loud enough though to disturb the ‘serenity’ of the night. As I waited for whatever was making the sound to come nearer, I looked at other buildings within my view. I saw a number of lights still lit but emanating only from small square windows; some people kept their bathroom lights turned on all night. There was one regular window with a muted light; another person struggling to sleep or maybe staying up deliberately. The tapping sound went past the street in front of my view. A very old man, bent as if a great burden on his shoulders, like the history of a thousand years, gently tapping and almost collapsing but moving on. He vanished after a few minutes and silence resumed as if he was walking to his own grave to lay himself down. Does life have to come to a state where from the bouncy youthful days one becomes a victim of decrepitude, dependent on a stick to avoid becoming one with the ground beneath one’s feet? A visit to the window of suicide is alluring, even more, the itch to jump out of it but only a visit makes one love life even more, not all, though.

2nd April 2017

© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2017



The nights are wintry still but spring is here. The long nights are shortening and, in a month, the days’ hours will outnumber those of nights. Even if one can feel the beautifully soothing breeze of early spring, nature remains parched. The city losing its greenery, what’s left of it, every day, the top soil has come loose and when one breathes, one takes in part of that erstwhile top soil as dust, a desert-like carpet on the already suffering collective lungs of the people. Add to that the incessant road works, construction clash-bang-clamour, the exhaust fumes from running engines that are going nowhere in a hurry. A ‘dustbowl’ is the sprawling metropolis where quick locomotion is a distant mirage and the eventual slow progress is hard-fought and only gained after long and sapping battles, every goddamned day.

My eyes look up at the sky, searching and searching for a harbinger of the first rain of spring. The daytime sky is too blue with some hints of wispy whites to give any hope of relief to the thirsting heart and there are too many stars on display at night for there to be hope of a blackened sky, rumbling clouds, a nor’wester, maybe, in the coming day. A downpour at the culmination of a severe wind dance? Rain washing away the dirt? Too much to expect? At least a measly shower then.

If it rains tomorrow or in a few days’ time, it’ll be the first rain of spring. The streets will be wet, albeit a brown muddy film but still a watery grave for all the dust floating about. Even if for a few hours, the dusty terrain that seemed eternal till the last rays of the sun before the clouds gathered, will get respite from the choking aridity, the all-consuming dust, the trees that still remain, will breathe and sigh in relief, not knowing the ephemeral nature of rain during springtime. Nature will be shivering in her watery cloak like a woman clad in a wet sari after a dip in the pond.

When it finally rains, nature will have ‘a touch of grey’, it’ll be a time to pause and look at things that were invisible in the sun.

People will have to go to work still; they will, and with the initial euphoria over, with a look of melancholy. Like me, they would wish they were someplace else.

16th February 2017

© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2017



Fascism is capitalism in decay said Vladimir Ilyich.

People thought of him as

The second coming of Christ;

He was not: no miracles, no walking on water.

Fascism does not come deliberately, always,

It materializes, not always with intent but from compulsion.

It comes when the power holders get nervous

Even when all opposition is removed,

The fear of the unknown grips them.

When the monsters all want the loot

Internecine battles become commonplace

Battles that exact a heavy toll from the common people

Their lives are often thrown into total disarray.

Democracy turns to fascism when

People are disenfranchised,

History is warped, political correctness emphasized,

It has no grace, treats people like infants,

Telling them what and how to think,

The Orwellian idea of ‘thought police’ comes into being

Everyone is forced to toe the designated line,

It’s a natural progression of events.

And the hopes and dreams of the powerless are dashed,

They are burned to cinders and they fly away with the fumes.

But cinders still have some fire left in them,

The golden glow of freedom breaks through,

And one day, maybe not too far in the future,

The glow becomes a wildfire and

A small group is born with that fire in the belly

And lead the rest to renounce the rule of the few.

And the cycle begins again.



4th February 2017


© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2017






Our worlds were going their merry ways

On their axes when they merged and

Yours entered mine and you embedded within me.

The doors of my world opened

Moonlight gushed in through them

As the night deepened the moonlight spread like wildfire.

Burnt I became, from within and without.



16th January 2017

(The photograph is a still from Satyajit Ray’s Charulata based on a story by Rabindranath Tagore)

© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2017


REM, Interrupted


As I laid my body down
On a bed or inside a crypt?
I do not know.
The eyelids felt heavy and
My mind shut down
Only to open the dark passages: warrens of damnation.

A massive quake in the brain, a world of dreams
Scarier than the nightmares
Of the grim fairy tales mothers tell their children.
Snakes swarm me, wriggling about
And I failed to run away, a struggle….
Only plunged me deeper into the pit.

I heard sounds of
Black flowing river of hair, under my foot
I jumped and the vixen grew taller taking human form.
Screamed she in anguish, foul oaths of betrayal and ruin; where was love?
I sat up on my bed of not roses, thorny more like;
What was in that dream-nightmare cocktail, I thought – Reality?

25th October 2016

© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2016



A land of green and gold
A land made red by the flowing blood,
The poor toil in the sun to grow golden sheaves
On a soil made rich by the yearly flood.

Workers labor day and night relentless
In conditions that make them feel Lucifer’s hell,
They go home still with mere pittance
The treasure of the land they do help swell.

Then there are men sitting pretty in ivory towers
Plotting and intriguing to grab the exchequer,
The treasure of the land is pilfered at will
The stolen wealth alas! make no poor man poorer.

27th July 2016

© S M Shahrukh and Traces of Orange, 2016

(Photograph collected from Photoghor)