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Time Capsule 2021: Aranya

A painting by Charanya R that was a part of a calendar of images and poems I curated on Poetly in 2021.

This year, I learnt a little bit more about kindness. I learnt also, to close ranks, and become a hurtling stone, when it felt necessary. I wrote feverishly, and poetry became a way to meet others and to sit together on the cusp of chaos. I revisited again the joy of curated learning - a novice, I practiced sign language with deaf friends, only to discover how seeing can turn into care. I understood that you can always find a peepal sapling peeping out between chipped concrete, and that there can be stillness in transit. Many times I surrendered, without realising, to moments too colourful to translate, and it felt like flying.

Like the surging fingers of the ocean, my friends and soulkeepers cradled my questions. They held them gently, shared their own, and we laughed together, lest we took ourselves too seriously. I met artist friends in chaotic cities, between endless cups of tea, dessert, chakhna and other intoxicants like twilight. I ate and drank, sang and mused, with those magicians who quietly archived the world, before unleashing it as fantasy, and as fissure. I learnt from their curiosity, I danced in their wonder. In a country that is growing more and more predatory, I found those fearless eyes whose gaze was lightning.

I learnt itminaan from a cat. I also learnt from him that the whole world is a game, and the only way to love is to play.

I found hope and laughter.

Here is a song that I listened to more often than any other, perhaps, in the last year: Cherathukal from Kumbalangi Nights.

I have culled a few fragments from the last year in the form of poems/excerpts of poems, and some images. tread softly…


on writing

if there's one thing I've learnt

from the ghost that roams around

seeking the fertile loam of a quiet mind,

it is to never come in the way

of the light that streams in

through a door that I had forgotten

to shut


from ‘Things you can tell people who want to know what I do’

…Freelance leaf collector

Consulting editor to the city: spin doctor to the left-leaning zephyr

that chronicles the passage of light on human faces

Archivist of lost experience and forgotten alleys,

single chappals and traitorous playing cards that have deserted the pack

Financial advisor to boredom

Chief Sweet Talker

Conductor, the Barrapulla morning spring quartet

Director, School of Incarnadine Traffic Signals

Field Associate, Ennui Association, Department of vacant eyes

Acknowledger of Wags

Ruffler of fur

Convener of the conference of squirrels and yesterdays

Rapporteur to the soliloquy of unpeopled parks…



I like cooking kori da gassi

it reminds me of my grandmother

grinding love into curry

but most of all

I like to see the white of coconut

meet the red of bedagi mirchi

and flush orange

that is why

if you ask me about my favourite colour

I will have to invite you home to dinner


from “A poem should start with Light”

“The warm shock of your hair on my

arm is a place where even silence

cannot reach. In sleep, your lips curl

into a grin. I want to wake you up

with the news that the jamun tree

outside our balcony

has littered.

As you unstick the day

in lazy entitlement, pulling me closer,

I see the wooden Gabriel on the shelf



Song of the Free


only when the words

have been rinsed from your

tongue, when there is nothing left to know.


from “more smiles per pack”

“At the end of the path when we meet in the forest

again, walk ahead of me so I might find

the clearing, where we do not need to remember

names and night is a quite person watching you

from the shadows, remember to whisper softly

in my ear that flight is not voluntary. And if i forget,

help me with the instructions the way green

hands tend to plants with music

and tomorrow in their wild eyes.”


from “light le”

“Sometimes before opening my eyes in the morning

I shard into dream, the pointy end of my spirit seeps

into the day before it has awoken. I step out, open

the door and wrap myself with the morning…

… The city is a person with a bunch of keys,

carefully unlocking each being, making space.”


about poets who disdain capitals

they know about the cummings and goings

of desire, those poets who forget their own names

and nerve into the breaking of metaphor, the first point

of contact, driftwood in the skyswirl of learning by heart

what is seen, and felt as fire, held by some temple of skin

and emptied out shell, that turns soul into stirfry animal.

when a great tree falls in the forest and the shaking

ground is an earthquake for no one, these poets

don't really care, because they're elsewhere

in the shadows, counting the leaves, searching

for yesterday's light in an understory

teeming with the firefled night.

Aranya is a poet, and curator of Poetly.


Time Capsule 2021 is a series where I invite artists, poets, photographers and people who have inspired me through the year to give our readers a glimpse of their year that was.


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