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Mark Rocha - Official

On engineered fraternity

We shared a leaf between us both
Of us it made a kin;
And no one knew -
They knew of you,
Of me they’ll find out too.

Unwilling birds together shared
To bring us both at once;
For us they died -
Who died hath tied,
So blood could claim we lied.

We crushed a seed with borrowed hands
We both found in it calm;
Over it spill -
And spill at will,
Of times awaiting still.


The ages of 18 through 20, my college years, were particularly precious. It was a difficult time for me because I had left my hometown of Dubai, and relocated to Goa, India, which is where I'm supposedly from. It's difficult for a teenager to leave his entire world behind, and move to a whole new country. And not just any country - India. I did not feel like I was moving forward, I felt like I was moving backward. On my prom night, I was saying goodbye to friends who were moving to the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand - or just staying in Dubai. I was the ONLY ONE moving to India - and I was gutted. My world was my colony where I grew up, my friends, my then girlfriend. It was everything I had ever known for 18 years of my life - and now it was being taken away. A day after prom I was on a plane to India with my family, that's how quickly the move happened. And on that plane, I thought about what was in store - which was nothing. As far as I was concerned, nothing was in store. I was not excited. This was not going to be a new adventure. I was not going to return to Dubai with tales from the land of the Kamasutra. As far as I knew, I was being punished, and I did not know why.

The first few months were torture. I missed everyone. I would scrounge for change to make ISD calls from phone booths. I would send 140 character SMS messages that cost a fortune. I even wrote letters. And received them. But at some point I realised that by doing that, I was just holding on to something that I didn't really have, and probably never would. Relationships that were bound to evolve, most probably without me - and there was nothing I could do about it, because life goes on. And so I started making new ones. If I was going to have to survive in this new place, whether I like it or not, I had to make new friends and new relationships. This poem is about one of those relationship. It was not a romantic relationship of any kind, but one that holds a very special place in my heart. The person I wrote this for was there for me in so many ways during those initial months. He was a mentor, a brother, and a friend with whom I had some rather strange, albeit interesting adventures. The kind I was convinced wold never happen to me in this strange land - and yet it did. In the almost 15 years since we first met, we've grown apart, fallen out, gotten back together, gotten married (to other people), added new relationships to the fold - grown the tribe, and through everything, made my life what it is today. Really what it is, is a testament to the fact that change really is inevitable in the world around you. You can choose to change with it, or you can choose to stay still. You can stop, or you can continue to move forward. But ask yourself, would you rather be the seed? Or the flower it becomes? The choice is yours.  

If you met God

If you met God today
What would you say?
What might he look like?
What might He say?

Would you tell him you’re sorry
For the things you’ve done?
For the people you’ve cheated?
For the lies you’ve spun?

Or would you just stare
And say nothing at all?
Scared that at last
The wicked would fall?

Or maybe you’d explain
The cause of your plan,
And fail to forget
The one who made man.


God is in the word, and the Devil is in the detail. It's a very interesting concept that I discovered while reading the works of the inimitable Paulo Coehlo - though this poem was written long before I picked up any of his books. This I wrote way back in 2004, when I was 18, but while reading this again, it made me think of The Alcehmist and Brida, and the nature of people who are good for you, and those who are just vile.

I'm sure back then I had a different reason for writing this, but now, all things considered, 18 year old me has nothing on 31 year old me. So much has changed. I've grown, physically and mentally. And every experience has thought me something. The most important thing that I have learned is that the Universe is greater than all of us - the creator of the universe is greater still. But yet, as insignificant as we are, God is in us all - and in the words we speak. For the words we use are the greatest weapon known to man. It has the power to create relationships, and break them. Every war that was ever fought, was fought after words, and ended because of them as well. How we use our words is so important, because God is in them. But interestingly, we all know it's possible to say one thing, and mean another - and that my friends, is where the Devil resides. In the details. Details like intent, sarcasm, deceit. We think we're being so smart, but the one who created us is the smartest of all. And if you were to meet him after all of this, do you really think you can pull the wool over his eyes as well? If God resides in all of us, then do you think you can truly deceive your partner, your co-worker, or your friend? You can try - make up a story, spin a tale that after enough repetition could possibly fool you as well - but remember, you can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time - but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. And that's my take away from this. If you don't have something good to say, don't say anything. Let your actions speak for you. But if you do have something to say, let it be something good. Something that will build bridges instead of a wall. Something that ties bonds, not breaks hearts. Your words should not be a weapon, it should be a tool. Tools build, weapons destroy. Use your words to build. 

The locket

She gave her a locket
And told her “my girl,
This is precious, hold tight,
Keep it safe from the world – 
Till the day you meet someone,
Not tomorrow, but soon,
Who will promise the world,
With the sun and the moon.
But be wary, for words
Sell for less than a pound
And if your locket is lost
It will never be found”
So with caution she held it,
Her locket of gold
To never be opened
To never be sold

To be continued …


You have to be living under a rock to not know about the incessant rape culture that has enveloped this country. What was once something that was carried out and later discussed in the shadows, has now made its way into the light - broad daylight. Everyday there are instances of rape across India, and the most unfortunate part is that it doesn't show signs of slowing down. At this point, let me just say that when I speak of rape, I am referring to sex that is not consensual, be it a woman, man, animal, or child. If either one party has not agreed to the act, then for all intents and purposes, it is rape.

When I sat down to write this poem, my head was buzzing. I started mulling over this concept a few weeks ago, and it kept evolving. Till finally when I sat down to write it, I decided, I wasn't going to write out the entire poem. In fact, I was just going to start it, and when my mind clears, complete it - give it an ending. Or maybe not. Maybe I'll continue the story, while I decide whether or not this story has a happy ending. Because isn't that what rape is? Doesn't it start one way and end another? And does the rapist know going in how this is going to end? Maybe he or she will get his or her way, leave the other person there, and flee the scene. Or maybe the other person will not take it lying down, and the rapist will have to make the decision to kill that person so that there is no evidence. Or maybe, the victim will fight back; overpower his or her attacker and bring his or her own justice because the system that was put in place to do just that has failed. You don't know unless it's you in that situation - and I pray it never is. This will also be continued ... 

Babylon

Fortune finds itself surrounded by beggars
Cloaked in the shadow of guilt – 
Wretched bodies of men, thrown to the stones
On which this city was built.
Ashes to dust, your phoenix was slaughtered
By invalids covered in grease,
And through the streets and underground tunnels
You wait for the moaning to cease.

Empty

Now I lay me down to sleep,
But in my head, I howl and weep.
Tears, like the rain they fall;
Tears, bitter as the gall.
I try to hide the pain, but still
I am hurt against my will.
If I should die before I wake,
What good is there for me to take?
My heart is blacker than the night,
My heart is shattered by the light.
Only God can save my soul,
Only God can fill this hole.


Sometimes, you just feel empty inside ...

Storm

White light, bright sight, the thunder roars;
People run for cover as the rain pours.
A sign from heaven, absence of the sun;
The Lord is crying for the things I’ve done.
Dripping wet, soaked to the bone;
I come back drenched to an empty home.
Children asleep, silence is dead;
A quick shower then off to bed.
But sleep brings to mind visions of death;
Children crying while the ground is wet.
Awake with a fright, check the doors;
All is safe while the rain pours.


So it's raining outside. It has been for the past couple of days. The full works - thunder, lightning, everything. And it's been relentless. Just a constant barrage of lashing rains thanks to a cyclone that 'rained in' an early onset of the famous Goan monsoon. For many it's a welcome break from the heat that was all of last month, and the month before. But for me, it's depressing. Don't get me wrong; I don't dislike the rain. I'm just not overly fond of the gloom it brings. Everything is just thrown out of whack - mentally, the moment the rains set in. The energy around me changes; life becoming darker like the skies above me.
Think of it as a paper boat in an empty bath tub. It cannot and will not move. It will remain perfectly steady, balanced, and sure. There is nothing to disturb it while it stands there - going neither forward, nor backward. The status quo maintained, till the tap is opened. And as the water fills in, the boat comes alive, swept off the bath tub floor, and whisked in every direction. As the water gushes from the faucet, the turbid waves rock the fragile paper boat forward and backward till its original position is lost. It moves with the water - at times drawn to the source, and then pushed back to the opposite end. When the tap is finally turned off and the last few drops cause gentle ripples in the tub, the boat finally comes to a halt. It finds a new position in the bath tub to stand still - rather, float still. And the status quo returns. That boat to me is life. When my bath tub around me is rocked by the energy that the monsoon brings, everything in my mind is thrown into disarray. I'm thrown off balance as I navigate through darkness and negativity for the next few months. But when the rains finally stop and the waters of my mind finally run still, I look around me at the stillness, no longer where I was and I wonder; "have I moved forward, or backward?"

Doll

two buttons, on a face plastered white
hair down to the shoulders – dishevelled – nylon
moulded nose
molded chin
one ear missing
quietly seated on unused furniture.
like grandma's antique phonograph,
there is no music
save for the rain drops that make her dance.


I hate dolls, and clowns. I'm not particularly afraid of them, but I don't like them. Movies like IT and Annabelle haven't really helped either, however this dislike goes back to when I was really little. To be honest, I don't recall any untoward incident that got me on the turn, but I think I have zeroed in on one major source of discomfort - the fake smile.
If there's one thing that dolls and clowns have in common, it's the fake smile that has been plastered on - and it does not change. And if you think about it, that is scary on so many levels. Everyday we meet people who have fake smiles plastered on, and everybody wants those 'dolls' in their life because there's something so comforting about having them around. You can be open with them because their smile invites it. You take them with you wherever you go because they make you feel safe. But behind that smile, lies a nature that you may not see in the immediate future; because like paint, that smile will take time to fade. You won't realise it at first, but in time, the buttons will fall off, and the stitching will come undone; till finally you're able to see inside the ugly stuffing that nobody wants to reveal - yet there it is. Maybe you'll stuff it back inside, try to make it pretty again. Or maybe you'll move on to another doll, a prettier one, with an even bigger smile ...

This poem had started out being a look at the Janus-faced nature of dolls, however in the end, I figured - why kill the fun? I'll leave that to the clowns.

Insomnia

I tried to wake her
But she did not move
Paralysed by a sleep
That consumed her. (Shoes
In a corner, near a chair which at night
Came alive dressed in afternoon wear
By the light) -
So I sat by the window
And counted the stars
With no luck cos they blurred
Into nothingness. (Flowers
That were bought, several weeks ago played
Hide and seek with the curtains that 
Gingerly swayed) -
And there was I sleepless
But I did not move
Paralysed by a love
That consumed me. 

Divide

Yellow

I inhale my yellow paint,
I consume it drop by drop;
I inject my yellow paint,
So the pain inside can stop.
I abuse my yellow paint,
I rub it on my skin -
And when I'm done my yellow paint
Will colour me within.


Everybody knows Vincent Van Gogh. Even if they can't name a single painting, they know of him because of his eccentric behaviour which unfortunately became his legacy. "The painter who was so in love, he cut his ear off" is one of the most widely circulated stories. A lesser talked of one however, is his appetite for paint. 
As the story goes, Van Gogh would often 'eat' paint, in order to 'feel' what the colour represented. The most popular of these was yellow paint. Yellow represents happiness, and Van Gogh was known to have eaten yellow paint so he could feel happiness. His peers saw him as an imbecile, and one who would not amount to much. They thought he was crazy - because don't you have to be? To eat paint?
Centuries later, many critics and scholars believe that the illusive Van Gogh wasn't as eccentric as people made him out to be. Sure we don't go around eating yellow paint to feel happy, but we're not short of substitutes either. Drugs, sex, alcohol, cigarettes ... Love. We all have our own version of yellow paint that others may look at and find wasteful and incomprehensible; but it makes sense to us. Just as eating a tube of yellow paint made sense to Van Gogh. We pursue it, we consume it, and we wallow in it, hoping it would cure us of every mental disease we refuse to admit we have, so that when we're through, we're just a slightly richer shade of 'yellow' inside. 

So my question to you is, what is your yellow paint?

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