You know that one jacket you bought when you were fifteen? It had sequined collars and zippers on the shoulders and made your mother wince a little when you sashayed outside in it.

It makes you wince now, too. For old times’ sake, you try it on every now and then and all of a sudden you’re fifteen again. Sequined and zippered. But it just doesn’t fit anymore. It’s time to let that jacket go.

This blog – Catalysts and Poisons – is my sequined jacket that I’m letting go of. I now post every week on: https://deekshabhat.wordpress.com/

I hope you find the time to give it a look and maybe leave a comment or two. 

Letting this blog go is bittersweet to say the least. I don’t think I’ve ever had a space like this. A space for honesty, growth and work that brought meaning to my dullest days. But the jacket just doesn’t fit anymore. And I’m letting it go. 

I hope and pray that you’re having the happiest new year. And if you stuck around, thanks for reading this all the way through.

God bless you all, you beautiful, beautiful people.



It’s been a long day. The kind that leaves you so exhausted that you doubt if you’re even tired anymore. You’re just… floating. Limbs floating in air, brain floating in skull, heart floating in.. well, you don’t even know anymore. It’s too much effort to think about it.

You come home and prepare yourself to launch your tangle of skin and muscle face-first into the cold comfort of your bed. And that’s when you notice it.

Your room is filthy.

We’re not talking dead rats, week-old garbage, and a mountain of unwashed clothes. We’re talking blankets draped on the headboard of your bed, lolling onto the floor and trailing over the thinnest film of dust perceptible. Your notebooks are vomiting their ruled sheets of paper all over the rug, the mirror seems blotchy and grey, a vial of essential oil has tipped over the bedside drawer (how did it even get there?) and stained all your socks with eucalyptus essence.

A roll of bills and receipts flutters past your feet, the curtains have been hastily tied back with the hair-tie you’ve been hunting for for three days now, a pair of pumps has been wedged in the corner by the door, the heel poking into the stem of your aloe vera plant (when was the last time you watered it?), the wooden plank you use as a makeshift desk has slid off the bed and has landed with a presumably dull thud onto the floor, bottle of ink and all, and the infuriating part of it all is that

the bottle didn’t shatter.

Anti-climactic all of it.

The damn bottle didn’t even crack. It’s just lying on the floor, pathetic and limp, and for some reason the ink inside is frustratingly still. Not a ripple, not a wave. Just one solid sheet of royal blue.

And that is the last straw.


The parrot

Madhav came back seven months later, but his voice had taken on a strange, foreign lilt and Jagan was reminded of Peechook, his little green parrot from when he was ten.

Peechook had fallen in love with the sound of the brass wind chimes and tried to squak along whenever the wind blew. He would exhaust himself in the boiling hours of the afternoon, trying to simmer down his cackle into fragile, metalic shivers. It was pathetic really, but he never seemed to give up. He’d gaze longingly at the gangly tangle of pipes and wooden stars until his cage was taken back into the living room at dusk. 
One night, there had been a terrible downpour: windows shuddered, and the thunder rolled overhead like a charcoal beast, hungry for its next prey. Jagan had sidled closer to his grandma and buried his head within the folds of her saree. Eventually, he fell asleep. 

The next morning, Jagan’s father found Peechook’s cage empty. They searched for him high and low, but their feathered friend was nowhere to be found. Sometimes, the wind blew the door of the cage open and Peechook would waddle out for a quick flight over the courtyard, but he would always be back before sunset. They dismissed the disappearance and the day crawled on.

Twenty four hours had swept by and Peechook still hadn’t returned. The scent of rain hung over the threshold like a newly knit blanket, clouding everything with cold drops of water. Jagan stepped outside to feed the squirrels with a handful of salted peanuts. 

On the threshold, scattered between twigs and storm blown leaves, was a mangled web of brass pipes, string, and wooden stars. And inextricably entangled within this web, was the limp, green body of Peechook. His eyes looked like little brown beads of glass, and his beak was open wide like an opera singer about to deliver the highest note. His feathers were soaked through. 

And now, Jagan watched carefully as Madhav pecked at his lentils and bread: the curry was gingerly scooped and was never allowed to touch his fingers. He wore starched shirts now and always carried a floral, silk kerchief. His voice shimmered and tinkled as he spoke of how there were at least five different flavours of popcorn at the movies and did you know the discos were open all night? All night, Jagan, can you imagine

When the bill arrived, the waiter placed a bowl of salted peanuts on the table and slipped the square of paper beneath it. All of a sudden, Jagan didn’t want to be at the restaurant anymore. He hastily crammed a wad of bills beneath the bowl and scurried away. Madhav called after him, but he dashed out of the door and in his hurry, collided against a branch of low hanging wind chimes. 

The brass pipes and wooden stars began to sing, but all Jagan could hear was the squaking of a hundred green parrots. 

– Picture sourced from Pinterest –



On Sundays, we lie flat on our stomachs and watch Marigold trap sunlight inside her orange scales.

She swims placidly in Mobius strips of water, each fin throwing hundreds of glass shards across our walls. We count them all. They flit between our toes, hover over our cold blue noses, slip through unguarded, berry stained lips. We stretch our fingers out to catch this piscine illuminance, to close our palms around these eely needles of light and swallow them in one quick, winter gulp. The shards dart away; their edges soften and dapple our sweaters as Marigold pirouettes within her water globe.

Sundays smell of gooseberry shampoo, basted chicken and durva grass.

Still splayed on our stomachs across the old Kashmiri carpet, we turn thick, grey socks into muppets, weaving esoteric conversations about apple soda and Mini’s new collection of tin blades. We slither our arms back into our woolly sleeves and bat at each other silently with our deflated paws for a good ten minutes. The wool begins to smart.

Sundays feel like strawberry mint bubblegum being stretched between Time’s willowy fingers; pink, soft and endless. Like slow cotton candy cloudburst. Sugary, wispy, and fuzzy to the touch.

On Sundays, we lie flat on our stomachs and watch Marigold trap sunlight inside her orange scales.

For one breath of a moment, there is a ripple.

We blink,

and it melts away.
Image credits


If I began 

with once upon a time

would you have me washed away?
Tame yourself.

Gather your blue skirts 

around starfish studded ankles

And for once, 

I will tell you tales of mermen who sold their scales to the God of Salt for one dusk away from your tides. 

Of genies drunk on absynthe, tottering on wispy blue tails and chasing after the phantom of freedom. 

Of handmaids who grew seashells from their scalps and left trails of coral in their mud homes. 

Of fishermen who lit bonfires on your skin, only to be whisked away into the gaol of aqua absolute.  
The bards sing of sirens in your lair. But it is you. You are the siren. The seductress. The scream. 
All these years, I have listened to the wailing of your voice. 

And today, you have heard the wailing of mine.

– The sea was once a home –

Image credits: Manan Dhuri



Cornflower blue overalls, yellow sneakers and a matching yellow snapback with dozens of tiny Spongebobs masquerading over his head.

He looked so tiny.

He sidled up to me, peeking through brown curls that lay plastered across his forehead like rain soaked yarn. I stretched out my hand, my fingers slowly trotting across the metal armrest that lay between us. Like startled butterflies, his arms flapped up and down as I tickled his chin. Peals of laughter bubbled out of his soft, pink lips. Squealing with unrestrained glee, he wriggled in his chair and threw his head back, curls flying, legs kicking the air conditioned nothingness around us. Gasping for air, he placed one plump finger on his nose; our mutually agreed upon white flag. I retracted my fingers and planted a noisy peck on his cheek. The airport continued to ring with the echoes of our tickle battle.

Seven pairs of eyes darted in our direction. Staring. Visibly uncomfortable. I ignored all of them.

Turning towards him, I wiggled my eyebrows and grinned.

‘What day is it today?’ I quiz.

‘It’s my birthday, Mama!’

‘That’s right, it is!’

‘Can I eat an extra slice of cake?’

‘You can eat all the cake in the world, sweetheart’

‘Will there be candles?’

‘Of course!’

‘All thirty-two of them?’

‘Every single one’

He smiled.

Six feet and two inches tall.

Cornflower blue overalls, yellow sneakers and a matching yellow snapback with dozens of tiny Spongebobs masquerading over his head.

He looked so tiny.


Picture credits: Disha Chatterjee 

The Grand Museum of Failed Human Endeavour


I will myself to write of a bureaucracy
that knots food pipes like neckties,
starving the horse to feed the pig,
whose snout has been dabbed generously with rouge
to celebrate its journey from sty to slaughterhouse.

I will myself to write of men of stature,
who stink of unbridled power,
reek of pseudo chastity,
and who faithfully drool lies
over the roofs of hungry farmers
and their pregnant wives.

I will myself to write of scandals in skyscrapers
where lamps glow fluorescent with infidelity.
Infidelity towards conscience,
(Capitalise if you must.

twitching my nose at exhibits
in the Grand Museum
of Failed Human Endeavor
(open from Mondays to Saturdays.
The seventh morning is for God
– capitalised, for your satisfaction)
distracts me from the anteroom reserved
for my signature brand of hypocrisy.


I am the one who starves the horse, knots food pipes into neckties, I dab rouge onto the snouts of pigs, lead them from their warm sties to warmer slaughterhouses, I stink of unbridled power, I reek of pseudo chastity, I drool lies over the roofs of hungry farmers, I inseminate their wives with untruths, I kick their whelps to the ground before they can even whimper, I scandalize the crowds, I scandalize my conscience, I scandalize god, to hell with upper cases, to hell with the sanctity of brotherhood, to hell with democracy, it is but a leper in denial.

Welcome to the Grand Museum of Failed Human Endeavour. I am the exhibit. I am your guide.

I am everyone who has ever

I am the infidel.

And so are you.


Image credits