Thursday, May 18, 2023

Fearful Freedom!


A bird flew far from a tree to my window

a withered tree, a lifeless tree

It struggled to fly with one of its wings clipped

How? How?

How did it manage to fly?

It kept pecking at my window

Every morning I would wake up to the noise

I looked at it from my bed

struggling to get up

I would look at it as it stopped pecking

We locked eyes, quite a few times

each time I would look away with an urgency

Fear, there was an inexplicable fear

there were unspoken stories

radiating through the window

I dared not open the window

Scared, if I open it,

the bird,

it’ll vanish

or ask me to unclip its wing

it might ask me to pet it

to trust it

to let it in

it might even ask me to get up from the bed, when it’s hard to do so

only to not be there the next day to do the same

What if it asks me to look it in the eyes and not look away?

and just when I get used to it,

it asks me to let it go…

I got tired,

tired of the questions

I opened the window, looked it in the eyes

unclipped its wing, took it in my hands

Silence, deafening Silence

complete surrender on both parts

I asked it to fly away

it wouldn’t

it circled back in my hands

then sat again near the window, unbothered

An open blue sky

a bird free to fly

but rests near my window instead

when I touched its unclipped wing

it turned back

looked me straight in the eye

then flew away, still struggling

as if it forgot how to fly without one of its wings clipped

Up it went in the sky, slowly, fearfully

I woke up again the next morning

at the pecking noise

a bird with one of its wings clipped

a different bird this time

each time

every morning

it’s like a ritual now,

letting these birds fly

Until one day they all come back,

rest near my window and ask

What will you do with us now?

What do we do with this freedom?

How do we make sense of a world without struggle?

How do we fly fearlessly without anything holding us back?

the juncture, where home and I meet


Rustling trees and an open sky

Reminds me of my home,

a home that doesn’t exist

here or there,

that only exists in nostalgia,

in the soft pain inside my chest, that erupts every now and then

A home that is as alive as my childhood

Breathing gently into the corner of my youth, holding on to my growth

Loving the parts that are yet to heal, making space inside me to embody foreverness...

I am the rustling trees and an open sky

I am my nostalgia, I am (my) home

Light curve


When the lights went out,

I could hear them shout

Struggling to stop my mind and body from a deafening fight

I looked in the mirror

to get relief from the agony of the horror

Standing and basking in my own light

I recognized myself,

“There I am!

A lovingly crafted body, a beautifully crafted mind”


Sunday, April 2, 2023


Pumba kept thinking if he would choose a different life if he could. He kept looking at the triangular-shaped black box kinda thing until he finally decided to touch it. Once he touched the box, a neon-colored screen appeared with bold letters telling him all about the box.

“Dear you, who is now the owner of this remote. Push any buttons you want. All you get to know is that this is a remote control that comes with no instructions at all. YOU do whatever you want with it. YOU bear the consequences and cry, laugh, lament, regret, or rejoice. We just tell you that this is a triangular remote. Make smart choices, or not. We don’t care. That’s our slogan.”

Pumba already started to regret his choice. “Why did I touch that stupid box? I mean the remote. The rude, mean, and nonsensical remote. Has it started already? I’m regretting everything already. But I didn’t push any of the buttons yet. What if I don’t have to and it’ll still act like a bad nightmare? Should I just leave it? What if it gets worse? What if I am the only one who dies out of regret? Is that even a thing? Should I press the green button? Or the red one? What about the blue one or the yellow one? What if I press all of them together? Should I just throw it away? Destroy it maybe?"

The moment Pumba tries stepping on the remote to destroy it, the neon screen reappears!

“Foolish human! Look at yourself. Who’s destroying whom?”

Embrace me woman!

 I saw the red flag at the end of the road. I moved forward but it moved along with me. I moved as fast as I could. The red flag! It was still there. Glaring, grinning! Haunting every part of my body, dissecting my skin, creeping through the cells, reaching my veins, poisoning my blood. I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was drowning and the only thing I could hold onto was a rope that was so thin that it would cut through my skin. Painful, lethal either way!

I kept running. I kept running until I couldn’t anymore. My legs and lungs gave up. I heard them scream in an asphyxiated voice, “We can’t do this anymore. You’re on your own.” I urged back, “Please I beg you. Don’t give up on me. Don’t give up on us. It’s coming closer. Please, I can’t do this by myself.”

“We’ll see if you can!”

I saw no other way but to let it reach me. It kept creeping and coming closer…and closer…and closer…

The red flag and me. Face to face.

“Embrace me, woman! Embrace me! Look at me. I’ve become a part of you. You can’t escape me. You can’t get rid of me. I’ll follow you wherever you go. How long can you run for?”

I stood my ground and replied with a smirk on my face, “You’re right. No more running. Look me in the eye. Do you see fear?”

Saturday, March 4, 2023



I look up


I see an open sky with a sun peeking through the roof of a building. I feel the warmth of the rays. I also feel the cold air gently brushing on my skin helping me cool down a bit.

I look down

I see a reflection of the sky in the river while standing on my boat and marvel at the water taking shapes and colors of the clouds and sky. 

Nature has its own way of expressing love!


Thursday, March 2, 2023

Survival Story


Shivering bones beneath my numb skin

A warm fuzzy scarf embracing my shoulders

Eyes drunk in mist and snowflakes

While humming in the silence of the snowfall and

leaving my footprints on the heaped-up ice along the walkway

I look back at my life and smile back at my survival

my soft voice murmured with a crackling voice 

“I have a story to write, a journey to recall”!

 Picture: Footprints on snow, taken by Piu Chowdhury

Thursday, February 23, 2023


 A sunny afternoon

my notebook on top of the box on top of my bed

while noting down my thoughts about history and home

I was humming along with Lewis Capaldi 

“I just wanna be somebody to someone”

I don’t know if it was the sun

my right-on-track notes

the track playing on my headphones

or the words that Capaldi sang so beautifully

I was swaying so much in sheer happiness

that my handwriting seemed like it just came back

from chasing a butterfly that had no sense of direction

but soon after my playlist decided to move on to the next song

I stopped swaying

not because Capaldi’s song stopped

but because the song started something inside me

I realized that I was humming the wrong lyrics all along

Or was it really wrong?

I just wanna be somebody for someone

That, that was what I was humming

I just wanna be somebody for someone

not “I just wanna be somebody to someone”

I wasn’t singing along

I was singing my own song

I wasn’t only swaying to Capaldi’s beautiful words

but aligning with my own desires

I want to be somebody for someone

(comforting) space probably 

(peaceful) time 

(happy) memory 

a moment (to cherish)

(loving) eyes 

(embracing) arms 

(selfless) love 

(safe) place 

 I want to be all those things and more if possible

to those who think they don’t deserve love

to those who just need a hand to come out of darkness

to those who just need someone to listen to them

to those who have never tasted freedom

and only need "a someone" to believe they can fight for it

wait, did I just find what I was looking for?

did I just realize what I want to do with my life?

did I just unveil why I am alive?

what meaning my life has?

guess what? 

just when I was in a daze 

drunk in drips of this moment of epiphany

I witnessed a surreal happening 

the universe professed its love for me

a cloud shaped like a heart

my very own blue and white heart

the universe has its own way of giving back, doesn’t it?

that too when it's least expected

this led me to write a letter, a note maybe…

to writer Atticus

Dear Atticus,

May I borrow your lines for my epitaph? And while requesting, may I also have the audacity to request to modify it a lil bit? 

“I hope to arrive at my death


In love,

And a little drunk”

BEAUTIFUL WORDS Mr. Atticus. Here's what my epitaph would say instead:

I arrived at my death


In love 

And quite drunk.

I hope you won't mind Mr. Atticus.


A poet in love



 Picture: An open sky, taken by Piu Chowdhury

Saturday, February 18, 2023

The Labyrinthine Lemon

A sweet sugarcoated

yet zesty lemon

Tastes sour and bitter when

gone too deep

You can either taste it

or throw it.

There’s no other way to deal with it.

You can keep it

But its rotten smell

will never let you breathe.

Picture: Trees, taken by Piu Chowdhury

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Movie Review on Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio: A journey of love, life, death and acceptance

Released on November 11, 2022, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio is a stop-motion animated movie directed by Guillermo Del Toro and Mark Gustafsan. This movie has been nominated for multiple awards like Oscar, BAFTA, Art Directors Guild, Golden Globes, and many more (more information on awards can be found in this link). Based in Italy, this movie is about Geppetto and his son, the handcrafted wooden boy called Pinocchio. This movie represents the idea of knowing and accepting someone as they are and loving them without having to change them in order to meet societal expectations. It also shows the relationship between father and son and the many ways in which this relationship is challenged, questioned, explored, and at the end accepted and cherished. Geppetto is a gifted artist and carpenter who lives in Italy during World War II with his son Carlo. Geppetto loses his son to a bomb released by one of the airplanes returning to base. Geppetto’s love, mourning, and grief for Carlo make him desperately find Carlo’s presence in the boy that he carves out of a pinewood tree, named Pinocchio. Geppetto’s creation of Pinocchio looks monstrous on the screen through the shadows of him axing the tree in a scary way with Geppetto’s grunting noises. This is much different than what he looks like when he is a loving father to Carlo and “a model Italian citizen” (Pinocchio) to society. Contrary to this calm, loving, and stable Geppetto, Pinocchio’s creator looks unstable from being too drunk, filled with rage and impatience. Given life by the Spirit, the wooden boy becomes Geppetto’s son Pinocchio. They both have difficulty understanding each other. As Geppetto keeps searching for Carlo in Pinocchio and Pinocchio finds it difficult to not stay true to himself, they grow apart. In Pinocchio’s journey, he finds a friend and a companion in a cricket called Sebastian J. Cricket and a monkey called Spazzatura. Geppetto and Pinocchio’s love and understanding for each other grow over time. Geppetto realizes that Pinocchio can never be Carlo and that he loves Pinocchio despite that. The movie starts and ends in the same place with a closed shot of the pinecone in the frame. The beginning scene has a morose and cold tone with blue, and green colors on the screen. Whereas the end scene takes place in the same setting but has a loving, hopeful, warm tone with colors like orange, brown, and yellow. The trajectory from the beginning to the end of the movie marks the loop of a journey in which life and death exist and coexist. The journey from the coldness of the stories of the individual characters and the coldness in their relationship to the growth and warmth of their individualities and their relationships is traversed through the movie. The growth in the characters is shown in raw, intimate, and non-linear ways. Along with the other characters like Sebastian and Spazzatura, Geppetto goes through such growth too.

Geppetto is a loving, caring, calm, and social being in the beginning. But when he loses Carlo, he becomes impatient, drunk, and angry. However, after Pinocchio comes into his life, he no longer wastes his nights and days drinking and goes back to working again. But soon his angry, impatient, and stubborn side shows up again when Pinocchio fails to be a real boy. Slowly with time, as Geppetto realizes the love that he carries for Pinocchio, his character grows into an understanding and loving father again. Geppetto is a perfectionist too. From choosing the pinecone that looks perfect without any of its scales missing to finishing the crucifix with perfection, he shows life to his son Carlo the way Geppetto looks at life. But an artist who walks on the marks of flawlessness and only carves perfect creations ends up building Pinocchio without perfection. He starts off carving Pinocchio with perfect ears and hair but leaves the precision unfinished from being too drunk, something that Guillermo mentions in the documentary Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio: Handcarved Cinema. This unrefined, imperfect creation of Geppetto becomes everything that he has a hard time accepting. This is one of the reasons he keeps telling Pinocchio, “Carlo never acted like this” (Pinocchio). Pinocchio is an outsider for both Geppetto and society because he does not fit the mold of a real boy suited for civil society. Geppetto chooses to carve Pinocchio in hopes of getting back his son Carlo, out of the pine tree that grows from the pine that causes Carlo’s death (Carlo goes into the church to get back the perfect pine that he found and at that moment bombs are dropped on the church killing Carlo). From the bark of that tree starts a new story of life, love, and family for Pinocchio, Geppetto, and Sebastian. A pine that causes Carlo’s death, grows into a pine tree that gives birth to Pinocchio, who changes the way the characters in the movie perceive life, death, love, and relationships. Even though Pinocchio is made to revive Carlo, he is nothing like Carlo. 

Unlike Carlo, Pinocchio is not an obedient son who listens to his father. Pinocchio questions things around him. He does not simply listen to Geppetto or society because he is asked to do so. He tries to be like Carlo when he gets to know how much Geppetto loves Carlo. He says “I will be just like Carlo! I will obey and go to school, and I will be the very, very best at… whatever they do there” (Pinocchio). Even though Pinocchio tries his best to be like Carlo to receive Geppetto’s love, he fails at being anyone other than himself. He is so pure that he remains true to himself and ultimately teaches Geppetto to love him for who he really is. Pinocchio is curious about why certain things are done in certain ways and why certain standards are believed to be better than others. For example, he has a hard time understanding why he is not accepted by society just because he is carved out of wood, but the crucifix made out of wood is worshipped by the same people. He questions and challenges the ideas of normalcy and fixated standards. To others, he is an “abnormal boy” who “lacks discipline” (Pinocchio) and is either compared to Carlo or Candlewick (the ideal representation of a real boy, the son of a government official). It takes time for Geppetto to understand that Pinocchio is a boy who has his own identity. This boy sees the world through his own eyes and is “an independent thinker” (Pinocchio). But society fails to see this in him. Pinocchio becomes a star in a carnival organized by the antagonist Volpe. One of the reasons Pinocchio likes being the star of the puppet show in the carnival is because he gets accepted, seen, and loved by the audience for his show. From constantly being seen as just a wooden boy and an outsider, Pinocchio gets appreciated and celebrated by the kids in the carnival. This is the first time he gets to experience acceptance from people around him since he was made by Geppetto. In the fight between Geppetto and Volpe to claim Pinocchio as their own, Pinocchio comes under a car and dies. That’s when the audience of the movie gets to know that Pinocchio does not go through real death. His deaths are just “waiting periods” (Pinocchio). He will die many times and will go back to life again. The audience also gets to know that Pinocchio, for this very reason of not going through real death, will never be able to become a real boy like Carlo. This is Guillermo’s way of letting his audience know that transforming Pinocchio into a real boy is not what this movie is about. After his first death, Pinocchio becomes more convinced that he cannot become like Carlo, and he does not want to become like Carlo. It is as if he takes a new birth, and does not want to pretend to be Carlo or force himself to be like Carlo to receive his father’s love. For the first time, he lets his father know “I’m not Carlo. I don’t want to be like Carlo” (Pinocchio). In a moment of rage and agony, Geppetto lashes out at Pinocchio calling him a burden. Pinocchio shows his love for his father in his own way by trying to unburden him of his worries. From here onwards starts Geppetto’s understanding of his love for Pinocchio for who he really is. Sebastian J. Cricket, a person of wisdom and knowledge, helps Geppetto in seeing what Geppetto could not see all the while Pinocchio was with him, which is Pinocchio’s love for Geppetto. Sebastian says, “Why are you so blind? So absolutely blind! The boy loves you. He has much to learn but he loves you for who you are. Would it kill you to do as much for him?” (Pinocchio). Geppetto not only recognizes Pinocchio’s love for him but also recognizes his love for Pinocchio. He searches for Pinocchio and in that search, he gets swallowed by a monstrous-sized dogfish. 

This dogfish is a metaphor for the size of the obstacle that both Geppetto and Pinocchio have to cross to find each other again. The uncomfortable slimy gut full of mucous inside the dogfish represents the unpleasant emotions and situations that they have to go through to understand each other. Pinocchio’s nose acts as a bridge that saves Geppetto, Sebastian, and Spazzatura to escape from the dogfish, which symbolizes the gap that they have covered through understanding, support, and care, in order to reach out to each other and help each other in coming out of the unpleasantness of their relationships. Even though Pinocchio is not seen or accepted as a real boy and is looked at as a wooden boy in the movie, he helps other characters in the movie to come to terms with their emotions, accept their emotions and be compassionate of others’ emotions. In an interview from the documentary Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio: Handcarved Cinema, Guillermo mentions Pinocchio is “really good at being natural, but he is incredibly intimate when he’s whispering or talking to the cricket or talking to Candlewick. There is an absolute pure emotion there” The pure emotion and the intimate side that Guillermo includes in Pinocchio reflect that he does not need to be a real boy to feel emotions or to share intimate and meaningful relationships. It also represents that it is not Pinocchio who needs to change in order to be in the society, but it is the society that needs to change its constricted perspective in order to recognize the purity of Pinocchio’s character. This becomes clear when Guillermo expresses his motive for making this film in the documentary. He says, “Normally Pinocchio is about what Pinocchio learns in the world and then becomes a good boy and therefore becomes a real boy, and our Pinocchio is not that. He changes everyone because he is so pure. He changes Geppetto. He changes the cricket. He changes Spazzatura. He changes everyone” (Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio: Handcarved Cinema). Pinocchio, who does not even understand the meaning of death in the beginning, teaches the characters like Geppetto, Sebastian, Candlewick, and Spazzatura the meaning of life, family, father-son relationship, and the depth of loss and love. Throughout the movie and especially by the end of the movie, Guillermo makes it clearer that the motive of this movie is to not force Pinocchio into the mold of a real boy but to let others accept him as he is and for Pinocchio to grasp the meaning of love, life, and death. Pinocchio becomes a source of support, comfort, and care for characters like Geppetto, Sebastian, Candlewick, and Spazzatura. 

Geppetto realizes his love for Pinocchio and Pinocchio’s love for him, despite the difference that Pinocchio and Carlo have. He literally crosses a sea to see Pinocchio again, survives the monstrous attack of the dogfish, and learns to accept Pinocchio the way he is. At one point, when he almost loses Pinocchio he says, “I was trying to make you someone you are not. So don’t be Carlo or anyone else. Be exactly who you are. I… I love you exactly as you are” (Pinocchio). Guillermo beautifully captures the moment when Geppetto and Pinocchio accept each other as they are and express their love for each other in front of the vast sea and the purplish sky with a hint of orange from the rising sun in the background. The frame is filled up with Sebastian, Spazzatura, Pinocchio, and Geppetto, and the warmth of their embrace and laughter becomes as bright as the warm orange sun. Sebastian also goes through growth in character while being with Pinocchio. Sebastian, a writer, traveler, scholar, and a person who lived with artists, learns to come out of his own world, write a memoir that does not only involve him but the people around him too and uses his wisdom to guide and save Pinocchio in his journey of adjusting to the human world. Candlewick, a young boy who is groomed to be a soldier in war by his father Podesta and who tries his best to match his father’s unreasonable expectations, learns to feel his emotions without guilt with the help of Pinocchio. He learns that he is allowed to feel scared or sad and does not have to compete against people to deserve his father’s love or be accepted by his father as a son. What starts as a competitive relationship between Pinocchio and Candlewick shapes up as a friendship. Candlewick gathers the courage to revolt against his father for himself and for his friend Pinocchio. From not liking Pinocchio and competing against him for Volpe’s attention and admiration, Spazzatura too becomes Pinocchio’s friend and stays with him till his last breath. Both Candlewick and Spazzatura are loved and cared for by Pinocchio without asking for anything in return or without boxing them into categories of useless sons or unwanted animals. For the first time in their life, they experience genuine comfort, friendship, and love in Pinocchio’s presence, and like good and loyal friends they return the same to Pinocchio. This enables them to revolt against Podesta and Volpe and break free from the positions that force them into believing that they are inferior. 

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio is not just a movie about a father and son, but also an emotional journey of a boy who is forced to feel lost in the world that demands him to change. It is a vulnerable response to a society that cannot conceive of anything but perfection and constricted perspectives about humans and relationships. It challenges the stereotyped boxes of real, ideal, and perfect. It also questions the connection between never feeling scared or vulnerable and courage or strength. Through Pinocchio’s dialogues with Candlewick, Guillermo is saying that showing vulnerability is not an antonym for courage or strength. This movie will touch those hearts who deny settling with the roles that this society fixes for them. There are moments that are so profoundly meaningful that I had to pause the movie and think about what it means to be a human and what it takes to be a human. It is like a fresh breath of air in a world that requires a pure and free soul like Pinocchio to remain stuck in a place or role that suffocates him. I feel that this movie can be an inspiration for writers, directors, animators, and voice artists to present stories, characters, and themes that reach the audience in a way where they feel heard, seen, and understood. I also think that watching the documentary, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio: Handcarved Cinema, on the making of the film after watching the movie will also be insightful in understanding the motive of the movie because it gives a glimpse of the world of stop-motion and the way this movie is visualized, conceptualized and seen by the artists who created it. For me, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio is a movie that I can go back to when life gets too difficult to understand and when I can take refuge in the soothing and comforting dialogues of the movie. Whenever I feel like my creative juice is running out, I can replenish myself by watching the beautiful imagination, stories, and vision that this movie creates. 

Few quotes from Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio that stayed with me:

“Well, in this world you get what you give.” 

“I’ll try my best and that’s the best anyone can do.”

“What’s a burden?” “It’s something painful you must carry even though it hurts you very much.”

“But little did I know that death was not the end.” 

“Every moment you shared with them may be the very last. You never know how long you have with someone until they are gone.”

“I only wished to bring you joy.” “And you did, you did bring me joy. Such terrible, terrible joy.”

“I was trying to make you someone you are not. So don’t be Carlo or anyone else. Be exactly who you are. I… I love exactly as you are.”

“What happens, happens. And then, we are gone.” 


Works Cited

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro and Mark Gustafsan, Netflix, 2022.

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio: Handcarved Cinema, Netflix, 2022.

“Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio 2022: Awards”, IMDb,

Fearful Freedom!

  A bird flew far from a tree to my window a withered tree, a lifeless tree It struggled to fly with one of its wings clipped How? H...