This is an extract from the upcoming book ‘How to Google a Childhood Friend’ by Kanishka Gupta. The book will be published by Juggernaut and will be out in 2021. 

Kanishka Gupta is a literary agent, author, consultant and publishing commentator. He is the founder of Writer’s Side, the largest literary agency and consultancy in South Asia. His novel, History of Hate was long listed for the 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize. He lives in Delhi.

The Pillbox

My black pillbox is made of slots

That look like shapely, tapering nails

(Clawing at any semblance of normalcy in my life) 

The words Ultimate Nutrition are emblazoned across it


Ultimate Nutrition is what my Espazine 3 mg is

If dear M is to be believed 

Although a simple Google search will tell you

That it’s given to schizophrenics

Often administered through a drip


M tells me it isnt available in the Cantonment area

Not because its a toxic antipsychotic

But because so many army men kill themselves

For being in a place like the army


Espazine is available only in 1 mg pills

And since my dosage is 3 mg

(It was 5mg until a few years ago)

The pillbox gets full

After I have put in all seven doses


D’s son thinks it’s a musical instrument

Because of the jangling noise the pills make

When he brandishes the box like a sword

He even asked me if he could take it to school


Of late, I’ve taken to filling up the slots

One day at a time

Due to my short-term memory loss 

(One of the drug’s sideeffects)


The pillbox is too big for my trouser pockets

So when I go out at night 

I just slip the tablets in directly 

And I end up feeling them up obsessively

Like a horny besotted lover

Especially when it’s time to take them


I fear the pillbox might need to be replaced

When I fall genuinely sick

And need something that is not just nutritive

But also palliative

Because the space inside the slots is too small

Barely enough for the tiny Espazine


How to google a childhood friend_Cover Spread-01 (1)

Meet K, a young man who struggles to make sense of his sexual and interpersonal dysfunctions while dreaming of becoming a great writer; P, his domineering father; M, his submissive mother; D, the younger brother with whom he longs for a real relationship.

With pitiless honesty, Kanishka Gupta gives us the story of a family, a portrait of mental illness and a study of sexuality and its absence. Shocking, tender and savagely funny, they mark the arrival of a major poetic voice.

Praise for the book:

‘Big city life in 21st century India has its first genuinely original literary expression in this not-poetry-but-poetry, not-fiction-but-fiction, not-known-form-but-known-form work which defies categorisation, as it should.’ Arunava Sinha

‘This book leaps into spaces of performance, gathering depth, intensity and anguish with each turn of the narrative situation. Kanishka Gupta’s poems are splendid – and heartbreaking. Read them.’ Ranjit Hoskote

This is the strangest book I have read for a while and unforgettable for the nakedness of its risks and its ambitions.’ Jerry Pinto

‘Brilliant and extremely brave, Kanishka Gupta’s poems reflect a scathing, subversive talent that does not censor itself.’ Meena Kandasamy

‘Enjoy the honesty of these poems, laugh at K’s truths or be infuriated, depending on who you are.’ Manu Joseph



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