Thursday, 30 January 2014

Touch and Go

Now this tiny smudge of a star I see
is close enough for closed eyes,
but just when I begin trusting it to stay even with eyes unclosed
it dances far away with backward steps, 
delicately arched neck, defiant, jutting out chin, come-and-get-me pout and wriggling shoulders.
And because I don't know how near or how far it is going to be
at any given moment,
I don't know how to get hold of it.
At times I manage to touch it fleetingly,
though my grasp is never right.
If I cup my hands,
it falls through.
If I catch it between a finger and a thumb,
it slithers down.
If I grab it with one hand,
I get beaten by its breadth
and end up barely touching it.
So I am thinking
maybe the thing to do
is to pretend not to notice at all
(of course I'll be watching from the corner of my eye,)
and then when it's creeping behind my back,
burning with the curiosity to see what I am up to,
or why I haven't called, 
I nothing short of pounce on it
and keep it pinned down,
till it coughs up the promise to stay.

First published in Sugar Mule, January 2013.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Poem of Laughter and Forgetting

To laugh is to forget
Each old haunting regret.
With you, though, I remember
Not having laughed so since December.

First published in First Literary Review-East, 22 January 2013.


Against the servitude of the mob
The haughty hermit stood taut
And lonesome.

First published in Papyrus-The Poetry Journal, 28 December 2013.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Post-Battle Cries

United we stood,

Until divided by the fall.

First published in DeltaWomen Magazine, 15 December 2013. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Judgment Day

There's a reason why the narrow often accompanies the straight;
The path can give its travellers a stiff gait.

If only one dared to steer,
What earlier seemed queer

Would appear as the same blackbird that can be seen
In ways no fewer, if not more, than thirteen.

So before pronouncing judgment on your equal born
Tell me if you see the same face in the mirror every morn.

*In response to the Supreme Court of India judgment, 11 December 2013, upholding section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes homosexuality.

First published in Writers Asylum, 13 December 2013.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Taking the Beam out of Our Own Eye

Violence needs hierarchy, an uncontested, even mutually agreed upon, notion of suppression versus submission. When we feed into this inequality, we start inflicting violence upon ourselves much before someone else can.

We do it each time we think that as women, teaching is ‘suitable’ for us. Each time we talk of, half-serious, but only half-joking, of finding that rich guy to marry. Each time we think that unless we pretend asexuality, we would bring dishonour to our families. Each time we let anyone else impose their notion of shame and honour upon us. Each time we accept the mangalsutra and vermilion (the markers that only work on the smooth surface of women) and kanyadan (the ‘gift’ of a ‘virgin’) without thinking about what they mean. Each time we take it for granted that it always has to be the guy who buys the rum and the rubber. Each time we ask for that black bag when purchasing sanitary napkins. Each time we struggle to burrow the presence of ‘underwear’ on our person or place of habitation. Each time we think it is nitpicking to ask for ‘mother’s name’ and ‘partner’s name’ on forms, instead of the mandatory ‘father’s’ and ‘husband’s’. Each time we choose to be the ‘good’ woman over being an equal person.

Yes, doing the opposite of all that each time makes us and many others feel like we have a permanent chip on our shoulder. One knows the feeling. It is like being at war all the time. But it is. It is a war. We did not start it. The only thing we know is that we have been made constant casualties.

Now if that’s not a status we are kicked about, we better take it on. We choose how we fight: fight, write, right our wrongs—the ones we have suffered and the ones we have done unto ourselves, right to the most life-changing ones, instead of letting others change our life the way we never wanted. We choose the nature of our participation in the war, resolving to enter into and emerge out of it laughing, the stars of heaven and the furies of hell blazing in our eyes.

If not, we accept.

That we and we—the ones we have heard about and the ones we have not—would continue to be gnawed at and torn apart. Drilled into and dumped in (pebble, candles, nails, rods). Head banged, hair pulled, nose broken, face burnt. Spat at for desiring, scorned for dreaming, shamed at choosing, shown our place for being happy sans permission. Marked, tagged, sealed, signed. Groped, pinched, shoved, rubbed. Butted, busted, inserted, deleted. Required to part lips and offer sugar, made to dress them with pepper and purse them up. Ordered, through a mere glance, to swallow bellows of rage and emit screams of agony. Symbolist’s dream, cymbalist’s dream. Bang, bang, clang, clang.

Either. Or. We have a choice. We always do.

First published in Women's Web, 6 December 2013.

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