Poems and introspections

May 3, 2016

 

I am still not at ease calling myself a poet, but I have discovered that 'free form' poetry is something I am relishing a lot. Freed from obligations of over or under writing, exposition vs. narration and other such, these come into my head as a line when I am dark or dismayed and germinate into full pieces. I will be ever grateful to poets Arundhati Subramaniam and Nirupama Dutt for exposing me to this wonderfully liberating form of writing at the Chandigarh Lit Fest 2015. Her session on bhakti poems and her readings from her books made me realize this exists and is appreciated as legitimate form of expression.

 

Lopa Banerjee encouraged me to submit (I had nervously send her a few for critique) and they were immediately accepted by the literary magazines!!!!! Below are a few of my favorites featured recently in Tuck Magazine and Words, Pauses and Noises. 

 

 

Honor; Word Count: 161 Published: Words, Pauses and Noises

 

 

I lost my honor a long time back

Standing behind my mother in the crowded line

When I was touched for the first time

By a nice man who then gave me a pop

 

I lost my honor the second time

When I was slapped for coming home late

In front of my younger brother

Who was just getting ready to leave for the night

 

I lost my honor the third time

When they threw my mother out of their house

Daughters don’t get shares in property they had said

As I rubbed my scared sleepy eyes

 

I lost my honor for the umpteenth time

When my mother in law’s face dropped

And she had to apologize to the roomful of guests

For her not so fair son’s bride

 

So what if I lose my honor again today

Holding your hand as you draw me closer

the world disappearing from my sight

as I lock my eyes with a complete stranger?

 

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Burnt, Word Count: 335, Published: Tuck Magazine

 

My face dissolved in the fluid of your spite, my skin shriveled in the fire of your rage,

As I crouched I had wondered for a moment, could you be really inflicting such pain?

 

I had laid in bed, I had tried to sit up; I had walked at last, past the mirrors

Don’t look, they said out of care, as I saw them turn to hide the heartache

 

Looks doesn’t matter, only the heart does. You will live, they said

As if that mattered anymore, as if they believed what they said

 

The reminders of the ‘I’ that ‘was’: my clothes in the closet, pictures in frame

The bangles won’t fit anymore and there’s no space for a bindi on a shriveled face

 

Should I live? Do I have the choice? They say it’s a sin, think of others they say

A daughter and a sister and so much more. I need to stay alive, and fight to make you pay

 

As I walk past, people stop. Aghast and afraid of what I have become

I am learning to face the world without a face left, struggling to understand who I am

 

Should I have known? Was I at fault?

Maybe I should have stayed quiet, or obliged, you had wanted only love after all

 

Time heals all, they say. Please make them right, I pray

Remove the scars, take away the pain; give me another chance - to be a woman again

 

And then one day - I find myself. In the mirror left uncovered by mistake

The acid couldn’t reach my heart, I realize and slowly, I stand up straight

 

 

It’s not a choice to not live, it isn’t fair that I have to fight

But when I see my face, I don’t see what you see. I see what you couldn’t get!

 

Love is not what you wanted, love is not what you deserve

But you freed me from the clutches of vanity. And my beauty? It’s now sheltered in my heart.

 

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The Dark girl going places; Word Count: 239, Published: Words, Pauses and Noises

 

 

How does it feel to be a dark girl changing countries?

To be attractive in one but not in another?
 

To have a secret stash of fairness creams

Useless and embarrassing now – but just in case

 

To be able to wear bright colors all of a sudden?

Knowing no one here will object

 

How does it feel to see what they see?

To dare and feel beautiful ..

After being admonished so many times?

 

To browse newsfeeds about outrage in the twitter sphere

against discrimination real and perceived

blackface, Oscars, lip shapes..

While staring at the newspaper the parcels from home came wrapped in

asking for fair brides only

 

That orange dress if you can remember

cast away not because it was too tight

It was inappropriate still – too bright for a dark girl in India

How does it feel to look for it again

– shuffling through childhood drawers

In hopes of wearing it, in this other land

 

How does it feel to tell your black friend with pride –

‘You are so much more beautiful’

and suddenly break free, as if an infant saying her first words

In front of your mother in laws disbelieving eyes

Knowing she will never be able to set

standards of beauty free of color

 

 

What is it like to be brown at last and not black

And know that there are many shades darker to look up to

 

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Free form poetry allows me to be what I always wanted to be in my writing. Expressive, temperamental, unapologetic and unsure. So i will not call myself a poet yet, but will continue exploring this form. 

 

 

 

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