The last thing she does
before she gets ready to die
once more, of violation,
she applies the mascara.
in that last and solemn moment
the call-girl hesitates.
With eye-catching eyes
she stops to shudder.
Maybe, the dyed eyes
mourn her body’s sins.
Mascara. . .
it serves to tell her
that long buried
of a virgin soul
have dark outlines.
Silently she cries.
Her tears are black.
of temple prostitutes,
her solace was sought.
It has happened for centuries. . .
Empty consolations soothe
Sex clings to her devadasi skin,
assumed superficialities don’t wear off,
Deliverance doesn’t arrive.
Unknown Legacies of
Love made to Gods
haven’t been ceremoniously accounted
But still she prays.
Her prayer words
desperately provoke Answers.
Fighting her case,
Providence lost his pride.
Her helplessness doesn’t
Seduce the Gods.
And they too
the Depth of her Dreams.
once. . .
She awaits their resurrection.
When she dons the mascara
The Heavens have heard her whisper,
Kali, you wear this too. . .
(First published in Indian Horizons)
Posted in Caste, Mythology, Poetry, women
Tagged cosmetics, devadasis, dreams, feminism, Hinduism, kali, make-up, prayers, prostitution, temple dancers, women
Ours is a silence
that waits. Endlessly waits.
And then, unable to bear it
any further, it breaks into wails.
But not all suppressed reactions
end in our bemoaning the tragedy.
the outward signals
of inward struggles takes colossal forms
And the revolution happens because our dreams explode.
Most of the time:
Aggression is the best kind of trouble-shooting.
Two months into love and today I turn into a whore
Hunting for words, tearing them out from soiled sheets
Of mind or pinching them from the world like removing
Jade-green flecks from tiger’s eyes. . . And poetry refuses
Entry into my mirrored life that is bequeathed to him.
I try the mad-woman’s antics: I have pulled my hair and
Bruised my thin wrists and bit the insides of my cheeks till
They have bled a warm red sourness and I have starved
In arrogance to call the words home to me and thrown up
To clear me of him but he, strong dark man, refuses to budge,
Give way or take leave. My dark nights of savage tears have
Gone in search of needy shores deserting me (with the devil
Of a lover who sleeps half-a-dozen streams apart) and so
Have the words that once made me the sad lone woman
I was, and pretended to be. I am happy now he says and
I nod, like a Tanjore doll in breeze, and reply in cloying tones
This is happiness. I know I do not indulge in lies or delusion but
This is happiness and happiness is a hollow world for fools to
Inhabit, where all the dreams eventually die by coming to life.
Love has smothered me to a gay inertia and I long for a little
Hurt and pain that will let me scream and I wait for offending
Words to row me into worlds where I shall cry wildly for whole
Nights like the lament of lonely, old and greying seas. . . Then
Sadness shall come back with its dancing fairy lights and nail me
To wailing crosses. . . Poetry, in the end, shall replace all of him.
(First published in Muse India)
My bed smells of textbooks
and it is more than a month or so,
since I dreamt of sunlight and the sky’s
embrace. Even a woman’s lush vanities —
scarlet silk and shining gold — have been lost
on me. I am snared in a world of aqua, fuchsia,
and lime set dangerously against black and white.
Words tightly wrapped,
and imprisoned in a cluster of
highlighter colours, share my slavery.
Rattling loud, the colorized intrusions
have pickled the past, leaving me to savour
saturation. Oh hell, even my treasured dreams
have been bleached away in shades of three, or five.
Save me, from this
of fluorescence; where lines
rehash the pages brutally, moving
with sounds of spectacled scrutiny.
For, all that I can bear to comprehend
is the loss of dare: my sheltered cowardice.
And, the sole comfort I crave, through stifled
tears is stolen love beneath stained glass windows.
Dearest, lavish your love
in slender earthtone shades,
in the colours of skin singing —
to shield our renewed dreams,
and to believe, once more, in absolutes.
(First published in Sulekha)