Tag Archives: women

Their daughters

Paracetamol legends I know
For rising fevers, as pain-relievers—

Of my people—father’s father’s mother’s
Mother, dark lush hair caressing her ankles
Sometimes, sweeping earth, deep-honey skin,
Amber eyes—not beauty alone they say—she
Married a man who murdered thirteen men and one
Lonely summer afternoon her rice-white teeth tore
Through layers of khaki, and golden white skin to spill
The bloodied guts of a British soldier who tried to colonize her. . .

Of my land—uniform blue open skies,
Mad-artist palettes of green lands and lily-filled lakes that
Mirror all—not peace or tranquil alone, he shudders—some
Young woman near my father’s home, with a drunken husband
Who never changed; she bore his beatings everyday until on one
Stormy night, in fury, she killed him by stomping his seedbags. . .

We: their daughters.
We: the daughters of their soil.

We, mostly, write.

(First published in Quarterly Literary Review, Singapore)



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
hazy dreams
of a virgin soul
have dark outlines.

Silently she cries.
Her tears are black.
Like her.

Long Ago
in an
family tree
of temple prostitutes,
her solace was sought.

It has happened for centuries. . .
Empty consolations soothe
violated bodies.

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
as karma.

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
never learn
the Depth of her Dreams.

She believes—
Cosmetics were
once. . .
War paints.
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)

Apologies for living on

i am living on
because providing apologies is easy


i was making choices
with insanely safe ideas of

i was a helpless girl
against the brutal world of

i was craving for security
the kind i had only known while


i am locked away
a terrified princess waiting

i don’t dream or think
i just remember and wince


i ran away in the darkness
nothing beaconed me more than the

i ran into the arms of the ravishing night
nothing pulled me back: not even the memories

i ran until terror stopped my tracks
for, trembling i turned and saw that the moon was

(First published in Great Works, UK)


(to consuming six glasses of orange juice)

the next morning in school during your
english exam you take permission to go to
the toilet where you throw up all the white
and creamy breakfast milk. only it tastes
sour and looks like bits of maggoty curd.
weeks later, you get to know two things
one of which will change your life for ever.
first, you scored the highest in the english
exam. second, you became a gossip item.
you still don’t know what affects you more.

because of your boldness and brashness
and bunking classes your ulcerated vomit
is taken for morning sickness. the sourness
extends when you hear hushed whispers
passing around. girls younger than you,
point at you and speak such banal secrets.
in staff-rooms, and in ungainly corridors
teachers chatter of your child, so vividly
imagined in the backdrop of your really
empty womb. slander is a slaughterhouse.

even best-friends seek answers as the
rumours inflame. your anger is mistaken
to be toward a crude imagined lover who
disowned you. you know the nauseous
truth of your thighs: you are virgin. But
evidence will not be revenge, for, so many
smoky eyes implore you to supplicate, to
admit alleged truths. impeaching faces lay
down rules: don’t shout or scream, but
swallow the shame. next, confess the sin.

sin yes they will shred your innocent life to
that yes you may fume or froth or boil or
simmer yes you are their staple soup they
need you just this way yes your fury takes
its toll annihilating you not them yes anger
and hatred seethe in your untamed tresses
yes you know how gossip chokes even the
tethered dreams yes something breaks in
you yes dear yes you start the brute search
for sleeping pills and chaste suicide ideas.

(First published in Cerebrations)

Songs of summer

“I am happy, life is good.”

 Heard at the end of a therapy class. . .
 The heavy-duty brainwashing and you
 Remember your crores stacked away. . .
 Your Harvard airs helps in large doses
 Soon, the colors peel away and there is nothing
 To do than wrestle with your yearnings.

“I would like to make love.”

 Wanna fuck? It is easier saying it this way
 For something that you paid for in cash
 And cheques and credit cards.
 Forget the lesser action, the lack of poetry—
 What mattered was how you let go
 Of your hate and heat and hunger
 But never had the courage to talk
 To her of love or loneliness. . .

“You are trespassing on my territory”

 You guarded it with LoCs and walls
 And barbed wire fences where hatred
 Danced like high-voltage electricity. . .
 You killed creatures and cleared forests
 And wiped away the darker people
 And those of dreamy tongues with
 Your agenda of a war-a-week, the
 Worlds-to-win and vengeance-to-wreak. . .
 Your Mushroom clouds and wmds and
 Poverty drafts and armchair chivalry and
 A collective manhood of nuclear warheads
 That explode and penetrate. . .

“She’s mine.”

 To make her yours and yours alone,
 You pushed her deeper into harems
 Where she could see the sunlight
 Only from the lattice windows.
 Domesticated into drudgery she was just
 Another territory, worn out by wars. A slave
 Who maintained your numbers.

“Let’s make love.”
 ~all that you thought~
 What’s taking her so long to undress?
 Quick! Sooner!
 ~all that you said~
 I m gonna fuck till ya faint. . .

“Oh how nice to have made love.”

 ~breathless~ Iminahurry. Cyasoon.~panting~

Here are the words, again—
I am happy. Life is good / I would love to make love.
You are trespassing on my territory/ She’s mine.
Let’s make love/ Oh how nice to have made love.

On sunny green fields these are the only
Six sentences the male of a grasshopper can ever say.

But what have we done with words?

Hymns of a hag

I fancy myself being a witch.
Broomstick borne and black as pitch.
                                Thin, stark-naked and with fire for eyes.
                                Killing men whom I despise.

Bewailing the woeful life I led.
Casting dark spells, makin’ them dead.

                                Thronging ghettos, to unbend bent backs.
                                Handing them knives, ’least an axe.

Lot later I fly to temple streets.
Our men firm, I show my feats.

                                Haunting oppressors to shave their heads.
                                Cutting all their holy threads.

Experiencing joy as they bleed.
Dance, rejoice my black black deed.

                                Leave one farewell note, an obscene cue:
                                ‘Judgment day is long since due.’

Ultimately, I’ll lie in the ditch—
Ne’er give a damn, when called ‘Bitch’.

Becoming a Brahmin

Algorithm for converting a Shudra into a Brahmin


Step 1: Take a beautiful Shudra girl.
Step 2: Make her marry a Brahmin.
Step 3: Let her give birth to his female child.
Step 4: Let this child marry a Brahmin.
Step 5: Repeat steps 3-4 six times.
Step 6: Display the end product. It is a Brahmin.


Algorithm advocated by Father of the Nation at Tirupur.
Documented by Periyar on 20.09.1947.

Algorithm for converting a Pariah into a Brahmin

Awaiting another Father of the Nation
to produce this algorithm.

(Inconvenience caused due to inadvertent delay
is sincerely regretted.)

(First published in The Little Magazine)