Monday, November 12, 2018

History Lesson

She is sitting with her husband  on a narrow bench
perhaps, they borrowed it from a school
dressed in starched cotton like the mothers
in those days, her eyes stretched wide open
as butterfly wings before a flight
her right shoulder gingerly grazing his.
Her children hover above her
as chicks around their mother
battling for food,
standing straight
with no bend in the body
hair immersed in coconut oil
neatly parted to the right, or in the middle.

The two girls have worn frocks
that rest below the knees
with black socks pulled up
to camouflage the legs.
Boys dressed in shorts and shirts
have been buttoned up
till their Adam’s apple hurts.

All of them smile in unison
as if the person behind
the camera tempted
them with sweets.
Black and white portrait of a family
that came into being, forty years ago
one of the boys is missing
so is the father, the mother still wears
stiff clothes, her eyes flicker
like an old tube light
Second from the right, was my mother
who now looks like the
woman in the photograph.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Melpadom, Kuttanad,Kerala, 12th January 2016

On the gilded dome of another dawn, strange shapes
of different sizes are being made
sometimes it looks like an orange
being peeled, sometimes like tender mango skin
then it changes colours, like a chameleon
behind villas getting eaten up
by dust, a slow fire burns
in a shanty.

Riding on the lacy blue winds
birds return home, to a place
where eyes will be heavy with sleep
earthworms wriggle back into tiny holes
as coconut trees let their hair loose to dry.

The murky owls will take refuge
in the chimney of the house
before which I steal a glimpse
of shadows growing paler
of hens getting into their coop
and the servant scuttling into her
one room house
the sky will rub off the red vermilion
from her forehead
and will soon wear a black veil.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Last Supper

In the name of the Father, Son and of the Holy Spirit
the Red Sea parted and enemies counted their footfalls
on the graves of our forefathers.
Since then, milk and honey haven't flowed
only bombs have made music
as we walk on egg shells.
We preserve the locks of hair our daughters left,
and remember our sons by their pictures
we waited for their burial, drunk by the unholy passion of pain
their tiny bodies we held, close to our chest, all night
to not let the maggots feed on them,
their graves do not know their names
as the apricot trees that gave them shade, have wilted
at the enemy's commands,
for a few pieces of silver, they have plotted against
our husbands, who will be nailed
to their crosses soon.


The full moon bleaches the blood
on the battlefields
as their cup runs over,
they dip their pens in it, everyday
and write deadlier decrees of death
while we fatten ourselves, innocent lambs,
to fall prey to a landmine or a bomb
Please do not betray us with a kiss of peace
that was promised to us at birth,
the sheep of our flock have been scattered
as our shepherd won't come to lead us
Death is our final Resurrection.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

27th September 2017, Marine Drive,Mumbai

This city never changes colors
unlike humans and chameleons,
the queen watches the sky pour ashes on her head
as the prostitutes teething pain behind their painted lips
offer themselves to the heat of hunger.
Dancing to the garish tunes of this concrete jungle
mountains rise from molehills
as I look for you like a helpless child
who's lost her way back home.

This morning I had my breakfast at Theobroma

as the cold coffee cut through my parched throat
I saw the smiles you lent me 
melt on the brown velvet cake
chewing vegetables sandwiched between frail breads
I ate fear
fear of a rendezvous someday over an English breakfast
my eyes riveting in circles
trying to thaw cold feet stuck in my shoes
circling dates on a calendar
skinning nail biting moments from dead carcasses of air.

It's a long lustrous night before the day spills gold

on the feet of trees
Here in my room coiled under a blanket
I wish you would blow gently over the clouds
that embower your city, sending rain to me
I've always loved walking in the rain.
Tomorrow these messengers of yours will wake me up
their winter melting on my palms
Don't know if this is how it would feel?
Your first touch.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Daughter not in Law

In this month
and in December
five years ago,
I had to be stranded
in the land of Pambayar
the land of three rivers
that clings to paddy plantations
in a winding wisteria
My grandpas' land.

Daughters are sent
to an alien burial ground here
tied to a man
with a golden garland
like cattle roped on
positioned poles.

Grandma came from another country
where the earth was petrified of coughing clouds
my eldest cousin went to a land
where trees touch the sobbing sky
another went to a place
where the mollified mud
crashed and churned houses
youngest went to a state
with slanting roofs
that sleeps by eighteen hours
for heat retention,
my elder one would go to a city
melting with economic elegies
Ma came to the heart of India
Aunt went to the hills
where rubber is as precious as milk
every time I visit grandma's grave
the wind blows towards the west
as if she is asking me
with advisory authority
When will it be time for me to go?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Weight of a Memory

1) everyone loves the arrival of 
new things. Like the sun hides
to let the stars appear, the moon
rests in the deep annals of the sky
a lone object. Scarred, colourless
but bright. 
2) winters melted on the palm of the earth, until it started to burn.
flowers sprouted from new born buds
but sooner, it will be a funeral pyre
that will burn petals of life,
everything will turn to dust.
3) stuck on the soles of my shoes
are the moments I counted back,
when I waited upon him, while he never came I stumbled,
evening walks lay stretched on a straight path. 
4) I thrust my pills into my mouth
I need one more to live through the night. It swallows pain, like the last hiccup that I gulped,
I look at the things I don't need
everything that is garishly coloured is a memory. 
A few weeks later I know what happened to me as I discarded the garbage bag
An episode of partial amnesia. that ate my headaches. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Status of women in the Syrian Christian society

Introduction

The paper aims at showing the practices and procedures existing in the events of birth, marriage and death amidst the Syrian Christians of the state of Kerala in India. And the rituals and customs aimed at creating a mental and social divide in a patriarchal society with the place of women in the father's household and in her conjugal household after marriage. So also it will explore the elements of Syrian Christian wedding and the Indian practices customized exclusively for the women, and not the men to bear as symbols of devotion in a matrimonial relationship. 

The subject of analysis are the Syrian Christians of the state of Kerala in India, who believe that they were converted by St. Thomas, the apostle of Christ according to myths that date back to AD 52, but since 17th century have been divided into several different church denominations and traditions. The Orthodox and Jacobite syrian Christians are two of the segments of one denomination which split in 1912, with one paying allegiance to the patriarch of Antioch and the other to the Malankara metropolitan, the Catholicos.1
Kerala society in the earliest centuries was traditionally plural. It allowed for the portrayal and interaction of the Hindu, Christian, and Syrian codes which led to a later society inspired by all these schools of thought. There was an effective internal impetus towards reciprocal relativity among the various spheres of social life, and less of dominance or submission of any one in relation to the others. There had been the areas bound by a pluralistic system of values in which the other spheres of activity are accorded their due and place. It does not mean at all that the Syrian Christians did not have their private world. They did have their own private world. It related to their rituals and ecclesiastical life, “with the norms of endogamy determining the level of contact and intimacy between the individuals”. The Christian community, as the traditions of the Syrian Christians show, lived and developed and the Christian life grew on the pattern of temple-life of the Hindus.2 The community must have lived together as a caste, in villages or in towns, as is the ancient custom of India, and the church probably stood in a central place. Apart from the convenience for church-worship, the Christians considered it spiritually elevating to live near the churches, and this preference for living near the churches has continued in Kerala down to this day. They used to bring the sick to the church. The churches and the surrounding places were used as inns or Dharmashalas by the pilgrims.

1 A. R Sreedharan Menon, Cultural heritage of Kerala, An Introduction, p 57
2 A. M. Mundadan, History of Christianity in India, Vol. I, Bangalore, TPI, 1984, Pp. 1-21