Saturday, July 27, 2013

Groom Price for a Niece

In a few days she will be married. All of 22 and a commerce graduate. She will don the golden white saree and wear the bridal bun, one that has decorously become a habit with Syrian Christian brides. She doesn't know the guy she is going to get married to. I was told she never had a word with him. Just saw him smile at her, while the elders of the family discussed the best bid for the groom price. They asked for a more than five lakhs, and my cousin brother sealed the deal for about two and half lakhs. They say if she had been more educated the prices could have shot up. And deliberately maybe, her father didn't educate her much. Just sent to her to a grad college and did the permutations and combinations.  He couldn't loosen the strings of his purse further so asked her to not study more. Don't know if she understood the implications of not been able to study beyond that and did she ever know of a tomorrow that her father was planning for her.
I only spoke to her once, on my January trip to Kerala. She didn't speak much, except stutter and smile shyly. She kept looking at the dress I was wearing that day, in her land they do not allow girls to wear anything other than sarees and salwar kameezes. In the company of those three children, two of whom are only a few years younger than me, I felt like a fool. A fool haplessly holed in the twelfth century, where girls weren't given the confidence to speak to people they meet for the first time in their life! (Oh yes, that was our very first meeting!)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Orange

My grandfather’s house
bears witness to the river’s anklets
drunk by its song
she entices paddy fields and dusty dribble
an enchantress who doesn’t age and never stoops
unallured by the coughing of an old red bus
red flags are raised
for a plate of food and rusted brass
for every lump in the throat chokes and digs
a grave for another old woman,
oil soaks a school girl’s hair
her red ribbons braided so tight
that she pays salutation
to everyone she meets on the road.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Suicide Note

To the dust dilapidated
under a six inch stiletto
goodbye is giving
a favour for forgiveness
when the neck of the night
wear jasmine as her fragrance.
I count glow worms like stars
trampling to tethers
the arrogant neighbour's cigarette butt
The window pane of the old man's house
broke, strewing silver
on a night bleeding moons.
My hands tremble
to the bruises made by a kitchen knife,
cloaked behind curtains
dancing to the music of a fan
I cling to a door handle not thwarted
by a summer that will strike soon
fighting for my farewell
in tireless thanklessness
when the yellow roses in
a pregnant pot
smile at me in asking
"Who would water us when you go?


Featured in Muse India July August Issue here and in One Title magazine here

Monday, July 8, 2013

Parvati

She fills carcasses of coal
in a casket of copper,
and picks the bulky bully
with ease, scratches the surface
of red, pink and black
to line out lapels
wringing a wrinkle
from a green sari she cannot wear.

She is a bony elfin
to carry those cargo of clothes
clutched in her ailing arms
sometimes, cradling her crop
she never frets or fumes
nor does she lament
for this hand
feeds her misfortune
on a tottery table.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Marriage-Old Testimony

Marriage is a character
you play in a carnival of cliff hangers
you are sought for slavery,
you are the dwarf in the pictures
made to wear spineless stilettos.

Marriage is a question
answers ail to escape from your mouth
with choices that have no chance
you become the woman
behind the successful man
is there anyone telling on you?