#42. Shobhana Kumar

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Questions I ask myself

If you could be equal

in an unequal world,

where would you plant

your feet?


On a floor that slips

with alarming regularity,

or a place

where holding your ground


everyday battles?


Whose hand

would you hold?


Would you get ahead

or stay back?


Would you bend

to pick up the remnants

or will you leave

without a trace,

all the lives

that have held place

for you?


The kiosk is run by a lady who opens shop at 7 in the evening everyday. In the corporate world, she may have won accolades for her punctuality. But here, there’s only the haphazard queue of auto drivers, cab drivers, and daily wage labourers that squat on plastic stools and eat, perhaps their first meal of the day. She has always been generous with her portions.

Now, there is only a dark pool of oil that her kerosene stove has spilt.

Kiosks don’t qualify for essential services.


no omens for the future

in sight

 *Forthcoming in a book of haibun published by Red River


Home chores stretch

between walls

into predictable loops.


Work piles

cloud after cloud

and splashes

into a pot of milk

that has just boiled over.


At night

they come together

like angry lovers,

each, incomplete,


to draw their boundaries


the next morning.

Shobhana Kumar has two books of poetry and six works of non-fiction covering industrial and corporate histories. She works in the spaces of education, communications and social work. She is Associate Editor of Sonic Boom and its imprint, Yavanika Press. She is deeply influenced by haikai writing and her book of haibun, A Sky Full of Bucket Lists is forthcoming by Red River. She is part of The Quarantine Train, a poetry workshop founded by Arjun Rajendran. She works in the spaces of corporate communication, branding & advertising, education and social work.

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