Yesterday too, she yelled it out.
She will scream it tomorrow too
It will continue the day after tomorrow and the day which follows
At last everyone will shout and screech, letting the world know.
She douses the hearth,
gathers all her sarees in the almirah
takes all her imaginary babies
will cross the yards, leap over the compound
cross the road and catch a moving bus.
In the midst of this
I shall sit aghast,
at a standstill.

The smoke from the doused fire
becomes kohl to my eyes
An old saree from the almirah
wrapped around me
I can see myself clearly now.

But, can I cross the yard or
leap over the compound”
Or cross the road?
I stood at the bus stop,
Somehow walking out of my courtyard
Passing the compound and crossing the roads.
I didn’t feel like entering the first bus
because the people in it laughed at me
The second and third buses rushed by without halting.
I could not catch them
Fourth and fifth were for men
The sixth and seventh were for women.
I did not catch them either.
“Hey! You Bastard”, the eighth bus blared its horn.
And the ninth bus went taking me with it.
My head hurt, hands and legs wounded
eyes tearful, I lost my breath
that day on,
Nine has been a bad number.

Translated by Arun A.

The Secret of She who Strokes the Body to Strike a Flame.

Mother never
loved anyone after Father died.
Even Roychen’s stance,
with his Lungi doubled up
has not made her blush.

She covered her dark breasts with
the darkest of bat-sieved nights.
Never did she fling
boiling water at gazes that peeped through
unhinged doors and windows.
When father pounded her, it was not she who puked
and chased, hurling abuse at others.
Occasionally, she gathers up her hair and
shows her stinking armpits.
and shows off the lice infestation on her head.
Stuck to the rusted frame of the door, she
would watch the construction of the road
till the day’s work was done.
And then show that the urine she
held back till then was yellow.
She would show that that her
sun touched breasts were black
and hard like rocks.
She would also show how
a well-aimed kick had
clotted the blood in her navel.
Mother hasn’t loved men
after Father died.
She who pours tar on roads
and rolls the dirt from her armpits
into her sockets,
her lips are salty.
She who lays floors of
cow dung, picks the lice off her head
and laughs out loud.
Their fingers colured
with the waters of love.

She who cleans the floor,
in her arrogance. touches
those black breasts and
gives colour to water.
In turn, her body is darker now.
She who tends to the hearth
or has birthed eight, sleep with mother
“mine of mine”- they hold her tight.
A breathless call
in the language of love.

The men lined up outside cannot bear this.
They show their hate by burning down the hut.
Maddened by fury, they lift up their Mundu, show their hairy legs
Meanwhile, Mother isn’t yet done kissing.
Like her who strokes her body and strikes a flame,
Mother pretends to not notice anything.
She looks inward only upon the sea that glitters.
Actually, even before Father died,
Mother never loved men.

Translated by Sonya J. Nair

Quicksand of Gender

I had a black pecker, one that was not so long
which led me nowhere in spite of many crisscrossed paths.
One which couldn’t be opened, neither inwards, nor outwards
making it hard for me to run out…
Sometimes it stood taller than me
gnashing its teeth, demanding,
“Shouldn’t a boy learn to ride bicycle?”
“Boys ever cry?”
making faces at me,
when I wear a bindhi,
retreating and fading somewhere,
falling, at least at that time,
but making me uncomfortable with an erection when I go out
something I really donot like
something that I hated while masturbating,
while taking a shower,
which appeared above my head and between my legs
like the Holy Cross
something I really donot like
lies silent, like a cross between my legs
till I was caught wearing my mother’s floral print saree
that never fancied me as Christ
People buried me over there
Putting a crown of thorns on my head
Truly, I ought to run out
Like a lizard shedding its tail.

Translated by Arun A.


During the summer, she makes jerky
For the next season of scarcity
She keeps the black breast, the navel and
The secrets which lie upside down.
She orgasms, only while
Imagining the womanly fragrance
And the dried- fish like smell of her paramour.
Her life bursts out tearing her ribs.
When the sweaty skin meets skin,
She touches his chest,
Her fingers hurt, suffocated
tangled in his hair.
She keeps her black breast, the navel and
The secrets paths which lie upside down,
For the next season of scarcity.

Translated by Arun A.


Despite lines
that render my poems
a permanent resident of
the houses in Lesbos,
you determine that
my illicit love is male.
Confident in that knowledge
you spend your days, your nights,
you secretly read my poems
and in their lines,
you seek my lips and breasts.
You imagine him to be the source
of my purple verses.
My lines that I
cannot claim
Drop like diseased leaves

The doors of Lesbos
Will never open for you.
You rain abuse,
burn my books
And soap box narrate
To all and sundry about
the permissiveness that pervades
I am now
sounding the roots
of sunflower seeds
along my borders.
When it becomes a tree
and sprouts
breasts and lips
I certainly shall
chop them and
hand them over to you.

Spare my women
Let them write their verses.

Translated by Sonya J. Nair

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