1. I Long

Lazy afternoons doze in familiar memories,
as parabolic eyebrows long for that creation,
in which I lose my inhibition
in which I let my senses dance
to the beat of a clicking tongue.
The red smells of the loving, spicy fingers
And the yellow, of the bright laughter.
All colours of a passion I’d die for,
Of a fragrance I’d live for.
Mummy, I really miss your Fish curry.

(This poem first appeared in ‘Kritya, A Journal of Poetry’, ed. Dr Rati Saxena, 2009)

Early poems from Nine (‘Mylapore, Chennai’ and ‘Fatima Convent’)

  1. Mylapore, Chennai

Fresh vegetables
and slush dot inviting streets.
Fight with gods for space.

Eager nostrils take
adai-and-avial trails
to ‘Karpagam Mess’.

Elegant silks dressed
up tall glass windows. I saw
my wedding sari.

  1. Fatima Convent

Buffaloes graze on
green memories that sprout
on my way to school.

Remember that shop?
Bottles of sinful syrup?
Fruit juice on credit?

The white blouse and green
skirt dry on the red terrace.
With them, my school days.

We went together
humming film songs, spilling smiles
till we reached school.

Yasmin, we rolled our
socks down to show our legs
and paid fines to nuns.
(‘Mylapore, Chennai’ and ‘Fatima Convent’ are from Nine, Speaking Tiger, in association with the Jehangir Sabavala Foundation, 2015)

  1. Window series
    Window 1

Blond boy in red t-shirt
washes dishes in the sink
two hours later
he is looking at himself in the mirror
plucking his acne out
the lights have gone out

Window 2

Shoulder moves behind curtains
candle flickers like a silent movie
laptop does not take what it gives.
Someone’s on the other side.
But she won’t cross over tonight.
The lights are staying on.

Window 3

Is dark
Is shut
Is beautiful
Is small
Is cold
Window 4

Looks like a slab of butter
standing up to touch the roof
may be they’ll use it for toast
tomorrow morning.

Window 5

Heavy curtain folds
a face appears
every now and then
to peer into other windows and
then write poems about windows.

I am a woman. And I write

I am a woman and I write.
I write and I am a woman.
I write of longing, belonging
of my body, of every body
of my home, my country, where I roam.
I am a woman. And I write.
my poetics are screwed up.
my imagination dried up.
I lack conviction and I give up easily.
I lack direction and I give in easily.
I seek a voice, which will not be heard
I am a woman and I write.
I make things up because they seem right
I am a devoted mother, a faithful wife
I can be anything I am not.
I lie exquisitely, I choose my metaphors carefully
I say grand things like I’m a woman and I write.
I declare, denounce, decry and detest.
I have a point but don’t care enough to make it
What can I say
I am a woman. And I write.

(‘The window’ series and ‘I am a woman. And I write’ first appeared in Domus, 65, Nov 2017)

What you don’t know

You think you can
Stun me to sleep,
Shun my words
And hold me down.
What you don’t know
Is I am an axe.
I cut you down.