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Anna Sujatha Mathai

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Anna Sujatha Mathai

Chukar Partridge, Ladakh. Photo by Nitoo Das



A small death is
in my mind.
A Sufi dervish dancing.
Wildly beating drums,
my heart's manic hurricane.
A small joy came
circling into my


Seized upon, it soon

took me over.

Small death, immense birth,

life's foetus, perfectly moving

to its absolution.





Anasuya fills the kitchen with flowers,
Some of them stolen, no, just taken,

            on her early morning walks.

Her silver incense sticks and clay lamps,
jostle with pictures of Shiva with a serpent,
a Krisna rather blue-faced,
Goddesses with many arms,
several images of Mary with the infant Christ,
Christ with his heart pierced,
A red heart with an arrow, rather like

a schoolgirl's drawing,

A picture of the Pope sits side by side
With Saraswati emerging from a lotus.
Then there's the smell of sandalwood and jasmine,
Marigold and joss sticks,
The clink of bells, as Anasuya
calls upon her gods and goddesses.
Every day is a festival,
or a death day, or the night of the full moon, or no moon,
an anniversary, or a puja for a holy day.
She offers all we give her, fruits, flowers, clothes, sweets,
to the gods first. We're not sure who eats them, or when,
the gods or Anasuya.
Then there's Rahukalam or Yemmenakandam,
good signs and bad signs,
evil eyes to keep away.
the temple bells her ecstasy
Some days, her evil moods eclipse the bells and incense.
In anger and despair, she knocks down all the gods,
bells and clay lamps crash.
Later, she agrees her heart is the best temple,
for doesn't God live there
when we are kind and loving?
On those days my kitchen becomes a shining haven
Containing both the dream and 'its inexact flower'.
Anasuya says elephant-headed Ganesha,
Jesus and Lakshmi
can all live together here.



The years are forest paths
Where I've lost my way.
Not even a sun-ray
To guide my wandering,
Get me back to the clearing.
So I must keep on this way,
So narrow, steep and winding,
Groping, falling, climbing,
Between the tall trees,
The shrubs which scratch my face.
Accepting that the only way
Out of the dark forest, might be
To delve deeper, yet deeper
Into the forest's very heart
The keeper, perhaps,
Of my heart's lost secrets.



Only a few fragments remain
of the original manuscript of

my life.

The page is falling apart
the script is hard to decipher,
the letters faded, the bright words obscured,
eaten by termites, the page scored and wounded,
leaving only hints

of the original text.

Memories flare
like dying forest fires
in scorched terrain.
A few words sear

              through the smouldering pages,

Vivid as in an illuminated manuscript.


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