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Shobhana Kumar

Shobhana Kumar

Of goddesses and baby girls

She rocks her child
One last time
For it will soon be time
To bury her
In sacrifice
To the goddess
Who is the only one
That can grant that boon
Of bestowing lust
With a child
That will sire
But not hold within
A life.

This child now,
Will be sung
The final lullaby
And fed a potion
Of the sap 
of poisoned cacti
that have willed their lives
amidst desolate land
only to be culled to kill
a child whose 
laughter the village cannot bear.

But who will carry the seeds
They desire?
When there is no more womb?
Will they beseech the goddess then,
To lie? 

Tribal. Bestial.

We were here before you,
Intruded our world 
In the name of civilisation.
We were here among the trees, 
The birds and the bees
We were one with them,
For centuries 
Before you came, invaded our ways 
And taught us grace
Of your animal ways.

We were here before you
And yet, you deem it fit 
To teach us things – 
Of big bangs, toothpaste, 
And other material things.
Ah! Your ignorance! 
Worthy of a good laugh, 
For no matter how many trees 
You rape to write your histories, 
You will never know the secrets 
Our Mother has taught us through 
Her stories.

How to plunder the forests, 
And gain satisfaction through 
Printed notes of greed,
We will never need.

But once you knew, 
How beastly you turned, 
Such bestial rage we have never seen, 
We have never seen. 

But the lush treasures of our green 
And the virgin trust of our girls and teens 
Turned on the beasts in you,
And we were left watching. 
We were left crying.

When you brought us your savage ways, 
We wish that we had learnt it well, 
Of how to turn on the beasts within us,
And give you hell. 

Alas! That is a lesson our Mother 
Did not teach us.
Neither did the trees,
Nor the birds and the bees. 
And now, we are left watching 
You murder our innocence 
And rape it well.
Tears well
But mute our pain, 
How we wish we learnt those lessons 
From you again. 

Yesterday’s is good enough

the memsahib has arrived, 
hot, sweaty and sticky from 
her forty-five minute workout.
the wetness of sweat has neatly 
settled upon the even lumps 
of prosperity, 
even as prosperity strains from 
the stretch of a 
brand that screams fitness.

the table is set; spread in 
delicate detail, awaiting 
friends who will arrive 
in shimmering georgettes, crepes 
and muted gold.

in minutes she emerges, coiffed, 
gleaming skin – the crows’ feet 
hushed and muted for a few hours. 

her friends and she 
talk of how tiring it is 
on the treadmill, of how 
difficult it is to watch those 
calories burn, 
in between mouthfuls of 
feta cheese, gouda, before 
they wash them 
down with wine.

five courses later, 
the kitchen sink is full, 
with half-eaten titbits, 
discarded in haste, 
when conversation turns 
to those calories again. 

tomorrow, memsahib will spend 
and extra hour, 
and come back hotter, and wetter with sweat. 

but today, kamala must hurry.
she must finish her chores 
because today, kamala has a special treat.
her one meal of today's dhal and 
today’s rice is 
wrapped in a plastic grocery bag.
today’s rice is a treat, is it not,
for it is usually yesterday’s?

she is hungry, of course
the little ones at home
are waiting. 
for today's dhal and 
today’s rice.



Gulzar : Guftagu with Sukrita Paul Kumar
Pavan K Varma : In Conversation with Charanjeet Kaur
Atreya Sarma U : ‘The Battle of Palnad’
Sanjukta Dasgupta : Julian Barne’s ‘The Sense of an Ending’
Anish Krishnan Nayar : Poems of Irom Sharmila
Devyani Agrawal : Writing of Khaled Hosseini
Madhu Singh : Bhisham Sahni’s ‘Wangchu’
Minu Mehta : Public Choices & Private Voices
Sudeshna Kar Barua : Toru Dutt’s ‘Our Casuarina Tree’

Book Reviews
Nuggehalli Pankaja : ‘Perfectly Untraditional’
Pramod K Das & Narayan Jena : ‘The Poetics of History'
Rita Nath Keshari : ‘Golden Island’
Sneha Subramanian Kanta : ‘The Second Choice’

Ambika Ananth – Editorial Comment
Krishna Chakravarthy
Zinia Mitra
Jairaj Padmanabhan
Sandip Sahoo
Sasnarine Persaud
Shobhana Kumar

Gautam Maitra : ‘Varsha’s Encounter ...’
Kanakasabapathi K S : ‘Dora’
Shaily Sahay : ‘Roodrabhisheka’
Tulsi Charan Bisht : ‘Twilight’
Atreya Sarma U : Editorial Musings

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