Category: Indian writing in English


Painting by Debra Hurd @ http://debrahurd.blogspot.com/

To
day I
have

bailed out

that
day

clouds held back your tears
thunder outcried you
lightning hit flashes
in your eyes
sky wore
colors
of your skin

brown
black
yellow
grey

Will you
not
today

come out
play with me
raise castles of wet clay

I
I am
drenched
in memories
of days
that never were.

Copyright, Tina Rathore

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And the fog

s l o w l y

settles

upon my mind’s window

panes.

In my mind
the day yesterday
holding in my mind
the day today
in my mind

In my mind
moments that know
no yesterday
today
Forever they are
in my mind

In my mind
thoughts
held together
by sparkling eyes
in my mind

In my mind
shrieking voices
calling me
in my mind

In my mind
my mind
holding me
in my mind.

Copyright, Tina Rathore

Call me Ozon Nokobi
no! call me Ozon Bron
just call me Ozon
don’t call me at all.

I may be God you fear
so much you revere
or i may be a devil
singing for you a prayer.

Do not call me your friend
your secrets my heart can’t bear
or a stranger-

Please don’t take away my life
from pieces i repair.

Ozon Nokobi, Ozon Bron
Nokobi. Bron. Ozon
I wear so many names.
Ask them if they wear me
for attire’s all i care.

Perhaps don’t ask them
i’ll tell you a better story.

There was a man
Ozon Nokobi
who called for other men
remembered strangers, forgotten friends
you and me, may be.

He said he’s giving them life
who have ceased to be.
not from cemetries, tapered coffins
flesh now fire.
But from what
we have ceased to be
what we could have been.

Life he gave, life he took
from scraps he mended pieces
shaping in a whole
calling it Ozon Nokobi.

© Copyright, Tina Rathore.

I wanted to share this poem for long. I’ve kept myself from commenting or elaborating on my poems but i feel it was needed this time. It would certainly help you appreciate(or criticize) it better, but more than that i wanted to share about the most abhorrent of practices that has gone unnoticed.

Fighting female foeticide is a buzz in many social and feminist circles, government has been taking measures to stabilize the skewed male female ratio by spreading awareness in many parts of our country, particularly in north India. There might be a long way to go before people no more yearn for male children over female and understand its consequences but till then the ways to get rid of a girl child are high on their mind.

Today when contraception, sex detection, abortion are some of the many ways by which people get rid of the “unwanted child”, usually a girl child, wonder what people did in the days when such a technology was inaccessible. They buried their infant children( in matkas, urns) to death. This practice was common in north Indian villages.

The speaker in the poem is a girl child who was buried to death. She remembers and narrates her story.

Let me grow in your backyard, mother!

I was born a thought
with your birth, mother!
when the nurse said
“it’s a girl” she also meant
so will there be another.

In your teens
when you bled first
u thought of me
didn’t you mother?

I can count my life
on fingers-
you kept me young
for half your life.
your nineteen years
was my one day.

I grew each day
in your thoughts.
i was a big girl
when dad begot.

You made me learn
all tables
the nursery rhymes
oh! how we played
ring-a-ring-a-roses

How well you read to me-
the Ramayana, the Gita
in your pastime.

How you protected me
from the mortal blows
they had come to kill me
they asked you to abort.

“Mother! they have discovered us
and see! so late
now in my youth.”

I remember the pain
through which i came
you parted me from you
but for what mother?
may i now ask you?

They took me away
and pushed me into
another womb
of concrete.

They had put me in
and pulled the lid
they dug your backyard
and slipped me in.

I stayed there
for how long?
i needed no water
food or your song.

The concrete stomach
pushed me out
like you mother
it broke into pieces.

I was growing mother!
in the pool of your tears.

oh! how again
you nourished me
with your kalshiya water

now again in your arms
as you pluck me
for offerings.

The odor of your body
your starched cotton odhni
the clinker of your bangles
the shell of your palm
-keep me mother in your care-

You decorate me
-your daughter-
to decorate your gods
-the gods of sons-.

Now you put me in water
at your centre table
now you throw me away
with the vase water.

Would you let me grow again
in your memory
in your backyard mother?

© Copyright, Tina Rathore.

Read a short story on a similar theme here>>

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