Poetry from PRERNA BAKSHI

 

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Suitcase

 

They say one craves for things

they can’t have.

I never understood why people say

they hate living out of their suitcases.

I want to meet these people.

I would gladly exchange

my life with theirs.

 

For years,

I’ve diligently folded,

packed away clothes, and

everything else in a neat,

organized manner,

in their predictable spaces,

in drawers, shelves, cupboards.

Everything had to be in its

confined, permanent spot, and

that was that.

 

But there is nothing so permanent

about a traveling suitcase.

For it symbolizes transition.

The journey.

The now, not so much of forever.

Each suitcase tells its own story.

 

Uncertainty over

what might lie ahead.

Certainty over

what has been left behind.

Things that will find their place

in future, and

things that just didn’t

make the cut

for them to be packed inside.

A suitcase provides escape.

It gives hope.

It reflects moments.

Moments cherished,

moments left behind,

new moments that await…


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Post marriage bliss, sorry, blues

 

Post marriage,

I have grown a few sizes.

(Make that many)

I wear churidar less, salwar more.

Cut sleeve wearing days are gone.

Half sleeve saree blouses is all I look for.

I hate wearing gold jewelry,

but it gets gifted each year, anyway, some more.

The gold earrings my family gave

make my ears swell.

But I must wear them

for I’m a married

Indian woman, they compel.

A married woman mustn’t complain.

That’s the job of others.

 

With each passing year, I may not

lose a lot of weight but I lose

a part of myself. I slowly disappear

into the crowd of women, or is it that

they disappear into me? Either way, we continue

to disappear until none of us survives,

none of us remains,

until all traces of our

existence is erased.


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Mahua

 

Sitting under the shade of a

Mahua tree, I wonder if

it has ever tasted its own produce – alcohol.

I wonder if it even knows

it produces alcohol.

 

It continues to have an identity

independent of its own produce,

independent of what it produces,

unlike the fate of us women.


 

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Forgotten

 

With no lullabies to sing,

no stories to tell,

no songs remembered,

I rock the cradle gently,

hoping it will stop you from crying,

but you continue to cry.

 

I lift you up,

bring you back down again,

kiss you on your cheek and then back up again.

I do this several times,

hoping it will stop you from crying,

but you continue to cry.

 

I try to feed you.

Pat your tummy.

Talk to you.

Play with you.

But none of this works,

as you continue to cry,

you continue to cry, cry, cry, cry, cry,

until Amma speaks to you

in your tongue – the mother tongue.


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Family gup-shup (Chit chat)

 

Tea will be ordered.

Plates of biscuits will be offered.

Coffee table will be filled

with samosas, kachauris, namkeen.

Then, they’d all sit down

to an abundant meal

prepared by her

(most likely that took hours in the making).

If feeling generous,

they’d pay her some compliments.

After finishing the meal,

family gossip and

conversations will follow

in the lounge room:

 

See, he doesn’t take me out anywhere,

as the room will break out in laughter,

Please, say something!

as everyone will continue to giggle

He’d listen to you, if you say.

She will say with a glimmer of hope

as chuckles will fill the room.

They’d then look at their watch,

say they’d better leave.

 

Another day,

another family union,

repeat.

 

There is something deeply sinister about

our society that finds humor in

women’s sheer lack of autonomy,

forced domesticity.

*****

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***Prerna Bakshi is a Sociolinguist, writer, translator and activist of Indian origin, presently based in Macao. Her work has previously been published in over three dozen literary journals and magazines, most recently in Red Wedge Magazine, Yellow Chair Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Kabul Press, Misfit Magazine, Peril magazine: Asian-Australian Arts & Culture and Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature. Her full-length poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love, recently long-listed for the Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UKis forthcoming from Les Éditions du Zaporogue (Denmark) later this year. She tweets at @bprerna ***

 

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