Poetry from – PRERNA BAKSHI

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A Tale of Round Rotis


Ever Since I was growing up

I was told just how important it was

to cook round rotis.

Perfectly shaped

soft, round rotis.


I hated them

for their supposed

‘perfectness’, in a world

full of people

far from perfect

who would judge

a woman’s worth

by her ability to make ’round rotis‘.


I hated them

for what they put

countless women through

with women slogging in the kitchen

kneading, rolling dough

making, unmaking, remaking

to escape from being judged.

All for that ever desirable

perfectly shaped round rotis.



No I don’t like them ’round’.

I like them Tedhi-Medhi. Thank you!

Far from what’s regarded

‘perfect’, I know.

But at least, this way,

they resemble our lives.

The lives of women.

Lives which are

far from perfect.

These imperfect, unsuitable rotis, then

are much more realistic, after all,

don’t you think?


Author’s note:I dedicate this poem to the memory of Aniqa, a 13-year-old girl in Pakistan, who was recently killed by her father with the aid of her brother after she failed to make a round roti. http://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/pakistan/13-year-old-girl-killed-as-she-fails-to-make-round-roti/


(First appeared in Indiana Voice Journal and then reprinted in Kyoto Journal, Japan)


Childhood games


I used to like playing games

with little toy guns until

one day, while the elders talked

downstairs, he snuck me into

his room…

My interest in toys ended

that day and with it ended

my childhood, though not

my interest in guns. That grew.


(Originally published in Misfit Magazine)


Sometimes the simplest words are the hardest to say


Does language determine thought?

Or, does thought determine language?

This debate is still not settled.

Still it’s fascinating how quickly

does our language change,

how quickly does it accommodate reality,

as soon as someone dies.

Our tongue, suddenly,

rolls out verbs in past tense

before our mind

could even form thoughts.

It’s as if our tongues have a mind of their own.


Sometimes, in the race between

language and thought,

language finds a way

to get ahead.

But not always.

It’s been 11 years since I’ve lost

my sister to blood cancer, and

yet it’s one of the shortest words in

my language, I find

impossible to use.

I guess, I refuse to use.

ਸੀथीthi – Was

(Feminine, singular, past tense)


(Originally published in Wilderness House Literary Review)



***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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