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NaPoWriMo'23 Day 19-20: What we cannot hear / Second thoughts before deleting a photograph

What we cannot hear is our own voice by Shivaani Dushyanth

Religion is my disabled

Neighbour who washes

Her feet in the blood of botched

Relatives and cleans the restroom

With newspapers because

The headlines are to be flushed

In toilets while she Is

Being abused in the same.

She wears a piece of cloth

In evening sunsets and praises

The mosques then enters

The churches and sits in

Temples while muffling in

Dargahs and vomits a language

Of peace that is swept

By late night, and settles in the

Garbage tanks by morning.

Every other day, she

Tries to knock the houses of

Fragile secularism but

Rather hangs herself

In their verandahs,

And yet the servant

Shakes her like a cloth and

Hangs her again, but this

Time in their terrace wires

As she is dried and

Worn out in words of her death.

While walking on roads

She claps her hands and

Stamps her feet while

Standing on top of traffic lights

And road signs to be

Noticed but humans

Seldom obey them, let

Alone avoid her from being

Another accident of

society's rage.

In the dhaabas and

Hotels she praises

Houdini and lives in the

Served food hoping to be

Swallowed recklessly, but

Cautiously she's thrown away

To the feets of dogs

Because the first man died,

And the second poisoned,

And the third was of

Another cast.

While, she is being sold

In markets as a prostitute

Her meaning is spelt as

Equality as sex begs to

Differ in languages of

Bigotry as the organs

Between your thighs

Orphan the dictionary on her

Name and the skies turn yellow

When they moan, and red

For the same when they aren't sold.

The casual apocalypse

Of her anarchy is swept

Under the doorsteps and

The world remains a saint but

While it opens they

Poke fingers on needles and

Stumble on staircases for

When cuckoos learn

To abandon greed, her

Body will be a mere statue

That is seldom worshipped.

She walks, jumps and even

Hears the cries of

Grief but is disabled in the

Most convenient,

A mouth sewed with the

Thread of her ancient grandmother

And stuffed with stones carved

As idols, she cannot speak

In the consonants of freedom

Which might cleanse this world.

For what we cannot hear, is

The sound of solitude

From her tongue chewed off

By the dogs in her street

And will continue to

Doom ourselves as the weak,

Because what we cannot hear

Is religion speak the wisdom

Of unity which remains foreign,

For what we cannot hear is

The stop signs, as

What we cannot hear is our own voice.

Un-remembered photographs by Aadrit Banerjee

I sit naked

stitching old photographs on my skin.

Forgotten putrid smells, little touches

stored with them — lost somewhere

among the neon-square pixels,

de-focussed, — returns, remembers —

kisses, frozen in frames, reappears on

my skin, as little droplets.

This blurred

monochrome shot of the crooked banyan

tree was taken on the day you left me.

In their sensous language, photographs

speak to me of your absence, suck out

memories of my bones. My fingers

grow numb

scrolling through the rainbow grid,

similar to how I would

trace stars on your chest.

This close-up of the earthen cup

of chai, with the red walls of the college

in the background, was shot

on the day you had told me

I was looking sad in the warm blue

shirt I wore.

I have never understood why we store photographs, nevertheless, I look at them,

till I forget pain, believe in the false sense

of presence these photographs create.

This one, here, of us, was clicked

by your friend, when you sang the

first ghazal, stopping in between,

to look at me. In the room full of people,

I had helplessly looked away.

I close the screen. A drastic heaviness

settles down. I look up. I try to

breathe in the abyss where you have

left me. I open my phone — drawing

the quick pattern, connecting the

dots, but never reaching you —

and I open my gallery.

There's Jama Masjid, silhouetted

against the Ramadan sky, and there

is us, kissing under the half-moon. The

photographs makes this city feel like


I hit delete.

Why do we exist only in photographs by Nithya Vijay

My phone keeps blinking:

Brimming with memories,

I'm staring at a photo -

I wish I could delete,

Occupant of my phone storage,

A flower in my head,

Amma says I hold on too much,

But I've rented a room in my past,

Perhaps I've got to let go,

The Past and bygones;

Pebbles from beaches-

Still, hide at the corner of my shelf,

I hold on to them-

Like I store teardrops to drown my misery,

And this photo on an April Sunday

It's an old one,

My phone scoffs like Amma,

Blinks twice disbelievingly-

Are you planning to let go?

You've aged 3 years,

It's a blurred one,

Why do you care?

I press the delete button,

Yet it asks for confirmation.

My smile pleads through the glass,

I remember -

I don't even smile for snaps now,

A hazed photo -

But will I think of it then:

50 years later?

The moment as I see-

Through the pixelated photo,

If it ceased to exist,

With the press of a button,

Would that memory-

Travel to a dark corner of my mind?

Why do we exist only in photographs?

Not a poem on my eyes;

Maybe I'll keep this color,

Perhaps it'll keep me off the noose,

Or pull me up from a cliff,

Perhaps it'll make it to my obituary-

As the only picture of a cynic;

I'll keep it for the lavender,

my lover's movie - a scapegoat,

Maybe I'll love myself this little bit,

The only capture of my smile-

Through the lens that loves the burgundy sky.


Poems on prompts "'Second thoughts before Deleting a photograph' and 'What we cannot hear'"

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