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A state of emergency is a constancy in every woman's life

Poems by Shrutee Choudhary

Artwork by Xi Pan
Artwork by Xi Pan


I first heard sirens go off in

my brain, when I was just shy

of eight

and there was an earthquake

between my parents

the buildings collapsed

all around me, as I held

my mother's hand at 2 am

and slept at my neighbour's

dreary house

it felt like an emergency

but nobody cared

the second time, I was older

there was a curfew

around my lady parts

I couldn't look pretty

or celebrate my beauty

in front of a man

what if he did

the unimaginable

but it happened anyway

in the confines of my own home

his hand reached for places I

hadn't yet explored

it felt like an emergency

but nobody cared

especially my parents

I'm an adult now

which means, I have lost count

of the times I’ve been wronged

too many times

my entire life's blueprint

has been a coy navigation

of minefields

and I am so tired

of carrying the weights of

my femininity

a state of emergency

is a constancy

in every woman's life

and I'm afraid I will never know

a normal day

Is this the only way?


my father and I only talked about

matters found in books

of science and philosophy

maths and economics

weren't really my cup of tea

we spoke of astronomy and

constellations which came into

existence between us, connecting

the stars that made me

and the stars that made him


then there was this great

distance, when mother and I left

I was too young to understand

the reason

so I called it dark matter

because Einstein said that

even empty space was not nothing

so we didn't speak

even in education

so our conversations remained

equations unsolved

what I didn’t know then

was that it was only temporarily

for ours was an ongoing colloquy

and in that, all else was absolved.


5 AM brought a thunderstorm

the wind knocked at my window

I saw your shadow first, it was

so much taller

than I had remembered

but then, I was also closer

to the light

this time, I had

more fight

you inched slowly towards me

then all at once

like fear creeps in silently before

it grapples you entirely

I unlatched the door despite

being frozen, then I held onto

the corner of my bed anticipating

your arrival

the shadow kept growing taller but you

never showed up. I stayed awake

my legs pruning from being soaked in

the rainwater that just kept rising

they were my tears

I remembered what my

therapist had said — that some people

become the keeper of your traumatic experiences, your Pandora’s box

without you even realising

and they continue to live on

inside your mind, bereft of their personhood

they are metaphorical in their existence, representing everything uncomfortable and uncalled for

to me, that person has been you

for the last three years

you’ve held all my fears

all my darkness in your bare hands

those parts of my life I still do not know how to navigate through, you’ve been a keeper of them too

so when 5 AM brought a thunderstorm

it also brought you

only, it wasn’t really you.


Poems by Shrutee Choudhary

Shrutee Choudhary is a poet, actor, and author based in Mumbai, India. She also has a passion for travelling and photography, making her all about telling stories through various mediums.

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