Three poems of Bhawna Jaimini
The Green Silk Saree
My sister and I drooled over the aluminium box which my grandmother finally opened last summer. The box knows all the secrets of my family. It has become a legend now. before we saw it, we often questioned its existence. But there it was, in metal and space. My grandmother had decided that the secrets were not important enough anymore. So she would distribute them all equally. I was asked to choose first. If allowed, I would have taken the whole box but I settled on her green silk saree. It was the first silk he bought me when we both went to a South India tour in 1976. Bangalore or Madras. I don’t remember anymore. My grandmother said, in a dry, matter of fact tone. The green silk saree is a symbol of love, that could not be. Now I know why she didn’t want to keep it anymore. The pallu tells me the story of the first time she wore it anticipating a compliment. Instead, she was handed over, ‘you look so fat’ and ‘stop eating all the time’. The fall tells the story of the time when she accidentally tipped over but no hand came to rescue. The hand was busy stroking someone else. The oil stain on it tells the story of the night when he didn’t come back home on her birthday. She ate alone, finding comfort and love in deep fried pakoras. As I examine the oil stain She tells me I can get it dry-cleaned I decide not to. When I wore it that night, she told me That I looked beautiful. I told her she too would have. She smiled and her face lit up. I am dry-cleaning the stains, one yard at a time.
A poem for all the poems I send to my lover
by James Mcbey
I always wanted to fall in love With someone I can send poems to. The sad poems, the happy poems The pretentious poems, the poems With an identity crisis, depressed poems Bad poems written by good people And good poems written by predators. There is only so much your own poems Can tell. Sometimes, only borrowed words Can help you describe the shape of that one Face you would want to see after your cat dies And when that face walks away from you and Your dead cat to walk the dog of a shiny new thing In their neighbourhood, you can come back to your Empty apartment and cry yourself to sleep after Reading every poem you ever sent them. You will realise there are poems that you will never Be able to read without thinking about them. Don’t read them for now. Let the poems reclaim You slowly. They have a way of never leaving, you know? While you wait, find a few poems which you can slowly Unwrap from the memory of that afternoon Spent trying to skip stones on a forgotten Lake whose edges were lined with singe-use Plastic bags. Once they are unwrapped, keep Them safe for when the next one comes along. That’s the beauty of poems written by other people. They adapt quickly to the season of your heart.
For Mahavir Narwal
Mahavir Narwal with daughter Natasha Narwal and son. Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal’s father Mahavir Narwal died of the coronavirus infection in May 2021. Natasha was arrested in May 2020 for allegedly being part of a premeditated conspiracy in the northeast Delhi riots in February 2020. She was booked under the draconian and stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Mahavir Narwal was not able to speak to Natasha while she was in Jail.
As days turn to weeks And weeks wait for their Turn to feel complete as Months, we stare endlessly, Hopelessly for signs of a future That promises something more Other than the change of date, Month and year. All the people Who promised us a future are Dead. All the people who fought For our right to the future are dead. Today shall be mourned as there Will be no tomorrow. Tomorrow Belonged to the man who Died without kissing the Forehead of his daughter. He Died without passing on his Baton, his rallying cry for a future That despises us all. Now we Will forever be trapped in a Present that continues to mock Us in a loopy fashion. No one Prepared us for this day when Words like ‘be in the present Moment’ would sting like a bee. Today, we want nothing of this Present where a daughter is Denied a last embrace of her Father. Today we want nothing Of the future. Take us back to the Past where we are slurping On melting ice candy on sticks Under the hopeful gaze of Mahavir Narwal who believed That this country belonged to us all. Now that he is dead, there’s no more Pretending that it does.