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Read me our constitution to sleep, three poems by Ananya Aneja

1. Childhood?

As a child, I used to chew paper,

As an adult paper chews me

seeking an apology.

When love triangles mantled cinemas

Now I wondered if they too can be

solved by Pythagoras theorem

When I carried a grape in my chest pocket,

wondering if my burning heart

could ripen it into a resin

When I traced the world map

with a red sketch pen

wondering if Earth and Mars

would then be twins.

When I wondered if they sold

women in black polythene bags

When I intentionally left one shoe

outside the temple wanting

it to be found by a prince

I am glad, there's no cinderella today

Perhaps if there was one,

The news channels would collapse

debating whether

she is a Hindu or a Muslim.

I was neither a child

of summer, nor winter.

When I was a child,

I wondered. I wondered too much

that if fingerprints were

shadows of my fingers

Or if earth shaving her green

body hair after being stigmatized

too was deforestation.

If climate change is

universes' menstrual cycle

Or why white is never written before black?

If blindness comes out of vision or

Does the moon know

about constellations?

The signal glitches

because satellites are tired too?

A childhood left unanswered,

grew up into a question ending with a full stop.

2. Even justice has ice

Once a lawyer questioned my wit,

"Tell me precisely, the number of hairs on my head?"

I smirked back at him, counter questioning —

"Only if you can tell how

many files more your courtroom

tables can endure"

On the banks of Ganga they worship,

cries a cremated body

holding tight to her country's jurisdiction.

Yet I know, I know it won't melt

Ours is a world jabbed in its stomach,

Where humanity doesn't know

if it should fly or migrate,

Ours is a nation with pimples on

its face mistaken as hot air balloons.

Do not tell me, you demand justice,

When you yourself spell it as just-ice but not just-fire.

Those who refuse to write poems on

the bonnets of their trucks but slogans

on their foreheads owe us a law dictionary.

We who pluck the flowers before smelling them,

dare to make an eyewitness pledge over a holy epic

I tell my faith to tie its shoelaces tight,

because it topples every time I see the youth of my nation

marching with candles in their hands, screaming

"we want just-ice"

There's certainly a ball in your court,

So stands a woman in a satin gown blindfolded.

A weighing scale in one hand,

a corroded sword in another.

My lord, I don't beg for justice

Perhaps there's more "just-ice"

in the hearts of your criminals.

I just demand fire,

A bucket full of fire,

to blow life in my quenching pyre.

3) Read me our constitution to sleep

Why do poets love roses so much? 

Because a beautiful poem

to be completed, 

demands bruised fingers and

an enchanted nose.

You loved me with a dictionary,

Where every word found its meaning.

I am loving you like a telephone directory,

Every number I dialled connected yours.

They tell me, I came empty-handed 

and that I shall not take anything with 

me out of earth's fences.

They are those who don't know, 

my luggage was my minuscule 

heart I came with 

and I shall take it back,

All full of you.

you hesitate to ask me, 

Why do I love you so much?

I love you because every time I 

rub savlon on your wounds, 

and you burst a pearl 

out of your oyster alike eyes 

You remind me of my homeland.

Out of all the ways a man can die off,

If I die from a heart stroke.

Don't rush to the hospital

screaming my name

Because it is the death I desire. 

To die with the seismic

amplitude of your name.

We glued the temples of

our palms together,

Yours was the right one,

mine was on the left

The moon in our palms was crescent

Perhaps I'll sleep tonight blaming

it for our incomplete fairytale.

If a book had a tongue,

Would the pin-drop silence

rule in libraries still be valid? 

It is the history, that books have 

always been celebrating

Even by those who don't read them.

Perhaps you celebrate the

constitution without ever reading it

Our lungs could write poems,

Every breath of mine is a

word in your praise.

This is the ballad we wrote. 

I lament at our roles

                     — you were ink, I was paper

Because ink fades but yet the paper stays. 

Hush, don't tell the trees about the hands that planted them or they will grow as their fate.


Ananya Aneja writes about women, wars, refugees, and everything that has a throat but lacks a voice. One can read more of her poems on her Instagram.

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