by Dr Shruti Singh
(Bengaluru, Karnataka, India)
1. One gossip girl
Why did she crib in her bath?
when the tap stopped gushing out warm water midway
knowing well some didn’t even get it to douse their thirst
On a full stomach,
why did she sulk over the absence of dessert?
whilst aware of those deprived of a meal a day
She now was a tad apologetic
each time she did them
No one would tell her what to do
So, she thought by herself
She hunted her archives for the ugliest photo of hers
to put out in the world
For her, this was atonement
while she itched to go back to when she was oblivious
She opened then the page last read
of her monthly vanity magazine
Swayamvara . . . Swamvar . . . woman in control . . .
. . . man of her choice . . .
Sati . . . Sita . . . Kunti . . . Draupadi . . .
Loopholes . . .
She read further.
. . . only saw them face to face on the D-day . . .
. . . mandatory to garland the winner . . . rejection is prohibited.
. . . suitors . . . any age . . . married even . . . with existing children.
. . . choice influenced . . . by family’s preference.
. . . cannot marry the one she loves . . .
Often, . . . a strategic alliance.
“I can’t find one decent theme for my essay,” bellowed her frustration
“What is the topic?” enquired mother from inside
the ajar bathroom door.
She stalled a bit, “Women empowerment.”
“Oh,” the mother exhaled,
“You can find many articles if you give some time.”
The daughter felt it best,
to offer her quest a rest
And to go about her usual of talking, laughing and daydreaming
The women of the house continued their indifference.
he had started joining his building kids
whenever was their time to play football or even Kho – Kho.
he had started climbing his three-floor stairs,
as residents wondered at his new-found interest in fitness
as if, trying to prove something.
he had switched to buying groceries from the market,
resting his delivery apps.
he had started doing house chores
without anyone telling him to,
raising eyes at home.
Rushing for privacy, he coughed and coughed
and then lots more
until he was almost sure he was breathless.
He couldn’t tell anyone
the smoke he had inhaled for seven-tenths of his years,
had found a place cosy in his body and refused to come out
till this life of his prevailed
No one could know what he had
4. Ways of protraction
The time dilated
when there was bliss.
The jaw protruded
as a response to her awkwardness.
The shoulders initiated an abduction of ninety degrees
to complete that hug,
as she imagined the man she had come to like.
The longing prolonged . . .
The distance between farther than ever.
She was being called incessantly to get up
she wanted to protract some more
herself with her mind on her bed of comfort
Where she could think
of all the different types of protracting
The time dilated . . .
the longing prolonged.
5. Waiting periods
They think I'm wasting
when I am waiting
But I'm also thinking then
And thinking fast
On bus stops, in bank lines, on ticket counters
People will not trouble you
when you are waiting
Because they believe you are already suffering
by waiting in line
But I am enjoying
for I am thinking
Because there is just noise from strangers
Because I can just keep standing or sitting while waiting, and think.