Volume 4 Issue 2, June 2020
Special Issue for Indian Poetry

Nandini Sahu

Dreams, These Days

Dreams, these days, are of the moon and moon-manufacturer!

The gripe translucent skies in the night

the mood swings of solitude, the cognizance of the air, purer,

the memories of missing moon motif, a vanished delight.

 

Dreams, these days, are of the sea and the seafarer.

The uncluttered, sweeping ocean epitomizes much more

than an unbiassed body of water; it embodies a malicious elegance

that never hesitates to induce the narrator.

 

Dreams, these days, are of some make-believe love and some eternal lover.

Ahh! Genuine love is measured by how deep you tumble
and adjudicated; mediated by how trivial you are, how willing to scuttle
just to save it and make it linger.


Dreams, these days, are of a comrade and about some paramour.

It is resolute by how keen you are to unclutter.

Offer your conviction. It is generous, incredible

and apparently very kind. It is, of course, often biased, it is colour blind.

 

Dreams, these days, are of travel and the traveler.

The wanderer and the wanderlust, the reminiscence and rumination.

Do not foldaway lost travel stories to the hermit’s harbour

there is a great lot you aught to see post contagion.

 

Dreams, these days are of many lands, many homes and the homemaker.

There is boundless share your passion daily does sought to travel.
You needn't unpack right away, keep your luggage at bay.
You are not parting, your authority shall you take back, oh seafarer!

 

Dreams these days are of a long life-- glorious, happier, healthier, better.
Still, if you succumb, the show goes on even minus you, so don't despair.
Dream anyway, love anyway; you shall soon find your ‘home’ awfully closer!

The marvels of the mourned sound colossal; they may, as well, entice and lure.

 

 

 

 

  

Letter to My Unborn Daughter

  

Tiny limbs smeared with my fresh enflamed blood

oozing out of the womb, gushing in fact.

I knew. I had lost you. Then and there. Shattered.

The sadomasochist burped then, and snored

 

in a short while, when the maid rushed us to

the local hospital. I heard what you never uttered.

Ahh heal ‘us’, protect ‘us’, you and me, me and you,

Mom and her little girlie, wish to take the world in their stride.

 

Today, a letter to you, my unborn daughter, after

long two decades of quiet travail

telling our tales to your younger brother,

with a bleeding heart, I smile with exuding tears.

 

Smile to see my dream daughter alive in

her brother little; so full of love and compassion, so much a

feminist-humanist male, so strong to hold Mom’s head high,

so much you, so as I would have you.

 

Ah! There was such rage over a female foetus

growing up to be a girl of power and conviction, like Mom dear.

Or like the Pancha Mahakanya. And the marital rapes, the threats

to snatch you any given day, if I dissent; and then the termination.

 

If at all there is a next birth for you, my little fairy,

come back come back to my womb, life minus you is such dreary.

You need not play the games that the heart must play.

Pronounce before birth, you are not gonna be the woman of clay.

 

Like Ahilya, never fall prey to Indra’s trickery; and if ever you do,

do it by your choice, not anyone else’s, neither Goutama’s nor Indra’s.

Your penance need not be broken by Lord Rama, the one who

judged his wife; you need not regain your human form

 

by brushing his feet. Remain that dry stream, that stone,

till you find a way to my womb again, in another life, another Yug;

you need not be condoned of your guilt, you never were ‘guilty’.

Let Indra be cursed, castrated, concealed by a thousand vulvae

that eventually turn into a thousand eyes. Or like Draupadi, take your

birth from a fire-sacrifice, be an incarnation of the fierce goddess Kali

or the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi; but never be the sacrificial goat

to accept five husbands just because someone else deliberated.

 

If any Yudhishtir drops you at the Himalayas because you

loved Arjun more, look in his eyes and declare, loud and clear--

it’s your right to live, love and pray. While never deriding

the Duryodhan and Karn of your destiny, live laudable my dear.

 

Nor Kunti be your role model; but if ever you propitiate the sage

Durvasa, who grants you a mantra to summon

a god and have a child by him, then take his charge.

Don’t you recklessly test the boons life grants you by haze

 

nor invite the Sun-god, Surya, give birth to Karna, and abandon.

An unborn child is better than the one dejected, forlorn.

Or if ever you are Tara, the apsara, the celestial nymph,

who rises from the churning of the milky ocean

 

be the Tara, Sugriva’s queen and chief diplomat,

the politically correct one, the woman in control of herself

and folks around. In the folk Ramayans,

Tara casts a curse on Rama by the supremacy of her chastity,

 

while in some versions, Rama enlightens Tara. Be her, the absolute.

Or be Mandodari, the beautiful, pious, and righteous.

Ravana’s dutiful wife who couldn’t be his guiding force,

Bibhishana’s compliant wife, the indomitable grace.

 

Be you, the elemental, candid, real woman who is my ideal.

Don’t ever let another female foetus be the victim of

sadomasochism, unlike your fragile, fledgling Mom.

Be all that she could never be, be her role model.

 

I send you my prayers, the prayer before birth.

Moon, rain, oceans, and the blue firmament,

shining stars and a sun aglow are all that I have--

you must call them your own, my unborn daughter.

 

Forgive me my love, for you died with all the petals

falling from my autumny breast, the breast that you never suckled;

you rain on my being and burn my heart, but calm my soul

like simmering snow slowly concealed yet revealed.

 

You will stay indomitable, taking new lives every single day

in Mom’s prayers, poetry, social responsibilities, ecofeminism,

messages, voices, layers of thoughts and action. My girl,

I am what I decided to be after losing you, that’s the euphemism.

 

I am not just a woman since that fateful night, but entire

womankind. Now I am a woman of full circle, within me there is the

power to create, nurture and transform. I rediscover pieces of myself

through your unborn narrative, in the resonance in my quirky confluence.

My Tranquil City, Tonight

 

Is it fine with you, love, to live and negotiate

through the language of oblivion?

 

It’s a separate matter that

this is yet another love story for you.

And you can tell us, re-tell, re-tell more tales.

 

Some know parts of it, some not even a hint of it,

some compose their own editions of it.

Anyway, I remember the primary version of the tale--

that clouds froze in dark nights.

Despite your claim

that I took your story and turned it into

whatever I needed to.

Fair enough,to make the world contented

of late

you began to amend

a simpler, happier life for yourself.

Fair enough, love!

 

I am glorious.

Proud.

More proud.

Much more, tonight.

To love you is like going to 

the battlefield.

One comes broken, bruised

from the battle, for sure.

Still I feel like a lepidopterist, who has

Gloriously peeved an unusual moth.

 

We couldn’t have been written out of the past, right?

I know that you know that I know.

The untold and the told, I know it all.

Predictable, comforting, heartening sorrows,

but trustworthy, consistent ones.

 

Tonight

my city is tranquil;

as if the city is having its meditation classes

as if we all are gleaming from our Yoga sessions.

Tonight

the sky is the woodland of stars.

 

I wonder,

is another world possible?

Ever? Ever?

 

Life failed me in a nebulous yet fundamental way.

Let me embrace what you have given me

like we embrace old friends;

let me deal with your gifts like 

we handle old enemies.

 

Perhaps it’s raining in my head

perhaps it’s my survival strategy.

I know that you know that I know.

This is how it has always been

between you and me.

 

I made you so tall, I needed to,

in order to live life;

and thus, you always act 

as if I owe you a thing or two.

 

We have been simultaneously

sweethearts and former sweethearts

siblings and former siblings

lovers and former lovers

friends and former friends.

When it comes to the matter of heart

we always have had

 an implicit jungle of safety nets.

 

Your knowledge has made you pessimistic; 

your intelligence, tough and callous.

You think too much and believe too little.

And love even less.

 

You are my salvation, you are my nemesis.

In you, I have been swimming through layers of love.

With you, the heart suffers like a grey pebble

in an accumulating stream

rolling down, always in motion.

I have been your beloved madcap.

You know why. I don’t need to tell.

 

I knew love, the macabre, would visit upon me.

So you did.

We knew that we knew that we knew.

 

And then the Judgment Day had been forestalled

a blessing received its place.

 

I wish life could be minus such determinations

and death minus such finality.

 

 

 

 

 

The Naked King

 

The naked king walking pompous 

the grass full-fledged in his matted hair. 

 

His heart is sun-bleached and blanched 

with the hot summer of haughtiness. 

 

The foggy rainwater and the wintry dew 

have tainted him, victory has gone into his cranium. 

 

Time has threaded about his bones, 

the besieged ivy curls and sneaks. 

 

In his eye-balls the nettle keeps 

a word of caution about him while self-righteous he naps. 

 

Over his mortal body the eerie wind moans 

with a monotonous melody throughout the years. 

 

No one dares, no none dares, to call a spade a spade 

he walks through the streets pretentious.

 

His nudity is nude like the invisible air 

he swells in delight of his possessed charm mightier. 

 

In silence we watch, not stepping out

of our comfort zones, all legitimacy forgotten. 

 

Sealing in our senses a deadly slumber, 

while some bless and praise his indiscernible outfit. 

 

‘The king is nude! Oh he’s naked!!’

Screams  the little boy free-spirited. 

 

We catch hold of him, the audacious, 

we stone him, we imprison him, he’s our conscience. 

 

Through our world of woodland  banquet lie, 

we know we sob, our prospect colder, and we know why. 

 

Considering the sick, we yearn for the powerful, 

amidst our peers. We begin to live, minus the naked king.   

 

 

 

 

About the poet

Prof. Nandini Sahu is a major voice in contemporary Indian English literature. She has accomplished her doctorate in English literature under the guidance of Late Prof. Niranjan Mohanty, Prof. of English, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan. She is a poet and a creative writer of international repute, has been widely published in India, U.S.A, U.K., Africa and Pakistan. Apart from numerous other literary awards, she is a triple gold medalist in English literature; she has received the Gold Medal from the hon'ble Vice-President of India for her contributions to English Studies in India in the year 2019.

       She is the author and editor of thirteen books (fourteenth book under publication) titled The Other Voice, The Silence (a poetry collection), The Post Colonial Space: Writing the Self and the NationSilver Poems on My Lips (a poetry collection), Folklore and the Alternative Modernities (Vol.I), Folklore and the Alternative Modernities (Vol. II), Sukamaa and Other Poems, Suvarnarekha and Sita (A Poem), Dynamics of Children’s Literature, Zero Point, published from New Delhi. Presently she is the Director, School of Foreign Languages and Professor of English at Indira Gandhi National Open University [IGNOU], New Delhi. Prof. Sahu has designed academic programmes/courses on Folklore and Culture Studies, Children’s Literature and American Literature for IGNOU. Her areas of research interest cover Indian Literature, New Literatures, Folklore and Culture Studies, American Literature, Children’s Literature and Critical Theory. She is the Chief Editor/Founder Editor of Interdisciplinary Journal of Literature and Language (IJLL), a bi-annual peer-reviewed journal in English.

www.kavinandini.blogspot.in

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