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

Shruti Sareen

Dream Series




Dream Terror


Often have I had gory dreams

Of being shut up in prison, of rape

Life threatening situations with no escape

Gruesome visions that oft made me scream.


But lately I had one of unspeakable horror

It was all the effect of Wilde's book

Dorian Gray took me off the hook

The dream made me weep and shudder with terror.


The one whom I love, I planned to kill her

I planned to kill her while I slept

The grossness of this I cannot forget

Cold, cruel, bloodthirsty murder.


"Please tell me she's alive, tell me she's not dead!!"

I cried out full of shame, repugnance, dread.





Dreaming Queer


Cubicles in a dormitory

Or berths in a train.         

Night. Three girls on each

Scrambling for space, packed

Like sardines, lying side by side

Trying to sleep. Shifting, adjusting

Alternating places. Loving, fighting,

Exchanging partners, and back to loving.

Because they loved each other

And would not stay apart

And nobody would stay with them.









Dreaming Kissing 


Our mother was not in the house

And me and my little sister, a child

Kissed together, lip to lip

Ah! What sorcery made me dream such incest! 


Another night, another face

Another kiss, each lip to lip

Such sweetness, such joy

I thought it was real—

But dreams are sadly fragile illusions. 










Dreaming Childhood


Licking a trail of chocolate

Like a fast vanishing, slithering snake

Dressed in school uniforms

For big words like decency. Sobriety.

Climbing tipsy turvy curvy monkey bars

In twists and turns and shapes

We would be afraid to climb today

Did we climb these monkey bars in college

while saying “awesome mausam”

To reach buildings, one class to the next?

No indeed, sadly we were far too grown up in college

For careening and spinning like pinwheels

No, you won’t have to cartwheel either

You need not be afraid of returning to









Filmy Nightmare


A mother. A father.

An erstwhile couple.

A daughter. A film.

A train. Policemen. Cops.

People disappear from this train.

Especially, their caste is important

Sometimes women are punished

For unwomanly acts. Like walking

Out of marriages. The train

Is spiralling out of control.          

They have to go from Lucknow

To Magatpur. But where

Is Magatpur? It seems that they have

Left Magatpur behind. It seems that

Magatpur is in Lucknow. But then,

Where is the train going?

Where are THEY going?

A girl disappears from the train.

She is like my sister.

The mother and the daughter, weeping.

Inconsolable. The film ends.

There is an elevator. They are

Going up. The mother and the girl.

Are in agreement about the film.

The father differs. Suddenly,

The girl holds the mother: “I love you, I love you, she cries.

“You would not have been alive

If you had not walked out of the marriage.”







Dreaming Harassment


I was called at night. 3am.

To somebody’s house. Alleging

That I had harassed their daughter.

A night spent with two little children

and their parents, found me pleading,

Confessing, begging to  be let off.

Then I somehow escaped

Somebody helped me across the city

Crossing local stations, in that dead of night

And miraculously reaching home, safe Home.








Dreaming Encounter


I was looking for internet

And there was no electricity.

Modi and his men were

Somewhere in the vicinity.

I decided to go out far and wide

To hunt for internet. I walked

And walked and walked and walked

And again bumped into Modi

And a bunch of his followers.

They asked me to have a snack

And I sat down with them

Evening tea with Modi. I tried

To smile and appear sweet            

And to sugar coat my words

But eventually, idly

My mouth popped out the word “bhakt”

I was gazing and reading from a piece of newspaper

But they were quick to catch on

And seized the word, pounced upon me

The sweet talk turned to hostile stares

And grins into grimaces

I tried to be a dissembler

Somehow managed to escape

With my life and my freedom intact

I smacked my forehead at my dumbness

I should have glibly told them—

“Bhakt is what others call me.



Dreaming College


College was opening after hols

a billiard table occupied our class

We were scattered here and there

Someone removed the table

You came in, wearing glasses, goodness knows why

I wore a red kurta like yours

You told us some very interesting anecdotes

About your hols, but I’m sorry to say

I slept through quite a bit of it             

I was not allowed to be there

But I had to finish my last year of college

You see, so I was there.

Then we all went out, A on horseback

Or was it a motorbike? I behind her.

I called her N by mistake

There were boys too, I wonder

What they were doing in a women’s college

A boy said A and I were lesbians

I said that A won’t be with anyone

Then the boy and A were lying on the ground

Kissing, and I wondered what had happened to A

And you? You were looking on at us.







Dreaming Guilty


Sometimes I see the pretty pictures

Of your little niece, your sister’s

Daughter, (does she call you Mahi?)

on her dad’s social media.

Restricted viewing, of course. Only

What I am allowed to see. I love

to see those pictures. They are so full

Of love, of happiness, of warmth.

And gaiety. And beauty.                 

They draw me into their circle.

I share

The spirit they exude for brief moments.

As bountiful a forest garden as her name.

I wish I could hold her, cuddle her, play with her.

I wish someone held and played with me

As he does with her.


Last night I dreamt that I was being punished

For looking at these pictures










Dreaming You



You visited me, angel, perhaps at midnight

We were someplace and you turned around

and said “Is this Shru-tea’s room?”

With a slight smile, a graciousness

And a sun rose within me, with its warmth and light

Its glow caused flowers to blossom and bloom

This abundance of plenty and beauty to me

Was rainfall to the parched earth in drought.

Wouldn’t it be the beautifullest

To wake up and just live into the Dream.






I don’t remember who else was there

Or even where

But you spoke to me

You were speaking to me in one-liners

Which you did not bother to explain

If I needed explanation

But isn’t that the way you’ve always been

But maybe you deigned to say more to me

But we were both there           

And you spoke to me






You had quit your job because

the education sector was ruined, you said

And was falling apart at the seams

And you had joined a government textile store

And I wondered why because

you had a government job anyway

But then they increased surveillance

Over communication

And you quit social media

And they told me that though roused

And groused by their actions

You refused to comment against them

Because they increased surveillance

And you had a government job

They blamed you but I

Kind of tried to understand.

I meanwhile tried to battle

The communication blockade

I think I ran over fields chasing cattle

While some weird men looked on

I tried to get a broken ring repaired

A ring which had a million beads

A million beads which had all

Scattered and had to be restrung

I tried to explain to my family that

The blockade and surveillance was not okay

And I followed you faithful as a dog

Until I woke up, crying your name out loud.



We were all in a fast moving train

Students and faculty from over the globe

I had to tell the driver to stop after one lakh kilometres

But I had no idea when that would happen

The train itself with its huge cabins

Became our classroom         

We had to choose from courses of study

That the faculty offered, though I

Had a strong urge to dance instead

You stayed in your friend’s cabin

But you came to mine for dinner

And I spoke to you, and you

Spoke to me, not just once, twice

Thrice, but many many times

And we ate dinner together

And we would have so many more

Meetings in our classroom train

So easy for a witch like you

To make this dream come true





About the poet

Shruti Sareen studied in Rajghat Besant School KFI, Varanasi and went on to do English literature from Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi. With a keen interest in Indian Poetry in English, her MPhil looks at the depiction of urban spaces whereas she has submitted a PhD on twenty first century feminist poetry at the University of Delhi. She has had over a hundred poems accepted by Indian and South Asian journals, and a handful of short stories. She is passionate about poetry, music, teaching, Assamese culture, queer love and sexuality, mental health, nature and environment! She blogs at www.shrutanne-heartstrings.blogspot.com.

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Published by The Alternative.