Dear Nationalist : 5 Poems

Breakdown : Building a Poem

So, there’s a skeleton
of a poem, in my head
A skeletal frame,
I am adding flesh, words
flesh giving words
Fluctuating between bones and flesh
the soul of the poem lurks somewhere
This poem is where I belong
As is in every poem else
This poem moves, feels as I,
feels as us.
It stammers between art and politics
and its commingling.
Is there a way to evade,
this dissection of me
this diagnoses of the poet-poem?
This utter starkness of scrutiny,
on women with words,
on women with speech,
on women with bodies.
I shape my thoughts as if an itch,
or a shriek.
And t(he)y speak, speak and speak,
Enormous spaces swallowed in,
Says, you belong, or you don’t.
The law of manu is not one,
it replicates thousandfold
The law is copied out,
for every community, ethnicity.
Nation with every claim of separateness falls prey
I pray,
every nation crumbles.
Customs are as large as continents
To belong or not
is just a category of walls,
Brick by brick
Word by word
Against the words, against the world,
sometimes revolutions break down walls
Brick by brick
Word by word
Sometimes revolution itself is a wall
Built with bodies of women.

Dear Nationalists

Nationalists of any hue
Nationalists of every hue
You are all saffron to me
I would if I could
Have conversations with you
Fill townhalls with arguments
But your words only reach
Through hate mails
Arrive late at night
Through made-up names
and real threats
You asked me
the nationality of my vagina
You fear
In its chasm lies
The key to the community’s downfall
Of course, you are the true warrior
Anointed by none but yourself
My vagina is my own battlefield
My body in every inch, every darkness is mine
I know logic slips away from you
For that
I am filled with no anger
But sadness for you.

Notes on a difficult daughter

Difficult daughter disappoints
Ungrateful brute
Go about dreaming her own dreams
Her lips utter names of other Gods
The sun shines bleak in her skies
But she thinks otherwise
World weary she will
come home broken
Prodigal daughter
will remember her erstwhile Gods
The advancing distance
no longer distant
She will be back
with her usual unsure gait
Sole inwards
shying away from the world
That is how her school shoes eroded
Sole inwards
Let her dream betray her
She will be back from her promised land
Her imagination will be once more
held captive
By the prescience of I who borne her
She who resents me now
I had once stretched my skin
to contain her being
Skin of my skin
Flesh of my flesh
Bones of my bones
She was in my womb
almost strangulated by the umbilical cord

Each life I gave her
she wore around her neck
asphyxiating herself
She claims I relish her fall
Fall after fall
from every Eden I built her
Thus banished
her exodus will be endless
Every land will spit her out
Every land will give her commandments
From God to Man to woman
How many times will she melt down my gold
to make herself a golden calf
to anger the prophets
to tempt the Gods
to fits of rage?
Every land will give her commandments
From God to Man to woman
She resents the few I give
Three decades back without me
She couldn’t even breathe.

In the absence of a corpse

So, what should we do in the absence of a corpse?
I heard he died in training
In Bangladesh or Burma
What day do we choose for the Shradh?
Do we choose?
Is this better than the stench ridden corpse?
The son of the neighbour next door
reclaimed three days late
Death degrading itself into stench

The mother says “He isn’t dead
I haven’t seen his ghost yet
You see, there are no walls, to contain the dead
They have to come back”

In the absence of the corpse
How do we convince she isn’t a half widow
but a full widow
And you thought half and full
is only the proverbial water in the glass tumbler

In the absence of the corpse
Can’t we just get another
Give it her name and set it ablaze
in her name

Many do come back after the cremation
Not as spectacular as second coming
But no less a miracle

They come back, sometimes to grief
sometimes to happiness
sometimes to indifference –which is worse than either

You see, sometimes in the absence of a corpse
We are given to too much hope

Farewell, natal home

My room
filled to the brim,
in expectation
of a grand farewell
They want me away,
I should be away,
never come
in sight, sound, sense

I am told
I am lucky
to receive
the carved furniture,
the carved pain,
the carved agony of un-belonging

Like chaff from grain,
throw away the husk of men
and give me the finest

they’ll grudge
my every visit.
the phases of the moon

On the ninth day
after the new moon;
I’ll weep familial demises
at the door
unable to cross
the threshold
of my natal lunar calendar.

Love they said it was
that sent me away.
Ah! love,
that castrated me
from my childhood
into unequal parts

He too said it was love
that took me to him,
seven circumambulations
and I bowed each time.
He kept count.

I sucked on
a lozenge of hate
and counted all their love.
I will leave
with the hate stuck in my molars.
I’ll blot from life
and become a worm
still nibbling
on the hate of so many loves.


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Soibam Haripriya Written by:

Soibam Haripriya's poems have appeared in Samyukta: A Journal of Gender and Culture; 40 under 40: An Anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry: Poetrywala, Guftugu, Indian Cultural Forum. Most recently her work appeared in Indian Literature’s issue on 21st Century Indian Poetry in English. She currently teaches at TISS Guwahati.

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