Monthly Archives: August 2016

Usha Kishore

3rd Vol, No2  (August  2016)


Reading the Daughter of Fire

{after reading Pratibha Ray’sYagnaseni }fire

I read the Daughter of Fire as she reincarnates

herself in each new age, as a vibrant new text.

I read her as she steps into the world, from a womb of fire.


I do not read her dark beauty, her intoxicating fragrance,

her lotus eyes, her slender waist, her sensuous limbs.

I do not read her five husbands, hopelessly handsome

Kuru men, sons of Gods.  I do not read her five sons, children

of lost destiny, desperately squandered in everlasting exile.


But I read her conjugal rites, fire-walking from husband

to husband.  I read her dragged by her unravelled hair

into the court of Kuru kings.  I read her writhing under

lusty eyes.  I read her yellow sari unwound by lecherous hands,

her ritual body contracting with spasms, her heart

wrenched again and again by the five silent men,

who pawned her away at dice. I read her rage at hands

that summon her to a wretched thigh. I read the words

of that noble warrior of the House of Sun:

Disrobe her, the dark skinned whore!


I read her, Daughter of Fire, in her eternal angst.

I read her screams of agony for sons cremated

intheir sleep.  I read the demon blood drenching her hair.

I read promises made, I read promises rent.

I read withered hope, fluttering at her breast.

I read the betrayal of womanhood.


I read her fire-walking in the battlefields of Kurukshetra,

where that old man Time lies wounded on a bed of arrows…



The Ghost of Abhimanyu

You are fast asleep now mother, as you were thenabhimanuand so was my father, the silver archer, both

of you measuring my fate in your sonorous snores,

while he, the Universal Man, unravelled secrets

ofchakravyuha, armoured discs in wheel maze,

sealing my entwined life in eternal battle.

I wish you were awake.  I wish you had memorised

the rest of that ominous spell, you who were human;

I was not human enough. But, you had slept through

vibrant dreams that bore you on the wings

of darkness, away from a beloved legacy you had

passionately engendered.  You had smiled sweetly

in your sleep as the resonant voice of the great singer

had frozen on my half-formed ears.  My life, short,

sweet, blazing with sound and fury, vibrant like

the thunderof battle drums that dies with night.

I was conceived to be slaughtered by a horde

of blood-crazed cowards, on the thirteenth day

of the great war.  I had fearlessly entered

that ill-fated, seven tiered spiral, only to lose

my way in that dreaded labyrinth of fate.

Wily providence had slyly shape-shifted

into your slumber.  I, scion of the moon,

who had valiantly held at bay that splendid son

of the sun, relentlessly fought the circle of shameless

Kuru chiefs, with my chariot wheel, only to be

mercilessly slain. You are not even here to mourn

for me, you are mercifully locked away on this

bewitched golden isle in the middle of a wine red sea.

This fire-born stepmother of mine, takes my torn body,

bloodshot and broken limbed, on her lap and screams

to the skies that even the stars shed tears.

How many mothers mourn their sons today, their tears

drowning the wind?  Their memories, trumpet-tongued

raising the seas and bringing the heavens down.

My warrior father swears self-immolation

and that Universal Man smiles in immortal bliss.

I was born a saviour of the Bharata clan, they say;

a warrior prince who bore the destiny of a dynasty

in his charmèd life.  I come to take leave of younow,

on your golden isle, to see you smiling in your sleep,

yet again.  I have no regret to halt my fleeing soul,

only a parting wish that the Bharata flag flies high.

I leave a seed in a widowed womb.



 Uccaihśravasamaśvānām viddhimām amrtodbhavam


Manoj Samanta’s Sculpture

In a single wave of mustang light, he rises,

seven headed equine prototype, neighing

thevedas.From the churning ocean of milk,

he ascends in a ring of white light; wings flapping,

he travels the skies with the speed of thought.


Hypostasising a myriad myths, he rears

in thunder, parting the air, to wage some

cosmogonical war with wind, rain and sleet

in his tossing mane. Mighty muzzle, dripping

immortal elixir, battling the anger of serpent fumes,

the light spirit dances with the stars.

Jubilant as the moon, the rainbow wingèd,

bejewelled horse blows in cosmic cloud.

Sky wrapped, he roams the void, as a sleeping

god wakes to create yet another world.


Each god lays claim to him, each demon.

Knight of Valhalla, eight legged, rune toothed,

shaman stallion, lending his wings to Asgard’s gods

Sun gods fastenhim to their chariots of fire

that circle the earth from dawn to dusk.

Progeny of monstrous blood and the seed

of a water god, he rises again from the waves

of a boundless sea, whinnying litanies

to the heavens. With wind-whipped mane,

astride on a blazing fire of ballads, he spirals

in the milky oceans of distant galaxies.


As time wakes up from his dormant egg,

the white horse flies in the minds of men,

shedding legends from his flaxen forelock,

his jewelled hoofs, his golden bridle,

his blazingrubied eyes. They lay wagers

on his tail, black serpents eclipse him

as he traipses the horizons.

They sacrifice him relentlessly

at their altars of fire-

  • Kingdoms for a horse    –


They callhim river spirit, enshrine him in

temples and try to tame the forever free.

He perches on their flags, battles for

centuries and becomes their lyrical muse,

trumpeting pastoral symphonies.


He will ride again at the end of time as saviour,

hero, god figure, in a ring of white light-

– From death to life, from awareness to

existence, from darkness to light –

Uccaihśravas, sacred steed of the mind, fly with me!



  (Uccaihśravasamaśvānām viddhimām amrtodbhavam: translated from Sanskrit as –

Among horses, perceive me as Uccaihśravas, born of amrita. {10.27,The Bhagavad Gita.}

Indian born Usha Kishore is an award winning British poet andusha translator. Usha is internationally published and anthologised by Macmillan, Hodder Wayland, Oxford University Press and Harper Collins among others.    Her poetry has won prizes in UK Poetry competitions, has been part of international projects and features in the British Primary and Indian Middle School syllabi.Usha is the author of two poetry collections: On Manannan’s Isle (dpdotcom, UK, 2014) and Night Sky between the Stars (Cyberwit India, 2015).  Translations of the Divine Woman, a translation of Kalidasa’sSyamaladandakam was published in Dec, 2015(Rasala India).

Kamal Kumar Tantii

“The one who is dead before death”


Painting of Mike Absalom

We gave him the salute for one last time
Even though we knew
He died like a dog

We showered flowers on his dead body for one last time
Even though we knew
He was famous for his fox-like slyness

We placed him in a grave
Even though we did not know
Just below his grave, in a line
We were sleeping  Silent


KAMAL KUMAR TANTI (b. 1982) is a promising young voice in the contemporary Assamese Poetry. Kamal is a bilingual poet and writer, writes both in English and Assamese. He belongs to the Adivasi Tea-garden Labourer Community in Assam. His first collection of poetry Marangburu Amar Pita (Our Father Marangburu), published in 2007, won him the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar for 2012, for Assamese language and Munin Barkotoki Literary Award for 2008. His poems have been included in various anthologies of Assamese and English poetry and featured in various journals in English and Assamese.

Anjum Hasan



Mainak Bagchi’s photography

When the bombs go off and there is blood all over the TV,

he’ll be sitting in some human corner of the world,

drinking his tea, stunned by the impersonal reach

of his act, just as you are by how far this screaming thing

has travelled – translated by distance into helplessness

at being dumb witness again to the guts-spilled-open

suffering of random strangers.


And this is how we realise the world’s grown-up –

by knowing that the act of twisting a knife

inside the warm heart of your enemy on a summer night

is far too local a measure of your loathing, while to kill people

you do not know and will never see is to speak a language

of the universe that can be relayed on the TV.



I go out into the August slush and get the wine,

and all weekend is one long afternoon,

watching the light soften on the sill,

knowing it’ll rain soon, drinking happiness

like Peggy Gordon: “I put my head to a glass

of brandy/ it was my fancy I do declare.”

I’m seeing our life from the outside like a lit window,

I’m shaking it like a locked box, trying to judge

its contents from the sound.

Everyone does their made-up thing inside –

getting pissed and not showing it, panic and desire,

speaking half-sentences into the phone for someone

three thousand kilometres away to complete.

So this is what loves means – the weak beating

of a hardened heart. Smiling at the thought –

I’m not young anymore. Drinking and thinking,

we’re going to forget this only because

some day we can do it again.



(After Frank O’ Hara)

It’s a day to drink a large soda
in Bangalore, gulmohar flowers livid on the left
and there on the right. I take the creaking 278,
a woman with one cataract eye’s handing a bag
of bananas to the conductor at Mekhri circle.
She knows it too, today’s the day

no one dies. The soda bottle’s

hissing a bit like laughter in my hand when
I pass through Cantonment railway station
without a platform ticket, the policeman watching but
maybe too hot to move. I’m predicting the overbridge
will collapse soon but I walk on it every time.
My doctor’s back from Bombay, yawning, henna
on her hands. Ma planned to boycott the wedding
but didn’t, she says as she watches
the inside of me on her screen

and then I’m in a rickshaw to Lavelle Road
to see photographs of empty lots in the gallery,
alone with them, not sure why they’re all sunny lots.
Someone in the guestbook has written, ‘We were fooled.’
I like it that I can sit in Koshys, eat peach melba,
read till the waiter brings back the afternoon menu.
Then I’m out again, drizzled on by the big wet men
sculpture on Mallya Road, turning

onto Kasturba Road and there in the May dusk and 6 o’ clock
traffic, the black leaves of a rain tree are, I’m not exaggerating,
like a thousand small quivering birds about to take off.





We would never find the place

but suddenly I’d be back in the same evening,

buying bread and tomatoes on streets

where it hadn’t rained for four months—

dust searing the voices of the rickshaw drivers,

the grapes rusty and warm, yet even

on those nights that I hadn’t died many times over

to live through, when for once no doubts folded and

unfolded themselves, worn at the creases, and you

were in the kitchen opening a window, shutting the fridge,

while I fixed on all the things money can’t buy

—even those nights we couldn’t scratch ourselves into rock

or plant a tree, time didn’t fit rooms and memory

wouldn’t peel like an onion’s skin, yet I still knew that

through our dreams any paradise could pass—

say the green burial mounds outside Uppsala,

say the brown hotel room in Kollam.


The longing to nail down a place

became a way of finding a reason to drift:

we are our own geography, and talk must do and kisses;

towns are no more than their photographs, and home

is just the space of a table between two chairs.




 The search for fresh carrots, small bureaucratic victories, wondering

if it’s going to rain when it’s clearly going to rain, and allowing,

even if briefly, the thought of new underwear to lift your soul.

It’s enough to fill the kind of book that life is too short to read.


Anjum Hasan: is an Indian novelist, short story writer, poet, andanjumeditor. She was born in Shillong, Meghalaya and currently lives in Bangalore, India.Her works includeStreet on the Hill which won her Sahitya Akademi Award in 2006 . It was her debut collection of poems. Her debut novel Lunatic in my Head (Zubaan-Penguin, 2007) was shortlisted for the Crossword Book Award 2007. Set in Shillong, a picturesque hill-station in north-east India, in the early 1990s, the novel weaves together the stories of its three main characters, ranging from an IAS aspirant who is obsessed with Pink Floyd to a college teacher struggling to complete her PhD and longing to find love. The novel has been described by Siddhartha Deb as ‘haunting and lyrical’ and as acquiring a ‘lyrical intensity’.Her second novel titled Neti, Neti (Roli Books, 2009) was longlisted for the 2008  Man Asian Literary Prize and shortlisted for The Hindu Best Fiction Award in 2010. Her short-story collection, Difficult Pleasures (Penguin/Viking 2012), was shortlisted for The Hindu Literary Prize.She has also contributed poems, articles and short stories to various national and international publications.

She is currently Books Editor for The Caravan.



Amrit Gangar






Mainak Bagchi’s photography

Night dissolving every night with

or without the Moon

Time mounts up the Girnār with

gods who never sleep nor lion nor langur

cicada narrate tales of tombs and wombs

of darkness of light of caves

of shunya of purna of apurna

a Hanumāna manifests in a lamp

a Dattatraya’s whiteness mingles with

a Bhairav’s opposite in colour, in sounds

cymbals have yet to ring and the bells

cacophonies of jackals and jungle crows

burst out any moment with

your eye plucking a star

one by one, ākāsa is a bhuta, an element!


At her fourth prahara every night

descend apsaras and gandharvas on this

mountain turning Girnar into an Indra Sabhā!



 Asoka has finished inscribing his rock edicts

himself during night’s third prahara he likes

black granite of the Girnar turns soft surface as

night matures into a Bhairav’s blackness

and wars have been shunned

into a civilization of the sane

in the presence of the Tirthankaras

ants have no fear nor any insect

no killing no pleasure only penance

of the self – Moksha is in close proximity

of this prahara of the night!


Asoka has finished inscribing his

first rock edict in the night’s third parhara

and it says –

“no living beings are to be slaughtered

or offered in sacrifice!”


A dissolving streak of white robes

i saw in a Girnār’s  deep dark niche –

Priyadarshi! Priyadarshi! i shouted

and a moment passed by swiftly in

stillness of silence…

a frog has jumped into a sound of  shunya!



 As the midnight comes on a palanquin

through night’s second prahara

like a bride invisible bride wearing

the bāndhni of the star studded sky

no red no yellow no golden no gulābi

asceticism rules here on Girnār

as he stands like a tall black rishi

craving no desire but to give


He gives gods to us we to gods

each step you climb is a deity

each step you climb is a company

each step you climb is a clairvoyance

each step you climb is a cry

of the unknown but –


Why is Morpheus walking backwards?

you ask in vain and the night’s

second prahara has ended in a cave

the Girnar has hidden himself in!


Morpheus has gone away with the bride

as it rains in winter the drops you feel

were Girnar’s warm tears!


In night’s second prahara the mountain

moves with his unfulfilled desire!


Junāgadh, 8 February 2016


Prahara: The Indian temporal science divides a day and a night into eight units called prahara of three hours each – four prahara of the day and equal number of prahara of the night. Day’s first prahara begins from 6am (assuming that time the sun rises) and lasts till 9am, accordingly day’s fourth prahara begins at 3pm and ends at 6pm. Night’s first prahara begins at 6pm and ends at 9pm. Night’s fourth and the last prahara lasts between 3 and 6am.

This temporal division of time is generally applied to our classical music, particularly to the Hindustani raga system.


Indra Sabhā: Mythology describes Lord Indra’s court as enchantingly beautiful having many members including rishis and devtas as also supernatural beings. Indra or Inder Sabha is an Urdu play and opera written by Sayed Agha Hasan Amanat which was first staged in 1853 for the Lucknow court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. It is regarded as the first complete Urdu stage play ever written. One of the first (non extant) Indian talkies based on this play was called Indrasabha – it was released by the Madan Theatres in 1932.


Tirthankara: Jainism has 24 Tirthankaras or the founding Jinas venerated as breakers of the path across the stream of time to Moksha. Mount Girnār has temples to the Jain Tirthankaras –

Bāndhni is a tie and dye sari auspiciously worn by a bride on her wedding day.

Morpheus is the ancient Greek god of night dreams. He has the ability to mimic any human form and appear in dreams.




When i walked with no PoP in your street Paris

Montmartre had massaged me with whiteness

i wear now on my arm awaiting Cezanne to

paint his apples not fruit but the glow!

i had no prescience no bone to contend

Peace only white peace of the Buddha

and the Bodhi Tree I found in you

the Paris of Plaster that i wear now!

Like Hemingway’s Moving Feast

Like Baudelaire’d Dreams

Like your summer’s White Nights

come to me the city of Paris!

Paint your Plaster, my Pain, my Poetry

My palm, my arm is also my alm of giving

Whiteness slings to sing the songs of

Piety, the Plaster of Piety, of Poetry!

With an Āzān to Allāh in his ābād

In my city of Goddess Mumbā!

Amrit, 23 March 2016, 19.03



So young you are and so charming

you renounced the worldly life and –

lust and greed and gains and games the –

young would play and the joy of living

you postpone to next life through kshaya

Of karma you empty your wooden bowls

of morsels you see moksha like the full moon

penance you bear the pain you suffer

desires you kill, or do you –

perpetrate violence on self – ?

i have no answer nor courage to ask you the –

young woman, the renouncer – the white-robed

sati, the sanyasin, your naked feet

too tender for me to suffer

my arm slings your anukampā!

Under the ancient tree of the park and –

the vivacious khishkoli on trees –

from trees from trees i see young bald

Chandanbālā waiting from previous life

for Vardhamāna Mahāvira, the Tirthankara!

Why do you postpone joy young lady

the brave renouncer? Give me strength to –

suffer pain, we are all selfish –

aren’t we – in search of a moksha?

Amrit Gangar, 24 March 2016, 19.52


Amrit Gangar is a Mumbai-based writer, film theorist, curatoramrit 1 and historian. During his college days he used to write poems off and on both in English (as also Gujarati) and several of them were published in journals including Kavi India, Mirror, Youth Times, Calcutta Canvas, Bharat Jyoti, an anthology of poems on Emergency, etc. Of late, he has again picked up his poetic thread. He has authored a number of books on cinema both in English and Gujarati languages. His recent book Cinema Vimarsh has won the Gujarat Sahitya Akademi award. For the past decade or so he has been engaged with developing and expanding his concept of Cinema Prayoga, which he has presented so far across many venues in the world and India, including Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan.


Santosh Alex


For me,

Summer is a journey,

back from the cacophony of a city

to the serenity of a small hamlet


Strung to unknown bonds,

roaming around in abandon

through paddy-fields and barren playgrounds,

frolicking in the pond and

swaying atop guava and tamarind trees,

the days go by


Soon that I realise,

the value of these bonds,

the city summons me back.




 As I put my pen to paper

words went and hid somewhere

I left them to their will


I saw one in the morning newspaper,

a few on the satellite channels

and some in contemporary magazines


They just slipped away

as I tried catching them


In the evening,

as I sat to tutor the children,

words peeked out of the dictionary

donned in new meanings

and mannerisms.



Returning on the wings

of the southerly winds

I crossed the small rivulet,

swaying paddy fields,

vast barren grounds,

secluded walkways,

and the nameless hillock


Time flew by,

catching dragonflies,

collecting abrus seeds,

tasting mango kernels

and Jackfruit flaps

and so did another vacation


When I opened my eyes,

I was atop Noah’s ark.




Oh! How I wish to hear

the Koel’s voice

the harvest songs

the Boatmans ballads

the music of the river

the humming of the bees

the rustle of bamboos


Oh! How I wish I could travel

atop the westerly and easterly winds


Hearing a commotion

when I came out

I saw the koel, farmers

Boatmen, river, bees, bamboo

the westerly and easterly winds

being taken in hand-cuffs

charged of noise pollution





As the pain in my hand

became unbearable

I measured the distance

between eyes and tears

wings and their flaps

earth and its chasm

things and their shadows

waves and the ocean

cattle and their ropes

I am still unable to measure

the distance between

and and its pain


Authors of 18 books Santosh Alex is a bilingual poet and widelysantosh Alex published translator and a poetry curator. He is the founder of India’s first ejournal devoted to poetry alone- Rithupoetry. He is an invited poet to different poetry festivals in the country.He has two poetry collection  Dooram(2008) and Njan ninakku oru ghazal (2013 )in Malayalam and one poetry collection in Hindi Panv Tale ki mitti ( 2013). His poems has been widely translated into Hindi, English, Telugu , Odiya, Bengali ,Nepaliand German Language. His poems have been published in Sunrise from the Blue thunder(International Poetry Anthology) ,Hudson view ( International Poetry Journal), Indo Australian Poetry Anthology , The Enchanting Verse, Muse India , Pratilipi , Seven Sisters Post and Indian Ruminations.            Dr. Santosh translates post colonial literature in English, Hindi and Malayalam. He has translated almost 90 writers from the country in different languages. He’s enriching Indian Literature by means of translation and creative writing for the past 23 years.


Sukrita Paul Kumar

The Art of Wearing Bangles

The blank page wears words

With the fondness and patience

Of girls wearing glass bangles

One by one, carefully and gently

The right fit that

Should not break and injure

The hand squeezing through


They are not to dangle lose and wide

Or remain too close and feel the skin


Let them take over the throb

Jingle in glee, slide into action

Tune in to the dance

of words and creation


A Fatal Journey

When words frothed on the

Banks of meaning

Gurgling with sore throats


I wept


Senses wrapt in yellow hairy skin

Broke through the enigma


The nose could smell

Just as the eyes could see


The bull’s horn brought the

Earth back to its balance


To seek meaning is meaningful

To find meaning is negation of existence


The boneless necks of the turtles

Pulled their heads back

Into the hard shells


Meaning is well armoured


I broke my head on the

Rocky back of words.

Sukrita Paul Kumar ,born in Kenya, currently holds the Aruna Asaf Alisukrit Chair at Delhi University. Formerly, a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, she is  Fellow of the International Writing Programme, Iowa (USA) & Hong Kong Baptist University. Honorary faculty, Durrell Centre at Corfu (Greece), she has been a recipient of many prestigious fellowships and residencies. A well-known poet, translator and an artist she has published several poetry collections and many critical books. Dream Catcher and Poems Come Home (with Hindustani translations of her poems by Gulzar) are her latest collections of poems. Amongst her critical books, are Narrating Partition, Conversations on Modernism. A guest editor of journals such as Manoa (Hawaii), she has held solo exhibitions of her paintings

Sunil Sharma



Silent Pigeons


Mainak Bagchi’s photography

Hundreds of pigeons

Perched on the power cable,

High above the street,

A bit apart,

The feathered friends,

Buffeted by the high wind,

Part of a large group,

Yet uncommunicative.

Has the urban culture spread so far



 Fairy  Tales

On nights warm or cold

when a famished Raju

sleeps on the floor bare

of the corridor of a shopping plaza,

his bed, a discarded cardboard box stretched into

an improvised square sheet, and, a street dog

his ferocious body- guard and  a caring companion,

then, often, the vagabond dreams of a Ma and siblings lost

along with other people in a crowded market, in a bomb blast severe;

then, on mid-nights, the fairy godmother visits the inseparable duo of man-animal,

in her dazzling finery and snow-white wings and a winsome smile

carrying a diamond-studded trident and a flute magical in her dainty hands, singing soft lullabies to the child with tousled hair, cracked lips and wide eyes,

and makes it asleep on that dangerous territory prowled by wolves in suits

or tatters; hookers, pimps and drug pushers alike;

the fairy talks in a soothing voice to the little orphan deserted by a father

out-of-job, alcoholic and abusive;

The boy—a hapless survivor of the mean streets and the underbelly of the progressive Delhi, ruled by the Moguls new,

the vulnerable young citizen of a great Republic finds comfort

In the nightly presence of the kind fairy hovering above in a space glittering and nice, things wonderful and fair to a solitary child, in every age and culture,

Such lovely creatures and their music can be seen/heard by the distressed kids only

in a wicked-wicked adult world of cut-throats and killers alike.



Beauty supreme!

A dark insect hovers over

The white periwinkles

Growing on green shoots

And tender leaves

In a pot on the balcony

Of an empty fifth-floor flat

On a polluted street,

Colours soft and varied—

A visual hard to surpass

For the watering eyes

Hungry for a spot of green!


Mumbai-based, Sunil Sharma, a college principal, is also widely-sunilpublished bilingual Indian critic, poet, literary interviewer, editor, translator, essayist and fiction writer. His six short stories and the novel Minotaur were recently prescribed for the undergraduate classes under the Post-colonial Studies, Clayton University, Georgia, USA. He is a  recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural poet of the year award—2012.

He edits online journal Episteme

Ra Sh

An undertaker loses his phone

I know of a mass grave

Where cell phones

Go to die.

One day you may lose one.

Don’t look for it.

It has buried itself.


Near the swamp

Where the secret grave is

The cell phones come out

To play in the night.

Millions of fireflies

Million iridescent organisms

Million beeps.

Million ring tones

Million languages.


Some wriggle some fly

Some sing some sob.


They come alive

When their loved ones

Call out to them.


Because love reaches them

Only underground.





All his mirrors were women.

They displayed him with breasts

And vaginas and flesh buds.


He approached a blue lake

To see his male splendor.

His cock-a-doodle-do.

His rippling muscles.

His all knowing gaze

Commanding brow.

The lake called him `Sister!’

And drowned him

In an incestuous

Sororal whirl.


Ra Sh‘s poems in English have been published in national andRash Column Col international online and print mags. Fifteen poems appear in an anthology ‘A Strange Place Other than Earlobes’. Translations in English have been published by reputed publishers. Helped RædLeafPoetry-India in publishing translations of thirty seven Malayali poets in 2015. Published his collection of poems Architecture of Flesh in Dec 2015.


Purple  Rain 

There was a time when the wide avenues

of Lutyen’s Delhi exploded with purple prose.

Walking from Ashoka Road, traversing

India gate and going to Rajpath

on languid, monsoon afternoons,

one could watch the sweet, earthy notes

coloring the city’s tongue violet,

chasing the thieving parakeets,

children foraged for the dark cousin of grapes.

The explosion of flavours left their mouths puckered,

–a bit of Indian summer right there.

As I walk along the strewn purple memory lane,

a little head pops out from under an umbrella

tilted on the sidewalk, “Jamun?” its voice asks.

A palm, stained like an artist’s palette offers

a few glistening fruits, tempted, I bite into one,

bitter–sweet and astringent all at once,

your memory explodes in my mouth.

inked by the only city I know I walk down the leafy

avenue drenched in purple rain,

one of many rains I  try to catch on my tongue.



Medical Migrants

The road outside Delhi’s one hundred acre

‘premier’ hospital complex

perpetually struggles to breathe,

so does the man under a polythene sheet

outside the hospital gates,

his wife and children

huddle over a makeshift stove for warmth,

nearby, beneath a tattered blanket a woman moans,

she is only half awake, tarmac burns her eyes.

Oblivious to the dust and fumes

hoards of poor  medical migrants

bid their time under the harsh sky.


Sometimes for months or even years,

Clutching their belongings and medical files

they spill over the surrounding lanes,

bus stands and the Metro Station.


A flourishing parallel economy thrives

within a five kilometer radius of the hospital,

it caters to the needs of those who wait,

food stalls, pharmacists, path-labs,

photocopiers and a temple.


Just ahead in the parking lot,

among the parked vehicles stands a dusty black car,

conspicuous by the shimmering golden streamers

In this city everyone benefits

from the business of life and death.



 Scent Of A Season

Sitting on the verandah at dusk

I count the curling crisp brown leaves on a tree

and feel the autumn trailing in my bones,

a lemon scented breeze stirs my memories…

clusters of saptparni blooms crumbling in my hands,

their scent rising from the white carpeted pavements ,

intoxicating the night above them,

a smell of winter – nostalgia – childhood, love,

adolescence, youth, late night cigarette sessions

around makeshift fires on the terrace,

old monk, spliffs, long drives,

and your breath against mine.

There is more to it that lingers on in Lutyen’s Delhi

memories of a time I can’t forget.



 Dargah – Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia

Love and faith light up the dense tangle of streets

that lead to the dargah of mehboob –e – ilahi,

and the tomb of his beloved disciple Khusro,

garbed in rose petals, attars, offerings

and a heady whiff of spiced kebabs,

lost words float across the treetops,

arches, patios and tombs, sometimes,

quietly they nestle in an empty nest

or whirl down onto the marbled floor

in an aerial dance—like dervishes,

caught in a mystical ecstasy, their souls

electrified by the rising crescendo of qawaals.

Possessed in a feverish frenzy of longing

and sensuousness, body-edges dissolve

into each other and in turn into

the saint and the poet, love rises

as smoke at the end of the lit incense

and floats through the prayers

tied to the marble lattice

I sit in a corner, eyes closed – entranced,

the poet in me loses herself to the scents,

the sounds, the sights, the dust, the birds,

the trees, the sky, the marble, the songs,

and then dips herself in holy water

as green as the greenest emerald.

The sun seeks its path among

the silhouettes frozen in time.

I lean against the afternoon draped pillars

and feel my inner darkness melt

with their lengthening shadows,

the senescent walls soak up the pain

as I trace my fingers over them.

Across the courtyard, time, like a poem,

burns in the dua-e–roshni as the day

meets the loban perfumed night.

Two lovers completing each other

like two halves of a sphere.

It is in this cosmos

that the inexpressible exists,

visible to those eyes which can see.


Tikuli is a blogger &  author from Delhi. Her short stories and poems



have appeared in print and in online literary magazines including Le Zaparougue, MiCROW 8, The Smoking Book (Poets Wear Prada Press, US), Life And legends, Levure Littéraire 10, The Enchanting Verses. Literary Review, Open Road Review, Cafe Dissensus, Mnemosyne Literary Journal, Women’sWeb, Readomania and Troubadour21, The Criterion, Knot Magazine, The Peregrine muse etc.Her print publications include poems in Guntur National Poetry Festival Anthology, Melange – a Potpourri of thoughts and the much acclaimed Chicken Soup For The Indian Romantic Soul(Westland). Her debut poetry book 'Collection Of Chaos' was published in 2014 by Leaky Boot Press.. She blogs at


Sharmila Pokharel

A Penny Pincher

He started the day reciting a mantra

from Bhagabat Gita and soon after

grudged how hard it was

to earn and save more


Lowering his power glasses

Upto the long nose

Putting saliva in his index finger

kept on counting the cash

and regretted how little he had it


All day long

he talked about money

took a long sigh in frustration

and dreamt of winning a lottery


 Fear of Dying

 I can see it clearly

When it knocks on the door

Something flows as a stream

In my blood vessels


It ruptures my mind

And darkens the vision

It smells like a polecat

leaves no room for breathing


Fear knocks my door

Every now and then

In a threatening tone, he asks

Hey, are you still smiling?


                     Sound of Silence

                Have you ever noticed the sound

                That touches your heart?

                As a one ting — just one ting

                a temple bell and silence forever 


                Have you ever touched the silence?

                Massaging a calf in her neck

                While she waited passionately

                To feel your devotion


                Have you ever tasted the silence

                As a sweet offering you held

                in your right palm

                And waited to lick until it melted

                From the warmth of your hand.


               Have you ever heard the silence

               When the wind blew gently from the west

               with all the cottons in the sky

               and take you back to your childhood?

Sharmila Pokharel is the author of three books of poetry. Her bilingualsharmila colltrection, My Country in a Foreign Land (Paradesh ma merodesh) was published in 2014 (co-translated by Alice Major).She has received varies prizes including “2012 Cultural Diversity in the Arts Award“Sharmila Pokharel is the co-author ofthe recently published bookof poetry and visual arts “Somnio; the way we see it”. She was born and raised in Nepal and moved to Edmonton, Canada in 2010.