Two Poems

    By Gopika Jadeja

    1. Agariya

    I.

    Expanse of white salt called the rann
    Field of fire called afternoon

    No water to drink
    No school for their children
    No home but the salt pans
    Caught between the sea and the desert
    The agariya harvest salt
    For the tongues that do not know
    The meaning of water

    II.
    Driving on Surajbari bridge
    past salt pans that line the road on both sides
    we make an offering of coins to the sea,
    (too many, mother would say later,
    the sea has carried her children away)
    wishing for travel and plenty.

    The bright pink of the agariya woman’s dress
    The only colour in the white expanse of salt
    of her longing for water
    makes contrast for my phone camera

    The camera does not see
    Mirages that dream become her dreams
    Thirst spreading its fingers on her throat

     
     

    2. Ignorant Agariyo

    Ignorant Agariyo
    My mother, why did you
    give me away to the agariyo

    He makes me dig the salt well ,
    He makes me build the salt pan
    He bids me work day and night
    My mother, why did you
    give me away to the agariyo

    He smokes ganja and drinks alcohol
    Drinks English all the time
    My mother, why did you
    give me away to the agariyo

    He makes me lift loads
    He makes me pull down loads
    He makes me pull down the saltpan bank
    My mother, why did you
    give me away to the agariyo

    He makes me count the canals
    He makes me build the steps into the well
    He makes me build the banks
    My mother, why did you
    give me away to the agariyo

    He breaks the pot of water
    And flings down his turban
    He drinks all day long
    My mother, why did you
    give me away to the agariyo

    Note: The poem and the translation are part of a larger project of writing from archival materials, juxtaposing colonial texts and histories with the personal histories, oral storytelling and songs, thus foregrounding personal, local hi/stories, and bringing into focus the many voices from western India. The colonial text used here is a page from The Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Vol III, Kathiawar (1884).

     

    Gopika Jadeja is a bi-lingual poet and translator from India, writing in English and Gujarati. Gopika is working on a literary project that deals with archival materials—de-centring and challenging colonial epistemologies. She has also been working on English translations of poetry from Gujarat.
    Her literary writing and translations have been published widely. She currently lives and works in Singapore.

    Subscribe to our newsletter To Recieve Updates

      The Latest
      • The Usawa Newsletter June ‘24

        There are no chairs for audience in the court room You sit on the window sill

      • Test
      • Navigating Appetites, Feminism, Loneliness, & Murder

        Butter is the first of the books by prolific Japanese writer Asako Yuzuki, to be

      • Food That Becomes Something More – Aditi Yadav Reviews The Kamogawa Food Detectives

        In his magnum opus, The Physiology of Taste, published in December 1825, just

      You May Also Like
      • R Vatsala What I Know Translated by R.Rukmani

        The child in my womb wanted to know, “Amma, what is an atom?

      • Stories of Everyday Women Immersed in Raaga and Bhaava by Kinshuk Gupta

        Ambai—pseudonym for CS Lakshmi—an accomplished Tamil writer, and the only one

      • Smita Sahay Editor-in-Chief

        As we welcome you to the latest issue of Usawa, we invite you to meditate

      • Four Poems By Dee Allen

        If Nature Took a human shape It would be A female Shadow self