Problem and Other Poems

By Kinjal Sethia

Problem

The house help calls her periods a problem.
Mera problem hai na, didi
aaj mein late aayegi.

I wonder at her words.
The urge to correct her, emancipate her.
Empower her. Tell her to wear the menstrual
cycle proudly. Not to hide her feminism.
Embrace it.

A tin shed that holds Mercurial temperatures,
a roof that leaks on her bed every monsoon.
A communal tap that works only at night,
a queue pregnant with fights. Rags
that stain and stink despite her strength.

I empty my cup, sanitise it.
And shut up because she has a problem.

Release

The yoga instructor puts me under,
a calming voice with instructions
to breathe- four counts in,
two counts out. Relax,
loosen, focus on the up
and down. She chants Om
with a high on O and Au
and MMmmmm.

My left foot lifts out of volition,
shivers from the knee down
and ripples out with relief.
She is stunned and stops the count.
She knows nothing
about failure, disappointment,
and holding yourself tight.
The red all over repeated attempts.
Burying grief deep inside your skin.

Catching sunrise at Bogmalo

Papa plans a tradition, a New Year picnic
at Bogmalo. Spreading nostalgia thin
with home-made theplas and thermos
of chai on the beach. The sunrise,
pink on the waves, angry with the night.

He makes us scout for a contour of sand,
a map he can recognise as his home.

Boys in wet ‘I Love Goa’ T-shirts
dance on waves with stereo sounds.
Beer pints clinked without affection.
A heron takes off where the river
gives itself to the sea, a muddied creek.
In its wake, a ripple of wrappers.

Kinjal Sethia is a writer-editor based out of Pune. Her work has been published in nether Quarterly, EKL Review, Samyukta Fiction among others. She is an Associate Editor at The Bombay Literary Magazine.

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