Problem and Other Poems

    By Kinjal Sethia


    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.


    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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