Beautiful Violence/Violent Beauty
He pings her, “Date tonight?”
She starts getting ready immediately
because she needs a long time to get ready,
though she has been getting ready for this moment for years.
In past lives, she wore brass rings around her neck
and bound her feet, becoming beauty.
For more than 20 years, she has been bleaching her skin,
letting it percolate her pores to flow into her bloodstream,
trying to turn blood white, becoming white.
For more than 15 years, she has been starving herself,
to stay thin, bone and skin, reducing hips, forgetting
the purpose of wide hips, groping for thigh-gap,
forcing herself to throw up food, becoming anaemic.
For more than 10 years, she has been
noosing a hair on her upper-lip with a spit-wet thread yanking it off its roots, then repeating for each hair, waxing eyebrows, legs, hands, stomach, back, subjecting her bikini area to a laser, becoming frog.
Five years back, she had breast implants, went under the knife, plumped up her lips, becoming barbie.
Today, she shampoos her hair with parabens, clogs her pores with phthalates, conceals her flaws with traces of asbestos, shadows her eye with coal tar, polishes her nails with formaldehyde, and colours her lips with lead, becoming beautiful.
And, when she meets him, in her figure-hugging red dress, she asks him hesitantly, “Do I look alright?”
Chronic, yet we resist
Diagnosis: Undetermined, everything divided by zero
Pain index: a 9 out of 10
2012: Men gang rape and murder in a moving bus in Delhi.
Nights and sleep do not mix.
200 kg weight on chest, air sucked out.
pain: constant, sharp now, then dull,
then long, then short, then here, then everywhere
like a sharp small stone buzzing around inside your eye.
But, no one gets it.
They say you can’t clap with one hand,
girls wear jeans, girls smile.
Prescription: therapy, an array of pills of shapes and sizes
#metoo is a spark in a concrete forest
Women march and some men march too
A breath in: one two three four
A medicine that doesn't make you retch
A therapy session
A breath out: one two three four five six
An ant of hope crawls up the spine.
One by one, people tell their stories
My friend tells me it was her father
I write a poem on the need for kindness
The symptoms subside
One day, the sun comes in through the window
instead of going back out
Spring is here. So, I write a poem
on the unattractive flowers on the mango tree
which will soon morph into manna for mortals.
Can you get used to living with pain,
numb yourself a little, cause life still happens?
A man abuses and murders a 7-year-old girl
while across the globe a teacher opens fire
on her own students. I don’t click on headlines.
Flare up. Inflammation. Migraine.
Can’t walk, eat, sit, sleep, write. A 10 out of 10.
Four held on the charge of raping
19-year-old in moving car in Bengaluru.
Hold on to something soft and strong all night,
and wake up in the morning. Breath. Stand. Move.
We walk into the streets in the dark.
This time I write this poem on the persistence of resistance