Book Launch: Muffled Moans Unleashed.

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Compiled and Edited by eminent writers Dr. Santosh Bakaya and Lopamudra Banerjee, and Published by Authorspress, the book features my short story ‘Boat Posture’ and a poem, ‘Unchanted’.

‘Boat Posture’ is dedicated to Kusum, my friend and classmate in Kendriya Vidyalaya School – Meerut, who was repeatedly harassed by our male yoga teacher. Those were days when the ‘MeToo’ movement hadn’t yet taken roots and when women had no voice or support, either from their families or the society in general in matters of sexual harassment, abuse or violence. I am grateful to the Editors and Publisher for giving the story of Kusum its rightful place in this outstanding anthology.

The poem ‘Unchanted’ dedicated to victims of child rape is an ear piercing scream at India’s phallic obsession that transcends all boundaries and barriers of humanity to penetrate and brutalise childhood.

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Amaravati Poetic Prism 2018: A Multilingual Poetry Anthology.

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https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amaravati-Poetic-Prism-2018-International/dp/9388125339/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543067948&sr=8-1&keywords=amaravati+poetic+prism+2018

A multilingual poetry anthology, The Amaravati Poetic Prism 2018, Edited by eminent writer Smt.Padmaja Iyengar, features two of my poems, ‘Overcast’ and ‘Arunodaya’.

‘Overcast’, an English poem is a sharp cry against the epidemic of gender violence/child rape plaguing mankind since time immemorial, but found a voice only in recent times with the ‘MeToo’ movement.

‘Arunodaya’, meaning Sunrise, is a Hindi poem dedicated to farmer suicides in India. The poem took shape from a news item in a leading newspaper that detailed the death of a farmer described by his distraught family.

I am grateful to the Editor and Publisher for giving my poems a space in this magnificent anthology that features acclaimed international writers.

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Muffled Moans Unleashed: An Anthology on Abuse/Gender Violence.

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Compiled and Edited by eminent writers Dr. Santosh Bakaya and Lopamudra Banerjee, and Published by Authorspress, the book features my short story ‘Boat Posture’ and a poem, ‘Unchanted’.

‘Boat Posture’ is dedicated to my friend and classmate in Kendriya Vidyalaya School – Meerut, Kusum, who was repeatedly harassed by our male yoga teacher. Those were days when the ‘MeToo’ movement hadn’t yet taken roots and when women had no voice or support, either from their families or the society in general in matters of sexual harassment, abuse or violence. I am grateful to the Editors and Publisher for giving the story of Kusum its rightful place in this outstanding anthology.

The poem ‘Unchanted’ dedicated to victims of child rape is an ear piercing scream at India’s phallic obsession that transcends all boundaries and barriers of humanity to penetrate and brutalise childhood.

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Dear Aishu,

I have died each day of these last two months. Remember, I wrote my first poem ever for you, on your 17th birthday, ‘Blossom’.

A crimson rosebud in the herbs,

Greeted by the morning sun,

Unfurled a blossom in my garden!

 A burst of blush in the greens,

Velveteen dewy petals,

Like pearl drops on rubies!

Jewel of the queens,

Dazzling the bees of the greens,

Swaying in the gentle breeze!

With your fragrance you beckon,

Your beauty is to reckon,

Gazing at you their hearts quicken!

Cheering the dusky eve,

Soothing the tired,

Reaching out to the divine!

O’ blossom in my garden,

You are my pride, my dear,

You are my eden!

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Love you my child,

Ma

Dear Aish

I suddenly find myself on a shaky, unfamiliar ground. Am I a mother now or not? What should be my answer when people ask, “how many children do you have?” This is some sort of an identity crisis. Am I a mother or not? I feel I am just a failed, broken woman who has no right to live. For the last two months I am looking for ways to end it all, but..

Rohita and Veena, Savitri and Padma dodamma took care of the kitchen in those critical days. The girls served water and tea and food to the guests. They even cleaned the house after you left. I guess they are my daughters now. Maybe I should tell people that I have two daughters. I vaguely recall, they kept me hydrated with milk and water and some sweet juice. I remembered very late, most of our family members are diabetic, but all of them stayed hungry for long hours and sat patiently. My gratitude to each and everyone of them.

Aish, Baby and Lakshmi Attha were all broken by the news. They messaged and called and have in more ways than one expressed their grief at your loss. I have no answers for anyone. I am ashamed to speak to them for I have failed miserably in the one task I had, to look after you.

Your Hyderabad gang was remembering you today. They messaged me asking of my welfare. It is Shiven’s first wedding anniversary you see. Last year around this time, we were shopping and you were excited to be attending a full fledged North Indian wedding, what with the sangeet dance rehearsals and all the hoopla. All those beautiful clothes, I just packed them in bags for Goonj.

Aishu, why? I deserved one more chance, not this punishing misery of a life without you.

Ma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Aish

The famous poet Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Nothing will work unless you do.”

Life is tough and has to be lived thoroughly in all its shades. From the day we are born, we are attached to the people in our lives and have a responsibility toward them.

I am distressed at the thought of how traumatised you must’ve been to take on that horrible suffering upon yourself rather than lay your problems on my shoulders. It is even more painful for me that I couldn’t gauge your trauma. This is my biggest failure in life. You couldn’t see us suffer but in the process you’ve left us with a life long pain worse than any terminal disease. I’m also extremely cross with you for not realising that you were my whole and sole support. Who’ll hold my hands when I walk on the road? Who’ll be my old age support?

Now, it is some sort of a race between me and your Papa, who’ll live longer. But you see, either way it is a losing situation, for the one who lives on will be left alone.

Ma

 

Dear Aishu

Me and Papa today are standing on the ruins of a once beautiful life. He is devastated but has his work to keep him busy most of the day. I sit at home all day, wander from room to room hoping you would jump out from a corner and shout, ‘surprise’. In our bouts of grief we help each other but both cannot be broken at the same time so we take turns. Nights are the worst and sleep eludes us both. My vision is now impaired, I see only you everywhere and in everything. A child of any age in a parents’ arms is weightless. But, the body of my child on my shoulders is one heavy crippling burden for several lifetimes.

The days after your rituals were excruciatingly painful and lonely. Everybody left, all relatives and friends. Dodappa and dodamma came to help. It was Dasara holidays so maybe people had to celebrate than stay with us and mourn. Do you see the extent of our loneliness? I don’t know why it still matters to me that we were alone. After all, while your dad was in UK, we lived alone and no one greeted us for festivals nor enquired of our welfare.  Perhaps because I care for them; they are our only family, aren’t they? Anyways, we struggled alone to clear up the stuff at home, you know we had a massive collection of clothes books artefacts etc. that we had planned to dispose off during Nov Dec. It was difficult grieving and concentrating at the same time, but we managed. There were six large bags of good clothes that we donated to Goonj through MarksnSpencers. I really can’t say how much of it will really reach the needy, you know how it is in India.

Mom used to say that when god leaves one hand he strongly grips the other hand. In the lowest moment of our lives, some heart warming help, gestures and the most soothing words came unexpectedly. Dodappa along with his friend picked up Papa from the airport that fateful day and paid for all expenses during the tragic time. Papa’s friends from the Railways, Shekhar, Raghu, Srinivas  and a few others brought a car and dropped us to the airport. It didn’t feel like that they hadn’t met each other in a long time. These are true friends indeed where it doesn’t matter how long you haven’t met or spoken to each other but stand by your friend in their time of grief.

Avni brought food when she realised how alone we were and were eating three meals a day from Udupi. She comforted me and repeatedly offered unconditional help, which she actually did. And Suhas, he was there all through. I am grateful that I had the fortune to meet all of these kind samaritans in my life time. I’ll be eternally grateful to each of them and pray that my share of fortunes that has been denied to me be passed on to them.

Aish, I have lost all faith in God. I discarded all pictures of gods that we had at home. How can I prostrate before anything that did not respect and protect your young life. I often wonder, was it the wrath of Urukunda swamy of Mantralayam that in spite of reaching his doorstep you did not enter his shrine to offer respects, did it anger him? I’ll never know.

I have no one to talk to. Our grief is unimaginable and inexplicable. No one knows how to console your Papa and me, so I decided to share my thoughts with you. I shall do so everyday now.

Love you

Ma