She was a complete stranger.
My only relation to her
was shared patronage of the same grocer
in the new locality.
She sat there before me-
resting against the toffee jar
perched on the royal stool!
She looked even more
tired than me
and yet she laughed.
Her laughter had no contention,
It was the laugh of the Creator!
She then also reached out,
picked up a corner of my shawl,
and smoothened the yarn
that had shriveled up like a knitted brow,
on being nicked by a nail in the bus.
For a moment, I felt
an age-old sisterhood
between her stooped shoulders
and my restless mind.
"Hands up!" they said.
Busting each part of my body open,
What did my body-search reveal to them?
A handful of dreams, and the moon;
a cigarette wrapper's worth,
a matchstick's worth of hope,
an incomplete letter
which they couldn't decode
for I had written it
during the time of the Indus Valley civilization-
in a script unintelligible to them-
to my Earth:
"Hello, Earth. Let's go somewhere, Earth.
Till when will we go around in circles like the crusher's ox?
Come, let us take the path less traveled
by becoming a flaming arrow
veering off this orbit!"
They crumpled the letter
and threw me in a dark cell!
Since then, I have been digging
continuously- a tunnel through the cell
using just my pen!
Put your ear to the earth
and listen to the voice in her chest!
Does anyone who hides, sleep?
And far- far beyond the tunnel
can you or can't you see
the sliver of light,
the beautiful, tepid pool of water,
and the thriving meadow of fresh grass!
It could be that a folk song passed
through this route yesternight!
Tiny little feet would have danced breezily
over the dew-laden grass!
For now, there is but a quivering shadow
lingering on dew's lips!
The realisation of creation-
look at how it drips!
These poems, authored by Anamika, have been translated from Hindi to English by Pallavi Singh. Anamika is an Associate Professor of English who teaches at Delhi University. A world-renown translator, author, and poet, Anamika writes in Hindi. Pallavi is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Night Owl Writes.
Art by Lisa Carney.