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Anamika's poems, translated


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,

no grammar,

no rules,

no intention!

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,

they searched!

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-

come look!

tap tap

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.


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