Monday, December 26, 2011

Reaching Out

Once I tried not to reach
my father's world of letters,
his poetry, his politics,
specked with his chain of
coughs and sputum, constantly sprayed on his life

I disproved his
universes, believed
thoughts can be born
free, without precedents
blood ties or  even without taking root in the past.

Now, in my parenting
singularity, I see him
herd my children like
a limping shepherd
before he switches off in the evening

I see him mess up the
dining table with his letters,
notes and broken poems
written about his  broken self,
salvaging every letter like a strand of sanity .

His childhood is new to me
his strong stubbornness difficult
to tame, his worlds opaque
like the glasses of his irises
voices hardly reach the shell  of deaf enlightenment

His evenings, doused with the
darkness of impending  nights, spirits and
disillusions, do not embarrass me
anymore, I see my sagging skin
resemble him more now,  at last when, I reach out to him.

Our Guilt Trips and Their Exodus

Published in Postcolonial Text, Vol 5, No 4 (2009)
Babitha Marina Justin



They have come from the hills,
flooding the plains; cooks,
waiters, coolies, masons.
Called ‘Neps’1 en masse,
this generic term deceives
their skin, tanned by sun,
and molten tar, they foster the
arteries of our growth.

By the rivers of Tsangpo,
Padma and Brahmaputra
Tears deluge to more tears
They search for Zion
in these callous plains
We search for our ‘civilized’
traces, call them ‘primitive’ ;
their women are lissome, men
do not ‘threaten’, we praise their
candour, honesty and dimensions!

By the rivers of Tsangpo,
Padma and Brahmaputra
Tears deluge to more tears
They search for Zion
in these callous plains


As the thought pendulum swings,
we fear their kukris at night. We
wonder if they bear portable home maps
behind their smiles to check and crosscheck,
if their folks still live safe and
huddled in memory's tattered rubble.

By the rivers of Tsangpo,
Padma and Brahmaputra
Tears deluge to more tears
They search for Zion
in these callous plains


They are angels again at sunrise,
when they leave for summer,
we believe they have a mule’s spine
to load and unload the nightmarish
burden a nation that clings to our skin.

By the rivers of Tsangpo,
Padma and Brahmaputra
Tears deluge to more tears
They search for Zion
in these callous plains

They have spread like slick over the sea,
their memories stay and never leave without
a trace. Have we not had enough transferring
our guilt in lieu of patronage
we dole out in coffee spoons?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Disorder

Every Christmas
I bury pasts
in my memory grave,
bleached white by the
hygiene of forgetting .

It's either a memory
or a relative,
of late due to an excess
of both, I have even started
burying decorations,
plastic Christmas trees,
stars and torn baloons of
yester year.

Something handy has to be
there to be rituallydug
and disposed of, along with the
abstractions of
memories and bleached bones.

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