No More Kitchree For the Groom (est. 1971)
for me, for you,
especially for the young Hindu bride who,
but a while ago,
smiled in maiden innocence,
glowing in magenta wedding garb,
sindoor brilliant on straight hair-part,
eager on the threshold of womanhood.
In an instant this unique emotion gave way
To hurt dismay,
shattering dreams, joys, ideals,
as groom and relatives played
a game of cheap bargaining
for costlier, more lucrative gifts,
as though treasured maiden daughter
was snatched from a brothel
to bag a husband.
Where in the scriptures is it writ
that groom in Sasur’s home
should slight the kanyadaan
in lieu of filthy lucre
with saffron rice
honourably placed to satisfy
the physical hunger?
Fathers, brothers, uncles: Hindu men arise!
Let not diabolical custom
defile the consecrated Maro,
humiliating Innocence, Parents, Man.
Away… away with it now!
No more kitchree for the groom!
Babu (est. 1971)
Huddled by the front door
of a decayed, rat-infested logie,
victim of rain and sun
Babu’s eyes scan the canefield horizons…
Whiplash explodes from sunburnt hands
leering blue eyes in hardened faces
a jingling of copper coins
a dumb powerless diety
dancing a dance of images.
images of immigrant ships
cutlasses, decapitated women
dance in rhythm of seasons
an enclosed world of canefields
waves of spluttering factory smoke
days of rotating nothingness
In a heave of impatience
Babu swirled like a ballet dancer
strong and flexible
Generations nurtured from my seeds
will clasp their hands and say
our ancestors carved those fields
which have given us meanings
meanings to stand tall
This is ours too.