Self portrait as Draupadi

Hi friends. I will be participating in the napowrimo all of April (hopefully!) The following poem is in response to the early bird prompt.
And now for our early-bird prompt (optional, like all our prompts!) Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poetic self-portrait. And specifically, we’d like you to write a poem in which you portray yourself in the guise of a historical or mythical figure.

Self portrait as Draupadi

I was birthed from fire

fire coursing through my veins

but it turned to ice

when I was asked to be shared

among five brothers

no one asked me what I wanted,

no one asked my consent

just like that my nights were

divided amongst five marital beds

I was laughed at, made fun of

and my honour put to stake,

my husband bet me

in gambling and lost

and is still considered virtuous

but they blame me for

the bloodiest battle ever fought

I would have given up everything

for one man who loved me

but I was fated to be the empress

who lived in a palace of illusions.

(Read about Draupadi here.)


Finally free

Though I can’t recall

the cause of our fight

the scorn,

yes, the scorn in his eyes

is still imprinted on my soul

that instant,

something died inside of me

and never went away

we both closed that chapter

to move on but

I couldn’t really move on

so one day I sat down

with his letters that I believed

were so precious for me

those verses he wrote for me

they were weighing me down


I buried a few in the backyard

a foot under and then

stomped on them to my heart’s content

I burnt some to cinders

watching the smoke curl

into nothingness

made boats of others

and consigned them

to the little stream

behind the school

watching them sink after a while,

the rest I made into kites

and as they soared in the sky

to disappear into oblivion

I finally felt free.

(The lines about burying have been added after Christine’s gentle query. Thanks, my dear friend)

Tainted soul

Every night when I would put my babies to sleep

I would whisper, “you remain you, pure and innocent

don’t let the world tarnish your pristine sheen”

but alas it couldn’t be so!

as they grew up I was the first

to soil their pure soul with a teeny-weeny spot

when I taught them to be wary of strangers

then their teacher crumpled their soul a bit

when she favoured those brighter than them

or when their father reminded them that

they were luckier than others

to have food on their table

gradually as they grew older

someone or the other who was family or friend

tainted their soul bit by bit

and left their mark

branding and distorting their soul

infinitesimally every time

believe me it was all done with good intentions always

for that was our way of teaching values

their well-being the foremost thought

in our collective minds and hearts

now when I see them shying

away from helping strangers

or being discriminatory in their behaviour

I wonder if we did the right thing

in inculcating fear, doubt and guilt in them

so now I dedicate my time helping them

unlearn those feelings that weigh them down

so that there is a spring in their step

and lightness in their heart,

their soul tainted but more accepting

as they embrace life on their own.

My fault

I always thought
we were meant to be together
taking us for granted

mea culpa

Even through the haze
of harsh words exchanged
I only saw love

mea culpa

When the reality hit hard
I didn’t fight back
accepting your accusations

mea culpa

There were amicable solutions
or so I thought
and tried very hard

mea culpa

Then you went around the town
laying blame at my door
I stayed quiet

mea culpa

Now you try to weasel your way back
trying all the tricks you know
and I firmly say no

mea culpa!

The Dance of Democracy

The fire of election has been lit

the cauldron of democracy is placed atop

it has to feed more than a billion people

of a not so rich nation

so the politicians resort to ingenuity

after all we are the nation

that gave zero to the world

adding zeros to paltry numbers lends gravity to figures

where quite a few are illiterate

we also are world famous for jugaad

(our contribution to oxford dictionary)

we make do with things

so all sorts of ingredients

are thrown into the cauldron

from slogans to promises,

from waivers to sops

and what is an Indian dish

without some spices

so jibes and barbs,

slander and name-calling

and insults pertaining to ancestry

are generously sprinkled

it may make your sensibilities tear up

but you see, it is a gloves off, free for all

so what if at stake are

jobless youth, suicidal farmers,

women whose voice nobody wants to hear,

the marginalized poor,

the other communities,

children who get routinely raped or butchered

this is all media-made, leaders thunder

and cover the cauldron, trying hard

to keep the thorny issues under a gentle simmer

hoping they would dissolve on their own

the armchair analysts smack their chops

at this veritable khichdi

(yet to make to the dictionary)

not realising that when the dish is served

they will be the first casualty

for the ignorant will lap up

whatever is served

the servile will be grateful

to see their masters

it is those in the know

who will have difficulty

in swallowing the truth

and democracy as always

will have the last laugh.

a flexible approach to problem-solving that uses limited resources in an innovative way.

“countries around the world are beginning to adopt jugaad in order to maximize resources”

Khichdi (pronounced [ˈkʰɪtʃɽi]), or khichri, is a dish from the Indian subcontinent made from rice and lentils (dal), but other variations include bajra and mung dal kichri. In Indian culture, it is considered one of the first solid foods that babies eat. … It was the inspiration for the Anglo-Indian dish kedgeree.


A phone call yesterday

turned on the tap of past

and a jet of sodden memories

spurted all over me

drenching me with guilt and remorse

I had pushed some down

in the crawlspace,

buried a few, six feet down

and given watery burial to the rest

and now these corpse like remnants

of past have not let me sleep

haunting and taunting me

I try hard to coax them

and plead with them

if they were teachable

I would have taught them

the disappearing trick

alas! it is not so

so I am trying to

reconcile and realign

and since I am allergic to musty smells

tomorrow I will air them

and then try to make peace with them

for they are adamant

they are here to stay.

Bake off

I rummage the pantry frantically

looking for the ingredients

I search all the closets

all I find is mostly

empty shelves and paltry supplies

I feel faint and a scream

rises up my throat

frightened by my own voice

I wake up with a start

and realise there is no upcoming feast

it is the bake off

that is giving me nightmares!