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Linda Ashok

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Linda Ashok






ONE CHILD POLICY
 
No mother loves her child any less
I am sure my mother loves me as much
But maybe the Government doesn’t have food enough
That my mother had to leave me at a railway station
 
My dream is to go skiing
in the snow of Zhongguo Xuexiang
I want my mother to run after me
and long before she hits me with a ball of snow
I should become a butterfly in her head
 
I do not hate my mother
I know she is waiting for me in the valley
Playing her pipa and giving milk to my brother
Yes, I am the elder one
And my mother needs a son when she is old
 
I play with my brother. He loves shoelaces
And eating chalks. So every night before I go to bed
I keep a few chalks and a tangle of shoelaces on a plate
He licks them clean and disappears without a trace
 
 
THE FOG GATHERER
 
In the cold unlit village of Peru
‎Porfirio belongs to the tribe of fog gatherers
All his life, he harvested fog for water
and crops for livelihood
To send his son to America
 
Porfirio is old but strong
Every morning he chases his hens
For half a mile and goes farming
Like he always did. There’s a waiting
In his heart for his son to come back
But he keeps that a secret
Like his own birth rescued
From the clutches of a Mexican war
‎Porfirio does not complain
He has trained in nothing better
Than catching fog and lighting fire
To keep his village warm
And his calluses soft in biting cold
 
A journalist asks if he needs some help
And he says, yes, if I can import some mesh
My old hands are tired of weaving
And the mesh within may just break any day
The journalist presses the news and turns away
 
 
THE MARIGOLD SELLER
 
I loved marigold but my friend
She loved roses. She would say a flower
Without thorns is no flower at all
I would refuse to believe till one day
 
When rain ate up all her village
And grandpa offered them our house for stay
Her father took care of our garden
And milked pigment for canvas paint
 
I would stay put all day in the summer
Watching her father sieve the colour
And say, “Mary, I’ve got gold for you
Come take these petals or stove them away”
 
That day, she and I played like boys
Tired, she fell asleep and I, broke my leg
I was grown up, crying was not gracious
So quietly I cringed till he came my way
 
He held my knee to help me be
And looked around calling his daughter
I know I was wrong but that moment
I wanted to be what she called a flower
 
 
DREAMING OF A GIRL FROM NORTHEAST INDIA
 
"That is someplace you go for sightseeing, you see?
 
I mean, look at our terrain; voluptuous and inviting, I mean
we are so rape-ready- all things cum
It rains like we are always clouds
Our hills, tigers that moan and how you cringe at us eating
snakes that you worship. And there’s no consensus, no permission
needed-- we are as if not born of a mother's womb, we are wombs ourselves--
broken and torn and left to entertain men whose shoulders ache under guns.
 
We are like our noodles; ready to cook, and you slurp so hard.
Our bodies- origami of calamities, we learn ravage, a language that ties our tongues."
 
That girl from North-East, I ask her what makes her hair so beautiful,
her arms so slender, her breasts smoother than mine? She says nothing…
 
That girl from North-East, she carries a gun in her heart and bullets in her eyes and yet,
she is never safe-- my hands constantly groping her like blind man gropes for God's instructions.
 
She, however, is kind to me; she takes me for a tea and we make love
on the highway before a truck runs over us. Moments before we die, she whispers,
“...it is because your father killed mine. And the fact that I am your bastard sister-
a fire lit by your AFSPA long before you even grew in your pants, a hair of fancy! Such fire kills!”

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Feature–Contemporary Indian English Poetry

Editorial
    Editorial: GJV Prasad

Poetry
    Abhay K
    Aishwarya Iyer
    Akhil Katyal
    Amlanjyoti Goswami
    Ananya S Guha
    Arup K Chatterjee
    CS Bhagya
    Debasish Lahiri
    Devdan Chaudhuri
    Dhananjay Singh
    Gertrude Lamare
    Goirick Brahmachari
    Joie Bose
    Maaz bin Bilal
    Malsawmi Jacob
    Meera Sagar
    Nabina Das
    Nitoo Das
    Priya Sarukkai-Chabria
    Rajesh Kumar
    Ranu Uniyal
    rizio yohannan raj
    Rochelle Potkar
    Saima Afreen
    Sanjeev Sethi
    Semeen Ali
    Shelly Bhoil
    Smeetha Bhoumik
    Srilata K
    Sudeep Sen
    Sukrita Paul Kumar
    Sumana Roy
    Tabish Khair
    Taseer Gujral
    Uddipana Goswami
    Usha Akella
    Uttaran Das Gupta
    Vivek Narayanan
    Linda Ashok

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