Click to view Profile
Malcolm Carvalho

Malcolm Carvalho

If today you feel the world is clenching its jaws around you,
if today you see sparks flying out as tongues get sharpened on the stone wheel,
if today fear has stiffened your spine so you have to pretend to walk upright even though your spirit is crushed,
if today you can’t see the horizon because the walls are getting thicker and higher,
know that beyond the walls built with bricks of colour and race and religion and gender,
beyond those walls where minds are closed,
closed enough to let in no sunshine or starlight,
beyond those walls
are children playing
their made up games
with their made up toys.
Beyond those walls where people want to handcuff rivers,
cage the wind, and throw a net over forests
beyond those walls where their circles are getting smaller every day,
and might soon diminish into dots,
where one day it might be each versus everyone,
beyond those walls
are children
scribbling graffiti on hate hardened bricks
etching their names,
alongside those of their friends.
Sometimes they also write the names they have been hearing from the other side.

Tear a piece of the earth.

don't crumple it into a ball.

tie a string to it,
and fly your kite.
Let this fragment of the earth sail over others.
Let it meet its brothers, dip its feet into their lakes.

Let the curves of their cities lure this kite.
Let it discard its paper face, shed its roots,
and make love so that it smells the same as the heaving breast of the towns.

Let it veer along the jagged coastline that spreads out like the fingers of a seductress.
Let it weave tunnels that link languages,
quietly plant a verse in their song,
and slip in a jig to their rhythms.

Let it lose itself
Piece by piece.
Let it watch its colours dissolve in their streams.
Let it learn words from their satin tongues.
Let it play like a child who has been told the games will never end.
I wonder
what will remain of this piece of earth when it comes back home.
Will it sound like an earth song?
Will it have the same white as that of your eyes?
Will it come home for the summer?
Will it stay perched in places where it dissolved its feet?
Or will it meander to newer lands, and leaf through their books?

At the turn of the street,
A woman stands with her face corrugated
By troughs and crests
Formed through decades of lovers found,
Flung, lost, surrendered.

Somewhere on the edge of yesterday,
She crossed a scarred bridge, its body shaken
As if it were plundered by a storm
Without warning.
It must have come in the dark of the night
When the bold black of her hair
Had begun turning into a murmuring grey.

Through drooping crescents she peers
And strains her sagging ears
To catch words tumbling out of unknown mouths
In streets and buses,
In conversations not meant for her.
While the air is punctuated 
With nothings whispered over the phone,
In the distance she eyes
hands gliding into each other,
And fingers singing a melody she hummed years ago.
She walks on, the words fading away,
Boards the train
and immerses herself into a paperback.
Page forty-nine beckons.

The sun races to the horizon
She trudges homeward,
Her face, like a blackhole, is empty
Yet holds emotions guarded,
Quarantined since she moved away
After melting her moulded works.

Back in the heart of the town,
The apartment swallows her,
Veiling her fears, colouring her angst.
Another day gone by, she says,
Through intoxicating whiffs of the brewing coffee;
She pulls a lonely mug out of her drawer,
And pours out the beverage
Relishing the languid flow.
Reality kicks in with the first sip,
She frantically scours her shelf,
And finds the jar of sugar cubes,
It is empty.


Issue 72 (Mar-Apr 2017)

  • Ambika Ananth: Editorial Note
  • Ashfaqh Hasan
  • BR Nagpal
  • Jim Wungramyao Kasom
  • Leena Sharma
  • Malcolm Carvalho
  • Md Ziaul Haque
  • Nitya Swaruba
  • Nuggehalli Pankaja
  • Prem Kumar
  • Madhabi Das (Trans. Subhasree Chatterjee)
  • Sunaina Jain
  • Ubaidullah Pandit