A. Annapurna Sharma, INDIA

RANGI – THE TODDY SELLER

She hates this season
she hates the early morning sun
the sweet-sourness of toddy
How she hates it?

He tells her – Rangi, come fast
I am off to collect toddy
How her body aches to get up
from the coziness of sleep

Toddy, is like buttermilk
Only that the palm adds its sweetness
melancholia mixes with mesmerization
as she collects it
in one pot and sits at the crossroads

As the sun climbs the sky
the palm toddy loses its sweetness
Ranga taught her to taste it
to add some sugar to make it sweeter
when it sours
just as she with him

She hates the smell
like the rotten curd
or the brokenness of her life
souring and souring
each time she adds sugar
and sips a drop from her palm
her lost love is strongly bonded
with the toxicity of toddy

Who said, moonlight is white
her toddy, her life when she drinks
it is white (fairer)
when the other men
scrambling to buy bottles from her
ogle at her
And there were others that stop
to drink from the palm cups
the ones that she makes
they ask her- did you mix love looks in it
to make it toxic than ever
She stoops down to look
at the oodles of fat
stealthily staring at the men
from the folds of her saree
trying to escape the clutches
of her marital bond
to elope with the looks of the men

She knows the heat
building within and without
she merely stares at the
blood stains that the palm leaves
paint on her fingers
She grasped the unrestrained leaf
to make one cup
but the leaves lose no time
to remind her of her status

She hates it all
how she wishes she could be home
letting the baby suckle her warmth
letting the hearth cook her love

She waits for the night to descend
to drag herself back to the dwelling
Ranga beats her for wasting the spoilt toddy
Was it her fault?
If only a few came in
to drink from her eyes
he tells her to dress better the next day

The toxicity of the toddy
vanishes with his manliness
she tries to sleep
nursing the bruises
She wishes - the sun didn’t rise the next day
She hates being the toddy seller…


ARE YOU A FEMINIST?

They ask – are you a feminist?
I don’t know, I say
Thoughts percolate
Who is a feminist?
Is it the one who fights for females
Or the one who abuses men
Yes, the one who is man’s adversary

But I love my man –
his words dipped in honey
play piano in my ears;
his lanky fingers dance
on the nape of my neck;
his eyes are the windows of my vision;
his sweaty presence behind the door –
an inspiration to live.
He spoons morsels of rice
with oodles of love
into my parched mouth.
He embraces my deficiencies and dispositions…

Do you know –
I wear a choker of colorful beads,
always, of his warm hands
as an emblem of his love

Churning in his charismatic eddies
I am mesmerized…his playful love
Am I not a feminist?
I get a chance to drive the car
He cooks half days of the week
We share the chores of a cluttered life

No, these are all what any man could do
Am I not a feminist then?

I am a woman
Half of him
Who lives and let him live
For we are one and not two


AT SQUARE ONE

When I was five –
Don’t you go out, screamed my father
I stared –
as bullock carts and cycles strolled
as the red mud flew with the wind
to make love to the green grass.
People strode with bundles on their heads
and burdens in their lunch boxes.
‘You can’t cross the road!’
said he.

When I was fifteen –
Don’t go out alone, advised my husband
I gaped –
as auto rickshaws, scooters and cars plied
as the gravel grunted and hissed
crushed with time
with the gravity of life
‘You can’t cross the road!’
said he.

When I was forty –
Take my hand and cross, said my son
I followed implicitly
Midway – my legs refused to move
I stood stoic
Vehicles zooming around me
above me.
I look up at the clear sky
the sun blinded me, dazed me.
He dragged me to safety
to the fringes of the other side of the road

I look back –
My shadow on the other side
It was still there,
Where I began my journey

My physical self crossed the peripheries
those ephemeral boundaries
that kept me alive.
But I was there, still there
waiting to get up and walk
on my own
I was never given a chance
I was there, underdeveloped
poor, pathetic, pitiable…

The whole world transformed
I came from a village, to town, to city
but I was just there.
At square one,
with only a square meal a day


Annapurna Sharma is the Editor of Your Space / Muse India. Her maiden book of poems ‘Melodic Melange’ was launched recently. She is a recipient of Savitribai Phule National Women Achiever Award – 2018. She was adjudged a Distinguished Writer - International in the 4th Bharat Award for Literature (short story contest 2018) by Xpress Publications and her poem was shortlisted for All India Poetry Competition – 2017 conducted by The Poetry Society (India). Her short stories, articles, poems have appeared in national and international publications.

8 comments :

  1. In RANGI – THE TODDY SELLER, you have beautifully expressed the pain of a wife bearing the brunt of an abusive husband. The comparison of her life with toddy is lovely.

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  2. Among the three poems, I liked this poem ARE YOU A FEMINIST? the most. The use of similes like choker and hand is so beautiful. Man and woman, both are important like the Sun and the Moon. And the relationship between the two should be like this. A beautiful and apt and different view of a feminist.

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    1. Man and woman are equal in their contributions to a family, society, nation - a realization must for the larger good of the planet. Thank you dear.

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  3. In the poem AT SQUARE ONE, you have so beautifully explained how people around a woman limits her self development and she remains where she was despite the change of the scenario.

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    1. When I see such women especially from the lower sections of the population, I feel very bad for them. Thanks dear Sangeeta.

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  4. Yes, several women continue their relationship despite the abuse due to societal fear...Thanks Sangeeta for the response.

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  5. The three poems are a reflection of Annapurna Sharma's keen sense of observation of the things around as well as a healthy interpretation that is a blend of empathy, sympathy, reality and her own individuality. Feminism can fulfil its purpose only with the tool of harmony but not with a sword of eternal conflict. This she has put succinctly, when she says: "I am a woman | Half of him | Who lives and let him live | For we are one and not two."

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  6. Women's issues have always been the center of controversy and debate but have never been resolved. Who is to blame? The change has to come from within and not from some third party intervention...Thank you dear Atreya sir for your kind response.

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