Vinita Agrawal (Voices Within)

Vinita Agrawal is an award winning author of four books of poetry. Her work has been widely published and anthologised. She was editor of TheWomanInc for three years. Her poem won the Tall Grass Writers Guild Award, Chicago and the Proverse Hongkong Poetry Prize. She was also awarded the Gayatri GaMarsh Prize for literary excellence. She curates literary events for PEN Mumbai. She has assisted in curating a section of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2020. She is on the advisory board of the Tagore Literary Prize. 


Mumbai 

A very dark sky but no rain 
and the burden of knowing too much.

Cramped, shadowy spaces,
living-units in short supply.

Mumbai -
where a room is a house.

A solitary nameplate 
against a solitary pigeon hole.

Men dream of wheat fields
women of fresh air and sweat-free afternoons.

They want to raise english-speaking kids here.
The sun-dolloped, Laburnum sea cushions their aches.

Local trains hoot through the suffocation, 
commuters lolling from splayed doors like tongues

for breeze, just breeze.


The Traveller Inside You

Not everyone knows what it means
that pale opal play of light 
on which a cartographer leans
as he sails away one night.

What does he hope for when clear 
that death curates the tide of life?
When biennales mark with a smear
the thin scimitar moon of strife.

Bosons of gems he finds in jars
And beauty sails against the wind 
Capella that bright golden star
lies to the lissome black night pinned.

The brave explorer does not know
what is real or what is false
What will he do, where will he go
what if the allure fades and palls?

To travel a mystic distance
is all that his blood seeks to do 
To that inner call he listens 
like the traveller inside you.


Gunjiyas

It isn't just food
this melting sweetness 
encrusted in a crisp pastry
murmuring in the mouth.

For the filling, the red-brown charoli 
dots the desiccated coconut, slivered almonds, 
khoya, powdered sugar 
and raisins (as soft as your eyes).
Delicately encased in half moons of pastry,
sealed and fried to the colour of raw silk.

The crests in the painstakingly crimped dough
that forms its decorative edges
appear to me like the peaks of our tender bond.

No, 
these aren’t Gunjiyas that you've prepared today,
this in your fourth stage
when the doctors say 
you might find it hard to breathe.

So when you offer the sweets
to me and say
‘I made you your favourite treat’,
I realise that I’m going to taste 

tangible love.

Voices Within-2020 :: Setu, February 2020

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