Poetry by Monica Oswal

Monica Oswal

At the Red Light

barely a 4 year old waits
at the footpath.
The light turns red,
she somersaults with élan
over the tarred road,
in synch to the
beats of a dholki*
that her companion,
a girl of eight or so
An auto-rickshaw halts.
She cartwheels to the
auto-wala who has nothing to offer
except tepid water.
Thoroughly she washes her hands and sweaty face,
not wanting to waste even a drop,
merrily she cups her palms to drink to the last drop.
Concealed by the traffic,
I watch her wipe her face,
with watery eyes I follow the little child and
unstring my golden purse,
carefully I fish out a crumpled tenner
and drop it in her open palms
The light turns green.
I turn my window up.
She carefully returns to the safety of the footpath.
I carefully re-examine my purse,
in the heat of the moment,
I shouldn't have confuse a tenner with a thousand.
When she vanishes from my rear view mirror,
I rationalise,
I am a human, albeit  calculative,
calculating my pros,
adding up my karmas.
Summing up my one good deed,
all in a single breath.
In hindsight,
She didn't waste a drop of water,
I was unwilling to part with my hard earned money
except a tenner.
Such is her life
Such is mine.
And then in this life
or the next
there maybe role reversals.

*Dholki – a small drum like musical instrument that is strung around the neck.

Flight with Roots

 As the rain begins to fall,
gathering her roots in the palms of her soul,
she gently walks away.

Loose ground beneath her feet
calls out
ignoring the thunders from the blackened skies,
ignoring the roaring cries,
swaying not for a moment,
she flies.

Oh how she flies!
Shrill silence
stabs at her
she bears it all.

gathering her roots
she flies,
Up, above,
beyond attachments
of the darkening skies.


Tempting was the azure sky,
beckoning  the blobs of twinkling lights.
Blinding was the black light
restless from within,
the caterpillar wanted to fly.
Freedom is such a salty word
Liberation, sweet.
Their aftertaste, strange
the caterpillar wanted to fly.
Metamorphosis choked,
transformation, nearly killed
but curious was the caterpillar
and turned into a blue butterfly.
The roads to unknown skies were full of thrills,
the flutter of wings, joys multiplied
this blessed exhilaration,
When a caterpillar evolved into a butterfly.


I am not sure of who I am,
the questions don't baffle me anymore.
I am happy being a no one.

A no one whom no one can stake a claim on,
a No one who is not labeled by a given name,
Who is without boundaries.
No birthmarks mark me.
Not defined by the colour of my eyes,
I imagine them to be deep blue,
a colour borrowed from the bottomless foamy oceans,
streaks of silver highlights in my hair,
remind me of thunderbolts.
I am a Phoenix,
one not
bound and gagged by definitions,
not chained by parameters of norms.

This is who I am,
a child of nature,
blank as a slate,
willing to write my own stories.