Bharati Nayak, INDIA


I won't read your poems
Sulked my teenage daughter
Why your poems
Tell only of unhappiness
Have you not felt
Our love for you?
Oh Yes
I have seen
How my children protect me
Like a fort
If they see me hurt
Then why I write
Poem after poem
That speaks about rain
I tried to explain
What I write
Is not my story only
I have seen
My mother, sisters and aunts
Wiping their tears
silently by their Anchals
I have seen
Dolly, Milly, Shelly
Whose fathers
Arrange their marriage
On their way to a market
They do not care
If the girls die
By hanging or burning
Some die
Without leaving a trace

My daughter did not agree
You have seen only
Dolly, Milly, Shelly
And girls who had no names
Look at me
I am not one among them
I am Pragyan (Wisdom)
I am Pallabi (leaves)
I am dream
I am light
One day, like Kalpana Chawla
I will soar into space
I will decorate
My ten corners
With colors of
My dreams.


Oh Mother
I am
That daughter of yours
Who you see
as capable of everything
You dream your unrealised dreams
Through my eyes
You see me as one
Who progresses ahead
Setting aside all hurdles
My every success
Becomes your pride.

You say
I am beautiful
All sarees look nice on me
I also admit
I can wear them nicely -
All colour sarees* -
Be it of anger or anguish
Neglect or intolerance,
I drape them
So dexterously
That I look beautiful to all.

No, No,
Perhaps I look beautiful to you!
You say,
Your daughter is beautiful
You don't know
How much strength
Is there in your words
Only I know
It is your love
That provides my weapons,
My power
I dazzle in this light and
I look beautiful
So beautiful!

*Saree – a common Indian female attire


Me - a woman
I am to be loved
Not to be abused.

Me - a flower
I am to be adored
And adorned
Not to be crushed.

Me - tenderness
To be handled with care
Not to be trampled.

Me - love
To be paid back in love
Not with authority.

Me - a dream
To be nurtured
To be realised
Not to be broken

Me - a promise
Promise for the future
Keep me
In your heart's care.

Bharati Nayak (b. 1962) poet, critic and translator from Odisha, an Indian State lying on its eastern coast, writes poetry in her mother tongue Odia and in English She writes in English and Odia. Her poems have been published in several magazines, journals, anthologies and e-books of national and international repute such as Rock Pebbles, Orissa Review, Utkal Prasang, Creation and Criticism, Circular Whispers, Nova Literature-Poesis, Poetry Agaist Terror, 56 Female Voices of Poetry, The Four Seasons Poetry Concerto, Tunes from the Subcontinent, Amaravati Poetic Prism, and many more. She has three poetry collections to her credit:  1-Padma Paada (A poetry book in Odia language) 2-Words Are Such Perfect Traitors 3-A Day for Myself.

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