Dr. Sunil Kaushal, INDIA


Has the time come when she must kill her,
choking all that reeks of her weak, obsessed mind,
infested with crawling maggots of longing
that sap her of all strength?
Should she disown her mangled corpse,
rotting in the wilderness called ‘womanhood’?
Having suffered it all, fulfilling needs of the flesh
now turn towards her bruised soul;
re-mould the decaying remains,
carving a new woman of substance
who yearns not to hear, from other lips,
words of love and caring.
Instead within herself be so fulfilled,
as to sublimate her very existence.

Crucified a million times,
burnt at the stake as many times,
from ashes grows new wings.
Glorified, liberated, empowered at long last
free of fetters, severed shackles, broken bonds.
Woman, giver of life, love, abundance and prosperity;
the goddess showering her infinite wealth
free to soar, soar, soar on her phoenix flight.


That day a glorious sun rose, as I entered this home.
Stars in ‘kohled’ eyes, hands henna dyed,
radiant in red, glowing in gold, demure and shy,
to protect me, into his arms I was led
on a rose strewn bridal bed,
Alas today, when the death dirge knocks
winds of fate have blown
ostracized, cursed by those waiting to disown
out of the same, so easily I am thrown.

Red raiment rent to shreds, lights the funeral pyre
smeared vermilion lends color, fanning flames of fire,
broken bangles tinkle one last time, fall
for me evermore only the temple’s prayer call?

Obedient to dictates, blind as can be
deserted me, to die in ‘Holy Kashi’.
Most wounding was being deserted
on these (un)‘holy ghats’ by daughters and sons.
O! self styled guardians of my life,
how you’ve fenced me in,
widowhood, oppressive and cruel in its sway
 no lesser than ‘sati’, will burn me.
sinking in oblivion, this puppet fades away

No festival religious, no neighbor nor friend
no human company, into which I can blend.
The steep climb begins, eking livelihood,
in dirt stained streets, lost, heartbroken, alone I stood.
If I’m a ‘child woman’ the least said the better
either they rape me or turn into a beggar.
Acid tongues lash out orders.
For a handful of rice, I prostrate
before their Gods and many an ungodly other.
Endless hours of chanting, my stomach empty still
lull me to sleep, with prayers having had my fill.

Desolate ghats or just bare ground
these pavements I now call home
any shelter, any cover to be found,
cowering under newspapers or plastic sheets,
shivering and bone chilled, I live through rain and sleet.
My head freezes so, oh my head freezes so, with half a torn sheet
for my shaven head is bare, when I cover frozen feet.
If I manage to find a roof, if ever I manage to find a roof
there’ll be tens of us living in one decrepit room.

I stop resisting, yet I know not forgiving
they cripple and hound me, I still carry on living.
Even waiting for death, seems such cruelty
for it promises to stretch into decades of inhumanity.
But l keep waiting and hoping, waiting and hoping,
hoping, one day my son will come to light the fire.
Should I then leave him with guilt or forgiveness
as he encircles my funeral pyre?
Oh! Sacred city of Kashi!

(The Indian city of Kashi, also known as Varanasi is an ancient city with a rich cultural heritage, where the holy river Ganga flows. It is famous for Manikarnika Ghat and the Harishchandra Ghat, where Hindus cremate their dead that are believed to attain salvation upon being cremated here)


Perhaps not, the woman you want -
stereotyped, boxed, suffocated,
demeaned, battered, humiliated.

Her bearers burdened, give ads in papers
that almost read
“Dowry in millions, girl free
in *donation (*kanya daan)
Two enhancing assets
salary, education”,
best investment in relations.
She hardly matters
the woman that she is!

Your adventurous youth sows wild oats,
Sita’s a trial by fire
for only your orders,
should awaken her sexuality.
Salving your ego’s wounds,
forgets her own
the woman that she is!

The wing clipped bird, caged
peers through bars, dazed
blinding dust of time, servility;
wiped from her eyes,
her palms read, tries
creating new destiny
propitiated stars perhaps, may change
the woman that she is!

A kindly star descends,
a seed sprouts in the warmth
of the primal holy crypt of womanhood.
Sadistic barbarism forced to relent its clutch on captive freedom,
As she decides to bear her child
by choice, not compulsion
in the mirage called marriage.
The woman that she has become!

The sun’s embrace thaws the ice maiden,
as cool breezes caress heavy limbs,
 lilting bird songs, buzzing bees hum a lullaby
wafting with spring’s fragrance
as she croons and red music courses
 through veins of life within,
snapping self imposed shackles of solitude
 gazing skywards, starry eyed now,
becomes the woman that she is!

Dr. Sunil Kaushal, gynaecologist, trilingual writer also writes haiku, micro-poetry and limericks. Published in a number of National, International anthologies and magazines, has won many awards and competitions. Her poems have been translated into French, German and Greek. Read her in Crumpled Voices 2, Feathers, Nature Poems, Forever a Lie, Bloodshot Eyes, Learning and Creativity, Love – A Divine Madness Vol.1&2, Episteme, Kafiyaa, On Fire Cultural Movement, Muffled Moans, her blog sunilkaushal44.blogspot.in In October 2017 she was honoured at the Indian World Poetree Festival with The Enchanting Muse Award(International) and Fellow of the Regal World of Scribes(FRWS), by The Pentasi B Poetree Group. Currently her memoirs “Gypsy Wanderings”, her book of poems and translation of her brother P.S.Gill’s book, “Where is The Second World?”, German to English, keep her busy.  Sketching, Yoga, meditation, Classical and Sufi music charge this 74-year old with vitality, staying in love with life!

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