Jyoti Kanetkar, INDIA


Your hennaed hands
Depicting peacocks in
Full bloom, write
Histories of a softer
Culture, when there
Was leisure for love,
To taste the wondrous
Beauty of being a woman.

To wear *Gajras of jasmine
Through luxuriant strands
Of hair, already redolent
With **Shikakai, Ritha,
Brahmi and Amla.

When to be a woman
Was the proud heritage
Of the womb; the
Passing of time measured
By the Phases of the Moon.

In these flurried times
When watches adorn
Wrists previously covered
With tinkling glass bangles,
The Henna on your palms
Gives me hope that a
Woman is still a woman
And she will remember
To revel in it
Sometime very soon.

*Gajra – short flower garland used by Indian women to adorn their hair

**Shikakai, Ritha, Brahmi and Amla – Indian Ayurveda products said to be good for luxurious hair


Another night of sleeplessness and discomfort
With your picture of the river at Hampi
To keep me company. It speaks volumes to me.

Its mysterious broken depths hide the
Sighs of centuries. The water course between
The boulder-strewn sides speaks of creation
And all its cries.

The stillness of the stream where mindless
Destruction has obstructed the course,
Tells me yet of the human efforts that have
Kept Hampi alive, through three weeks of
Twelve thousand sledge hammers wielding

The upside-down carved statue flung
Carelessly by some unknown destroyer
Speaks of the nobility and vision that
Went into its creation, also of the
Needlessness of the destruction of
A civilization.

It could not be a woman who gave
The orders to destroy all that was Hampi;
Though surely it was a woman who gave
Birth to the one who did.

Can we feed an elixir at birth to prevent
The repetition of what happened to the
History of the thriving civilisation
On the river at Hampi? 

(*Located in Karnataka, India near the modern-era city of Hosapete, Hampi's ruins are spread over 4,100 hectares (16 sq mi) and it has been described by UNESCO as an "austere, grandiose site" of more than 1,600 surviving remains of the last great Hindu kingdom in South India)


The grey in the mirror
Gets me thinking...
I’ve been there too before
The # Me Too; only
Very silently, not a sound,
No sharing, no words,
Only the feeling of desecration
Of something so beautiful,
Clear and pristine… and
It was supposed to be OK,
The wall of impenetrable
Silence protecting the
Murky muck.

Now that it’s out in the open
The pus oozing out, all
The immeasurable pain
Of aeons of female history
Inundating the present,
What I can only do is
Stand in the midst of
History and silently
Clap and cheer on
Those of today that
Have the voice and
Wherewithal to right
A long time wrong.

More power to you all
My sisters out there –
May your ilk live on and
Conquer – I stand validated.

Jyoti Kanetkar is an international and national award-winning writer and poet, both in English and Marathi. Her poems, stories, essays and articles have appeared in magazines in India, UK and US. Her published material includes three short story collections and a collection of poems in Marathi. A fourth collection of short stories and the second collection of her poems is being published soon.

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