Poetry: Mathangi Sunderrajan

Mathangi Sunderrajan

We remained, untouched and neglected;
Forgotten relics of decades ago.
Having seen better days, until wretched
We became of overuse and got tucked in rack below.

Faded and jaded, lying bored of an existence
Dark and gloomy, not worth a penny.
Clinging to memories of the pretty world outside, 
Of glitzy shops, chic restaurants and vacations many.

Suddenly, one day words did we overhear,
Of a virus deadly, lockdown and other things they said.
Didn't make sense; we didn’t care.
Our respect for our mistress long been dead.

What happened next, you will not believe;
Having been dormant so many years,
We were yanked out, much to our intrigue, 
Shocked, we were of this turn of affairs.

One after another, we fitted her so snugly.
(Madam is much larger now, we suspect) 
Day after day, she seemed so comfy, 
As she cooked and washed, cleaned and swept. 

We wondered why, but couldn't care less;
The underdogs, frayed and ruined,
Became all-time favourites but she looked a mess
With her undyed hair, sans her jewels.

Cottons, starched stiff, silks and crepes light 
Watched us, the worn-out salwars, in full swing,
Parade in and out in revengeful delight. 
"Life takes a U- turn; we are now the in thing!”

They didn't go out for work or pleasure. 
Everything was very different and strange. 
Our respect restored, happier than ever,
We, the old and wise, knew all things change.

On a fateful day, sweeping outside, mistress overheard 
Passers-by, “Look! How nice! Here the maid
Works through lockdown, undeterred ".
She straightened, shell shocked, caught off guard!!

In a fury, she marched towards our pile.
Picked and dumped us all into a dingy abyss.
What fate awaits us we know not. Meanwhile  
We hail this 'lockdown” as we too have had our bliss!!!


"What a huge span of wings you have!
Let me pluck the feathers, leaving just a few!
Must you spread your wings so? You mustn’t fly-
Never too high or very far to break my heart.
Don’t flaunt your plumage or your gaudy colours.
Be a little less confident and a lot more modest.
Dear beautiful bird, the love of my life!!

What long and curved talons you have!
Let me clip them, short and blunted!
Must you perch on trees? You are not a common bird!
A golden cage would suit you more!
Don’t ever be uncouth and coarse!
Be a little less intimidating and a lot more meek!
Dear beautiful bird, the love of my life!

What a loud shrill cry you have!
Let me throttle your neck, just a little bit.
Must you cry so loud? You should have more class!
A chirp would make me happy and …safe.
Don’t be so loud and blaring!
Be a little less vulgar and a lot more genteel!
Dear beautiful bird, the love of my life.

The beautiful bird had its feathers trimmed,
Its talons shaped and polished until they shone,
Trained its voice to be soft and sugary. 
Lived “happily as the love of “his” life-
And she never realized that she was 
No longer a bird but an exquisite marionette.


To be able to say what you really feel,
Without fear or sounding brazen or hurting souls,
To do what you want, not what you ought to;
Be respectful, be humble, be nice and calm.
All over-rated platitudes, to clip your wings or hold your tongue.
A well-raised girl from a 'good family'- demure and delicate 
But strong enough to withstand all assault, open or veiled.
An ideal daughter in law, to carry the burdens and the lineage;
A friend, an agony aunt, a hostess, a cook, a house keeper 
To keep the flag of the family’s name flying high.
A wife par excellence, gracious and a pillar of support
When things go wrong, an ambassador to maintain peace at home. 
A great mother, a woman with no expectations of her own!! 

Oh hoots! Nothing in return indeed!
Who pays for my sleepless nights, bone weary work?
Sealing my mouth, forcing a smile, swallowing a snide remark;
The rituals and celebrations that left me drained and quickened my aging.
The silk saris that fill my wardrobe in every hue and combination.
The diamonds and gold that lay in the dark recesses of my locker- 
Will they quell my resentments or regrets?
Or restore my health or numb my senses?

Well, finally, I did try to find my voice;
 As In -laws gaze down benignly from framed pictures.
And the fledglings having flown to thrive in distant lands,
The sprawling house is silent with a sole mistress.
My spouse is a shadow of his old self, wrapped in his own world. 
My bones creak with arthritis and I peer into the future, expectantly.
I gather myself   with all my strength.
I want to shout; say outrageous things.
Show an attitude; break decades old rules.
But wait, my voice is so feeble, no more than a squeak.
Nothing outrageous breaks the barriers of my mind.
My sassiness is taken for a poor joke.
And rules which were ropes that throttled me
Are my lifelines that now define me.
I surrender. I open a window as all doors are closed.


Just another face in a teeming million;
No heroic story to proclaim with pride.
Travelled the beaten track without rebellion;
Resignation to destiny , the only abide.
No peaks to conquer; No skies to soar;
No strength to scale; No wings to unfurl.

A prosaic life with no poetry.
Colourless, changeless and dead as a pan.
Dreams and hopes slayed entirely.
To voice a dissent is never the game plan.
Rock the boat? Spill the beans?
Shatter the bonds? And....pay the price?

So many shades and impressions of a courageous trail; 
To break free, and to rage and roar
Is no doubt a page out of a heroic tale.
But to suffer and surrender without a war,
Needs a nerve and a fearless key,
As, for many, breaking free, a denied decree.

Glory to the winner on the pinnacle high!
But forget not the humble brethren,
Trudging wearily without a cry.
And storms, without a whimper, weathered.
No peaks to conquer! No skies to soar!
No strength to scale! No wings to unfurl!
Just a simple mundane life to lead;
With tolerance and courage and a heart left to bleed.


Move on! Let go! Take life in its stride.
The head rules; seems to play a winning game.
All, in seemingly picture perfect frame.
Stealthily, the heart creeps "What a sham!"
Floodgates of memory open for a tide,
Heart aches, breaks, insults and slights
Sneak in to torture and taunt.
The Ego baulks of the past affront;
Ghosts, decades old, come back to haunt.
The head’s rule fades into invisible sights. 
Unnoticed, the Spirit slides in to proclaim
Its resplendence, its untold glory;
Its rightful place in Man s story,
To evolve and past torments bury.
To Move on, Let go! And Stillness reclaim.

Mrs. Mathangi Sunderrajan has been teaching English for nearly 15 years across various boards- state, central and international. Having been an avid reader all her life, writing poems became a hobby, as well as a means of expression about the world  around her, besides being therapeutic by giving solace while facing Life’s  many challenges.

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