Voices Within: Basudhara Roy

Basudhara Roy teaches English at Karim City College affiliated to Kolhan University, Chaibasa. She is the author of two collection of poems – Moon in My Teacup (Writer’s Workshop, 2019) and Stitching a Home (Red River, 2021) Her third poetry collection Inhabiting is forthcoming this year. Her latest work is featured in LiveWire, The Woman Inc., Madras Courier, Lucy Writers Platform, Berfrois, The Aleph Review and Yearbook of Indian English Poetry 2020-21, among others. She loves, rebels, writes and reviews from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India.


The evening is a stale, unmade bed,
this body an oversized comma
between scribbles of regret.

I consult a thesaurus for this feeling
and drawn by its elegiac elegance
settle for agony - /a-ɡə-ni/.

Memory is a childhood craving
gone diabetic in the bloodstream, 
the insulin of peace scarce in life's war with hope.

Every third word has wings which when I pluck,
it dies slowly the way tea or desire turns cold.
The others cower, some deflower.

There is no ophthalmologist for words
to determine if they are myopic, hypermetropic
or plain blind. Intuition is all.

I ride wisdom like an empty bus where
having unwittingly slept, I missed my stop
and the conductor was too absentminded to call.

On the Etiquettes of Breaking

Breaking is a language
one can learn from history 
if one speaks to her griefs.

But one doesn't usually
strike a conversation with grief
until she formally arrives.

It is best to break fluently
like a jigsaw, a palace of cards,
an egg struck across its middle with a knife.

Jagged ends can be highly unsafe.
The wisdom is in avoiding reluctance,
and to be ready, like a bone, to break.

If you look at it, it's a physical change.
But it must be chemical too, for rearranged,
things will never again be the same.

There is no denying that they can be better,
that they may take less space, less time,
fewer thoughts, sparser concern.

In breaking, it is also possible to incarnate.
Our mythology tells us demons and goddesses
did the same when they were butchered.

Taking heart from them, I practice breaking
everyday along with my French, guitar and yoga.
It takes the same effort and rewards as much.

Having broken clumsily several times,
I have gradually learned to predict when it's coming
and at my best, I can now split open on command.

Breaking Point

At any breaking point,
try not to forget that it’s not their strength
that vanquishes you but your unpreparedness,
your stripping off of armour and shield
and having given way to unwary sleep.

Every battle needs a plan without which
one is defenceless. That evening when I received
in a pink envelope, a storm, I was vanquished
by my own frying pan where instead of slices
of bread, I placed upside-down my palms.

But lapses are human and so is frailty.
The idea is to even sleep in uniform,
to keep the eyes on the oven and the toast
and to reach out for two glasses of water.
For smouldering skin, there will be Burnol.

In this minute, however, take a deep breath.
The breaking point will pass without
much harm if you concentrate on keeping
your flailing pieces together,
determined to defy gravity’s call.

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