Voices Within: Madhu Sriwastav

Madhu Sriwastav is an Assistant Professor of English based in Kolkata. She is also a poet, translator, reviewer and creative writer. Her poems have been published and anthologised in National and International journals and magazines, online as well print such as Setu, Borderless Journal, GloMag, OPA, Kali for Women Invoking the Goddess Within, Das Literarch etc. Her debut book of poems Trips Climbs Circles has been well reviewed.


You are like the salt in the waves
however much it might retreat from the shore
it always carries it within
and smears it on the sand
that doesn't show its saltiness
but carries it in its grains
each and every one
even when it is no longer in the shore near the sea 
or the blue waves do not kiss its sunset sprays

You are like the marks on the moon
that stand out like scars on a beaten face on a full moon night
The moon carries the scars 
the pain of being marked
even when it shines bright as a silver sickle, 
dazzlingly beautiful in the night sky.

You are like the water in a dry river
that has littered its bed with skeletons of dead fish and moss around pebbles
Its fingers have clawed every brook every bed
that are parched with its wet memories
What does it matter if we are miles apart?
You are the memory the soul carries
 when it leaves the body for its journey last!

Vacuum spaces

I changed my city and my job
Now I travel to different domains
work among different people
My expressions, style, my profile
 so much has changed
Yet I remain as a vacant spot in your memory
The fragrance of the red rose 
a cliched valentine gift
 still wafts my mind
I removed myself from physical spaces
yet I remain in gifts you promised but never made
The emptied tiffin boxes you lovingly devoured
The firm grip of your hand when I shut my eyes
 in the sudden storm that arose
You remain in the glimmers of time
stolen from the pale of mundane life
The sudden trails of white smoke that criss cross afternoon the sky
tailing the silver jets we together gaped
 reflecting the hot sun

You remain in the window shop mannequin
 that displayed the leather jacket
you wanted and I could never buy

You remain in the bubbles arising incessantly in a frothy beer glass
cool and refreshing with a tangy bitterness that gives a high!

Change of place, job, profile
strangely didn't change the vacuums of my heart
that holds on to days past!


I do not wait for you to pick up the phone
for confirmation or denial
Day in and day out waiting degraded, eroded my self-esteem
as a dog waits outside a butcher’s shop
tongue lapping, salivating for its bone and carcass bit
Sometimes it gets and sometimes it is only humiliated by a tease
 in the slight of the butcher’s look
that sells off the last bits and gives the remains to someone else
as it displays its power to the creature that whines in pain

Pain of indignity it keeps aside 
as now it has to deal with the pangs of hunger to survive
as survival becomes more important than the luxury of pride
Yet once it has enough to keep itself alive
it barks and boos at the butcher from afar
to settle its score

Love is a beautiful feeling that bonds two loving hearts
but if one flexes it's powerful muscles
the other shrinks and fills with gall
Then love becomes a monster, an evil spirit
that sucks all joy and peace within
It becomes an ordeal to cleanse oneself and come out clean
Like the water that washes a stain
itself becomes soiled 
gets tinged and coloured by the stain 
One can subdue and push painful heartstrings away
into the dark recesses of the brain
Only to surface at every occasion
when you unwittingly cross those tortuous lanes.

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