Poetry: Pragya Bajpai

Pragya Bajpai

Eighteenth birthday, I'm adult now
Received several gifts by default
Right to vote, travel alone,
Licence to drive, desires thrive
Freedom from school uniform
Spoilt for choice

Nineteenth birthday, I'm married now
Several things happened by default
Wake up early, cook for family
Think of society, think of spouse
Dress up well in saree and blouse
Tune the tone of your voice
Enough of freedom of choice

Twenty-fifth birthday, nothing much to say
I'm a mother of two
there's nothing unique or new
Cook for the family with double the responsibility
Hardly much to rejoice
I don't have any choice

Thirtieth birthday, I want to meet my Mom, 
so much to say at the end of the day
She ain't keeping well, 
menopausal signs ring a bell
I try hard to see her but doesn't seem to be happening
Yesterday was daughter's exam 
Tomorrow is her parents-teacher meeting
Time is fleeting!

Fortieth birthday, I want to meet my Mom
with same desperation, same intensity
But Mom has gone, gone till eternity
She succumbed to the battle of blood
I have all the freedom in the world
Less of work, less responsibility
But the freedom is of no use to me


In my diary, I wrote about the heavens and deep azure sky
That caught my eye as my aimless gaze follows a butterfly
I wrote about exploring the hidden reservoir of strength
While keeping the fever of you at arm’s length
about mastering a new skill of sleeping in teasing cricket's sound 
about fireflies overwhelming the bosom of darkness around
about carelessly crossing a busy street with staggering dreams 
challenging my cerebral capacities

I wrote about contemplating in the garden, 
glued to a corner for hours
About mysterious patterns of silver stars
About everything that makes noise and disrupts my poise
About the airplane making geometric patterns of cotton in the sky
that no more fails to catch my blank eyes
About the swaying kite 
smoothly landing on the branch to rest in peace 
that draws my attention
breaks my spell of reverie

I wrote about love of sparrow that checks on me 
every day with no expectations ever
I wrote about the plants that were neglected 
when I was too busy mourning our separation 
As I fill the last page of the diary, I realise 
I didn't think of your short-lived love, 
didn't bother to even hate you
I realise bit by bit
everything has wiped off my mind like 
the spam mails that automatically get deleted after a certain time 

One by one, 
everything about you in me has died
you and whatever you had done
Indifference is what I have achieved
A destination, I longed to reach
Where nothing feels, where I'm just me, 
not a part of you but a whole, so to say
I tasted freedom today 
And my eyes don’t belie
My mind is free, so am I


In a new place be careful! With new people be careful! 
Hammer it well and remember that forever!
It builds up so much pressure
but no one cares to put two and two together
Fear she hides and suffers inside

Using tricks and cliché: chaar log kya kahenge!
You don't realise it now, be careful and stay away!
Stifle your laugh, shameless girl!
You'll know at my age, at your turn!

The words like these are told so many times
that it begins to feel awful! It feels nauseating! 
Can someone please explain what it means?
Can someone please elaborate and properly educate?
If it's so important to be careful
then why is it not taught as a subject in school?
Is it more embarrassing than teaching reproductive system?
Or is it less important than the dull topics in moral science
which no one gives a damn?

Ironically, it's a subject of global concern
and the responsibility lies only on individual parents 
to make them learn
the code of safety conduct in a coded language 
taught at a tender age
like passing a legacy to next generation
like a relay race to a safe adulthood
without ensuring if it's understood!
without novelty in teaching a lesson 
that can change the entire situation
The half-baked child grows up and bears the brunt
as a guilt-ridden adult

What are those inhibitions that it’s not a part of formal education?
Unfortunately, the most important lesson remains incomplete!
Unfortunately, there is no test to ensure pass or fail
and there is no second chance in the life's toughest game
Straight from gully cricket to the world cup
and she's bowled!
and the nation mourns

And with a burden she wonders- 
where did I go wrong!

Bio: Pragya Bajpai, Ph. D. is a proud mother, poet, artist, and an academic at the National Defence Academy, India. Her debut book of poems is based on 51 English proverbs titled A Potpourri of Proverbs (2021). She has co-edited two bilingual anthologies titled Unkahi: The Unsung (2021) and The Force is With Us (2022) to celebrate the armed forces. She has also co-edited a collection of Hindi poems called Dabe Paanv (2022). She is editor and designer of an international e-zine, Brahmand: Voice of the Cosmos. Her poems have appeared in various national and international anthologies.

Email:  pragyabajpai@gmail.com & Instagram: pragyabajpai29

1 comment :

  1. In such simplicity of words, you've left deep meaning... Keep it up!


We welcome your comments related to the article and the topic being discussed. We expect the comments to be courteous, and respectful of the author and other commenters. Setu reserves the right to moderate, remove or reject comments that contain foul language, insult, hatred, personal information or indicate bad intention. The views expressed in comments reflect those of the commenter, not the official views of the Setu editorial board. प्रकाशित रचना से सम्बंधित शालीन सम्वाद का स्वागत है।