Poetry: Snigdha Agrawal

Snigdha Agrawal

There he stands on a pedestal
Hands folded in reverence
Face exuding humbleness
Sculpted in Italian Marble
Crafted with the minutest detail
Representing the tallest statesman
remembered by humanity
for his yeomen’s service
worshipped by his sycophants
hated for his gaffes
sharing equal space

From childhood, he learned 
    art of fending for himself
    always seeking attention
    skilfully covering shortcomings
    swaying audiences
    with his oratorical skills
    top class stage performer
    mesmerizing audiences
    knowledge purportedly
    acquired from Sadhus and Saints
    Man with a larger-than-life appearance

Claimed born to poor parents
Father a miner on daily wages
Mother scooped dislodged coal pieces
from overloaded wagons
chipping them into bit sizes 
selling to homes for a pittance
Many nights slept on pavements
under starlit skies, with stomach cramps
waking to his inner voice
Before it’s too late”
He left….
fought fierce battles
without any scruples
robbing from the middle class
pampering the poor
with doles unlimited
protecting the rich of his clan
for favours received in return
propagating peace between
warring brethren, in the hope
one day of being recognized
worthy of the Nobel prize
if not in this lifetime
posthumously would suffice.

Chasing those dreams, he died
A lost man, directionless
Pushing the envelope to please
and please and be seen 
as the tallest amongst men
Standing on the pedestal
With pigeon droppings on his head
Street dogs peeing around the place
Sycophants still bowing in reverence
To the man, the messiah
Sent on earth to redress
Poor man’s grievances 



The Choudhuri’s were on their way to Amarnath Yatra, to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. The overnight stay at the base camp had been an adventure of a different kind, following a cloudburst at around 5.30 pm, triggering flash floods that hit the base camp outside the shrine, damaging 25 tents. They were in one of the tents, that collapsed with the force of rubble and ruin, sliding down from the mountains; caught between the teeth of life and death; trapped in a place, nothing short of hell!  
Mr. Choudhuri’s thoughts…

I know I should have told you all this before.  Now that I’m lying under the rubbles, hopefully with you within hearing distance, let me first say how sorry I am for the pain I caused you during the forty-five years of our marriage.  You kept your lips sealed and went about as though nothing had happened.  I know, you knew, I cheated on you, not once, not twice, but multiple times.  You took it all in your stride and kept it bottled inside to maintain normalcy in our lives.  That was your way of saying, do what you want as long as the children don’t get to know.  And I admired you for being so stoic.  I admit I was a coward.  If you can hear me, Geeta, I seek forgiveness for all the wrongdoings in the years of our marriage.  For the times, when Ma made snide remarks on dowry that never came from your side.  You could have defended yourself by answering back, the salary you brought home every month, for twenty years, more than compensated for the one-time Lotto she was denied.  But you kept quiet and I never stood by your side.  Now I realize, had I said what you never said, that would have shut her mouth. But again, I failed in not taking your side. I was pigeon-hearted, even when she remarked on your expanding girth post-childbirth, I should have told her ‘Look at yourself before making such rude comments.  I didn’t.  I was namby-pamby and you always remained buttoned up. So many such incidents come to mind.  

Wait… I just heard dogs barking.  Must be sniffer dogs brought by the rescue team. If we leave this place alive, I’ll make up for all I failed as a husband.  We will make it to the Shrine together, as promised. And if I don’t, please, please Geeta, know that I love you more than my life.  I’m not romantic, so I could never speak those words aloud.  Now that it’s out, I feel a weight lifted off my chest.  


Dialogue between a couple

Husband…finally we got our own home, away from prying eyes.  No more having to face stares of disgust from neighbors, no more having to be alienated from others.  

Wife…True that. Remember, the first time we told your parents of our status, and the shock that registered on their faces still haunts me day and night. Thank God that is all behind us. We are on our own at last.

Husband…Oh yes!  I wanted to punch their faces but controlled myself.  I was wrong in thinking they would accept us, and participate in celebrating our love.  Instead, they cursed me for breaking societal norms.  Without our friend’s support, I guess we would have carried on meeting behind closed doors.  Let’s hope the priest turns up to perform the Griha Pravesh Puja.

(Friends were waiting behind them waiting for the auspicious moment for Sudhir dressed in traditional wear, carrying Simran decked in Ghagra Choli, to cross over the threshold into their new home.  The priest arrived dot on time and performed the rituals without any hesitation.  He had seen these two young boys growing up, best of buddies, turned lovers, married in court in the presence of similar couples.  His life was no different from theirs.  But he lived a life shrouded in secretness.  Here was his chance to tell the self-righteous pharisaical pious, that this couple deserved to live their lives befitting of any normal married couple.)

*Griha Pravesh = home entrance ceremony
*Ghagra/choli = ankle-length skirt with top

Bio: Snigdha Agrawal (nee Banerjee) is a Bengali born, raised, and educated in a cosmopolitan environment, with exposure to the eastern and western cultures, imbibing the best of both worlds.  With more than two decades of experience working in the corporate sector, her outlook on life is balanced, which reflects in her writings. A versatile writer, she writes all genres of poetry, prose, short stories, travelogues, and hotel/restaurant reviews on Tripadvisor, under the pen name ‘puchka’.  A published author of three books, the latest titled MINDS UNPLUGGED Lockdown Stories and Rhymes for The Six to Sixteen, is available worldwide on Amazon.in Amazon.com Flipkart, and other global platforms.  An intrepid traveller, her travel diaries can be accessed in word press blog: randomramblings52.  She lives in Bangalore (Karnataka), India.

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