Deepa Agarwal (Towards Visibility)

Deepa Agarwal


Draped in rainbows
my daughter stands
erect, inscrutable
winding adulthood around her
with uncanny poise.

the younger one is an arch of delight
hair rippling
like a rebellious river in spate
 laughing at this disguise
 she segues into the marching minutes. 

the youngest reaches for the universe
secure in this avatar
 confident, that one day’s role play
is a momentous step forward.

I think of myself negotiating 
the drowsy streets of my hometown
in a frou-frou of anticipation
despite impending wardrobe malfunction
trappings of womanhood
will exact their toll.


Alphabets disperse 
like leaves wrenched from a bough.
Rebellious children embracing chaos,
willfully dismembering meaning.
Unperturbed, mother tree watches, 
 knowing the sap of meaning 
still courses in her veins,
impervious to the tsunami’s onslaught.


What dialogue can a fish exchange with a raindrop?
Does its skin register the puckered caress
of water kissing water.
Denizen of liquid spaces,
does it hear the whispered endearment,
as it relentlessly negotiates its element?

Sky is ever bounteous
but does the fish 
 acknowledge raindrops’ silent toil, 
as they replenish its habitat?

but fetus reads mother’s yearning heartbeat,
as it wanders in the nurturing womb.

Author, poet and translator, Deepa Agarwal writes for both children and adults and has over 60 books published. A frequent contributor to magazines and journals in India and abroad, she has edited and compiled several anthologies. Her work has been translated into several Indian and foreign languages. Gender equality, social injustice and preservation of the environment are some of the main themes in her writing. Among other awards, she received the N.C.E.R.T. National Award for Children’s Literature for Ashok’s New Friends, her historical fiction Caravan to Tibet was on the IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Honour List 2008, Journey to the Forbidden City on the Parag Honour List 2020 and shortlisted for the Neev Book Award, Kashmir! Kashmir! on the Parag Honour List 2021 and finalist for Publishing Next Book of the Year Award, poetry collection Forgotten Kaleidoscopes was shortlisted for the PVLF Best Poetry Award. Deepa lives in Delhi, India.

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