Roopali Sircar Gaur (Towards Visibility)

Roopali Sircar Gaur

I Lost Her Name


I lost her name somewhere, from where I can’t get there.

Her name I have lost, but not memories of her. Can you tell me her name?

I met her in a rusty dusty bus on the highway from somewhere to nowhere.

We had sat sulky quite unknowingly, and then at a roadside cafe we spoke.

Later as evening fell, she told me a story...

She told me her teen twins died on their birthday in a car crash,

all she had hugged was a handful of ash.

A long grief filled year passed before she let him know

she was afraid he too would die all alone in a foreign land.

Do you think that's why I lost her name, never ever to find it again?

I remember her story but can’t remember her name,

Each winter I hug the maroon velvet abaya she brought for me from faraway Libya.

You see she remembered my name and had found me.

Somewhere else away from bleeding memories she felt free,

she said she was happy there, she helped women give birth in her care,

Sometimes when they were twins she blessed them from her heart.

If you remember her name, tell me even if the night is dark and the moon has hidden its face.

Some nights sleep eludes me, “You,” she had said, holding my hand to her heart, “are my only friend.” I don’t remember her name. 

Only that dusty rusty bus which goes from somewhere to nowhere.



I Am Ardhanarishwar


Neelkantha hear our prayers.

“Grant us a boy not another girl.”

Pain pushed me into a spiralling tunnel,

I saw the light and I cried out aloud.

Soon jingling singing feet arrived clapping,

a raucous joyous laughter rent the sky,

“Not a boy! not a girl, He is both, She is both.”

Take this vile creature away.

Have mercy on my child.

Thank you for this gift mother.

Those voices never leave me.

Anklets on my feet I dance on the street,

the umbilical chord severed,

I am feared and revered.

I'm Ayappa, Brihnala, Shikhandi, and Tiresias,

I am Prakriti, I am Ardhanarishwar,

I am You.



A Transiting Passenger


I had fallen like Icarus out of the grey sky.

A loose brick plummeted me to the stone strewn ground far below. 

Since then I have surrendered myself to a different life journey.

I see more of others as I watch keenly while waiting in the wheelchair.

I am a lone flower on a tall stalk, I have learned another path to walk.

No eyes can see no muscles can feel my broken pain prone body.

And that is when I am alone. 


I was nobody without my passport, my purse, my phone, and my laptop.

I am seized with panic and can feel the grumpy looks lining up behind me. 

The wheelchair pusher helped me stand up. The security officer looked grim.

I can feel the heat of the sun. My wings are dripping wax. 

The 26 throbbing titanium nails strung up an orchestra loud and clear.

They quickly surrounded and secluded me. Leaving me bruised in heart, 

with my body and mind in acute pain they let me go without a goodbye. 

I am still human, my pain palpable. The anxious wheelchair pusher looks sadly at me. I think she understands my pain.


All day on a hungry stomach she pushes people like me past the aroma of freshly ground coffee, perfumes, Cinderella gowns and pashmina scarves. 

Unseen her body must ache too. A comradeship of pain holds us together. 

She is my witness. And I, hers. Both, transiting passengers.

Not everything in life is Duty Free.


Roopali Sircar Gaur, Ph.D. is a poet performer, writer, animal rights and social justice activist, gardener and recyclist. She served as Associate Professor of English at Delhi University and taught Creative Writing at the Indira Gandhi National Open University. Her research interests are in gender, ageing, war, disability, and post-colonial literature. Her book The Twice Colonised: Women in African Literature is a seminal text on these subjects. She has co-edited several poetry anthologies including most recently Angst: Of Belonging and Not Belonging, Manushatvam: We Rise by Lifting Others, The Force is With Us, Poetry on a Plate with Spicy Mango Pickle, In All the Spaces-Diverse Voices in Global Women’s Poetry, Earth Fire Water Wind. Her first novel is forthcoming. Roopali is the head of the Mentorship Program, Consultant Editor and columnist at Different Truths, and Arts and Poetry Editor for the AWS Ezine. Her poetry is also archived in the Stanford University Pandemic digital archives.

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