Anju Makhija (Voices Within 2023)

Anju Makhija is a Sahitya Akademi, award-winning poet, playwright and translator. She has written three poetry collections: View from the Web, Pickling Season and Poems Grow with You; co-translated Freedom & Fissures and Seeking the Beloved-the mystical verse of Shah Abdul Latif; co-edited three anthologies related to women, Indo-English theatre and young readers; her latest book is, Mumbai Traps: collected plays. Anju has won several awards inlc. The Sahitya Akademi English Translation Prize (‘11), The All India Poetry Competition (‘94), The BBC World Regional Poetry Prize (‘02) & The Charles Wallace Trust Scholarship. She has been on the English Advisory Board of the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, for 5 years and is the co-founder of Pondicherry/Auroville Poetry Festival.



Fear Tactics                                                                                                      


Where there is fear,

there is imperfect knowledge.

                      – Dharamvir Bharati


The tribal dance,

an attempt to kibosh evil,

the origin of all fears.


The terrorist’s hand quivers,

his wafer-thin skin

saturated with fears.


A weather-beaten window,

a dark, dank attic

encases a clutter of fears.                                                    


In the realm of ghosts,

the unseen is seen,

creating a fearful scene.


The garlanded portrait,

placed on the mantle

death begins to fear itself.


The cat on the window ledge,

stable as the Eiffel Tower.

Fear seldom stumbles.                                                            


Is fear real or imagined?   

Two planes pass, seconds apart.

Never clear from the air.


Metaphorical attempts

to trap trepidation fail.

Fear has a hearty laugh.










Shadows                                        Behind a shadow & Stepping out of a shadow                             














drenched in obscurity,                                         

darkness-their only reality.                                    


Concealing meanings,

like words in dictionaries;

two dimensional silhouettes,

devoid of mass or energy.


Companion to all,

friend to none.

When light deserts,                                                                                          

they vaporize in thin air                                        

like flamenco dancers

pirouetting skywards.




Blind Vision                                                                                                                                                                                    


He taps the cane,

cups his hand,

limps across Haji Ali.


What can he say?

         All is illusion,

         Almighty is all?


A knock from below,            

         he raises hands,

         red with rash,

         stomps feet,

         dark with dirt.


What wrong could

he has committed

defecating in the drain?


He taps twice,

the earth responds;

he senses a pothole,                                                    

steps inside.

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