My Favourite Works: Sukrita Paul Kumar

Sukrita Paul Kumar

But the bird
out of the cage, with the
nervous flutter of unused wings
is the woodpecker suspended in air
dreaming of drilling
and drumming into
the belly of the banyan tree

in blinding dazzle of freedom

seeking a recluse

away from the bells
and whistles of the cage

roosting in solitary confinement

in the dark crevices of the trunk
picking on termites
and on the sap

Out of the iron bars of the cage
that had a saucer of water, of food
but no keys to the holes in trees, nor
to bits of the sky


At Wagah
I love you the most

The border, marked by the spectacle of
stomping army boots, shining medals
beating their chests
into the rising and setting sun

The day becoming night, and the night day
when the guards on both sides
change bang bang

I love you the most
at Wagah
when the guns are raised to salute
separation, division and rupture
when the neighbour dies and wears the shroud
becomes enemy all at once

My friend, you go away
only as a bird does
flying in the free skies

When lines of hatred rise
against prayer flags
Wagah happens

And I love you the most
because you are on the other side
of the border


Many came, knocked at the door
and went away
but my friend
Simone de Beauvoir
you didn’t
you haven’t left

The Second Sex, Mandarines and all
pulling at the delicate membranes
of my brain, my self

Unknotting ritual from emotion
on the cross roads
of all paths
of my loves and my hates
you entered the doors and windows
of my inner scape

My guiding star, my lighthouse
my friend, you are my enemy

Let’s face it
my arch enemy
Flinging me far
out into the sea
amidst sharks and whales
you led me to rivers of fire
Ismat, Annie Apa and Sylvia Plath,
Lal Ded and Maya Angelou too

All men, my meditations
for the birth of a ball of
light and flames

My icon of worship
the Greek androgyny swinging
hand in hand
with Ardhnarishwar

Landing on this land, Paris
I see it all —
the ashes of lava
over Simone’s territory disperse
the fireballs of light darting
between the East and the West 

Beyond gender
beyond the male and the female

Pilgrim’s Progress

Buried in the debris
near the blind well
in the jungle
are a thousand tales
nibbled by scurrying rats
and infected by amnesia
Bits of tales peep out
as if sticking their tongues
through fine slits
in the wrinkled surface
of the heap
hardening over time,
with more and more
thorny creepers and shrubs
gripping the forest
in a net
from which slip out
dead voices severed
from their bodies,
inviting lovers
to come down the spiral steps
carved on his chest,
to reach the womb of time
and touch the
beginnings of history.

When my shadow
overtook me

I knew
I had crossed the sun.

When the root
lifted itself
as a flower

to face the sun bravely

it started
to rain

We the Homeless

Can you get me
My mai?

My home.

Slapping the dust off himself
The little boy
queried, his eyes rolling in hope,

Through long barbed moments
between us
he stared
into my vacant face
filling me
with motherhood.

Said the boy from Badayun,
Teach me to write a letter,
A letter that my old Ma can read,
She never went to school, Saabji!

And remember, Saabji,
I won’t learn to write
what she can’t read

One day
All those stories

Twiddling their thumbs
Behind the shutters
Half smiles peeping
from fathomless eyes

Will roll down the cheeks
as tears;

 The ocean spilling
its sorrow
into the growing emptiness
Of  the universe.

As we taught them alphabets
bonding into words of kinship
A mere device to teach language, I thought

I learnt many lessons
From their instant recognition,
 Their intimations of home and
My own homelessness.

Dreams are to be dreamt in sleep

To die when the eyes open,

Deny them, dismiss them

For the green pastures are nowhere
Dreams sink like paper-boats 
when belief sits in them

Each day,
I must work, I must earn
And eat, just so
That I go home

But that too is a dream, I confess.

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