Poetry: Tejinder Sethi

Tejinder Sethi
A nutritionist by profession Teji transitioned from micronutrients to micro poems. Charmed by the brevity and doha-like essence of haiku, she became a disciple of haikai. Her bilingual poems have found home in journals of national and international repute. She has authored a chapbook, uncharted roads (2020), a collection of haikai moss laden walls (2021), and co-edited the anthology by Triveni Haikai India, amber i pause (2023). She is the founding editor of Triya, a bilingual space for haiku, tanka and micro poems. She resides in Bangalore and freelances in creative writing.

The Meat Shop

 

-          Teji Sethi

 

Her lips are stained pink with the ice candy she’s biting into. Tight in a grip, her other hand is in her granny’s fist who’s guiding her through the lanes of Bhindi Bazaar. One could barely walk through these dingy lanes, but Sameena is brimming with excitement; her bi is taking her to a congregation where she would feast and make new friends.

 

The shop on the ground floor has all kinds of flesh—fresh cuts. They climb up the stairs into a small messy room. Ahh... there! her grandma spots the aunt and gives her a tight hug. 

 

She must be cooking gosht for the feast, Sameena thinks as she sees a small knife and a rough cloth in aunt’s hands. She takes Sameena inside. It is pitch dark. Before even she realises, she’s pinned to a table and gagged. The sheet smells of rotten meat. She blacks out for a while. Nauseated, she opens her eyes to a sharp, excruciating pain. She can barely move her legs. A stream of blood trickles from between her thighs. All she can hear is her aunt and bi rejoicing—it was just a piece of flesh! 

 

 

                                                                                moth eaten pages of a fairy tale book

                                 

 

lab work

the pathology of violence

unknown

 

(United Nations has declared female genital mutilation a human rights violation)

 

 

 

 

2. Morsels of karma 

 

deh

shareer 

body

is nashvar—mortal

it is the aatma 

that is shashvat—immortal

preaches a god man

in a huge pandal

 

at a brothel

that night 

someone trades  

             the nashvar

for a month’s ration 

 

 

behind 

the same pandal

in the wee hours 

the god man feasts 

        on the nashvar 

to attain moksha

 

shashvat dies a slow death!

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. In the land of ahimsa 

 

 

O’ dear abuse 

how do we not greet you,

give you space in our minds, 

bodies and homes 

for we have been taught

 

                                   atithi devo bhava

 

how do we not 

seed you, nurture you

reap you

even spread you 

haven’t we always believed in

 

 

                                  vasudhev kutumbakam

 

 

and you, we have known

like close kin kauravas 

will live with us, own us 

           only to devour us 

                       in the end             

lest we forget

 

 

                             vinaash kale vipreet buddhi 

 

Glossary:

 

bi short for bibi

gosht – flesh

karma - deeds

deh, shareer body

nashvar- mortal

aatma - soul

shashvat eternal

moksha salvation

ahimsa – non-violence

kauravas – descendents of Kuru

atithi devo bhava guest is revered as God

vasudhev kutumbakam – the world is one family

vinaash kale vipreet buddhi – when doom approaches, a person’s intellect works against him

 

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