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Three Poems by Sukla Singha

By Sukla Singha 

Our Covid Days

h a i k u
Sparrows out on streets;
humans hide in their closets,
in shame and fear

handshakes forbidden –
as if rubbing hands all day
would kill suspicion

wanton children
stand like statues in their rooms –
afraid to come out

virtual classes,
we blow online kisses;
technology wins

masked men all around,
sealed doors and windows, closed hearts –
who will lend a hand?

in death, they all look
alike – princes and beggars;
life discriminates

pockmarked tall buildings,
a fair deal of misery –
the earth becomes green

***

A g a r t a l a

The hawker’s market is a ghost house.
Doors sealed, window curtains unmoved,
empty carts huddled together by the roadside,
with their insides as hollow as our hearts.

The shrill voices are now quiet.
They didn’t leave any footprints behind, as if
those rustics have disappeared by the medieval magic
of the seer who knew all secrets of life and death.

Shakuntala Road reeks of stale gerberas and lilies.
It silently awaits July rains, wedding
invitations and dead bodies,
in no particular order.

The footsie players in the cabins of Ashoka
have gone missing. The coffee machine doesn’t moan.
The grieving lanes where we once kissed,
held hands and looked for cats (sometimes love)
now hear the thud of boots,
every two hours.

Suddenly,
our little boys and girls have stopped chasing one another.
They’re not playing kuklotpi*, now they aren’t even
afraid of the Lai-mu**; instead
they learn new words like i s o l a t i o n

Only strange looking creatures have come
to roam around the neighborhood, trying
every door
every window
every human
that breathes

This summer is
a death note at my city’s entrance
This summer is
suspicion lurking in our morbid eyes

*Kuklotpi: A game of hide and seek (Manipuri).
**Lai-Mu: An evil spirit (Manipuri).

***

Warning

Mother always warns us against bad deities.
She says they live in the backyard of the house.
They listen to our conversations.
They whisper at night and kill us in sleep.
So be careful when you share a plan with your family.
The bad deities might be plotting to harm you.

I wish mother had warned us against good deities
They change the season of the wind
They suck our rivers dry
They want to build smart cities
They kill the fifty year old peepal on the VIP road
They visit us with a lot of things –
fungus free bread, clean drinking water,
sanitary napkin and soap
handwritten manifestoes and
water management schemes
a minimum rate of interest. 

Painting: Asit

Bio:
Sukla Singha teaches at a school in Tripura. Her writings have appeared in Muse India, Yendai, An Unsuitable Woman, Kirat: Contemporary Poetry in English from Tripura, Tristoop, Tripura Times and The Times of India. She can be reached at:  shukla.singha85@gmail.com

***

For more stories, read Café Dissensus Everyday, the blog of Café Dissensus Magazine.

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