Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry

Rizio Yohannan Raj


I stand before the madman
listening to his laughter.
Amid the noises of the road,
it is a reminder

of your closed eyes,
your long arms, 
your ruffled hair, 
your forgetful ecstasy.

I no longer want 
my mirror on the wall.
As in a clear drop of sun
I can see the world in its infancy:

clay-coloured, wide-eyed, pearl-like.


I write this for you,
my daughter, who 
is yet to be conceived.

Don't you for once think this act of mine
as either inventive, inspired by longing,
or just presumptuous. I only have a claim

of inheritance to this daring. 
My father owns it: He'd created
my name before he knew who I was!

Our girl is special, it seems
he'd told my dumbstruck mother 
at my naming ceremony.

Later, after the first of our many real fights,
his confident voice told me: I made your name, 
adding music to numbers. He is an original.

Papa could afford such luxury
of faith. He spent his youth
in the age of ink-smeared love letters.

In my edited, ready-to-use times, 
I have no use of his legacy of courage.
Yet, I improvise on his ways of living.

I have remodelled his limitless belief
in the promise of future: I talk to you, my daughter,
from beyond all chances of conception.

I think of you in abstinence, standing
at the farthest possible distance from you.
In absolute abandon, which is absolute restraint, too. 

I must tell you of this paradox,
baby, before you make the choice
to pay me your visit:

I am split (as between my mother's avial
and my niece's  bingo) between
loyalty and deception.

I have thrown away my priorities,
I hold no fond memories: You see,
I have a mutated heritage. 

I have no surprise names for you.
And, what stories would I tell you,
as a mother to a daughter?

I have nearly forgotten my bitter gooseberries,
the long walks to school in the rain, and the stones
that stung my knees on countless falls.

I am one who tries to be here and also there;
one who refuses to remain framed on your wall
by growing thin and stout on a whim. 

How would you like a mother, who dissuades you
from appearing at all, rather than count the days
to make your arrival possible?

It's not that I have given up on you, baby.
I am just scared of you being born 
in my times afflicted by comfort.

To this painless world, I am afraid to bring you forth,
yet, if you choose to come to me, my brown girl,
I have a feeling that I shall die of happiness. 

For, my daughter, you would give me a chance
to reclaim my primitive loves
from the debris of modernity.