• Two Delhi Poems

    Soibam Haripriya

    Image courtesy Avantika Tewari

    Delhi I

    There are "To let" signs
    but they don't
    let you in.
    This city of dreams
    is made of atoms
    of nightmares
    and shattered stars
    of the young.
    Admitting to none of this,
    cities hacked and stood watching.
    I had come here once
    gazing
    into a beloved’s eyes.
    Yes, the usual story:
    as outcasts, we depended 
    on old love 
    but couldn't hold on.
    One left the city
    and survived on memories.
    Backward and forward —
    as tides of cities run —
    we were not the first of young divorces;
    astounded, laughing in the family court
    we told each other, “The world has plenty of fools like us.”
    I showed you none of my wounds.
    What could I say, it was already May
    in Delhi. 
    We still thought
    somewhat as companions facing the carnivorous city. 
    Back in my room
    the fan fluttered all the papers to be signed,
    fluttering within the excavated cave
    where many like me
    live in cities across the world.
    This fan's
    relentless resistance 
    rather than those divorce papers
    finally drove me
    to tears.

    Delhi II

    A young woman 
    enters the university.
    Unable to leave history behind,
    she carries her oriental face
    of oppression.
    A young man smiles.
    He asks the first question: 
    "Are you promiscuous?"
    Paroxysm of laughter —
    the first laughter of the semester.

    Like the oppressed, you are taught to expand your understanding;
    that a precise small flower of peace
    rather than froth should emerge from you.
    The amaltas and the owl outside
    contemplate this crisis.
    In the classroom
    the professor tells me
    the limits of my understanding.
    She holds her Psalm of Merleau-Ponty.
    In deliberate small movements of her mouth,
    she tells me the names of all the thinkers
    I should have read.

    Soibam Haripriya is Assistant Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati. Her poems have appeared in an anthology Tattooed with Taboos (Partridge, 2014). Her works are also included in 40 under 40: An Anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry (Paperwall, 2016).

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