Sometimes I make my feeble attempts to paint the stories in words that some photographs engender in my mind. This poem is my exploration of an unknown story about an unknown girl. I saw her in a photograph by an exceedingly amazing photographer friend of mine. I would recommend seeing the photograph before reading the poem, because that’s how it was intended. Although, he has been generous enough to send me a copy to upload, I think it’s fitting to see it where it belongs – in his space. Do check out his other photographs too. There’s no reason not to.

For now. This.

The Photograph: Away From Societies

The Poem: Abundance

Grandfather said that
the grains were nothing like
he had ever seen before.
Ripe, plump; they bounced about
on the waves of the wind
tumbling over with the weight
of their prosperity.
And ours.
I asked him if I could
skip my daily cooking routine
with Nana and
help harvest the yield.
He shook his head in silent refusal
and said that it wasn’t
a job for the girls
and firmly told me to
learn how to make round and soft chappatis.
I decided it wasn’t wise
to share my joy with him by telling him that
I was praised in school for my math
that day.

My husband had just walked into the house.
It was a full moon night –
the nights I loved best –
the nights when, as a spinster,
I would giggle with girl friends
about the romances that took place
behind the curtains
and inside our heads.
He stumbled and lay tired on the bed
too exhausted to move a muscle,
let alone smile
at my new, maroon saree.
I helped him prop up against the wall
and fed him his favourite
sabzi and chappati
that I had cooked as a treat,
while the window served as a picture frame
for the rotund moon.
As much as the butterflies in my belly wanted to,
they did not tell him
I wanted to make love that night.

We had been hearing
about it but no one
believed it until the day it happened.
Until the hot, dusty morning,
when the panchayat
announced that from now on,
even women could own land.
It wasn’t a man’s dominance anymore.
There was a silent sigh of triumph
that went around,
or was it the dry wind,
one cannot be sure.
However, that year,
my father left me his field
before passing away.
When my door was knocked
and I was informed,
I stood silent for a few minutes
that had the semblance of a life time.
Then, I looked up into the sky
and I did not know who to thank
because I had never known
who my father was.

The grain is fuller
than I have ever known.
And after all these years,
I am going to help reap it.
Grandfather would have been amazed
had he been here.
But he’s not. Even Nana isn’t.
Their deaths were peaceful.
I don’t voice it, but it seemed like that
was the right time to go.
They’re together in death too.
I was thinking about them this morning
when my husband took me aside and
he kissed me hard before leaving,
and not on the cheek.
The skies seem brighter today,
and the land is carpeted in gold.
Either it’s just me or the wind has
the smell of mirth to it.
The night sky will adorn a full moon.
I can’t stop blushing at the possibilities
of all the things that can happen tonight.


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