Four Good Words: Sukrita Paul Kumar

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A noted poet and critic, Sukrita Paul Kumar (born in Kenya) was an invited poet and Fellow at the
prestigious International Writing Programme, Iowa, USA. She is a former Fellow of the Indian
Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, and honorary faculty at Durrell Centre at Corfu, Greece. She has
published several collections of poetry, translations and critical works.

When Snakes Came for Shelter

(Dedicated to Freedom Nyamubaya)

Fighting the war of independence
My soldier friend, Sunungukai,
Lay sleeping alongside
Snakes who
Came for shelter, into her tent
In the black rainy nights

Unable to find their holes
In the marshes of the forests
0f Zimbabwe

Her long dark limbs
Glistened
And entwined in the coiling
snakes
As darkness slithered
Towards the break of dawn
Haunting Salvador Dali

During such nights
As if in peacetimes
Sunungukai found herself secure
In deep tunnels
Rolled back
Into the womb of her mother
Or in the arms
Of the lover she never found

Standing stiff on their ends
Her hair did not split when
still silent snakes
hissed in sleep,

Theirs and her own instinct
She knew, told the truth

She smelt no danger
Nor did they,
there’d be no holding the venom
if they did

(ii)

In the same war
As male soldiers entered her tent,
She trusted her instinct
When she felt the chill
Slide down her spine,
on the same marshes
of the dark forests,

“But I am on your side”, her lips uttered
“The war is over, don’t you know”
-announced their male glee.

Enemies again,
They came upon her
One by one, and then all together,
In celebration.

The war continued for
Sunungukai.


 

From
We the Homeless

The foetus in the sobbing womb
of the girl child is

an offspring of terror
of the skies:
thunder, lightening, hail storms
falling over her;

Of the knife rubbing
just a little deeper
on her throbbing throat

Her face a rock,
Eyes turned into stones,
A mother without a heart
She wants to give birth

To defy death
And put the society
in the docks


 

DRAUPADI ON A HUNT

1.

I am on the lookout

Is this where I might find
What I am looking for

Yes this way
Not that way

Draupadi stomped out
of Mahabharata
became a squirrel and
climbed up the tree
as did Manto’s
Toba Tek Singh

Look down
Is this Hindustan or Pakistan?

Barbed wire between
the two lovers
real as their love

2.

On all fours do I crawl
Holding on to the earth’s call

Not to fly, nor abandon them
Not to forget the one and only
Nor the rest of them

Rumbling and whispering
with all the tales and myths
gurgling in the earth’s belly

I am on the lookout


 

WOMEN ON A MOTORBIKE

Sisters and daughters, even mothers
Are hurled into daily abuses and jokes

Trapped in muscular gaze
Frozen as soft targets in epics
dolls in cinema
Excuses for duals
Cause for battle in the past
And the Present

Possessed as furniture
Items of jewellery
Kept in vaults
In the royal cellars of history

While Sita greets Savitri
Singing songs of captivity
Shedding tears of loss and regret

The two women on the motorbike
Lal Ded and Akka Mahadevi
Whizz pass through centuries
Multiplying in numbers
As also in Shakti

Each one searching
for her own path
Her own tune…