Monday, February 22, 2021

Poems - rdp

 A Woman's Language in a Man's World

"friendly men, smiling men
monsters my father's age,
they walk in broad daylight
and cast their shadows in my way,
they smile and say only good things
though their eyes and limbs leave me scared.
i thought then compliments were paid
in whistles and hands brushing my back,
a child's language does not know
how to say No to men her father's age

boys will be boys as i heard them say
and i am just a girl as they also said,
and the language of a good girl is silence
wear pretty skirts and tie your hair back,
this is a man's world. watch and learn
and remember the language.
when boys come pulling at your ponytail,
when men come pulling at your pretty dress
remember the language.
you carry on you parts
that make you a woman
and they carry with them
eyes that see what makes you woman,
what can be done
this is a man's world

a good woman speaks the language
of silence, of listening, of nodding head
of closing eyes and walking quietly on.
when a man speaks his language
loud, harsh, eyes roaming your skin
speak your language.
and i speak my language
the one you taught me
i speak it as loud as i can
but nobody listens
because nobody understands
the language of a woman in distress
this is a man's world"

 

 The Year 2020


"'it was the best of times
it was the worst of times”
a year of empty streets and undecorated winter,
a year of oversleep and overthought
a dreary odd year
with few days and so many nights
a year without proportion,
of disorder and delay

it was a year of making ends meet, of trying
to make things look better than they are,
a year of learning to change and
to be the same all at once
a tough long year of tolerance, of understanding
of learning to accept a half-opened door
and a nod instead of a handshake

it was a year of learning to be still
in a speeding wagon,
to hold onto whatever bars and hooks we find
it was a year of taking a step back,
to learn to watch and love from a distance
it was a year of rest and reflection
of risk and reminiscence.
and most bitter, most sweet
shall be the tales we tell
of the best of times
and the worst of times"


My Funeral

"i am not scared of death, but i am nervous being the only dead person in the room
what are these people going to say about me?
what do they remember of my unhappy life?

my kind teacher says, 'she was an extraordinary individual'
thank you but i was not, except around my wrists where i think i stand out because they survived all the cuts, until they didn't of course.

my generous neighbour says, 'she was an angel'. oh but you should have seen my soul.

my old grandfather says, 'she was a tough one.' but grandpa, didn't anyone tell you how i died?

my sweet friend says, 'she was my rock.' but i got crushed by the weight of all the air i breathed.

then comes you and you say to me, 'i know you don't like flowers too well,
but they're all i can give you now i'm  afraid'

ladies and gentlemen gathered here today
now you know i was the unhappiest person alive
and i apologise that this is how you find out
but my blood was blue right from the start
and it didn't grow any brighter
the world is not to blame
the world is beautiful and you all are too
even dressed all black and tears in your eyes
you still look so lovely to me
and this is what i will picture when i think of life
and i know it is too late to change my mind
but if i may make one last amend...
Oh world, I am the happiest person dead."


Rodingpuii, or rdp as she signs her name on every poem she posts on her very popular Instagram page (rdp_ralte), was my neighbour for almost 20 years. In all the time that she grew up from a little girl to a young adult, I had absolutely no idea that she wrote, and so prolifically at that, until the middle of last year. Ironically, just a few months after I found out, her family moved away.

rdp has published a collection of poems titled Secondhand Scars (2018) and appears to be one of the most promising writers of her generation. It may also be noted that somewhat like e.e. cummings, she tends to write mostly in the lowercase, with an irregular use of punctuation. She is presently doing her MA in English Literature at Pondicherry. 


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Poems - Chawnga

What Ails You?

I want to know what helps you sleep at night. Of little disputes, light grazes or even emotional mortal wounds that we have to deal with every so often, deep cuts just heal
too slow but maybe for a cause; the value of trusting and the price of betrayal.
Something that shapes us now, everything we’ve experienced, individually or
collectively.

I want to know so much more. Tell me what ails you?

I’m glad we met, and I hope you never forget me. Even if you leave me.
I’ve learnt you can’t expect everyone to be there, all the time.

People need space to grow. To think. To romanticize;
to overthink, to act recklessly, spontaneously.
A double-edged process in which it’s your choice and mine collectively;
The existence of our bond and our meaning lies in each of us.
And I do hope, through it all that you always find meaning in us.

Something superficial, love, like justice and law – they are crucial cogs in the
collective understanding which we have built up, stories that we have told ourselves,
stories in the civilization that has been the product of human constructs, which have
no meaning without us humans interpreting those stories.

To find meaning in this small speck, a fraction of existence we get to savour.

Tell me again, what ails you?



An Open Letter to Us

Hey you,

You just went off the radar. I was worried.

I mean, I should worry; friends who have supported me through my trivialities. Even the smallest scratch gets diagnosed, yet still the friends who get to peek off the deepest wounds life had inflicted. And each has their time, you can’t expect everyone to be there all the time.

As long as they’re alive, the ones who understand will always be open for reconciliation and confrontation.

Do trust others, but also do not be naive; trust accordingly.
You’re too smart for your own good, the self-conscious person that I admire for your strength and vulnerability.

The moments shaped us, like a young nation starting to build itself. All craving for meaning and dreading the life un-lived.

My friend, I have trusted you with honesty and myself. I do hope I’m sometimes useful or amusing but always the one you trust.

Loyalty, I won’t ask of you; for our views may have conflicts, better confronted than silently alit. I won’t ask you to compromise your “Self” for something as vain and selfish. I continue to ask for honesty and communication, be it in any volume at any bulk of time you have limited for you.

Our conflicts and confrontation will be the ones weaving our experience.

Comrade, rest well, for we have the world to confront and most importantly ourselves.

 


Chawnga (Chawngthanmawia) calls himself a young radical who was involved in the Darjeeling Insurgency as a schoolboy. He says he has been influenced by the writings of Rosa Luxemburg and Bhagat Singh, to name a couple, and is convinced that writing has the power to influence history. Despite claiming to be a pessimist, he hopes to work towards helping humanity in some way and to make a ripple with long lasting effect if only for just one person.

He is currently a college student in Aizawl.


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A Letter and an Apology & Small City of Small Wonders - Candle Vanrempuii

 A Letter and an Apology

Today I found a letter you wrote in an old notebook of mine.

It broke my heart just picturing you write it alone at night, in the room we used to share, while I was away.

It was a resignation letter addressed to the owner of Genesis.

You wrote about how your health has been an ongoing problem for you and I'm pretty sure you meant your mental health.

You wrote about how you needed to take more days off than the 12 days Casual Leave you are allowed to take a year.

You wrote about how you've caused a great inconvenience for your colleagues and how it was unfair for them.

You thanked your employer for having helped you in your professional life and personal life.

You thanked everyone there for welcoming you to be part of their family and how much you've learnt not only as a laboratory technician but also as a person.

I picture you writing all these things.

I picture you alone.

Scared.

At night.

Scribbling down a resignation letter you would not send.

I wish I had been there

To tell you you're not alone and that we will deal with your health issues together.

To tell you you've made a grammatical mistake here and there.

To hold you and tell you everything will be alright and that I have got you and you need not be scared.

I would've written a better letter than that -

one that isn't as humble or as thankful.

I'm so sorry I didn't.

 

 

Small City of Small Wonders

 I live in a city which is often taken for granted and criticised for quite a lot of things.

A city which always seems to be hated for what there is to hate and never seems to be loved for what there is to love.

This is a city where -

I see the bus stop sign lean on a middle aged beggar who has quarrels with a supposed friend we cannot see.

I see an old lady who sits on a plastic chair on a public step sunbathing

Her hair shining  like silver against the winter sunlight.

I see an old man who wears an awkward little hat the looks of which he pulls off anyway, most probably owing to age

Whom I told I fancied his fashion sense that one time I had the chance.

I see a determined old man who irons every single paper money he receives from his small ei chawp dawr¹

I see successful old men marry young beautiful women and be criticised for doing so

Just as I see successful old women marry their young handsome drivers and be criticised for the same

But I have also seen both overcome the criticisms and build beautiful families.

I see old men with whom we can share taxi cabs give away handshakes at the time of a pandemic as blessings to youngsters that educate them on it.

I see educated and well intentioned men love this land so much so that they squander their entire life earnings to become politicians for the people and fail, my grandfather was one of them;

And I also see corrupt men rich with dirty money and a mouthful of shit successfully become politicians for the people.

I see a person tell me I will outgrow writing about love with age and I see myself outgrowing that person instead.

This is a city where -

There is a man who has written the entire English Dictionary by hand because he couldn't afford one and he happens to be my uncle.

There is another man who has not only read the Bible but written It in Its entirety again by hand and he also happens to be another uncle.

There are people who read their Bibles in the secrecy and sanctity of their bedrooms without people having the slightest hint.

There are kind old ladies- mother to local artists like tailors and musicians who do not know what further to do with their talents- who shopkeep for their daughters while they're in labour and their sons while they're away. These kind old ladies have mean negotiations with other kind old ladies and agree on a price that makes the two of them smile, my grandmother was also one of both.

Gardening is not yet a profession

and there are people like myself who love that it isn't because it means that every single flower or plant or shrub you see within this city are either planted and nurtured by hands that love them

or that they are strong enough to withstand the world and its cruelties on their own and that they beat the odds that so often are not in the favour of us all.

This is the city that mourns and cries with a single voice in chorus for a man who lost his life to the love of his life in the blink of four innocent eyes and he also happens to be another uncle of mine.

No October sunsets are as beautiful as the ones in the city of Aizawl and this is coming from a person who has not even been to every state and UT in India.

It has taken me 22 years to realise that there will never be October sunsets as beautiful as the ones in this city no matter how many states or countries I go to.

This is a city often taken for granted.

This small city of small wonders.

If there ever is a place where the god of small things lives

and survives

I am convinced it is in this small city of small wonders.

So often taken for granted

It's no surprise that so many of us take after you.

But in you I see what there is to love and what there is to hate but I chose to love you for whatever there is to love.

You choose to do the same and you choose to be my home.

And I choose to be the same.

And I hope one day we find a person who looks at us and sees in us what I see in you now that I've turned 22.


¹ a grocery


Candle Vanrempuii has been off the poetry writing grid for some time since bringing out her first book Evermore two years ago. We're really happy to have her back with these two new poems written in her inimitable first person narrative style that draws you in and makes you feel like a confidant to her deepest thoughts and observations.


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Poems - Airawdi


I was hoping to come home safe and happy
I was hoping to sleep to my mother's lullaby
but Ma, I came home bruised and broken
I came home with a sad lullaby.

I was hoping to learn to fly soon
But my wings were clipped by someone
in a shepherd's coat.

He came into me like a sinner to a church
in desperate need of salvation.
He let loose all his sins inside of me,
but Ma, I'm not a church
his cross is too heavy for me to bear.

He crushed my life with each thrust,
leaving an invisible scar inside and out.
The help I screamed for
could not seem to penetrate his ears
even as they were wide open.

I was hoping to sleep to your bedtime story,
But Pa, I came home with a sad story
for us to cry to.

Tell me I was not at fault for the darkness
that came my way,
Tell me I am more than the dirt on my skin
coming from the hand that touched
without permission.

                                ~ ~ ~


We never really own anything, do we?
Even our own flesh,
how the earth claims for it
once life gives up on us.

We never really own anything, do we?
Even our own heart,
how it often is full of others,
how it often breaks for others.

                         ~ ~ ~

This October
I am starting to believe in impermanence.

I have heard enough of funeral bells,
and the sound of hearts breaking.
I have seen the tears of the one
who is left behind,
I have seen loneliness creeping through
cracks of heart;
Another leaf has yet fallen around me,
And all I do is watch.
Another leaf has fallen softly,
but how it breaks the tree that bears its absence.

This October,
I am starting to believe in impermanence.

            ~ ~ ~ 


Airawdi (Femina Hlychho) is a postgraduate in English literature from Mizoram University.  She is presently working at Govt. Saiha College as a casual lecturer. She describes herself as a realist by day, a thinker by night. She writes mostly about humanity, human loss, love, recovery, and death, and her poems are sometimes confessional, sometimes inspired and sometimes therapeutic. Through her lines, she hopes to connect the common thread that holds humans together.

She has a page on Instagram where she posts her poetry.

 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Peanut Butter & You and I - Priscilla Lalnuntluangi

 Peanut Butter

The train from Delhi to Mumbai
was set to last for three days.
Mama and I were on our way to meet daddy.
Mama held my arms tight,
so tight, that it almost made a mark.
I had recently turned five
and girls that age often stray from their mama.

The train was blue, duskier than the sky.
The coolies carried our bags
and mama my arm.
Mama sat me on a bunker,
warned me not to move an inch.
But I moved my head
into the compartment that was next to ours.

There sat a girl that looked like me.
We were so alike
that when I smiled at her,
she smiled at me too.
Her compartment was next to ours
Mama told me they weren’t Indians
Mama told me we weren’t alike
Mama told me we spoke a different tongue.

The girl offered me her peanut butter
I politely took it
Together we sat watching running trees
We talked, never needing language
I knew we were going to be great friends.

The sun rose and set for three days
and so did our time.

Papa stood on the platform, waiting for my hug,
She and I quickly waved a farewell,
Never knowing our names.

Thirteen years have rolled by
and we never met again.

Does she remember me?
I remember her peanut butter.



You and I

Some days
I wish
that I could have your life

On better days
I wonder
Who prayed for mine.


Priscilla Lalnuntluangi lives in Aizawl and is doing her M.Pharm pharmacy practice at Jamia Hamdard. She recently brought out a charming book of poetry and illustrations titled The Dearest Things and maintains a similarly-titled page on Instagram. She has written all her young life and says that while she changes a lot, her poems and words are the only things that have stayed constant. We hope she continues to put her talent to good use in her poetry and art.