TWI Poetry: The Act of Disappearing


Alolika A. Dutta


plain jamdani sarees hanging from the drying rod in the balcony                             beside unclasped blouses printed with shekhawati paintings of nal damyanti undressed along a riverbank                                bleeding shades of kesari baigani and mahua into the dog-eared corners of a vernacular newspaper headlined with the details of a missing wife/ mother/ daughter in-law                    orange light peeking into a quiet bedroom outlining the stretched form of an assamese woman                                       translucent flesh covered in a loose white kameez scattered with turmeric stains black spots of mould midnight’s thirst and heirloom grief                           lonely afternoons of half-eaten apples rotting guavas poems of vallana and a pair of silken hands pumping a borewell                             sounds of homemade women tracing the uncharted land over their breasts the hand-drawn stretch marks along their hips and the scars under their navel      the sounds of women undoing themselves behind closed doors                 voices drowned by the orchestra playing in the kitchen-          steel spoons stirring sugarless lemonade   telephones ringing          children calling out to the aged mali   stitching machines sewing seams on    white    undergarments   pulling a thread from between the parted        lips of a mouth that tastes of a decaying rubai tucked under a dry tongue           a mouth that tastes of honey   milk and       desire       a mouth that does not remember the name of the stranger who sleeps beside her    on cold creaseless bed sheets       the stranger who has never seen her face      the stranger who does not speak her language             the stranger who knows her as      a wife        a  mother      a daughter in-law       instead of       a             woman.

Alolika A. Dutta is an author, poet and spoken word artist based in Bombay, India.

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