December 3, 2016

Three Poems by Prerna Bakshi: "Buried in the Snow in Kashmir," "The Ethical Dilemma: Kids and Santa Claus," and "The Winter Divide"

Prerna Bakshi is a writer, poet and activist of Indian origin, currently based in Macao. She is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of the recently released full-length poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love, which was long-listed for the 2015 Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK and cited as one of the ‘9 Poetry Collections That Will Change The Way You See The World’ by Bustle in the US. Her work has been published widely, most recently in The Ofi Press, Red Wedge Magazine, TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism and Prachya Review: Literature & Art Without Borders, as well as anthologized in several collections. More here:

Buried in the Snow in Kashmir

The winter has always been kind to us.
It was the winter
when we first met,
when we got married,
when we went to Kashmir for the honeymoon.

I wore those shiny heart-shaped earrings
that you gave me that I was saving
for a special occasion
for the last couple of years.
Gulmarg was covered in snow that year.

It was the first time we both saw snow together.
As we walked into the snow,
A Kashmiri man approached us,
told us we must try snow sledding.
Before we could say anything

he put us on a sled and
started pushing it down the hill.
My heart was racing as fast as
that speeding sledge.
I come back to the hotel room

and find those heart-shaped earrings gone.
“I only wore them once”, I say to myself,
“but I’m glad I got to see you wearing them once”,
you say assuringly.
“Maybe, it is better this way,” I say,

“that those two hearts are buried
somewhere in the snow
with the blood of the Kashmiris,
that is now frozen
along with peace”.

When the tormentor comes to clear the snow, love,
with a shovel in the one hand and a gun in the other,
deep inside the snow, buried,
he would find the two hearts
still beating.

The Ethical Dilemma: Kids and Santa Claus

tell our
kids that lying
is bad and yet,
we are the first ones
to lie to them, when we
look into their eyes and say,
Santa Claus is real, and they believe us
as kids do. When young, they have little choice.
By the time, they grow up and learn the truth,
we become experts in lying. Eventually, they find out the truth
about Santa Claus and the business of truth itself.
When the Christmas comes and we look back fondly at this,
the kids say, truth is overrated, anyway. Now all grown up,
they have perfected the art of lying themselves. But with several grey hair
and experience on my side, I too, have perfected the art of knowing them.
Somewhere, a six-year-old kid has still not forgotten and feels slightly cheated.
Even if momentarily. The kid sulks briefly before bursting with joy, when on the Christmas Eve,
Santa Claus shows up. On this day, the only truth that matters is:
if Santa Claus
brought them

The Winter Divide

Like every year, this winter too
the rich would romanticize winter,
while the poor can’t wait for it to end.
Like every year, this winter too
the rich would take out their warm blankets
from the wardrobe in the spare room,
while the poor on the street
would light a fire to keep warm.
Like every year, this winter too
the rich would be obsessing over the newly introduced
latte flavors doing the rounds,
while the poor would hold an empty cup
with a sign that reads:
Haven’t had coffee. Anything helps, please.
Like every year, this winter too
the rich would momentarily feel guilt and shame;
the rich would blame the government
for not providing enough shelter houses;
blame the people for not caring enough;
blame the homeless people for failing to break the cycle.
Like four seasons, this cycle will repeat.
Like every year, this winter too
the poor would freeze to death;
their death would be attributed to
natural causes or drug and addiction problems;
their death toll would be reduced to
just another number in the newspaper;
and like every year, this winter too,
the rich would, along with their coats,
hang this death toll number
on the hook by the door.

©Prerna Bakshi

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