after the riots
the streets long sticks of chocolate
drizzled with blood sticky and sweet
skullcaps now in pieces covering
drains and pebbles rid them of their sins
placards bruised and aged some
with sharper sticks stuck in bodies
bursting through bodies bodies half-open
half-closed intestines scribbled and
splattered on the streets weakly echoing
JAI HIND BHARAT MATA KI JAI JANA GANA
uteruses bloody bitten and pulled out
of their homes splayed out for
all to see burnt breasts hungry
toddlers crawl over charred teats
worry not we will milk them with
cow’s milk time to clean up the streets anyway
bring the cows bring the matas bring
ganga jal and bring your prayers
bring your badge your baton bring
your flag your language your song
we will clean up the mess worry not
we will rewrite the story of the streets
bring them all out bring the saffron bring
the soldiers let us take back what is ours
it’s time to clean up the streets
A war-cry, fated sigh, clenched
fists, hair in raucous is her story.
Moth-eaten toes, fiery eyes alone
burning bodies to carcass is her story.
Mouth flared apart—an earthquake’s
smile—dangerous is her story.
Tongue hanging out to soak in evil;
told in all languages is her story.
Bare breasts adorning jewellery of the dead,
a necklace of skulls, thus goes her story:
birthed with purpose and destined to
destroy Mahishasura rakshas is her story.
But centuries crawled on, and teeth became
blunt. The death of the Goddess is her story.
Now, trembling fingers that once belonged
to ten arms, all thunderous, is her story.
Battlefields now smooth marble tiles,
desires considered seditious is her story.
Sanitised words hiding behind ‘peace’;
reality is treasonous to her story.
They ask me where ‘Saranya’ came from.
“Divine courage taking exodus” is my story.
Chai and Politics
Patti, you ask questions so simple
that we have forgotten how to ask them,
or answer them, ourselves.
You ask them while you teach me
how to make chai.
“First add the water
Place the paatram over the smaller burner
Wait for water to boil
You will see it splutter
What is this Modi saying these days?
Do you support him?
Wait one minute more
Now add the chai pati
Half a spoon should be enough.
What is this Modi saying about CAA, this NRC?
Actually what is it? What are they?
Get inji and grate some in
Enough! This was too much
Here, take elaichi
Add it. Your appa likes it
Me? Not so much
Milk? No, not yet
But that is not right.
Why are they only taking Hindus and Christians?
Why are they against Muslims?
They also should be allowed, no?
Now slowly, add some milk
Slowly. Not too much
Too much milk will reduce the tea flavour
Why are the Police beating up students?
Students are also rowdies, but the Police
should not hurt them, no?
It is done. Bring two cups
I will have only half a tumbler
For your appa put vellam
I will have sugar. Two spoons
And what about Kashmir?
Actually what is the problem there?
If they want to be by themselves, why don’t we let them?
Why can’t they remain independent?
What is the issue? Actually?
Ah, okay. Just mix the sugar now
I don’t understand all this politics and all.”
I look at the chai:
a caramel-brown cup of dark,
glazed honey floating before me
in three cups and half a tumbler.
It’s the perfect concoction
of caffeine, sugar, and the sharp
marriage of adrak+elaichi.
I take a sip
The fog in my mind clears
The questions are so obvious now
I feel stupid to not have seen them myself.
Saranya Subramanian: "I am a writer and theatre practitioner based in Bombay. Currently a writer at Radio Mirchi, my poems have been published in The Bombay Review, Indolent Books, and The WIRE, to name a few. I graduated from Ashoka University in 2019, and am a prospective MFA in Creative Writing student at the University of San Francisco."