IJLL Special Issue:July-December 2017

The Other Voice

About the Book

Dr. Nandini Sahu creates a genre of her own in her maiden collection of poems The Other Voice. The poems in this volume flash images of alienation and existential absurdity, interfusing classical art with the poet's personal as well as social consciousness. The personae seems to rejoice at the beauty of the creation, sometimes ecstatic about being a woman,some other times disturbing the slumber of the society on sensitive issues like mental slavery of the human, subjugation of women. Whenever time is ripe, a brainchild, a poem is born from her pen's tongue, setting a living, breathing world that adds fiery fresh flood of poems to the world of Muses.

A few Poems from The Other Voice

While words dance
on my pen’s tongue
I feel language
is a flooded river
not to be dammed
and poetry flows
from the hedges of the mind
breaking the parapets.

The gentle art of looking through,
A concrete experience of the abstract,
the union of life and peace,
the vision and the visionless
taken together,
the song and silence,
the corners where all the rivers flow
amid the heart’s dark floor,
a rapport with mortality,
a formula of sight,
a clarity of light,
a sign of the heart,
a look into the night,
a day that’s bright, . . . .
what else is poetry
but a clear insight?

A man was sitting sad
I did not know him.
I only knew the masquerading sorrow.

I smiled at him.
He did not know my smiles.
Only knew the sharing .

I extended my hands.
We did not know each other’s hands.
Only knew walking hand-in-hand.

I picked a handful of salt water.
I did not know his tears.
Only knew thirst quenched, hearts drenched.

Why is it that they tell me
I do look dignified
after such humiliations.
My life full of such trivialities.
I know this much,
I am in Arjuna, and he in me,
I am seeking release in the love of my lord—
And Karna—in a strange corner of my heart!
One after another shock
ensnaring me, like a China doll.
I am not myself.
I am not alone Arjuna’s love,
nor Krishna’s
nor even Karna’s  lone victim
nor the diadem-studded queen
none of these I am.
I embrace ‘all’ ,  I bleed in ‘all’ .
In the  Kurusabha
in my long clothes, my shame I armour,  spread-
eagling in all.
This body I wear is not mine.
Like the expansive earth, it encompasses ‘all’.
My five sons—
particles of my blood
I know not their roots. Yet I call them mine.
I bleed infinitely in the lost identity of ‘all’.
I wish if I could distance myself
from my own  self and be lost in one.
In Krishna, in Arjuna, or in Karna (?)
in one,
honestly I like to know
what it feels
to be absorbed wholesomely in ‘one’ .
This is  Kurukshetra
the land of half-humans, demi-gods
on this  blood-torn land
I cannot wail, nor can I sob.
So my heart,
like fire I play with you.
Oh, fire!
I am fire,
I am born of fire, my life is fire,
I know not, if my death be fire too !!
Sycophants, one and all, encircle me
sway and swindle me, sweltering my bones
as if tickling me
by putting one after another tiara on my head
trying to heal my unlocked hairs—the
of the Pandavas.
An illusion I am
I suffer, I am the symbol of suffering.
Even when I laugh with the cruel, hot  blood
of Dusshasana,  I suffer.
And in the city of the dead
I die hundred times in delusion.
I seek release, I know not where—
may be in all !!!

In the Operation Theatre
I’ve wrapped that moment
within my naked memory
when the doctor, the angelic doctor,
put the scissor on me.
The moment when my blood sprinkled
 in  the operation theatre
and I cried out my age-old wails.
My blood, my innermost parts
gripped me to hang between life and death
and I was nailed to the cross,
the cross of all my sins,
desires, sufferings.
My soul was naked, body nude,
my eyes were vacuum
as my heart was.
I could  then  feel him.
To welcome him I moaned   aloud
as if   it were  the moment of my death.
The sombre room, the sharpened instruments
the green clothes,  multiple
hands  hovering  over  me
the photograph of the Mother and
the stillness of the silence
all, all entered into me
and I fainted.
After so many memories
after so many dreams
I woke up,
to find my  ‘reason’  to live, at last,
in the operation  theatre.
The bird from my heart’s nest was free,  the
pretty little fair bird.
I became the proud mother of my Parth
in the operation theatre.

Lines to My Son
You must ignore the dark face
of time my son and proceed
to a world that beckons you
with hands full of gold and pearls.

Never  try  to  fathom that
inherited  insecurity in me that may
someday  come your way, and my heart
where  anxiety sits on the corridors.

The old shadows that stand beside me
the shadows of cruel history and
my unavoidable defeats in the life-game
must  let you stand alone in your paradise.

While history sleeps in shadows
on the banks of fallen castles,
while the fallen heroes crawl to oblivion
you can trace your way from youthful sources.

One day while the water of time washes away
all,  the morning the dew  must
declare your presence, you may
uncover your existence across the rainbows.

And if, someday, you  land in an island unknown
and the tumults of agony deafen
your ears, my son, close your eyes, give me your hands
my dead face will be your staircase.

Micro Verses
Happy men are all alike
only the unhappy
differ in hue and abyss.
Like full-moon nights are
all alike, only the ‘other’ moons
differ in shape and smiles.

Some  self-decreeing
Shakespeares, Goethes, Einsteins
Da Vincies, Vasco da Gamas and all
suck juices of this civilisation
where we pose to live like creepers
taking support of the banyan trees.
Why not destroy the monster
inside than striving to raze the sinners
and saving the civilisation?
Why not pour water to the plants
of repentance  and regret to the sins
than watering to the seeds of vengeance ?
Men who stand erect in all
calamites, men who smile and smile
in sorrows and pleasures.
men who pay little regard to sycophants
and bear with the critics, are the
pillars to the decaying times.
Childhood matures. Youth decays.
Love fades.Riches take wings.
Ambitions touch the sky, the limit,
Friends dissemble, near n’ dear accuse someday.
Sons say ‘hello’ on the facebook.
Only death levels, invariably comes.

Two Drops: Sonnets
mind wanders
in agony
of realities,
heaven laughs cruel,
and when
hope’s embrace loosens
the moon is afar
trees are barren
birds lose feathers
you are the only way to release
choked, thickened anguish.
Tears are contagious.
To create a world
sans brutality
to save a civilisation
in crisis
to heal someone else
 to dry someone else’s
earth of floods
and to moisten his barren trees
you, the molten  elegy of two drops,
you, the gems of warmth,
crawl on cheeks, consoling aching hearts.
Tears are contagious.

When mind is filled with joy
aching pleasures  float  us up and up
ripe fruits, leafy twigs fill the trees,
golden threads bind our
endless desires,
moving and moving like a gyre
 we dip in unfathomable
ocean of dreams in the
oasis of delight.
from two shores of the eyes
you roll, two drops, like choked happiness.
Death measures itself in two drops.
Was it Gautama who saw death
in his glamorous youth?
Was it Jara who pierced  Krishna
with his arrow and bow?
Was it Christ who bore
His Cross Himself up to the mount?
Were they Adam and Eve
whose Fall was the greatest of all?
Or was it Caesar whose death
filled history of Rome with blood stains?
Who on earth has  introduced
death to  tears ?
Death, in fact, measures itself in tears.
Don’t they,  just they,  bid adieu
at the valediction ?
 drench the dry womb
of loneliness.
They  give a home to the
homeless, lonesome cloud,
they  sing a song or even an elegy
to the deafened ears of Philomel
and   supply water to the dying plants of love.
To redden the white roses of memory
by shedding colours of love
the paralysed movements
of the two distant souls
touch each other in the ‘two drops’.


In the morning
I’m a daughter-in-law
serving hot tea
stitching broken bottoms
cleaning, cooking, frying,
stirring, wiping my son’s nose,
sometimes  nagging with  him when
the ever-complaining man
watches me. I’m a wife.
In the day I’m a
professor, facing young, obsessed,
 girls and boys
trying hard to look
professional, wearing the mask
of an official fool.
Again in the afternoon
I’m a mother, loving, kissing,
playing, caring, rearing my baby
hearing the daily saga
of phone bills, market prices,
taxes, policies, news-bulletins,
chiding the maid for cutting
vegetables rather small
or chopping onions
in the wrong side.
In the evening I’m a showpiece,
a perfect business butt,
bargaining, wearing a
matching lipstick
thinking of the evening menu
relishing yet inexpensive
smiling, smiling, ever
smiling behind a mysterious
face, knowing every
detail of mornings, afternoons and the
never ending nights.
Yes, in the night
till he smiles proud and sleeps.
And then !  And then
I drag the world to
my feet, a dreamer that I’m.
I reach the unreached, swim in
a  world of fancy
quench my feminine thirst
dry my hungry limbs.
I am every woman
dribbling, pouring desire
into the feminine mannequin .
In the morning I am a
daughter-in-law, wife, mother,
researcher again, mute, content (?).
I’m the goddess
who knows what are
the things to happen and
what not since time
has ploughed scars
on my virgin mud.

Sonnets Six

I told you that
I could recognise you
by the smell of your clothes
from amid a pile;
and that
I could close my eyes
just smell your
and pick you out
from  a crowd.
You could guess
I meant to say
I love you.
You smiled proud.
White noise everywhere
when in fact
the world is silent
interrupted sleep
in late nights
a mood to have
holiday humour
the moon writing out memory
culling flowers
a balmy breeze
embracing us
and those spots on the Taj
as you’d say
whisper, we’re in love.
How long, how long
oh love
should I guard
the black clouds
the sea storms
against you
examine each ray of light
when you’re aside
in shade
lest they should
engulf you
shield you under their wing
before we reach
the goal !
When every eye of the town
is asleep
and the world’s deaf
let’s portray some fancy
let’s celebrate a
festival of sparks
in our mirror-room,
let’s drink the soul
to our fill
through lips
then fan the flames.
After adding and subtracting
simply multiply
you get a zero...!
Do not go on to
define this relationship
do not rub off
the sugar n’ salt from
these sunlit walls
do not look back
to wipe out the love-scars
that you have given,
play on this squirrels’ game
this hide-n-seek
these helpless gestures
that we “call” love.
I’ve just learnt
that you belong so much to life!!
May I confess
that again and again
I’m thrown away from
your arms
by just a heavy breeze
delicate that I am;
but your strong arms
invite me to search for the depths again
a blazing sun
to eclipse me
to crush me .
May I confess of my
eternal thirst for you
a wild stream that I am!

Patch Works
Woman is good at patch works.
Frills, long skirts, mirrors,
needle and thread
virgin colours, dreams ...
Oh yes, she is good at patch works
like Nu Guo who patched up the sky.
Patch up, patch up
broken smiles and relationships.
Keep smiling; some may say
“Smile distorts your (acrying) face”,
and some say, “this rainbow smile
hails life”. But smile, patch up
and sew up the whole universe.
You’re the needle
and you’re the thread.
You’re the sorrow
and you, the antidote.
You’re love, you’re lust
you, the renunciation
you, the redemption
you, the decadence
you, the omnipotent.
You look graceful
in this patched, frilled outfit;
you are pied and pretty
you’ve the proud possession
of a leaking, patched heart--
broken, stitched and patched
time and again.
You rummage for a piece of life
in the drie- up eyes
across the emptied, distant horizon
like a fallen martyr.
You extinguish all lights
grope in the dark.
Still you manage with a struggling flicker.
You know
the deeper oceans inside you
are still intact
and frozen.
You bring back life on your
feeble shoulders
you know how and when to patch up.
Two title eyes searching for life
two curious ears listening to the soul’s music
two tireless legs running after forlorn hopes:
what do you gain ?
It’s tough
very tough
for the caged birds to fly
for they seem to forget the art of flying.
But you find the remnants from the garbage
defeat hunger, thirst, fear
your dried up breasts ooze milk again.

Woman is good at patch works.
Frills, long skirts, mirrors
needles and thread
virgin colours, dreams ...
(In celebration of womanhood...)

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