The Ballad of the Labourer’s Daughter

Have you seen the nests they are building with everything we left behind?

Can they see our broken homes from their heights?

Do they not feel the resentment plastered on their walls?

Can they not smell your sweat flowing in their drains?

Or feel my mother’s tears wetting their streets?

Those happy faces I see through the glass windows

Seem like ghosts stuck in the peepal tree rooted in your stories

The crane came in the night

It always comes in the night

Raising its head like a snake ready to bite

This wall that lies ruined was the face of our fort

You built it yourself brick by brick

“That way our house will be just as strong as the tower next door”, you said.

It was a tiny palace behind the castle, but it was ours.

On days when you’d be too tired to tell bedtime stories

We made up stories out of the crevices in your hands

Those scars you won in a battle

Those scratches were from crawling through the trenches

Your bony fingers were hiding your superhuman strength

My father was a war hero everyday

In the mornings you’d be gone before our dreams ended

I never once wondered if you’d dreamt anything at all!

Our school was beyond the railway tracks

You would help us cross them every day

A shepherd flocking his herd

“They’re making another building, next to school” I’d say

You’d just smile and say

“That’s for you to stay in when you grow up”

I’d look up and wonder

All that hard work just to be locked up in a tower?

In the nights when our palace was silent

I’d hear your whispers through the walls

I’d touch them so your words would flow through me

Your stories of everyday valour

Some nights I even heard your laughter

It was rare but when it came

It beamed like lightening through the walls and touched my heart

The night the crane came in

You picked me up in your arms

You couldn’t see but I was staring at my books in the corner

My only friends at the time

I tried very hard to hide my tears on your chest

You thought it was the heat of the night making you sweat

I didn’t know then but my dreams that night were my best

The hum of the machine pierced through the night

As if singing a chorus to the lament of our crumbling walls

You held me tighter with each thud

You were turning yourself into my fort

Suddenly I heard nothing, not my mother’s sobs or the crumbling walls

I looked up and you were smiling down at me

“Time to build a new nest”, you said.

Sketch by Daniel David Talegaonkar

Broken Girls

They say

“broken girls blossom into warriors”

Do I strive to break or be broken?

Read unspoken words

Scamper to the top of mountains

Look down at my bruised feet and my swollen chest

I feel no pain just my pride

For I’ve blossomed

Right?

Each chink in my armour

Makes me stronger

If you claw on my skin

It’s your fingers that bleed

If Someone breaks my bones

They slowly turn to gold

So I break, keep breaking until this earth

Is full of tiny pieces of me

Until there is nothing left to break

I’ve blossomed

“Broken girls” they say

Around here they break one everyday

They wipe off her smiles

That dazzled their eyes

Like rainbows coming up for air

They deem her beauty too bright

So they cloud it with their darkness

And wait for the rains to bathe away

The fairies in her tales

Until only the ashes of a phoenix remain

She’s blossomed.

They break us in droves

A factory plucking out each dream

Storing us in jars

Until the anger is just ripe

They choke us till we can’t breathe

They don’t see, we no longer need to

We simply wait

on the edge of life

Blossoming everyday

So here we stand battle ready

Swords unsheathed

Shields up

Ready to consume all their hate

Their anger is scripted on our skin

Scars that have branded stories

On a mind that wishes to forget

We are an army of warriors

Who never wanted a war…

Dear 2017

www.cartoonmovement.com
You weren’t easy
You saw too much
You saw the coronation of a creep in the free world
You saw him grab them by the p—— and jab fingers at innocence
You saw women march for freedom from prejudice
You saw that freedom thrown away by bosses, leaders, kings and jokers
You saw the world tear up at the borders
You still had hope
You found it in men lining up to give blood to gun shots
In the courage of millions of women who wrote #metoo
In the celebrations of love over hate
In the music that unites us
Now in the darkness of midnight
You ask me in your fading voice
“Will you miss me?”
The dark of the sky is a black hole set to swallow you
You are vary of my answer
You know you weren’t easy
I found my moments of bliss in you
When I came home to a city that changes colours every time I leave
You saw me smile without an agenda
You saw me cry at poetry that touched my soul
I know it touched yours too!
It was here in this city I had found myself years ago
I got lost in between
But in you, I found myself again
You sigh and say, “the next one will be better”
You were a friend, a lover, a sworn enemy
All rolled into one
Yes, The next one will be beautiful
But the next one isn’t you
You will be safe in my memory box
Where I will keep you like a lucky charm
I will lock you in
Saving my hurt, my joy and my love
Saving the world, all of its light and none of the darkness
And as the sun begins to let you go
I await the start of a new love, a new you
With the few lessons you left behind
Always march together so no one’s left behind
Cry when you feel like it without judgement
Find your crowd and you will never be alone
Never try to stop your fall for it teaches you how to rise
Treat your friends like wine – preserve them, love them,
Age them, consume them.