Sengupta is a poet, writer and journalist. Her poetry has been
published in Muse India, Talking Poetry and In Other Voices, a
anthology. She was recently awarded the Toto Award for creative
Toto Funds the Arts. Deeply concerned with gender rights, she is
founder and editor of India's first feminist collablog, Ultra
(the migrant's wife)
when the wind comes down from the hills
and palm trees fling their leaves about
like Sufi saints stepped off the edge,
she lies on a mat on the floor,
and listens to coconuts falling on the roof
like tough-shelled meteors.
in her, quiet,
is the cry of marauding elephants
grey. heavy. it flattens her.
Parvati, woman of the foothills,
woman of hard hands and bright teeth,
woman who endlessly waits.
woman whose waiting is a wound
that will not let skin
close over it,
a wound full of tree, grass, rain
and the smell of mud
woman who bears the hollows in deep places
but feels herself break
with the slow burn,
the stench in the night
of things growing old.
The Nizam's Wives
Four girls in brocade,
tussar and stiff smiles, the
slow stranglehold of gold
on their hands, necks, faces.
They were the children who aged early
Were they friends? Did they
share their fractured power
while swapping dolls, diamonds
and nights? Or were their eyes
darting and vicious over the pudding?
Did they avoid the bath at certain times?
Perhaps, three of them colluded
against the fourth, leaving
frogs on her bed, peas
under her mattress, spit
in her tea.
We can't know. In this
photograph, they are
just four girls. Let out of purdah
frightened and unblinking
into the cameraman's flash.