Poet and novelist KUSUM LATA SAWHNEY talks about loveless relationships and blind beliefs.

Marriage

He was staring at me

Lecherous and creepy

His beady eyes

Fixed on my thighs

Not for me I thought,

Not for me this sort

I found I was wrong

My bridegroom to be

Arranged by my loved ones

The done thing you see

My life decided

My future mapped out

The hidden stars

In the constellation above.

What about love, I asked in distress,

Fearful and broken

Rooted in stress.

The answer was brisk

It will come with time

And money rules dear girl

And so we've obliged

The haggling for the dowry

Continued well into the night

With my loved ones enumerating

My many good points

I could cook well

Sew well

Wash and clean

Other wifely duties

Would come with

The change in scene

So I was sold

So I was bought

Money exchanged hands

I was caught.

From a collection of poems by the author

Superstition

Many traditions, many ways

Appear to bridge and await

Defenceless, untutored, a blight

Ironic are these flashes of insight

Haughty, unbreakable

Carved in the mind

Incantations and mounting lore,

Superstition mingled with fright

Beleaguered offerings

Shame and madness

Confusion

ignorance at its height

Thuggery, devilry

Wielded its fake might

the winds of reason

absent against the fight

Symbolism assured of

Appeasement, abetment

Offerings and sacrifice

Acts of human desperation

Spiralling wickedness

Preying weakness

The sound

Of human misery.

From a collection of poems by the author

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