12 March 1985

Dear diary,                                                               
The house is a kitchen, whistling and clinking,
‘What’s next?’, children grumble, NO! not this,
Saans, bears a sardonic smile, NO! not this,
Husband & merchant class friends scowl, NO! not this,
I sit all day chopping, dicing, sometimes popping carrots,
If not, planning, arranging, proposing the next supper,
One follows the other, minutes, hours, days, chopping, dicing, sometimes popping carrots,
Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fill the house,
Spicy fish? tempered stew? minced veggies? throw a quandary,
Just a drizzle of red chilli powder is the answer?
Perplexed, I run hot and cold, sweets on trays, up and down,
Women of neighbourhood speak words of solace,
‘Sukshma, O Sukshma! You are a child!’, speak eyes of compassion,
‘Try this, try that!, they extend bowls of empathy,
Kneading doughs, juggling chores, rowing the day,
Dead on my feet, I break a sweat, sit cross-legged, drained when night falls,
In the morning, the house is a kitchen, whistling and clinking,

With devotion,


About the Sukshma Series:

The Sukshma Series is a first-hand account of an educated woman of post-colonial India reflecting on how the social and political set-up of the country defined the status of an Indian woman.

The title of the poems is “Sukshma”, the title is very deliberate because Sukshma essentially means dormant energy and in the context of the central character’s feelings, it is quite pertinent. Sukshma is an educated middle-class house-wife in the 1980s in India. Sukshma maintains a personal diary in which she scribbles about her emotions, fears and anxieties in her life and expresses them only through the medium of poems. Evidently, her writing is mature and literary, but she is torn between the responsibilities of the household, family, children and the rigid social structures of the society that prohibit her aesthetic ability to write, so she keeps them private and writes very irregularly. Sukshma keeps her writing energy dormant and concealed from the rest of the society because she fears the aftermath of being deviant. Through her writing, she speaks volumes about her predicament as an Indian woman and reflects on the violence and horrors of her critical situation.

Previous poem(s) in the series: Unturned

Palak Nagpal

Palak Nagpal finished pursuing Masters in Writing and Literature from Deakin University, Australia and completed a thesis on post-colonial feminism in India. Palak is a voracious reader and a passionate writer and also a chai-lover.