Neera Kashyap’s short fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in various online and print journals in south Asia. Her poetry has appeared in Mountain Path, Kritya, Reading Hour, The Bombay Literary Magazine and Ashvamegh.
I wanted to be a better being
so was given a chance
taken up to heaven and indoctrinated in heaven’s ways.
The mirror showed I was no longer monstrous nor noseless
but angelic and powerless.
I heard the djinns had re-grouped after their defeat by the angels,
formed a new nation.
From a nightless heaven, I flew back to them, my kin
and ruled as before.
In the mirror I saw myself grow noseless again, sightless too.
Will the heavens give me another chance?
Me made of scorching winds, they of fragrant ether?
This thought of dying I either ignore or give in to,
feel its shroud
tight as vice, disabling breath.
Or like a capsized raft with waves breaking over me.
Calmly enclosing or fiercely breaking?
Glints of tranquil sun in the water turn my screams
into mute bubbles of spit and foam.
Fear feels like concentrated energy
Great grey waves suck me up and bounce me back to the seabed
again and again
till I am battered and winded.
A great pain shoots up from the top of my chest.
My lungs or heart must have dislocated.
Someone, somewhere have mercy.
This is not the surrender I had heard bandied about.
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