The Shorthand of Grief


                                 The boy stuck like

                                           a starfish

    In the front page                             And you would wonder 

    of Times Daily                                          the seashore is


       lined up with                                   deaths waiting to be


                                  Promethean seaweed


(They say we taste like mud after death, but it’s only the dry air sucking out your moisture, till you are nothing but wood, too heavy, echoing voices no one can hear.)

Of Language Left Behind (Sketches from a government hospital)

She always had more skin than me, yet the first ones were always the worse

Your first set of 14 injections, lipase, your bloating, the post nasal drip that sticks like peanut  butter, phony silence, drip, drip, drip, veins sucked in IV channels, the iti malia of a dying mother, antibodies thinning up blood, hippocampus telling you to bury the umbilical cord to grow your grief again, suicides wheeling towards dust from language left behind, the kid who choked on his intestines, winter’s insanity, a death lived thousand times over.


There is more in common between my mother and Archimedes than you know,

I ruminate over my mother’s words,

Muslim der more jawa uchit.

But aren’t we supposed to grow from her, 

Our limbs stretched over like thin wisps of paper, 

Her, always forgiving, 

The breaking of our bones when we hit our hand 

Against the pavement,

The fishbone stuck in our throat,

Then why does her mothering smell of death?

One that burns and burns,

Burns down Ashok Nagar and Shaheen Bagh,

Till an impeccable terror nauseates them,

Hamein bas thoda sa jagah de doh.


She kneels over,

And I can see,

How biology hasn’t been kind to her;

How her words are a recreation of an organic hatred,

Beyond the neglected similarity,

‘Give me a place to stand, a lever long enough and a fulcrum 

and I can move earth.’

Except she can’t,

Her existence (?) doesn’t offer imagination,

And I hear her ghosted self once in a while knocking!

Amai ektu jaiga de.


You see, like Archimedes, maybe she moves earths,

But not quite her own.


(The phrase ‘Amai ektu jaiga de’ or ‘Hamein bas thoda sa jagah de doh’ literally translates to ‘Give me a little space to stay’. The poem is written post 2020 Delhi riots which killed at least 200 people and rendered many homeless caused by hate speech and religious nationalism. ‘Muslim der more jawa uchit’ translates to ‘Muslims should die’, a referring to religious hatred often shared in times of such crisis.)

Author Bio

Manjari Thakur is currently an MPhil research scholar at Jadavpur University, India. She has completed her Masters in English Literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India with distinction. She has presented her work at ICLA, University of Macau, China, Jadavpur University, India, Johns Hopkins University, USA and London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, UK. She has also published her poems in Muse India, a journal. Her research interests lie in trauma studies, prison literature, protest literature, politics of violence, feminist practices and intersectional studies in the Indian subcontinent.


#death #disease #violence

Image Credits

Baibhab Bose