THESE DAYS (A Poem) by Smita Agarwal

'These Days' is a poem by Smita Agarwal and published by IDEAINDIA.COM in her collection of poems: MOFUSSIL NOTEBOOK : Poems of Small-Town India


(A Poem)


This summer, the mango tree bore aubergines;

These days, you can’t trust in anything.



A young man, dying, made off with his nurse:

These days you can’t trust anyone …



My spouse cooed, “I love you deary …”

The next minute he was smooching his secretary.



The Ganges burst its banks …

The Ganges burst its banks and flooded the streets;

Lalu Yadav placated us by saying the goddess

Wished to kiss the common man’s feet …



Ramlila, the story of an ideal prince, has changed its format.

Bar girls gyrate to film tunes,

While Suparnakha, in her act of seduction,

Jumps into Laxman’s lap.

And we, the public, hiss and clap …

God’s life story acquires a celluloid tinge …

How shall we place our trust in anything?



In the land of Buddha, man and beast co-exist in peace.

In overcrowded railway stations, don’t be taken aback

If you witness this scene. A defeated Indian in dhoti and kurta,

Casually sipping his tea. A cow walks up to him

When his back is turned; it dips its head and pushes

Its wet muzzle into the cleft of his bottom

And gives him a tender nuzzle.

Never touched like this, he shamelessly allows

Himself to like it … for, ever since the mango sprouted aubergines,

We Indians don’t allow anything to surprise us,

Since we never put our trust in anything.



Santhara is the Jain ritual of embracing death by giving up food.

Vimla Devi, all of sixty, suffering from an incurable brain tumour

Decides to practise it and liberate herself.

Her community supports her, the police stand by and watch her,

And when she dies, there’s a hue and cry, for in our country

Self-killing is suicide and therefore a crime …

Tradition and modern laws clash and ring.

How should we die … how should we live …

By not being amazed at anything …



In summer, my mango tree sprouts aubergines,

These days, I fail to put my trust in anything.



SMITA AGARWAL has been publishing poetry in India and abroad for over twenty years. In 1999, she has been a writer-in-residence at the universities of Stirling (Scotland) and Kent, U.K. Her collection of poems, Wish-granting Words, Ravi Dayal Publisher, New Delhi, 2002, received favourable reviews in India as well as the UK. Her poems have been included in anthologies such as, Literature Alive, New Writing from India and Britain, Vol. 2, Summer 1996; Nine Indian Women Poets, Oxford University Press, 1997; Verse: Special Feature on Indian poetry, UK & USA, Vol. 17 & 18, 2001; Reasons for Belonging, Penguin, 2002; Midnight’s Grandchildren: Post Independence Poetry from India, Struga Poetry Press, Macedonia, 2003; Confronting Love, Penguin, 2005; Fulcrum: Special Issue on Indian Poetry in English, USA: No. 4, 2005; Sparks, DAV Centre for Creative Education, New Panvel, Mumbai, 2008; Indian English Women Poets, New Delhi, Creative Books, 2009 and We Speak in Changing Languages: Indian Women Poets, 1990-2007. New Delhi, Sahitya Akademi, 2009.

Her collection of poems 'Mofussil Notebook' is published by IdeaIndia.Com

Her critical articles on Indian Poetry in English have been published in magazines and journals like Poetry Review, (London) and the Journal of Commonwealth Literature (UK). Smita Agarwal worked for her Ph D on Sylvia Plath and is currently an editor and translator for Plath Profiles the Sylvia Plath online journal, Indiana University, USA.



Her day job is that of a Professor of English at the University of Allahabad, India. Her hobby is Indian music and her songs are available on www.beatofindia.com and YouTube.

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