Wednesday 31 May 2023

Two Poems by Snigdha Agrawal

 



Dissenting Voices


"I am colour coded, weighed, stickered for identification.
Isn't that racial discrimination?
Flung around, x-rayed, and scanned
before I pass the rigorous test
moved on to the belt
At times forced open under suspicion
of holding mass weapons of destruction
Unclothed and haphazardly dressed
To bring some order of semblance
Loaded with the rest in the undercarriage
Coloured and white
All sizes and shapes.
And at the end of it
I look like a tramp
battered, broken, joints bent.
Take my word, there is no worse
humiliation than what I face"
...they chorused in unison with hands raised.

Those hands I straightened, put back into place and responded...

"Done! I've heard you.
First I'll get you fixed
Your injuries attended
And then you can rest in your
resting place, unreachable, till you start getting restless.
Don't then crib and whine about loneliness
of being left good as dead."
So, saying put away the luggage in the overhead lofts.
But I too had something to share with the four complainants.

"You're not alone in this my friends.
I too suffer mental and physical abuses
My body trying its best to adjust to time-zone differences
Eating and pooping when I should have slept
Bodily functions impacted

As for going through rigorous checks
So, do I
At every point of entry and exit
Made to take off jackets, belts, and ornaments
Occasionally taken aside for body frisking
Of course, with permission
Some of them with poker faces, some with smiles
as if to say 'Relax...there is no shame
it's a job that has been entrusted
Dictated by the system

Some friskers going overboard,
complimenting the exposed tattoos
on arms and legs.
Made to stand with legs apart,
hands crossed overhead
locked in a glass cage
while cameras whir around
capturing images of private parts
Invasion of privacy, isn't it?
Meekly comply, to be over with it.
It's the system!

One may ask, what kind of system is this
which fails to detect drug dealers
yet picks up the innocents for body checks?

At least you are spared
standing in mile-long queues
to wait for immigration clearance.
then walk through the green channel
unless sniffer dogs mistakenly
pick up the smell of protein bars
as contraband goods and that
makes you turn red in the face
It's the system!

When finally, we meet
at the baggage carousel
after an interminable wait
you look dishevelled
and I am equally peeved
after hours of travel.
It's the system!



Portrait of Her



On the mantlepiece
There she was
Immaculately attired
Not a hair out of place
Swept off her forehead
Knotted tightly into a chignon
A fixed smile on her face
Manicured hands folded
neatly on her lap placed
Shoulders straight
Neck upright
Picture of perfection

Nah!
Something was amiss
Those love-softened
kohl-lined eyes
was for the galleries
Behind it were stories
of failure and grief
covered up with finesse
Like an artist's brush strokes
over mistakes committed
A discerning eye would
have quickly noticed

Those sleeved arms
with frills at the wrists
a camouflage
hiding the needle marks
of drugs injected
marijuana, heroin, cocaine
whatever gave her a high
forgetting the daily torture
of being labelled
'Good for nothing
She failed  to live
up to expectations!

Let them remember
what they wish to erase
absolving their guilt
and all that it entailed
So, she faked it all up
To look ethereal
To strike that pose
Giving false impression
Rearranging her thoughts
As the shutterbugs 
went click...click...click
Frozen for eternity!




Snigdha Agrawal (nee Banerjee) has an MBA in Marketing and Corporate work experience of over two decades. She enjoys writing all genres of poetry, prose, short stories, and travel diaries. Brought up in a cosmopolitan environment, and educated in Convent Schools run by Irish Nuns, she has imbibed the best from Eastern and Western cultures. 

She is the published author of four books.

1. TRAIL MIX Short Stories, published in 2023 by Authorspress Publishing House.  Available on Amazon. in

2. MINDS UNPLUGGED Lockdown Stories and Rhymes for the Six to Sixteen"(2021),

3. EVOCATIVE RENDERINGS (2017) Book of poems

4. TALES OF THE TWINS unsung melodies"(2018).

She is a regular contributor to Anthologies published in India and the USA and online magazines.

Apart from writing, she is an intrepid global traveller.  Her travel diaries can be accessed on her blog randomramblings52.wordpress.com.



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