Two Poems by Swati Moheet Agrawal

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Girl Child

Circa 1983 Mumbai,
the era I was born,
the time a girl child was frowned upon.

A squalling baby,
unsightly and hairy,
far from a fairy,
jilted and spurned.

Howling all night,
creepy and clingy,
nondescript features,
such a weird thingy.

Love and acceptance
I’d badly yearned,
‘lizardly’ was the moniker
I’d quickly earned.

Saraswati – the treasure trove of wisdom,
Lakshmi – the fountain of riches,
Durga – the embodiment of strength and resilience,
Parvati – the emblem of devotion and benevolence,

and yet,

only mother said:
my baby,
my baby.


 

An Ode to My Father

The sun beams in through the living room window,
lighting up the hardwood floor.
Here we are,
my father and I,
never hostile,
we sit down to eat.

“Take the seat of the witness.
Cultivate witness consciousness.
Observe. Simply observe.

Consider the world which you carry within you.
Retreat into yourself.
Discover the magic in the mundane,
it is the only way to navigate life gracefully
and deliciously.

Spend time in nature.
Nature has a way of reviving itself.”

My father exudes phenomenal calm and poise.

“Everything can be taken away from you
except your freedom to choose how you will respond
to a given situation. That’s where your power is.”

He embraces everything:
the good, the bad,
he accepts with equanimity –
the palatable, the unpalatable,
the ordinary, the extraordinary,
the highs, the lows.

I marvel at that.

Besides him,
I feel so shallow and prosaic.
My father’s world seems very sincere to me,
his rich inner life,
how he cherishes his solitude,
how he revels in the simple joys of life.

I take refuge in his serenity.
I lean on him.

“Do not be fretted by trifles.
Trivialize the trivial.
Do not be so eager to fill in the blank spaces.
Give yourself to the present moment.
Let life unfold.
Let life happen to you.”

I keep learning from my father
the art of acceptance.


 

About the Author

Swati Moheet Agrawal’s work has appeared in The Criterion, Five Minute Lit, Life in 10 Minutes, Indian Periodical, The Dribble Drabble Review, The Pangolin Review, Potato Soup Journal, Active Muse, Setu and Paragraph Planet among other publications. When not buried in books, she dabbles in decoupage art.