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3 poems on motherhood by Pooja Ugrani

Art by Auguste Renoir


Over a bowl, we share

our stories of the fruit.

I sing a song from Jait Re Jait

about a dhol played under a tree.

She sticks her tongue out

wanting it to emerge purple

like Neema's from her story book.

A cautious bite, a clean roll

and a seed spat out,

leave terrains on my agile tongue

that I stick out to entice her.

Unconvinced, she decides

to lick a jamun, only for its colour.

The astringent bites her tongue.

She runs behind me, wanting

to cleave my frozen ruts,

plough through tightened textures, 

waving a pink comb for relief.

Jamun – Java plum

Jait Re Jait is a 1977 Indian Marathi language film directed by Dr. Jabbar Patel whose story revolves around a tribe named Thakar

Dhol - drum

Expecto Patronum

In the colony park, my toddler

breaks out into a wild dance

celebrating the wind

that sways the huge trees all around her.

Just when the evening storm is settling in

I egg her home, running behind her

screaming "Slow, slow!"

with my jhola full of groceries

as she speeds up in her pink scooter.

This is my shield

that I create to fight a world

that has become so gory

I cannot understand it anymore.

I need help today

for I have knelt down

hung my head in shame.

She makes me get up and dance with her,

we blow raspberries at each other,

create bubbles with our saliva,

birth marks become burp marks.

We hunt for muddy puddles

where three different bow-wows

and diaper-wearing snakes made caca.

She makes me

forget a little.

She is not my Horcrux,

she is what my Patronus is made of.

jhola – cloth bag


She punches my eye blue,

a toe nail, storing clotted blood

remains black for months

after she drops a heavy vessel on it.

The reflex to strike back

that I never tamed

and always gave back to the world,

I now withhold with caution.

Count, breathe, seethe.

She doesn't know it hurts,

sees me in pain and hugs me

still confused about what she did,

it is always a game for her.

Yet, when all hell breaks loose

for the umpteenth time

after I have, in a low sincere voice

tried to explain, she still refuses to listen.

The physical force of her body

overpowers me,

flailing limbs land hurtful kicks

punches make my arms give way.

I bite my lower lip,

make big eyes, hold her arm

and place a carefully weighed

whack on her behind

with a third of the force

I feel inside.

Rage boils over, a moment

of regained control sears holes

in me and in her

that may take a lifetime to heal.

Pooja Ugrani is an architect by education, a teacher by profession, a poet by whim and an artist by choice. Some of her works have been published by the The Punch Magazine, Cafe Dissensus Everyday, Mom Egg Review and Hākārā, a bilingual journal of creative expression. She was invited to read at the Bangalore Poetry Festival 2019 and by the Champaca bookstore at the Bangalore International Center on the occasion of International Womens' Day in March 2020. She writes from personal experience and memory about the small everyday things in life that intrigue and engage her. 


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