My Cold Cold Beloved (Delhi) by Varun Dhingra
Winter brings out the best in her
She becomes as demanding as a queen
And I her humble slave
Bow down to her whims
She scratches and bites
Yet how she delights
There is love in the dark, chilly afternoon winds
Dividing my heart in a million little things
Oh the faint shadowy sun
Watching helplessly over her lovely countenance
His grandeur, his might no longer a lure
For what ails my beloved, has and will have no cure
The wind has unclothed her
Naked she stands in the cold
What beauty, such dignity
No eye can behold
All science be damned, in the cold she expands
A blooming balloon
Making me dance, Like the sea to the moon
Bewitched by her charms
How I crave for those arms
Those places those streets
Where I trundled and crawled
With my baby feet
Where I stumbled in my youth
to be rescued by her
Those grand monuments of love
So pure in the veil of thin mist
Huge shadowy trees
Touching the skies- white at day, red in the night
Tall buildings, small slums
The people infinite
Their heads on her thighs
All breathe from her sighs
We all love her, claim her
But who can ever tame her
One sweep of her gaze
And our lives are consumed
The serenity of snow we do not deserve
Ours is the grey cold winter
With harsh, slashing rain
Drowned in duality
Smiling through pain
A Cold Lover by Ditsa Bhattacharya
Unwashed dishes pile up on the kitchen sink,
I forget the taste of warmth on my tongue.
The carcass of the rat rotting in a corner of my room stops smelling,
and shrivels up into a mass of forbidden blackness.
Dust settles on the drying leaves of the plants in my balcony,
wisps of fog stealthily walk in through the small gap in the door.
I turn into a heap of bones and flesh under the quilt,
my body rising and falling with every breath that escapes my mouth like a war cry on an empty battleground.
The pillowcase hasn't been changed in months,
and when I drool in my sleep it leaves strange marks
that look like inkblots from a Rorschach test when they dry.
Outside, on the footpath, the bodies of strangers
lie together, covered in torn blankets, in search of warmth.
A lonely cricket sings a song reminiscing the comfort
that was snatched away by summer months ago.
The moon covers itself in a shroud of murk,
and falls asleep.
winter, her lover, has come home.
It is not winter yet, even the rain by Aranya
the mornings are hiding a secret, I can feel it in my breast now, the weight of a romance delayed- this city's yearning for silence. delhi octobers into the bustle of eyes that are every where have they gone, when will it come? I ask of time, I request the rain for an audience, and it concedes. our hands are learning again the broken syllables that they had once disdained, the pandemic had taught them solitude. now my fingers measure distance with awkward questions, stumbling as they find love again, and the newness of you. we stare foolishly into the twilight, moths circling the filament of separation. I did not know this city until it scooped up my loneliness and thrust it between walls scarred in Turkish stone, a sapling transfixed by uneven stares from suspicious lovers. I did not know this city until it leapt out of its orbit in an unseasonal shower, slipped into the gasp of the curling fumes that congregate under the awning of ghalib's kabab sarai. until you murmured quietly to the air your breath fresh with the serenade of amaltas. until this absence rent the evening with tactless tears and we marinated the night. the moon is a crackling serpent now, a silver pendant slipping carelessly on your neck. who are we to question this sudden surmise? I taste the winter before its birth in your stolen glance that lingered for a moment too long. I taste the cool unflinching breeze of your city, I am a gardener without tools, my birds are free in your stormy sky now. even the rain does not know what it is doing here.
December for a Schoolgirl in Delhi by Aliyah Banerjee
is when the city that never sleeps
is suddenly lulled into a slumber
so deep, that no lullaby must be sung,
no dust must enter her nostrils,
no worries must penetrate her dreams.
is the night she cannot close her eyes,
and so, book in hand, she has promised
her mother that she will go to sleep
but here she is, crisp smell an addiction,
sleep a distant pest when she can
draw the kambal a bit tighter.
is the morning when red tie tightened,
book bag heavy, shivering
in grey sweater and uniform blazer,
she takes a deep breath in the fog,
today her sister will not accompany her.
today her sister is surrounded
by the Delhi winter tainted with pollution,
today her sister takes labourious breaths
is the month she becomes a woman,
and that one week in every month hereafter
will remind her of this winter
when she felt ugly. More and more
and more and more time in front of the mirror.
At least in December she can
hide behind woollen veils.
and yet it is the city nameless
in its wintry anonymity.
and yet it is the night when
she, sister, mother, father share khichdi.
and yet it is the morning rife
with giggles of two schoolgirls on holiday.
and yet it is the month she feels
as beautiful as the first hail of the city.
(the disappearing) by Sasha Mahuli
all through winter, I remember, you seemed to wear a golden haze.
soft in charm, cruel in tenacity,
glowing like pink flesh under cracked skin.
with you now a great ocean away, the Pacific rises violently to protest the distance & the sky folds to meet the water, one blue falling into another —
but the wind blows me back to the city that melts into your absence (and the longing! how deliciously distraught it has made me!) & i circle the rings of Delhi, the phantom forts, the jubilant parks, all a yellow carnival now that the dust has settled (the past is the past) // the heat will find us in a different future & there should be, there must be very little of you, pressed in my rushed breath, so quick, so light —
but there is, there is, there is still the gold flickering through everything you have touched — the colour green, a wooden shelf, a secret phrase & when at dawn, i wake up with my head above water, you sink to the depths of the sea like wreckage.
it is still winter, your season, your time of year, rubble i try to swing into obliteration, but gold is too strong a metal.
unfair sides of winter by Bani K
another season of
unjust, cold, harsh days
we all joke around winters
when our bodies get stitched
to our warm blankets
and our will to crawl out of bed
seems to take a stroll into the unknown
a mantra begins to be chanted
to stay tucked in our cosy duvets
coated with privileges
as opposed to the reality of the streets
we cry over the water
now beginning to feel
like cruel stones of ice
and all things sizzling
like luscious hot chocolate
become a prize
at the very same time
under the same cover of stars
sit the unfortunate ones
being set aside
by the constant transitions of life
thousands of people on roads
settling under their temporary tents
building bonfires with scraps
to sleep through the night
some are trying to survive
because of lack of opportunities
or differences amongst ourselves
some are protesting for their lives
some are fighting for their rights
far away from the comfort
of home and families
living in those harsh streets
unlike our stability
in the same unfair season as we.
About the poets:
Varun is a quiet voice trying to find its tone in the June of life. He writes about anything that fixes his roving eye. He is based in Delhi while his mind is often found wandering elsewhere. You can find him on Instagram @framedpoems
Aranya is a poet from Bombay, who, for the last four years, has been attempting to make friends with Dilli ki sardi
With a pen in her hand and ghungroos on her feet, Aliyah Banerjee is a writer and dancer from Delhi. Having started her journey with poetry and short stories, she published a compilation Miss Conceptions at an early age. Later, her words took on a social purpose, and she now primarily writes regarding civil freedoms, environmental justice, human rights, and art for a variety of platforms as a content writer and a journalist. An aspiring diplomat and a passionate Kathak dancer, Aliyah believes poetry to be a powerful tool for change and expression, suiting her role as a storyteller. You can find her on Instagram @aliyah_banerjee
Ditsa is a full-time journalist and a theatre actor based in Delhi. She has a penchant for sad poems. You can find her on Instagram @ditsays
Sasha Mahuli studied English at St. Xavier's College and pursued the Young India Fellowship at Ashoka University. Currently based out of New Delhi, Sasha spends her days endeavouring to articulate through poems or prose (or often a combination of the two) the whims of the city, the blurring of time and the brief glory of all the seasons passing us by. Her work has been published in Gulmohar Quarterly and FirstPost.
Bani expresses herself as a creator, as it encompasses her passion for creating different art forms like poetry, visual arts, and dance. She is also a Mental Health Advocate, currently pursuing her Master's in Psychology and working in publishing. For Bani, writing poems is like holding a mirror to her inner and outer tides. Her work has been published in Notion Press, The Blahcksheep, The Period Protection Project, Writer's Pocket, among others. To know more about her work, visit https://www.instagram.com/bani.k/ or linktr.ee/thebanik
About the artist:
Alia Sinha is an illustrator, visual artist and theatre practitioner based in Delhi. She is deeply interested in collaborative art-making and obsessed with fungi, ghosts and bees. You can find her work on Instagram @minor_grace