Ghar Ghar by Saaya Vaidya


Art by Namrata Narendra

Ghar Ghar (Playing House)


I used to build homes before I knew what family meant,

used to fabricate stories before I knew how to spell.

I would cement bricks together with poorly spelt words,

and the walls would come tumbling down,

like pieces of shells with sharp edges that were once whole,

and briefly housed a fish.


Sarees made out of dupattas, doors out of chairs,

pregnant bellies out of pillows and then babies out of toys.

Food made of plastic, money was just air

and I had jobs- as a doctor, teacher, pirate,

Hannah Montana, mother, power ranger.

Under the roof of a blanket,

tied to door knobs and cupboard handles for support,

when I spoke to love, I’d look at the space in front of me,

and we’d speak, hug, laugh, shout.

The blanket would give, and the space would disappear.


We’d play for hours, my friends, my sister and I;

wanting to know the fate of our characters,

all of whom had names that would start with an ‘A’.

With shoulders too small to bear the weight of a bra strap or a purse,

we fantasised about a time when they’d be hunched into defeat.

We were ignorant enough to enact the lives of those in need,

of nearly everything,

and grounded enough to imagine a palace in a bedroom,

fit for those who’d want for nothing, and yet, wanted everything.

Characters who scrubbed dirty utensils

with the same toothbrush which they brushed their teeth with,

who used one piece of cloth as a saree and a blanket both,

resided in the small space between the cupboard and the bed’s headboard.


Then there were those who had combs to clean their hairbrushes,

had bed covers to protect satin sheets

and could afford the time to love.

While playing out their story,

the space between the cupboard and the bed’s headboard

became the storeroom.


Abundant with outgrown clothes kept in boxes,

soaps that looked like glass,

and extra toothbrushes for lovers who spent the night.

A naphthalene ball in every corner,

on each shelf, in every box,

for they would rather preserve things, as if they were pickles,

than have them consumed by someone else.


This cubical universe was carpeted with cotton

that would deceptively melt on my tongue,

and then proceed to choke me.

The strands of fibre that make me,

made me want to cook and nurse;

so deeply ingrained between the ridges of my fingers,

like holding the coarse hands of women gone,

who didn’t have the liberty to simply wash

the compulsion away with soap water.


I, on the other hand, could.

So, I scrubbed my hands with pumice

until they didn’t reach for the stove, or a spatula.

And, it was easy.

I plucked the dead skin with a tweezer

And moisturized my hands after.


About the poet:

Saaya Vaidya is a student from Mumbai, India. She writes and performs poetry, and has been featured by collectives such as Kommune and Resonart, besides being published by Skylight47 (Ireland). She's really fond of chocolates, mangoes and her dogs.


About the artist:

Namrata Narendra is an architect and illustrator. Her interests lie in socio-cultural interfaces of cities and communities. She captures her questions and inclinations dealing with human behaviour

and politics through mediums of poetry, mapping and sketches on her blog.