English Translation: Sanika Dhakephalkar

Poems by Chhaya Koregaonkar





To plant a tree inside a fence
is not to promise
the safety of its flower.

These are buds scratched from wombs
even before they could ever become flowers.

Or say, it is through the Khairlanji massacre
that terror is sowed
inside a woman’s whole, bare womb;
it isn’t as though this age of science
has seen the invention of manure that
can claim to protect these petals.

Maybe, Tathagata even
would need to open his eyes to search,
to comb through all the ghettos
for the Isa Gautami who remains.

It only follows then, that Savitri’s daughters
must embrace wisdom now

Before learning to draw letters in dust,
their hands must now bear the arms
for the uninterrupted existence of woman!



A poem mustn’t cross the path of people.

To descend into a crowded street, straight

into the commotion of humans

and then to sing songs of Kabir

is simply unacceptable.


This exercise

is as comical as

releasing a rainbow

in a school for the blind.


To set sail in a ship of words

and embark on a tour of the world

is no less than a monstrous cognizable offense–



A poem should reside

safe and sound

in a nest of words;

Instead of associating

a poem with bread,

find the verses of those

who write poems

for bread

and lose yourself.










Ekach Pyala

Poem never is

A burp of contentment following a meal.

Poem means piles.

It is what keeps

a body rising from its stalk, spinning

in an endless rhythm of agony.

Still, the poem is indispensable,

like a womb for a foetus.




How many years have passed since you opened the well?

The period blood has still not been washed

While we were tracing your school’s

alphabet of equality

generations have turned, slates have broken…

the oozing did not stop.


Sitting across the chest of the constitution, 

they unscrupulously strip

our mothers and sisters.


Battlefields are made of women’s bodies

and the histories of impotent masculinity are written

with the blood of Khairlanji.



It won’t suffice only

to throw open the well

A new well must be dug

to bury the hidebound successors of Manu.

Otherwise, even messengers of peace will have no choice

but to resort to arms!




You’re listening, aren’t you?
To the sound of unbridled horses’ hooves?
Before these noxious hooves
can trample
The tender dawn
your little one holds inside her little fist,
emerge from the smoke of the stove.
Look past the threshold of your house—
How the new century dazzles!
Let this gleaming flood collapse
over your body
But be steadfast and tend
to the tiny, bright
spark of your pride.
They now have full knowledge
of the span of your wings.
Don’t let your ankles be tangled
In the anklets of society.
Don’t even be fooled by the carrot of women’s reservations;
This carrot is but a lute in the hands
of these master tricksters.
Manu has materialized again.
He is clothed in a saffron cassock—
examine his face closely.
Do this now:
Understand the global script
of the birth of an era;
Don’t bide your time waiting for a Jotiba.
Become your own Savitri,
write down
a whole new alphabet.


Image courtesy: Amina Aminus, Wendy Stavrianos, 1987


Chhaya Koregaonkar is a published Marathi poet. Akantpriya Majhaa and Ek Avakash Maajhhi are her published collections of poems. She is active through Ambedkarite movements and Women Empowerment programme in Maharashtra.

Sanika Dhakephalkar is a Masters graduate in English from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She is a poet, a painter, and a feminist through and through. She speaks, sings, and loves in several languages.

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