Sunday, September 1, 2019




Definition of de-light,
Tell me,
Why are you feared?
Is it because
In your depths lie encrusted
Shards of painful revelations
So fiercely true
That can pierce open
A volley of emotions,
when unleashed,
Can cause
The carefully sewn profile
Of civic pretence
To be ripped apart,
A plethora of reactions


When I was born —
A girl child,
The grand-elders of the family agreed upon for me,
A name as per the astrological charts confirmed.
‘Twas a wonderful name, no doubt,
A name that held serene beauty,
But what my mother wanted for her first-born
Was something beyond the aesthetics.

All through her trimesters, she had only prayed
That her daughter (yes, she knew it would be me)
Be blessed with knowledge and wisdom
Not just of the intellect but even beyond.

My mother, however, being nothing but
that breed of a daughter-in-law
conditioned to mute nodding whenever
the grand-elders pronounced an edict,
The prayer remained a silent wish
she carried into the labour room —
My mother, whose name meant 'achievement'.

So, when the unheard voice managed in a whisper
To utter the wishful name,
The grand-elders deemed it sacrilege.

“Remember, it’s a girl you have birthed,
Society expects a girl to be beautiful, not wise.”

“Remember, it’s a girl you have birthed,
who must, one day, cross our threshold to move
into her husband’s home.
A girl with brains is a girl undone.”

“Remember,” said a stern-eyed matriarch,
“Men take beauty; men don’t take intellect.”

“Remember what you are now.
For the name your parents gave you,
What have you achieved here but the kitchen!"

Thus, the cry of the 'achiever' ignored,
An absolutistic statement was made —
“Beauty, the baby’s name will be,
Beauty, she will grow up to be,
And beauty, her tool, a husband for her to find.”

What brought about the moment of catharsis
Neither of my parents can recall,
But just as the priest was about to declare
the commanded name,
My father, a shadow till then, spoke out loud and clear.

“She’s my daughter and I shall name her what I will.
I refuse to comply
With your unreasonable decree.”

People say it was my father’s audacity
To make his voice heard in a tone more solid than the elders’
that gave me my name.
But I believe ‘twas Love —
The love my father had for my mother
That triggered his voice.
And, over the hollering of generations of bias,
Came to achieve, a mother’s silent love
That dared to dream for her daughter
Not only a simple name but also a destiny
That went beyond
The acceptable.


Take a breathing break, take a breathing break
Heed to the comforting feeling of being awake
To the monotonous dictates of moneyed pressure
Say nay, though not necessarily altogether.

When shuffling your feet in a queue eternal
Or stuck in traffic, the clock ticking away to infernal
When kitchen fires work to profusion
And the not-so-neighbourly next-doors sound to intrusion.

When data exceeds the functions of Excel sheets
And our phone makes too much irritating bleats
Say nay, though not necessarily altogether
To the monotonous dictates of moneyed pressure.

And heed to the comforting feeling of being awake
By taking a breathing break, taking a breathing break
And heed to the comforting feeling of being awake
By taking a breathing break, taking a breathing break.

Wake up to breathing, breathe into sleep
Breathe in the aroma of morning readiness deep
The pain of depression and fatigue unfortunate
Breathe with love as a friendly smile or motherly hug affectionate.

Breathe in music, breathe in colours
Breathe in the nothingness that pervades the Universe
The favourable do breathe in as do the adverse
But now take a breather for reading this verse.


VIDYA SHANKAR is a poet, writer, blogger, motivational speaker, English language teacher, instructional designer, content developer, and yoga enthusiast. An active member of poetry circles, her work has appeared in national and international literary platforms and anthologies. Awarded 'Star Poet' by Storizen Magazine, she has played a major role in the release of Madras Hues Myriad Views anthology. Her first book of poems The Flautist of Brindaranyam, is a collaborative effort with her photographer husband, Shankar Ramakrishnan. Herself a ‘book’ at the Human Library, Vidya Shankar lives a life of purpose by using the power of words, both written and spoken, to create awareness about environmental and social issues, mental health and the need to break the shackles of an outdated society.Her social media handles are: Blogger: The Quintessential Word ( ) Instagram:

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