Monday, March 20, 2017

My Resting Bitch Face - Lydia Ralte

My scowl and
my piercing eyes are my weapons of choice
My clenched mouth,
my uninviting brows,
They are armour against the world,
armour in a world of catcalls and whistles
of uninvited appreciation of my body, my breasts, my legs
in their professional business skirt,
because a skirt is still a skirt,
and it has always carried a symbol,
a thought of a golden triangle between feminine legs, a thought of inferiority.
A stigma, an insult that a son passes to his son,
Professional or otherwise, a skirt is still a skirt.
And an uninviting ugly face becomes a weapon, a haven.
Against uninvited wandering eyes that talk to your chest and ass, instead of searching for your soul in your eyes.

Lydia Ralte describes herself as a "weirdly fun person. Proud Feminist. Awkward friend and loyal daughter." She recently completed her M.Phil. in English literature from Mizoram University, and was awarded an O for her thesis, and will probably go on to do her Ph.D. She has been writing poetry for several years.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Road - Sarah Aineh

The road’s bumpy. And somehow, it seems like it doesn't really lead anywhere. There are plants all around but they look like they could be poison ivy or some such poisonous plant…they look anything but inviting. And plants are supposed to give some feeling of peace…or even perhaps normalcy. Because they live - they’re living things. But these plants don’t seem to breathe. In fact, they’re somewhat sinister, almost as if they’re telling you to get out of there.

If you know you have to go somewhere, what do you do? You go. Even if the road’s bumpy and the plants aren't friendly. And it doesn't seem as if it leads to anywhere. A speck or a dot is all that can be seen. It’s a lot bigger, of course, but from where you’re standing the truth is its just a speck. You could keep telling yourself it’s a mere speck and return to familiarity. Or ‘home’ as everyone likes to call it. You could go home.

Home. A safe haven. But you left it behind. You left it behind knowing full well that you were… well, leaving it behind.

You could go ahead instead. After all, you left home for it.

For that speck. The plants seem to be saying, “No matter how close you get, it's not gonna get any bigger.”

How many rules did you break to get in that damn forest? You broke the law. You went against convention. You chose your own path. You picked up your belongings and said goodbye to the life that others who hardly know you etched out for you. You watched your friends drown in the black sea, and even though they said, “Come on in, the water’s great,” you said, “No, I can’t swim.” They can’t really swim either but they try every day to convince themselves that they can. Because the other fish keep telling them they can. And maybe one day they will swim. One day they’ll swim as well as the other fish and they’ll look just like the other fish. One day you won’t be able to tell the difference. You decided then that you’d rather be you.

Your friends didn’t succeed in stopping you. So no plant is gonna stop you now. The road itself seems to be saying stop too. It’s the bumpiest road one has ever been. Every stone trips you. Some stones don’t but they still seem to want to. You realize these stones aren’t so different from the plants. They too seem to jeer at you, their intentions are definitely not good.

Stones were always present. Even when you were small, pebbles would get in your shoe and they’d hurt your feet. Then as you got bigger the stones got bigger too. Yet they still made their way inside your shoe. You knew then that wherever you went stones would always follow.

Sometimes you wouldn’t mind too much if a stone hurt you because you kinda had the feeling you must have done something to deserve it. But most of the time they wounded you for no reason. They wounded you because you strayed away from the main stream. Because you were alone when you shouldn’t be. Because you refused to swim. So you decided to leave. To get away from stones. Even though you knew there’d be bigger stones where you went.

And even though the stones hurt you and the plants continue to insult you, you’re grateful that you’ve come here. You’re grateful for what the magician told you.

He was loved by everybody, for reasons of their own. Some loved him because he gave them food, some because of his healing potions that saved their lives, some simply loved him because of the security they felt when he was around. Some even loved him because they thought they were supposed to love him. In fact, a majority loved him for that last reason.

You loved him secretly. Others would brag that they loved him the most. Sometimes they’d hold competitions to see who loved him the most. You didn’t want to be a part of it. So if anyone asked if you loved him, you’d say “No.”

But he gave you a gift. A secret gift. He said “You’re special, so im giving you this” And he handed you an instrument. “But I don’t know how to play it,” you argued. Then he looked straight into your eyes, right when you thought you didn’t have eyes worth looking into. And he said, “Yes you do. You can play it better than anyone. And one day everyone will want to hear you play it.” You believed him beyond a shadow of doubt. Then you tried to play it and something beautiful came out of it, you rushed to play it for the people you knew. But they couldn’t hear a thing. You couldn’t understand how it was that only you could hear it.        

So you asked the magician why this was. He said “You haven’t been to the Secret Garden.” He turned to leave. “I want to go there!” you shouted. He smiled and said, “Then go.”

 And even though you didn’t think you’d ever find the way to this place, somehow you did. An unattractive road not tread on by many. And yet it was the road you had to take to reach your destination.

Your destination.

Sarah Aineh (Lalrinkimi)  grew up in Pune, Maharashtra and  is presently based at Khawzawl district in Mizoram as an MPS (Mizoram Police Service) officer. She describes herself as an amateur singer, poet, and air guitarist, as well as a lover of the road and the sea. She is also one of only a handful of Mizo creative writers who have published works in English. In 2014, her first novel Jo's Journal was published by Notion Press, which was recently followed up, in February 2017, with her second, Zeb and the Girl.  Both are available on Amazon.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Why I Write (and other poems) - Jake Hruaixela Khiangte

Why I Write

Why do you write?
they asked me once,
though absurd the premise
and childish maybe
I gave an answer nobly.

Why, you ask?
Do you ask the sky
why it's blue?
Or the winds
why it blows reinless?

It's because it is
the way it's meant,
and that too I must
write my own laments
like anyone should.

So I answer you now,
of the question you raised;
Why do I write?
I write because I must,
because I must.



Death came knocking at my door
garbed in black from head to toe.
He dragged his frame across the floor
and whispered to me, "I am no foe."

I cowered, my back against the wall,
as my final moments passed me by
I heard the others and their call,
and dared to ask my waiter why.

He showed me things I saw before,
From baby steps to love's first kiss,
to hedonistic practices, and much more
I wished the ethereal keeper to miss.

"Come now, there is nothing here
that may alter your given fate,
There is no harm - nothing to fear,
only to rest and only to wait."

"Wait, for the love of the Virgin,
wait," I gasped as I fought him back.
He showed his face; a perpetual grin -
a visage of grey in a sea of black.

He proceeded to stare into my soul,
and I saw therein the ultimate flaw -
He was merciful, yet he is foul
to the living and to life's flow.

"I am a necessity, endless and kind,"
a cold voice spoke as the day proceeded,
"You fear me and it makes you blind
to the little things like deeds and misdeeds."

"I bring no suffering, I bring you peace,
yet you fail again and time again
to understand that there is peace
after one's last sun and one's last rain."

"No more of the petty wars you fought,
no more of the disease that eat away
your heart at  every waking thought;
No more lonely nights, no more day."

"Only rest, my son, only rest  -
For you are tired, you have endured.
Let it go now, it's for the best,
You are now free, you are now cured."

I got up and walked  to him,
a pale man he was - from head to toe,
Death smiled as if on a whim
and whispered again, "I am no foe."



She is lost.
Lost in the deep pool
of his eyes
that shine like beacons
on a starry night.

He found her.
She found him.
Like two vortexes that meet
and disperse
they found each other.

Now we watch.
And we wait.
For them to fail again
like all mortals who dream

eventually do.


Jake Hruaixela Khiangte has a postgraduate degree in Zoology from Mizoram University, and is presently preparing for his combined service exams. He says he became interested in poetry "by luck" in high school when he came across Kipling's If  and read it through ten times for his viva the next day. Sadly, he couldn't recite it the following day so the teacher made him write it out ten times. That got him hooked on poetry, and he's been writing ever since.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Rewind - John Chhana

Three men removed the heavy marble stone and placed it aside, then went on to dig out the coffin that had housed him for eternity. Mourners arrived by the throng, the pastor read from the Bible and the coffin was taken to the morgue. There his corpse was removed and carefully inspected, after which the doctor came in to check on him, and eventually, to pronounce him alive. It was his birthday.

Seventy-six years, twenty four days, thirty two minutes and seventeen seconds, said the doctor, the cancer will be gone in five years or so. That was how much time he had left. He shrugged, got into his birthday suit, the black one, and was pushed out on a wheelchair. His family was there – the wife and the twins, both in their teens and they cried when they saw him. He said nothing, for he was but only one day into the world. There was the house, which he would go on to give to another person by also paying that person, and there was the dog which had been born on the same day as him, and now had twelve years or so left.

The years passed, and with that his memories left him, along with much of what he already knew. Fortunately, the pain in his side had gone as well; things were looking up. His children grew dumber and moved from college to high school, while he got a job at an office but then got fired because he now knew too little. When the twins grew smaller, he found that his problems got bigger and they had to have their diapers changed. Eventually, their time was up and they were sent back into their mother’s womb to the sound of joy and laughter. They had died and it was the first happiest day of his life.

In a year, he and his wife entered the church where the pastor pronounced them single man and single woman. They kissed and removed the rings from each other’s fingers; the second happiest day of his life. They had some time left together after that though, and they gradually fell out of love until that fateful day when he said goodbye to her forever. His brain grew duller every moment, and just like his children, he moved from college to high school, when in time, he knew nothing and the seventy-six years had all but passed.

And so, on that day, he too, was sent back into the womb. His father, who had been born miraculously out of a car accident only two days ago, gave him one last look, smiled happily and said, “You shall no longer be called John.”

On a bigger scale and long story short, the government decided it was time to wage war to give away their independence and one brave man thought it time to do away with the electric bulb. People kept erasing all the good books during all this time, while some experts were hired to unmake every last thing- skyscrapers and bridges were taken down. Millions awoke from their slumber on the fields of war, only to jump right into the fray with rifles at the ready. People were released from prison after which they brought back others into the world. Trees were returned to the forests where they stand for ages and all the minerals were taken back to where they belonged. Cities receded, the waters became pure and birds returned to their place in the sky. A great wall was demolished and the barbarian hordes returned to their humble beginnings.

In the end, a man walking on all fours removed his spear from a stag, bringing it to life. Big, monstrous creatures began to roam the earth again and the human was all but a tiny speck in the universe, as it always was. When all these things did come to die, the one perpetual thing undid the earth itself and roamed the void, because for Him there would be no beginning. 

John Chhana
lives in Shillong and has an unexpectedly scientific background for a young creative writer, being a postgraduate in Biochemistry. He is also a talented artist and graphic designer, as well as being interested in photography and videography. He recently made a no-budget Christian short film, doing the script-writing, acting and cinematography with the help of close friends.

He won second place with a very creative, tongue-in-cheek piece on headhunting in a short-story writing competition I had the good fortune to be on the judging panel of earlier this year.  I am delighted to be able to feature one of his writings here.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Poems - Hannah Lalhlanpuii


Sometimes it is easier to hide under the covers,
Than to admit how I miss his light.
Sometimes the space he left is too wide,
To fill it up with poetry.
I remember him at night,
The feel of his jacket,
The scar on his chin.
I fashioned myself a shield,
Out of his memories.
To protect myself,
From spilling a tear,
From breaking down.
Come back,
For a breath, for a beat,
For a day, for a year,
For me,
For us.


Library Reverie 

Between the ticks of the clock,
Somewhere along the tap of keyboards,
In the soft whirling of the fan,
I could hear you.
Projections on the wall take your form,
Your footprints embroidered the floor,
I hallucinated that you walked in through the door.
My concentration is undoubtedly poor.

Is it the boredom that pulled you in here?
Or is this lonely heart beating too loud for you to sit still?
For, here you are.
You are here with all your breaths, your thoughts and everything more than just you in flesh.
You dragged in everything with you -
Your smell, your thoughts and wants,
As if the sight of you alone is not enough to kill the heavy air.
You were so close,
I could smell the human sweat on you,
I could see your veins pumping beneath your skin.

Eager hands reaching out,
Watch out for that chair,
Come closer.

Then a drop of a pen flicks you away.

Hannah Lalhlanpuii is presently working on an M.Phil. in English literature at the University of Hyderabad. She writes poetry both in English and Mizo.