Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Dinner Table

(Lately, I have been dabbling with Spoken Word poetry, and here is a recent one)

A divorce would have curbed
the bickering at 60.
Trust me, a divorce would have curbed
This bickering at 60.

The day’s follies
with too spicy a rasam
and an unsealed pickle bottle
douses her mutterings of cardiac pain
she is rambling, anyway, I can hear him think
from across the dinner table

And as the daily ritual of muttering
Under the breath begin (that I have long back stopped caring about),
The dinner table is filled with bowls of hatred,
anxiety, disappointments,
dreams gone to the drains,
the day’s weight of waiting for nothing,
and the angry faces of the mundane and monotony
And suddenly they talk about going to the grave, my mum and dad
My curious ears perk up-
A family trip is foreign, you see

I fidget in my seat, remembering Ammi cackling
to taxidrivers where she is from
the one time I took her to Hyderabad
She actually told the auto-wallah
she wouldn’t trust him
As she’s alone with her daughter in a new city
I wriggle myself away from the clasps of that
Embarrassing Memory
My mother… she’s still learning
How to talk at 60.

I see her picking words
Like napkins, one by one,
Pressing and folding them
Until they are fit to be placed at the family’s dinner table
And she swallows her words in silence,
sending each syllable down her foodpipe
The years of marriage have taught her one phrase though,
and she asks me that all the time, “What would your dad say?”
and I want to ask her, “what do You say?”
and she asks me back, “what will I tell him?”
You see, the anxiety demon inside her head
makes her cave in even before
My father sets the question paper
And I give her the answers and she’s not even
Memorizing them.

Her anxiety is the reason I never run late
Her anxiety is the reason I don’t talk back to my father
Her anxiety is the reason I eat when asked to
Her anxiety is the reason I have always hated him
Her suffering time has
sharpened my claws that I once
chewed with silence.

Everytime I wonder why she is more
Mother and wife than a doctor
I also wonder if I was the tumour
Growing inside her she never operated upon,
Letting me consume her whole…

Tonight, words fell thunder, and tears fail
to douse my hot flushed cheeks
I watch nonplussed the drama
Wearing Ammi’s night gown
So afraid I might turn into her one day

But for now, all I know is that,
I the fevicol,
I the bridge,
I the in between,
I the conjunction
is tired of holding up,
Holding together Mercury and Pluto,
fire and ice,
love and anger,
screeches and silence… all under one single roof, 
that I scream.
I scream to the people who’ve been deaf so long.
Knowing they’d not hear me, I tell them

A divorce would have curbed
the bickering at 60
because love, here, in this house,
is neither warm nor smells like
a family dinner.
For me, love smells of
On my Ammi’s pillow

For me, love smells of
On my Ammi’s pillow.


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  2. Dear Shivapriya Ganapathy,
    Your poetry is vivid and intelligent. It blends narrative with a strong sense of affect. We are launching a small journal called The Wrong Review. Please mail us a few of your best pieces to if you are interested. You can check our website at and our facebook page