Rukhaya MK – WE Gifted Poet Award ’20


They hang
             Hovering over me
         Thinking I’ll give up my life
             But I smile at myself
        How can I give up something
          that I threw away
              eight years back?
             Someone once called me:
    An open book, with pages falling out.
           Today I tear off all the pages
                   as they rise
               And form a kite that
                 flees, flows, flies
                no strings attached
                       loving, living
                     its four corners.


When I got married
they told me from now on
you belong to your hubby’s home;
and when I went there,
they always spoke of
where I came from,
flinging me forever
into never-ending
Cretan paradoxes of belonging.

I am always
going home
and still waiting for the day;
when I will be
coming home.

It is that time of the month again
when the life spills out of me,
and my body wins over my mind;
when each woman is shoved aside
like an oozing wound,
an atrophy for the likes of mankind,
and I am made to feel guilty for
for someone else's wrong.

All the perfumes of Arabia will
not wash these hands of mine.
Time when woman is deemed unholy
and imprisoned in immanence.

If you cannot sanction my disease,
can you sanction my death?
It began –
once below a time
when I found a huge stain
on my white-and-white,
and mom said: You have become big,
from now play only with your
cousin (sisters),
And when there was a discussion,
they hushed me up saying I was little.

I have still not reconciled:
From the girl given birth by a woman
to this woman suddenly born of a girl.


Here I am-
in my Agra Fort existence
where I gaze towards my past
from a framed present,
of the lock that
you fed me,
and the key
I could not swallow.
I shake my branches

but only
withered leaves fall
and turn words
as they touch the ground.
You try to soil my roots,
as I try to strike roots
in another soil.

Rukhaya MK, awarded the WE Gifted Poet Award ’20, has won accolades for her writing at national and international levels, including ones from the New Book Society of India, Ekphrasis India, and the Forgotten Writers’ Foundation, Egypt. Rukhaya is the recipient of the Reuel International Prize for Criticism 2016, as a promising upcoming critic. She was chosen by Yahoo as one of the Top 1000 voices on an international level for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013 for her critical writings. In 2016, she was listed as IWI’s Incredible Women Writers of India. She was recently catalogued among the best late 20th century essayists like Arun Shourie, M.J. Akbar, Pankaj Mishra , Arundhati Roy, Amit Chaudhuri, A.K. Ramanujan

 She currently works as Asst. Professor of English at Nehru College, Kasaragod, Kerala.