Sanjukta Dasgupta – WE Kamala Das Poetry Award ’20

Sita’s Sister

Sita’s sister was a good woman  
She belonged to just one man  
Marriage, vermilion powder, bangles  
Dangled from her slender arms  
Her husband was her God, 
Her Lord and Master  
 Her stifled breath, her sealed lips 
 He was the fierce tiger she the gentle lamb 
Eye contact was a total taboo 
“How dare you stare at me ”  he roared 
“I’ll scoop out your eyes you brazen wife”  
 Sita’s countless sisters- what were their names? 
Rita, Mita, Arpita, Sumita, Rinita 
Lolita, Bonita, Anita, Sunita, Sucheta… 
Thousands and thousands of Sita’s sisters 
Programmed parrots  
Pathetic puppets 
Remote controlled robots  
Sita’s sisters watched in silence 
Sita’s sisters were deaf and dumb  
Sita’s sisters shut their eyes 
Sita’s sisters had eyeless holes  
Sita’s sisters cried out to their Mother Earth 
“Remember our sister Sita’s suicide, 
 Innocent Sita’s traumatic trials 
O mother rescue us as you rescued Sita” 
But alas the earth did not split open for Sita’s sisters 
The incessant unbearable cries of Sita’s sad sisters  
Had turned their Mother Earth to senseless stone!

Lakshmi Unbound – A Soliloquy

Don’t, don’t, call me Lakshmi 
I can’t ever be Lakshmi 
I want to fly kites 
I want to climb trees 
I want to read and write 
I want to sing and dance 
I want to climb mountains 
I want to swim in the seas 
I want to do what I like 
Whenever I like 
I want to be mad 
I want to be bad 
I can’t be in corners of four walled spaces 
I can’t be in eddies 
I want to flow in the mainstream 
I want to be in whirlpools 
I want to roam and run 
I want to eat fruits from trees 
I want to drink to the last drop 
The juice of grapes 
I want to cook for myself 
I want to dream 
I want to pace the rainbow arch 
In a spectacular hallucination 
I can’t be Lakshmi 
I will ever fail this endurance test 
I have to speak 
I have to cry 
I have to scream 
I have to laugh 
I have to swim in rivers 
I cannot swim in pools 
I want to fly like an eagle 
I want to glide like a feather 
 I will forever fail this endurance test 
I have flung off the Sellotape on my lips 
I will sing the freedom song 
I may not be Lakshmi 
But I am 
I just can’t be Lakshmi 
I have to break the silence 
My wealth is not jewels 
My wealth is my gypsy spirit 
I can’t be Lakshmi 
I can’t be good, sane, silent Lakshmi 
I can’t be the Angel in someone’s house 
I don’t want to be a disembodied spirit 
I don’t want to be Lakshmi 
I am Alakshmi 
Trap me if you can! 

Dr.Sanjukta Dasgupta, Professor and Former Head, Dept of English and Former Dean, Faculty of Arts, Calcutta University has been the recipient of the Fulbright postdoctoral fellowship and Fulbright Scholar in Residence grant, Australia, India Council fellowship, Gender Studies fellowship grant, University of British Columbia, among others, She has been invited to participate in conferences and teach/lecture at universities in the USA, UK, Europe, Canada and Australia. She is the President, Executive Council, of the Indian Poetry and Performance Library, ICCR, Kolkata. In 2018, Sahitya Akademi New Delhi nominated her as the Convenor of the English Language Board and member of the General Council. In 2018, she taught in Poland, as Visiting Professor, at the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland. She received the IWSFF Women Achievers Award, Kolkata in 2019 and the WE- Kamala Das Poetry Award in 2020.

Dasgupta is a poet, short story writer, critic and translator and she has twenty one authored/edited published books till date.