The Goddess of All Things by Aishwarya Roy

Durga Maa
Courtesy : Sneha Mitra

In Afghanistan, it has never been acceptable for women to write poetry on any subject. But to write to a lover has been considered a sin.

With henna wings on bruised shoulders, she composes a Landay, with forbidden erotic words. And dumps it in the Amu Darya.
The soft folds of her shawl, and the sharp edges of the pocket-knife she needs to carry, have reshaped themselves to become the soft s’s and sharp f’s of her poem.

/my man lies on the floor of a roofless room,
red liquid spills from his chest, like a thousand roses in bloom/

— the river reads.

Somewhere in Kolkata, sunlight filters in through the frosted glass. Dinners end up in broken plates. Warriors are born in 1 BHK flats, long before in Warfield.

A transgender mother’s body looks like a half-knit sweater, with oppression, the colour of her receding hairline, pinned on her thighs.

/some existences aren’t even legal until they go through a surgery/

She immerses her Durga in the holy Ganga, but the Asura stays back.

In Komarapalayam, dye textile mills stream down water-colour paintings. A grandmother tells the little children, they are rainbows descending from the skies, from a foreign territory, onto the glistening backs of sleepy water buffaloes.

As they mug up the definition of water pollution for their next EVS exam, a tiny little fish floats dead near the banks.

/it took 3.5 billion years for life to evolve into something smart enough to destroy itself/

In the temple town of Chidambaram, an abusive man eased his nervous wife downstream, for ceremonial cleansing. He prayed to his gods for deliverance from his sins, and when he dipped his head underwater,

The Landay found passage to his lungs,
The floating Durga tugged at his long white beard,
The textile rainbows formed a bleached pattern on his skin,
And the tiny little fish settled under his bloated toenail.

/the river that caressed a sapling into a blooming flower, once also drowned an entire forest/

Aishwarya Roy