Gertrude Lamare is a young plaintive poet from Shillong

Literary Editor Ananya S. Guha’s note: These are three poems by GERTRUDE LAMARE a young poet from Shillong born and now teaching in a New Delhi College. Simple, plaintive but also wrathful her poems display a search for identity in a pan Indian context. And how can she forget her roots in Shillong?

 Nationed

Thought dies on the lap of fear

And words ache on lips of the utterer,

Today,

When the Nation stands knee-deep in blood,

Spilt on ashes of unknown faces,

In blood,

Splattered on your hungry imagination.

But who am I to speak of your greatness,

Your dignity?

For I am but a piece of life

Written, numbered and registered

In the folds of your fabric

With my mouth shut,

My eyes open–

To an identity–

I-N-D-I-A-N

A name I tick in boxes on a page

A term underlined in transit,

An idea made of air,

Which my fingers, mind and heart cannot seem to catch.

I-N-D-I-A-N

A title planted by one law

Cancelled by another,

A religion cudgelling me to worship

Its terror,

Its terrorizing plastic soul.

~

 

Who We Are

I thought I was human

Until you arrived and called me Girl

Wrapping me tenderly with ideas and violence.

I thought I was human

Until you wrote me down on paper

And said I had a name- Indian.

I thought I was human

Then you came and kept me in a box for safety,

And told me I was more, I was Tribe.

I thought we were all human

But you cartographed our bodies

Into “zones of exception” and called them States.

But under the tall shadows of your madness,

We seek the human and its green leaves of hope,

Of love, of togetherness,

Until I, we and you finally become human too.

~

 

Shillong

You are an idea

Hanging stubborningly between the unconscious and the conscious

Between history and contemporaneity

Embedding yourself deep within our troubled souls.

 

 You are a reflection

Evolving rapidly into textures and smells

Into shapes and sounds

So frightening to us in its unfamiliarity.

 

 You are a song

Weaving emotions of pleasure and pain

Desire and rejection

In those who have tasted you for a lifetime, or even a day.

 

 You are a spectacle

Captivating so innocently, passions and greed 

Of wanting artists and skilled traders

Finding your place in postcards, conference rooms and development plans.

 

 But why are we jettisoning you despairing poetry?

For you are merely the place of broken rivers and crumbling hills

The country of growing castles and starving huts.

For you are only the defenseless possession

Embellished for the world

Raped by us and them,

Yesterday and today. 

 ~