Vasco de Gama,
I shake hands with you
Across time and space

Do you know
why
This time
I welcome you?

To fight back and
Call out “Quit India”

Each wave on this beach
Brings a loud throb from the
Heart of the Indian Ocean
Sighs from history

We had pepper
You came…

Pepper that preserved
European meat

Burnt our eyes
And insides
For centuries

So much
for the trade with you

The sun
a witness
To your arrival
And the aftermath

Waters folding over folds
Somersaulting tides

Tales hidden within
Layers on layers
Spilling over
Bleeding on the sands and

Washing away at once

Here at Kappad
I see
The legendary black crow
Diving from the skies and
Lifting the scepter of
Vasco de Gama
Off the shores

The frothy ocean
churns out
morrows of freedom.

 

Sukrita Paul Kumar

Sukrita Paul Kumar

Born and brought up in Kenya, Sukrita Paul Kumar is a noted poet and critic, teaching literature in Delhi currently. Formerly, a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, she is an Honorary Fellow of the International Writing Programme, University of Iowa (USA), as also of Hong Kong Baptist University and Cambridge Seminars. She is honorary faculty at the Durrell Centre at Corfu (Greece). At present she holds the Aruna Asaf Ali Chair at the University of Delhi. She has published several collections of poems and many critical books including Dream Catcher, Without Margins, Folds of Silence, Narrating Partition, The New Story, Man, Woman and Androgyny and Ismat, Her Life, Her Times. As Director of a UNESCO project, she edited a volume of Urdu short stories in English, Mapping Memories. In 2006, she published, as its Chief Editor, Cultural Diversity in India (MacMillan India) prescribed at Delhi University. While her latest co-edited volume is Speaking For Herself: An Anthology of Asian Women’s Writings (Penguin India), she has also recently published Poems Come Home (HarperCollins) & Rowing Together (Rajkamal), bilingual books of poems with Gulzar and a fellow Hindi poet, Savita Singh. Her translations of fiction have been published by Katha and National Book Trust (Stories of Joginder Paul and Sleepwalkers). A recipient of many prestigious fellowships, she has lectured in many universities in India and abroad. Her paintings have been exhibited and published in several journals. She has been the Guest Editor of several journals in India and abroad, including Crossing Over (University of Hawaii), “Muse India” (Indian Literatures) and “Margaret Lawrence Review.”

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