Meena Kandasamy is a twenty-three year old writer, poet and translator based in Chennai, India. Two of her poems Mascara and My Lover Speaks of Rape have won first prizes in pan-Indian poetry contests. Her poems have been published widely in India and abroad through journals like The Little Magazine, Indian Literature, Kavya Bharati, Cerebration, Indian Horizons, Sweet Magazine, Muse India, Great Works, Slow Trains and the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore.
She was the Editor of The Dalit, a bimonthly alternative English magazine of the Dalit Media Network in its first year of publication from 2001-2002. As a woman writer who dreams of a casteless India, she has contributed quite a few book chapters and research articles in various journals like Communalism Combat and Biblio.
She has translated more than a dozen books that run into over thousand five hundred pages. Significant among her translations are the writings and speeches of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal (Dalit Panthers of India) leader Thol. Thirumavalavan (Talisman: Extreme Emotions of Dalit Liberation (2003) and Uproot Hindutva: The Fiery Voice of the Liberation Panthers (2004), Samya, Kolkota). She has also translated the poetry and fables of Tamil Eelam poet Kasi Anandan.
She is a contributing editor to the literary e-zine www.museindia.com and considers herself lucky to be one of twenty-one woman writers from South Asia selected for the Zubaan Anthology of Young Women Writing to be published in February 2007. Having majored in Linguistics and English Literature, she is pursuing her Ph.D. specializing in language teaching, technical translation and other deeply boring, easily forgotten topics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her first collection of poems, Touch, with a foreword by Kamala Das, has been published by Peacock Books (Frog Books, Mumbai) in August 2006.
My lover speaks of rape
Flaming green of a morning that awaits rain
And my lover speaks of rape through silences,
Swallowed words and the shadowed tones
Of voice. Quivering, I fill in his blanks.
Green turns to unsightly teal of hospital beds
And he is softer than feathers, but I fly away
To shield myself from the retch of the burns
Ward, the shrill sounds of dying declarations,
The floral pink-white sad skins of dowry deaths.
Open eyes, open hands, his open all-clear soul . . .
Colorless noon filters in through bluish glass
And coffee keeps him company. She chatters
Away telling her own, every woman’s story;
He listens, like for the first time. Tragedy in
Bridal red remains a fresh, flushing bruise across
Brown-yellow skinscapes, vibrant but made
Muted through years of silent, waiting skin.
I am absent. They talk of everyday assault that
Turns blue, violet and black in high-color symphony.
hands, his open all-clear soul . . .
Blues blend to an unforgiving metropolitan black
And loneliness seems safer than a gentle night
In his arms. I return from the self-defence lessons:
Mistrust is the black-belted, loose white mechanism
Of survival against this groping world and I am
A convert too. Yet, in the way of all life, he could try
And take root, as I resist, and yield later, like the earth.
Open eyes, open hands, his open all-clear soul . . .
Has he learnt to live my life? Has he learnt never to harm?
A breathless counsel
curiosity will catch you dear for you are a writer and it is your license to startle the world with a hundred thousand words instead of a dazzling smile or those occasional winks and i don’t want to probe for after all you are renouncing all the time and i don’t want to stop you racing against life but i have been there and i have returned and i know what happens when it takes hold of a woman yes i know what happens then but i will not tell you the answers i have sealed my lips i have learnt how not to say what i must be saying somehow i don’t want to be fledging you in security for what happens with all my parenting will only be a compromise darling child instead i let you free i want you to ask the questions i want you to prick and not polish your wounds i will let you to be hurt in the face of the world i want you to learn more than what you want to learn sometimes i feel i want you to get hurt badly hurt and bleed before the world and then i shall sit back and feel my work is done for once you have known what pain is then you shall know how to preserve the fringes of happiness i want you to be alone in the ravenous world where you never know what happens next just so that you will no longer find routine to be so despicable and amidst that pervading fuzziness you shall long for an anchor for all your dreams only realizing much later that you are your safety you are your ultimate but till then you might screech and scream but when you retain your temperament you will find that life will always lie waiting like an hungry beast and at each turn you take i wish you learn the greater horrors and now i confess darling i want you hurt because i want to watch you fight and fight and fight i want you to pull together those moonbeams of hope i want you to throb precariously i want you to be living on the edge i want you to learn the thousand one ways in which you can melt the boundaries of saturation called death and the emptiness of life and the fidgetiness of what might be called love i want you to lose i want you to win but some day i want you to be free