Three Poems by Shikha S. Lamba

A Prayer

If she could break every self-sacrificing bone in her body, she would.
If she could wring her body dry, drain herself out,
letting each drop reeking of compromise and over endurance
that had been lullabied into her brain since childhood,
preparing her for an inevitable future of no self, and everyone else,
she would.
She would strip her grandmothers of their self-proclaiming badges of honour,
she would strip her mother down to herself too,
and have them all stand bare in their own skins, devoid of the world’s expectations.
She would have them vomit out their words when they confessed
they were okay being married at sixteen, giving up their dreams,
because in the end at least I married a good man.
She would talk to these women from before her time who
married themselves young, and found themselves widowed young
with not a Rupee to their names, forever silencing their desires.
If she could, she would look her mother straight in the eye,
each time she was told take my life as an example,
see what all I’ve been through, and how well I’ve survived it all.
She would tell her mother of how she has begged the Gods to
not make her own life an example for her daughter to follow,
of how she wants her life to be a peace offering instead,
a handful of blossoming marigolds falling gently over time.



I know what’s happening when my head
throbs right down to my knuckles,
arguments slamming into each other between my ears.

The ache disintegrates all reasonable thought,
curdling any logical explanation for the pain.
All I hear are voices swimming in vertigo.

These voices won’t rest till they’ve spoken,
the chatter within the chatter,
an ongoing conversation of the mind within the brain.

I try to dull it with caffeine, tend to the exhaustion, pop a pill or two.
I try to let it fade, wither down like a punished child,
hoping it may dissolve my thoughts and quiet my mind.

But where’s the fun in that, my headache smiles,
pulsating around my skull, Where’s the fun in that.


The Mess We All Have

We can start with the mess in our lives
and if that proves to be too tedious,
start with a room. Clear the cobwebs
as you might clear the
intricate patterns of self-deprecating thoughts
you’ve built in your head. Dust it all away.
Those books never read, now piling on
dust from the air – they wait, choking
under a layer of forgetfulness.
How much do you forget about yourself daily?
You can start by wiping windows clean to see the world afresh,
start by folding away all that you choose not to wear – and then
ask yourself why you choose to live under covers where your body can hide.
In every dust-covered corner of your rooms, how many
dreams lie in solitude making homes with spiders?
If the mess in your head overwhelms,
start by clearing those corners first,
before you clear your mind.


Shikha S. Lamba is a jewellery designer and poet living in Hong Kong. She is also the co-editor of an online magazine, Coffee and Conversations. In love with all things creative, she has contributed poetry for various publications in Hong Kong, US, UK and India over the years. Passionate about raising awareness about women’s health and mental health issues through her writing, Shikha’s poems often touch on themes of feminism and social injustice. She admittedly lives a big portion of her life online and can be found on most social media sites for her jewellery, magazine and writing.

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