Two Poems by Jhilam Chattaraj

Hampi, Karnataka

In Hampi,
streets are not interrupted
by delivery boys.

Apps are merely cosmetic.
Cyber rhizomes meld
into the antique sun.

Boulders rise from brambles —
quiet colossal remnants
of a jeweled empire.

Women — their hair,
heavy with the musk of jasmine
occupy smooth, winding roads.

Children wait for the school bus.
Men carry goats on bicycles.
Stones break into gods.

Everybody obeys to seasons of stillness.
There’s mercy in Hampi’s brick-red dust.
Faith fascinates life.



Once I saw papa
eat boiled papaya with bread —
raw, bland, edgy.

I could not fathom.
My teenage tongue
would not allow me to.

Now, I know.
Each day, after work,
anything edible is delectable.

Hunger is perhaps a burden.
A task to be settled
with the swiftness of fighter jets.

On days, when despair
creeps out of wrinkled bills,
I eat bread with mango pickle.

It’s late in the evening.
My fingers are fixed to the keyboard.
Sun storms erupt in my belly.

I order tandoori chicken,
lemon coriander soup,
and warm up last night’s tomato-rice.


Jhilam Chattaraj is an academic and poet based in Hyderabad, India. Her works have been published at Calyx, World Literature Today, Colorado Review, Asian Cha among others.