Manasa writes because she has so much to tell. Until quite recently, she was only a reader. Now that she has discovered that she actually enjoys writing, she just cannot put the pen (or the keyboard) down. She tweets actively @imbindassM about her multiple interests including literature, cinema, Bollywood, television, narrative journalism, languages, art and fashion. She is currently pursuing a bachelors degree in English literature from Women’s Christian College, Chennai.

A Saree

The six-yard garment
Restricts my movement.
I nearly slip and
Fall on my face.
My hand keeps going
To my waist,
A constant worry
Plagues my mind –
“Am I showing too much skin?”
I see someone leering at me.
Nervously, my hand moves
To my blouse,
Are my straps showing?
A lady next to me
Covers herself fully
With the pallu.
I do the same thing,
Feel relieved.
Looking outside with new eyes
I can only see ‘restriction’
Written on all the
Sari-clad women.
Restriction. Claustrophobia.
A rule somebody has
Forced upon them.
I can no longer say,
“It’s so pretty! And
Very flattering!”
Will no longer beg
My mother and sisters
To wear one of theirs.
Restlessly waiting for that moment
When I can shed this
Off from my body,
When I can finally breathe…


O Mata Hari!
(A biographical poem on the legendary Mata Hari)

Zelle’s life
Before her eyes
Flashes –
A kaleidoscope of colours
And emotions;
Faces of men whiz by
– One face looms large
Kindly-looking eyes
Handlebar moustache
She reaches out to him
Yearning to rest
Once again.
One final time,
In the crook of his arms

She grew up
Way too fast
Eyes followed her
Hands touched her
Everywhere. Everyone.

A lonely and miserable heart,
She sought refuge.

A new address at 18
– Mrs. MacLeod, Indonesia.

Those hands
And eyes
This time, where could she go?
Those flamboyant costumes
Those sensuous moves
The colours
The fame…
She never felt more alive!

Zelle passed away
Mata Hari was born-
Ready to lead her life
on her own terms.

She liked it.
Why did others care?
She craved for their attention,
However illusory.
WHY did it matter to the world?

She was a resident
Of a moralistic society
Infested with
She could NOT
Be ALLOWED to fly!
To flap her wings!

“She is a spy! A traitor! A slut! A fallen woman! Vulgar, coarse, cheap!”
“Worming her way into
Soldiers beds;
Charming secrets out of them…”

Her wings had to be
She should be made a scapegoat,
That is her Punishment.
A woman like her!
(”Too powerful
-a dangerous femme fatale!”)

Click. Click.
Tap. Tap.
Heels tapping smartly,
She strides to the courtyard
Head held high
Under the blazing sun,
She winks
At her cowardly ex-lover
(Who flinches)

Throws back her head
and smiles
a glorious smile;
As the bullet pierces
Her heart;

Not her spirit.

The Begum

Nawab Hussain Shah’s haveli –
Once, THE place to be in
Where the high and the mighty
Flocked and hobnobbed;
Men lazed on silken cushions,
Sipping sherbets from golden tumblers.
Gandhi was discussed
With as much fervour
As Akram Mirza’s latest love affair.

Their eyes constantly flitted
Towards the Begum (as did mine)
-An exotic showpiece,
Displayed with masculine pride.
But if a stray glance stayed too long-
A quick twirl of the Nawab’s moustache
Was all it took to make them

When he turned – elsewhere,
She was witty and charming…
Her smile- bright and Alive…
When he was back;
She was guarded.

She moved from people to people –
Taking care not to linger anywhere,
Sympathized at the falling market shares;
Exclaimed adequate delight over the new diamond set;
Ever the gracious hostess…

But why did it all seem like a facade?
Like her translucent veil;
Designed for obscuring her from the world
Why could only my eyes see that?

Would someone please look at her-
Perhaps they cared
Perhaps they didn’t
Who knows…
-Hers was a reflection of theirs after all.

Just then a silvery bead
Splashed noiselessly
Onto her pale cheek;
Was it real?-
Or a trick of the light-
Were my eyes deceiving me?

Sigh! I will never know…

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