Three Poems

Shlagha Borah


সোণৰ পঁজা

why do you serve her on the ugliest plate
from our kitchen-
you know, the steel one
with burn marks and scratches,
why does her tea always get cold
by the time the floor is wiped
why is the handle of her cup slightly broken
why do we never pour tea into it,
why am I not allowed to touch utensils
after she washes them
why do you always do a final rinse
why are you nice enough to offer her lunch
but never a seat at the table?

when asked you simply said,
she’s not our own.
but so isn’t your colleague,
Barua aunty from the second floor
or deuta’s friends from college

then why are they always served mithai
fresh on the first day
but bai, on the fifth?


childhood measured in wooden rulers

trigger warning- abuse

I was six when I lied
for the first time- in handwriting class,
asked a friend to fill a page.
when they found out
of course,

the 300mm wooden ruler
broken on my calves.
the next day,
a cheap glue fixed it
I used it to draw margins
for the rest of school year

sixteen years after,
it still works perfectly
but my knees

tremble, jaws
clench when my partner
tightens his grip, even
by mistake;

no child forgets their
first language.



my mother,
with different lies


Illustration: Sushmira Sridhar

Shlagha Borah (she/her) is a poet and mental health activist. Her work has been accepted in Catharsis, Marias at Sampaguitas, The Remnant Archive, GroundXero, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for Sundress Publication’s Best of Net 2020. She is the co-founder of the student-led collective called Pink Freud that works around destigmatizing mental health issues. She has also been researching gendered violence in the workplace, under Zubaan Projects.

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