Poetry in the city.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla arranged to meet poet Manika Dhama in the Outer Circle of the Colonial-era Connaught Place. In her late 20s, Ms Dhama is an investment consultant in a Gurgaon-based real-estate firm. A resident of Noida, she runs the blog framed by wanderlust.
Talking of her loves, Ms Dhama says, “With poets I have more of a poem-related rather a complete-repertoire-of-one-poet sort of relationship. But Emily Dickinson has been an inspiration for a long time. I have carried these lines in my wallet for years now: “One need not be a Chamber to be Haunted/One need not be a House/The Brain has Corridors surpassing/Material Place… Ourself behind ourself, concealed/Should startle most/Assassin hid in our Apartment/Be Horror’s least.””
Ms Dhama imagines herself more of a prose person. “Poetry, when it does come is usually triggered by something big; it is when my emotions are too overwhelming for prose. I write when I can sit through the whole of it, only seldom second guessing the first instinct. When the entire piece is out on paper I step back and make amends before sending it out into the world. I’m still learning to be a stricter judge of my work.”
Fond of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and A Room of One’s Own, Ms Dhama shares a poem with us.
There is something sick in the pit of my stomach
There is something stuck in my chest
There is pain from something I’ve lost
Wound around in place of my heart.
I search for hope in the clamour of noise
Ban skirts, bring to justice, no short of death
The voices in my head are out on the streets
Did you hear what I said?
Scream in a dream and be done with rage
Breathe in silence, find your answer
Mistress of my own destiny?
Permission please to walk this way.
Read aloud, talk nonstop
Wring my hands in the air if I must
Be like the lotus, flowering among the filth
Smile through the worst for something to give
Stay calm, hold still, this will hurt a bit
Walk away and wait for dawn to break
Nothing happy about this New Year
Can tomorrow be another day?
As part of the series Delhi’s Bandaged Moments, The Delhi Walla is searching for poets in the city. If you are one, please contact me at email@example.com.
Poet Manika Dhama