Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Shahwar Kibria, South Extension-I

Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Shahwar Kibria, South Extension-I

Delhi’s Bandaged Moments – Shahwar Kibria, South Extension-I

Poetry in the city.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

The Delhi Walla arranged to meet poet Shahwar Kibria outside the showrooms of South Extension-I market. In her early 20s, she works as an editor in a publishing firm.

Ms Kibria grew up in Calcutta. Her beloved poets are Jalaluddin Rumi, Charles Baudelaire, Pablo Neruda and Emily Dickinson – these are the names that immediately come to her mind. The list could be longer.

“Most authors and poets expect a response of empathy from us,” says Ms Kibria. “But poetry is not this. Free from meanings and throbbing with it, it is just passion. As are all things beautiful.”

Ms Kibria is also fond of Saleha Begum Maghfi. “She wrote in Urdu and Persian and she happened to be my great-grandmother. Some of Maghfi’s verses are sung in Calcutta’s majlis gatherings during the Muharram. I was born on the date she died.”

Always willing to explore the nooks and corners of Delhi on her own, Ms Kibria does not necessarily write in the quiet of her home. She seldom has. ‘Commotion is rather conducive to creation. I have written poetry in the metro train, in the office… creating a poem is like a seizure. I cannot plan its composition in advance. It plans me.”

Ms Kibria shares a poem with us.

16 December – A day, like any

a few cards

get well

oh wait
must stop

in flowery font
and roses
they smell old
but not precious
a few petals just
shying away on a thornless stem

after all

what use is a mere rose,
without a thorn?

calm and in grief
in pain and calm
a numbness
calm and pain

but comfort
a hand
caressing softly
love circles on your neck
down your chest
the circles greatly tighten

till they are rough and red and angry and weak

on the jugular
the hold
is not of security
but of threat

let it go
let it go
bit by bit

they are famished
and you are delicious
you are a lesson
to be taught
and learnt

you are now
a mere grip
a loveless grip
an empty shadow
your body melts
into iron and sweat
and light
dark dark light
a light so blind
it sees
bit by bit
it sees
and knows
that vision
was always this
a black diamond
in dying light
the night owns the diamond
the night knows

locked cries
under a blue carpet of water
you cry
none can hear
but every single eye
can see you die
slowly and graciously
under a loveless sky
a sky so vast
so giving of shelter
a loveless sky
is all the shelter
you could get

They saw you cry
They heard
and then what?
They saw you die
what if?
And then

bit by bit

a decoration
on the street
red and rubid and consumed

you are young and delicious and not at blame
chosen for the game
fortune fortune fortune
you are now a name
which no one knows
same–it has always been the same–same.

you were
a decoration
on the street
under victorian lamps
and fancy loveless skies
you were
a decoration on the street

and then there were more
in black and red
what? faces?
their clothes, merely
were black and red and wet
with tears?
posters, paints, anger, pride
a media byte
some cried
some lied
did they care
did they not see you cry
all this while
for so many while
so many yous’
have they not seen you cry
and die
bit by bit

then they
in attires black and white
them.their hands of lead and metal and lust and death
and those with hearts of
black and night
what were they
decorations on the street
under loveless skies
decorations on the street

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

Poet Shahwar Kibria


Delhi’s Bandaged Moments – Shahwar Kibria, South Extension-I


Delhi’s Bandaged Moments – Shahwar Kibria, South Extension-I


Delhi’s Bandaged Moments – Shahwar Kibria, South Extension-I


Delhi’s Bandaged Moments – Shahwar Kibria, South Extension-I