Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Jonaki Ray, Chirag Enclave
Poetry in the city.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
She was one of the 12 girls doing Masters in Chemistry in IIT Kanpur in a batch of 320 guys. Next, she went to the US for a Masters in Computer Science at the University of Illinois.
And despite or perhaps because of such accomplishments, Jonaki Ray, today, is a poet. Her newest poem was recently short-listed in an international poetry contest and was published by Southword Journal, an online literary magazine based in Ireland.
“Anybody who knows me now knows that I’m not a scientist type,” she laughs, here at her apartment in South Delhi’s Chirag Enclave. “I was always a reader… I would also write very often and that’s how poems emerged out of me.”
A technical editor in a software company in Noida, Ms Ray manages to devote a part of her day to poetry despite the horrors of her daily 50-km commute. She leaves home by 8 am, comes back by 7pm, and—no matter what—she is ensconced in her study by 8.30 pm latest, trying to compose verse.
“Sometimes I think I’m perpetually fighting sleep… ” she sighs.
The Irish journal will pay 30 euros to Ms Ray for publishing her poem. “I’ll buy a poetry book with it.”
Ms Ray shares that acclaimed poem with The Delhi Walla. “Reverse Astrology was inspired by a painting I saw at a villa in Goa last year…. But I wrote it one night in Delhi… indeed, it came out of my sleep deprivation!”
After a painting of five hands cut off at the wrist, seen at a house in Goa, India
The house has tom-cat windows
fat with fungus and mold
Inside, the sofas droop under covers
like Hindu widows mourning their own.
His assistant nods my entrance
to the kitchen where the sooty table
centers the five hands laid out like pendants in a choker
A right hand followed by another, with a topaz ring on the index finger
At a slight gap, a left hand unused to work in its fair-ness
contrasting a scarred, honey-glazed right hand
and last, a left hand again, tapering fingers used
to paint and smoke, witnessed by the scars on it
They said: He will take one look at your palm
Tell you who you are to marry
The names of your children
Even the taunts of your mother-in-law
The house is a withered ginger
its future outgunned by the conspiring
stars. No one can predict their own fate
I see each hand is cut off at the wrist
The sleep-deprived poetess