Voices

Lockdown Poetry Contest Teen Stars: Ashwika Chhabria and S. Rupsha Mitra

These teenagers' poems made it to the top of eShe’s Lockdown Poetry Contest 2020.

These poems are part of our Lockdown Poetry series where we feature the winners of eShe’s Lockdown Poetry Contest 2020 for women writers held this July. Of the 108 eligible entries, there was one winner, 10 runners up, and two special mentions.

The special mentions were a new category created for junior contestants under the age of 18. Here, we bring to you the works of Ashwika Chhabria and S. Rupsha Mitra who topped the juniors list.

The Monkey-Ness Of It All

© Ashwika Chhabria

Thought I’d wake up to
see the dawn break
the chirping birds and the
Trodden path hikers take.
Now it’s a maze of alarms and
“I’m on a short break”

It’s been a while since
I wore ties and skirts grey
Drank from water tanks and said
“I’m present” for the day
The 8-3 life was better from this side of the sea

But the ship has capsized
This island’s my home
Resorting to balconies on coconut trees
Is now how I roll

Found a monkey yesterday
Rather bananas and wild
It pointed at the horizon
Another ship yet to arrive

Disembarked from it a woman of thirty
Red-rimmed glasses and eyes so murky
She’d seen a lot more than I had, I knew
the rings and jewellery were just a ruse
And so the monkey left her alone
Left her water in coconut bowls
Ignored her sneers and smiled at her scowls
Until one day, she looked oh so torn

She wept tears salty like of the sea
Her shoulders looser and free
The monkey gave her a monkey hug
And fish with some coconut tea

She spoke of a land with fluorescent lights
Of sleeping in and parties at night
We’d all lived there at least once in our lives
This island just wasn’t alight

But this was what we had now
The monkey was right
No Earl Grey for us now
Coconut tea was our new life

We made the island our home
Fluorescent lights long forgotten
Salty parties on the beach
Clothes of foliage we don

Raipur-based Ashwika Chhabria, 15, is known for her mood swings, untimely doodles and lack of tact. Here, she has tried to channel one of her rants into poetry.

What I Have Known During Lockdown

© S. Rupsha Mitra

Lying supine, face upwards to an old dusty ceiling holding us together for years –
looking through this clumsiness yet simplicity of a life that moves in a pace of undecided sameness, a paused topology.
Grandma says there is newness in a languid liminality,
she expresses her awe for the word lockdown,
she is a devoted reader of the daily newspaper but never heard this word before, this word daubed with the rasa adbhutam for her,
Her confession – so innocent
the first time I realize there is more to us than being bloodlines,
keeping the generational gyves of distance between us unraised,
the tainted gaze of her hazel-like eyes more serene now,
my empathy envisions itself through wider, coloured glasses
and there is more to this time – how grateful my veins have become –
not nerving myself anymore
when Father asks for tea, or narrates a family history of sires and czars and admirers.
Like tangerine skin the sky colours itself,
when the honey twilight like a blade chisels it asunder and
I gape at the vertigo within – a churning of every tense neuron, and uncanny visceral ways –
morphing into something more soothing, a salving like an ocean there within my cage
and my God’s more enchanting now,
when I enter my grandma’s grand temple door,
the little god smarming seems to ask me to find mine inside, in the parchment of the four,
or in between my uplifted brows, and I hope I would soon open the doors.

S. Rupsha Mitra is a 17-year-old student of psychology from Kolkata with a penchant for writing poetry.

First published in eShe’s September 2020 issue. Stay tuned for more Lockdown Poetry coming up on eShe.

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