Ashtavakra

Boiling like prawns
in an earthen pot 
we lay.
The brine
seeped into every
cell of our being.
Suffocating.
There was nowhere
to hide.
 
My palms
split into two,
my legs
twisted outward.
Every nerve
racked, tortured
and there was fire raging
where my eyes
would have been.
I cried out mutely
yet there was
no release.
 
As I twisted out
of my mother’s womb,
my parents unaware
welcomed me.
Smiles faded.
Eyes glazed
they stared at me
cradled in their arms.
Broken, twisted,
skin stretched over
my ribcage.
Deformed.
The Endosulfan baby.
 
I am waiting.
My siblings will arrive
in similar glory,
cursed in the womb
by the Fathers,
unlived lives shattered,
we the modern
Ashtavakras!

Vineetha Mekkoth
All rights reserved.

Footnotes:
1. Ashtavakra – According to the Hindu mythology, Ashtavakra was cursed by his father while in his mother’s womb because he dared to correct the mistakes of the former. As a result of the curse Ashtavakra was born deformed, with eight crooks or bents (hence the name. Ashta=8, Vakra= bents). He was a scholar and he later saved his father from a dire situation. Ashtavakra is an innocent victim of man’s arrogance as well as a symbol of learning, filial love, patience and forgiveness.

2. Endosulfan – a pesticide which was used extensively in the cashew plantations of northern Kerala, India. It was administered through aerial spraying. This has affected all life forms in the region leading to congenital disabilities in humans as well as animals. After widespread protests throughout the state the government has decided to phase out its use gradually. Because of its threats to human health and the environment, a global ban on the manufacture and use of Endosulfan was negotiated under the Stockholm Convention in April 2011. The ban has taken effect from mid-2012.
(Source for Endosulfan:Wikipedia)

N.B.
This poem was originally published in the anthology ‘Words on the Winds of Change’ published by Brian Wrixon in 2012. The preceding footnotes have been included only now.

This entry was posted in Poetry on by .

About Vineetha

Poet, writer, translator, editor Based in India. Has published poems in various anthologies. Is on the translators panel of the Kerala Sahitya Academy. Her poems have been included in the Brian Wrixon anthologies 'Words on the Winds of Change' and 'Women of One World'. She has also coauthored a poem with Gaurangi Patel which has been included in the 'Duet Anthology' brought out by XpressPublications. She has been selected for the ICOP Critics Award for March 2015 and her poem 'Reflections' is on the list of Highly Commended poems for the month selected by Destiny Poets, UK. In April 2015 her poem was published on the blog 'Incredible Women of India'. In the same month, April 2015, her poem 'Ashtavakra' was chosen as the Poem of the Month by Destiny Poets' International Community of Poets. In July 2015 her poem 'Nightscape' was one of the Highly recommended poems by Destiny Poets. So too in October 2015 her poem, 'Peace Always' was in the list of Highly Recommended poems by ICOP. Has been co-editor of 'Umbilical Chords: An Anthology on Parents Remembered'. Her debut poetry collection, 'Ashtavakra and Other Poems' was published in August 2017 by Authorspress, New Delhi

8 thoughts on “Ashtavakra

  1. Louis Kasatkin

    A visceral and impassioned work addressing contemporary real-world issues. Such has ever been the mark of the true Poet who is willing and able to engage the World with their Art as their weapon of choice. Many thanks for the footnotes ! they are integral to the casual reader being able to fully grasp the insidious nature of what had been inflicted on a human population without their knowledge and consent.

    Reply
    1. Vineetha Post author

      Sir, I am grateful to you for your objective evaluation and appreciation. This is an issue which I feel has not received the media attention or political support or justice that it deserves. The action required on the part of the authorities is not forthcoming. Thank you for this platform, sir, which I hope will benefit the victims at least by drawing worldwide attention to their plight.

      Reply
  2. Louis Kasatkin

    Destiny Poets’ International Community of Poets ( ICOP ) are pleased to announce that for April 2015 , the following works have been chosen in the categories of Poem of the Month and Highly Commended . Poem of the Month ..** Ashtavakra – Vineetha Mekkoth **…..In the Category of Highly Commended ( Tabulated alphabetically ) are the following…..** An Bothar (The Road) – John Anthony Fingleton **…..** Dissolve on me – Rashmi Malapur **…..** Fifty Feathers of my Flight – Iulia Gherghei **…..** Fight the Shadows – Neetu Wali **…..** Fireflies of Time – Maaya Dev **…..** Flowers in a pot – Sunil Sharma **…..** Impailed – Elizabeth Hexberg **…..**Memories – Santosh Bakaya **…..** (The) Minion – Nalini Srivastava **…..**Mortgage Your Blood – Tapeshwar Prasad **…..** On Life’s Meaningful Pauses – Witty Fay **…..** Tunes of Ruin – Rehka Moothedoth **…… ICOP CRITIC Award for April goes to..Pramila Khadun & Maaya Dev.

    Reply
  3. Maya Dev

    Vineetha…A fantastic composition, socially a negligible issue but your powerful presentaion truly invites readers attention in a big way…and hope this way poets/writes use their pen to bring some helpful changes to society. Congratulations once again.:-)

    Reply
    1. Vineetha Post author

      You are right, Maaya. It is a neglected issue. If this poem can bring the plight of these fellow beings into focus resulting in some positive action, then it would be something i would be happy about. Thanks for reading and empathising

      Reply
  4. Pingback: VINEETHA MEKKOTH | Incredible Women Of India

  5. Kamlesh Acharya

    Remarkable and powerful poetry this is, effortlessly flowing from and connecting mythology with current world issues. It deserves the ‘Highly Commended’ honour for ICOP 2015.
    Congratulations.

    Reply
    1. Vineetha Post author

      Thank you so much, Kamlesh. Saw this appreciation only now. Glad that you think it deserves the honour and understand its relevance. thank you, once again

      Reply

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