9 min read

How do I Survive So Much Love?     


Practised fall, and so happens when trained in wrist thrusts 

In wrangles and in stroking foreheads – finesse of a feather dance. 

Nevertheless, now my palm just white meat, 

Pinned on the kitchen slab, remains there curled up

 Conditioned to eat up air and rest into nothingness. 

My hand was seized by a knife before. 

Did it not know the difference between 

Human skin and onion skin? 

Perhaps it wanted the reddening 

As it peeled off layers. 

Was it looking for more? 

As happens in the spoils of love. 

There is so much redness it desires 

Like a little girl on a lipstick counter. 

Or it was possibly gossiping away with the gas lighter

The gas lighter picking things up from the pipeline. 

There is after all potential in these kitchen walls. 

And then it chose its victim well. 

For it surely does aspire after human skin 

Over bird skin and bird skin over onion skin. 

Tired of getting shoved against dead things 

It wanted a taste of life, a gin of gushing blood. 

It saw me in the eye and said it harboured death for so long, 

Who wants an exchange? 

How must it feel against the pulse so schooled in grace

As it chafes it with kisses, then eats it alive. 

For it is a seductress with its slick figure 

And sharp motion, it has to be one. 

But like every quick lover, it too leaves things undone 

A rash assassin leaving fingernails on sand, not a job well done. 

Stupid little slut, bury your thirst, put the girdle back on!

See what you’ve done, both of us now in wired vans.


There you are motioning back and forth from a heavy cart                                                                                             

emptying totes of jars 

into your car

Setting them off to our homes

                                              fool’s errand and one day

You’d be complaining of low appetite                                                             the doctor sent us back with less thinking

 to do 

             and some clonazepam before bed

There you are sleeping at my feet,

    dreamt your way through like a clock’s hand 

Reaching for answers at dawn, you’d say

then complain if I hand them out

I’m advised to watch you forget things and misjudge weathers

Weathers are there to be predicted poorly   

fool’s errand and one day

We’d be eating out of a day’s old skillet

                                                               found from the box in the dashboard, 

meant to be sent to an aunt 

The car has been more than a home now

I sit with my legs crossed and rest my head as the horns go free

There you are coming out of a low and making plans

                        of never going back home

and taking it up north

You’d like it if I drove you to the Residency

Or down to the Charminar maybe

You could only drive till Gorky Sadan instead                                                                                                             and made me speak some broken Russian

It was a centennial something of Dostoevsky

                                                                    you disagreed with his endings so 

you thought it was a good idea for us

We quit before the speaker could quit, I thought I should tell you in the hallway 

                                                                                                         Fool’s errand and one day

I had realised geometry problems remind me of Karenina’s death                                                                                                      Perhaps this 

whole idea of a journey is a joke

I had looked out of the window the whole time, should you reach out

But you didn’t and sent me back home with a bunch of sweaters your flat owed me

And there you were again calling my mother

                                                                     she had forgotten all about you, and I had to repeat

                 you and her exchanged the recipe of galouti kebab

                                                           you and her once drove to the hospital during the visiting hours

                                                                    you and her agreed over the need for 

a Jagjit 

Singh’s ghazal daily

I had no interest to explain her your case, nor mine ever

                                        neither about the way we had known each other

Then you would like to talk about family and she about you

I quite found contentment in your skinning a duck on a weekend,

       looking up after reaching the end of a list

I’d like to stay here during the holidays                    Do one thing, bring back the sweaters

This was a good judgement on your part, I had dry forearms

And you said it is winter already

           which it was not.

You’d stopped making a bed and preferred the couch these days

      or so you said

It’s a side effect really, you’d think I need stronger medication but now you’re back

There you are perfecting your German       I never knew you ever knew German

Schatz lass uns nicht über gerstern reden

I had to catch up on a lot of you

                                                  fool’s errand and one day

Liebe ist, daß Du mir das Messer bist, mit dem ich in mir wühle

Liebe ist, daß Du mir das Messer bist, mit dem ich in mir wühle

Liebe ist, daß Du mir das Messer bist, mit dem ich in mir wühle

                            they were done with the firecrackers                                                                                            and I was about to close my eyes finally

The English translation kills the spirit

You are the knife

                         Yes I figured, I had always wondered who do I resemble

 more Kafka or Milena

                       and who    well    you’ve kept yourself busy I see    don’t make

 me learn German

There you are still waking up at dawn

                                                                   but I had brought four volumes of Richardson’s Clarissa from the library

And then you fall back on me in almost no time

You drove me to Faizabad, we on the front steps of whatever’s left of Begum Akhtar’s early home

We skipped the Residency, you’d taken me to her grave in Pasand Bagh

         I thought you’d like to visit her sooner

There I was till my eyes wore me out and I fell to you 

                                                                                    as she was on her way up

 the crescendo of Mere Humnafas

We are still sleeping in the car

                                                I’m advised not to rush lest I’m run over

There are times I still look long out the window over the lopsided highway

                                                                                                   but fool’s errand

and one day

You’re gutting a turkey for the two of us

                                                                 you think it’s a mature decision

I chew all my nails till you make a mess of the kitchen and only ask me to ready the oven

I had a revelation in the morning before you entered the door 

                                                                                               Of bloodying your 


That you should drive me to Yasnaya Polyana.

Aritrika Chowdhury is a student at Jadavpur University pursuing a Masters Degree in Economics. At 21, she is struggling to come to terms with adulthood. To her poetry is a refuge. Apart from overthinking everything, she believes that the utility of buying novels is greater than the utility of buying clothes and hence forgets the calculations of money in a bookstore. She resides in the city of Kolkata, India.

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