Header art by Robert Joseph Moreau

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Anita Nahal

Corona and love-life layers

Layers of love and life are crumbling, some are mixing…some decomposing, some disappearing. It’s said humans are social animals, yet some are still unapologetically crude, arrogant, asinine. Some just don’t wish to be bothered. Some don’t respond. Or connect. Some are merely self-protecting. Some have no choice over the virus. Some say its punishment… even animals are ashamed of us. And Gods don’t know what more to tell us about kindness and giving. History hasn’t been good. The slave markets, lynchings, murders, rapes, opulence, greed, evil gratification, wars, conflicts, boats of begging refugees left to putrefy, leaving little kids famished, breathing their last on scalped beaches or with their small bodies burning without recovery, without mothers, crying and dying alone on impersonal makeshift tent hospital beds. Animals were not spared either. There’s an unusual hush. So eerie even a skeleton in a cemetery is scared, knocking on tombstones, begging other skeletons to keep him company for a while. Some humans could only hear themselves running in grey, opaque skies, densely crowded with cumbersome, soiled clouds standing around menacingly. And the sun didn’t want to join the uncalled-for cruel party. Stood afar pondering, “Shall I give them a bit of heat? Do they deserve it, yet?” On the sad flip, the streets had ample fresh air and the ozone was stronger. Trees too were a lusher green. One strength replaced by the other. Layers had almost crumbled, conflated, almost disappeared…darkened with soot still trying to remain alive like prettily enticing yet doomed embers on smoldering paper edges.

Published in Confluence, May 2020, and The Burrow, August 2020

What happened to their clothes?

As I was doing yoga laying on the carpet in my bedroom, I saw my clothes hanging in my open cupboard.  They seemed oddly silent. I wondered if I would ever wear any again. to dance? To work? Or to the grocery store? Or anywhere? Tears started to swell up. What happened to the clothes of those who died from Covid19? Are they still hanging in their cupboards? Still waiting to be worn to work, dinner or theatre? Still waiting to wrap their owners’ bodies. What happened to their beds and comforters? Are they still waiting to give sleep to their owners? Why am I thinking of inanimate objects, I asked myself? Why wasn’t I thinking of their loved ones left behind? I suppose the news I read today of their bodies being quickly driven away by “body collectors” in hazmat suits, never to be seen by their loved ones again made me cry more for their clothes and bedsheets that their loved ones would never see them in again.  



Created as a video poem for Setu, April 2020, and published in Creative Café-Medium, May 2020, and The Burrow, August 2020



Sleepless Nights

i.          Storm 

Sleepless nights are an aphrodisiac, sometimes. They are you and your naked skin next to mine. When hands linger and the morning sun is told to wait, intense sun rays are hushed out the room. In the middle of the night between endless sharing, sleepless nights are like that glass of water at my bedside table in which I’d slipped a couple of ice cubes to cool the heat. Sleepless nights don’t come very often, however, even though I send hand written letters sprinkled with a bit of ittar at the envelope’s opening. I keep waiting for you. Keep waiting for you and the storm stands at the doorstep, rustling dry leaves against restless window panes.

ii.         Lull 

Sometimes, sleepless nights come like a lull between pregnant chapters of a novel. Curiosity compels me to turn the page and I drag my feet like exhausted horses after a long, tedious journey in medieval times. I try to calm the pawns and the elephants that the horses are being tended to, but one game of chess gives me away. I don my royal clothes and try to appear majestic as I stride out to allay fears of my ailing armies, but sleepless nights don’t let go. Don’t let go and hold on to the reigns like lonely seaweeds in a forgotten marsh. And the dry leaves of the now overlooked storm have been pressed dried as book marks in my prenatal novel.

iii.        Rejuvenation 

Since I’m not the game type, I give up any lackluster attempts to try any more. Neither chess, nor dice, nor the war  of love kind. I lay alone for that’s how I find peace to rejuvenate. On clean sheets after a lazy shower, I refuse to even put on my reading glasses or stretch my hand for the lamp switch. A nightcap of hot buttered rum and some Amazon rain sounds rocking with light Native flute music soothes. Sleepless nights walk away. Walk away, gently as I lay beneath a dreamcatcher with fairy lights blinking tenderly. The storm and the lull have bonded, and the expectant novel goes to sleep unread. And so, do I. 


Ittar: An essential oil derived from botanical sources


Published in Borderless, December 2020


Anita Nahal, Ph.D., CDP is a poet, professor, short story writer, and children’s writer. She teaches at the University of the District of Columbia, Washington D.C. Her creative books include, two volumes of poetry, one of flash fictions, four children’s books and an edited anthology of poetry (with Dr. Roopali Sircar Gaur). Her writings can be found in journals in the US, Uk, Asia and Australia. Two books of her are prescribed on university syllabus at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. Nahal is the daughter of Indian novelist and professor, Late Dr. Chaman Nahal, and her mother, Late Dr. Sudarshna Nahal was an educationist, author and principal of a K-12 school. Originally from New Delhi, India, Anita Nahal resides in the US. For more on Anita: https://anitanahal.wixsite.com/anitanahal

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