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The Zenana

April 29, 2015 | By

This poem was born out of my first few experiences in the ladies waiting room at hospitals. It is a practice in the middle east to have separate waiting rooms for women. The experience was a startling departure from my experiences in similar places in India. The women were very polite, they greeted everyone as they entered and left the room. But apart from that, I found no interaction- I was eager to strike up a conversation and learn more about their culture but I could never really get through. Yes, I did have a language barrier but I found that they hardly spoke with the others too. I noticed that the phones were in near silent mode and they sat their waiting (after they had met the doctor) for their male escort to call them to take them home. 

All of these experiences find a place in the poem. 

Poetry Month Special

poetry month

May be they meditate
Or ruminate
over home, family, children

A stillness,
like a clear Austrian Lake-
the light dim
the TV plays a flat channel
on volume close to 2
lending light and nothing more
all chairs occupied.

A mobile sings
rippling the silence
– an inaudible whisper
– a swish of clothes
– a form rises
a muffled greeting
bids adieu to the general air and leaves.

A black clad form floats in
a hushed greeting
then
settles down in the void.

in waiting rooms
women don’t talk of the weather
family, children ailments
they stare interestedly
at bags, shoes and phones
May be they meditate
Or ruminate
over home, family, children.

Does illness make one taciturn?

Read more stellar poems in our Poetry Month Special Edition

Dr. Bhuvaneshwari Shankar is a contributing author to Crossed and Knotted, a composite novel- the first of its kind in India. She began writing poetry at a very young age and her first poem was published when she was 10 years old. She took to writing again after a long hiatus when she began posting her poems, musings, translations and short stories to her blog. She holds a doctoral degree in English literature from Osmania University, Hyderabad and a Diploma in English Language teaching from EFL University, Hyderabad. She is a shortlisted writer of Litagram's Viral Story Contest and her story is published in the anthology 'Long Story Short'.
All Posts of Dr. Bhuvaneshwari Shankar

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