By Savithri Rajeevan

I was born
with a body
but immediately upon being born
it slipped out of my uncle’s grip
rose up high in the sky
and became a disembodied voice. Yet
that body that didn’t know a body
went about in the world
eating stolen butter
in childhood and
dressing up in women’s attire
in its youth.
Incarnated on earth
as lover and mother.
Asan’s book of poems
taught it
that one could roll about in the wind
without a body
and wander about in the forest
unmindful of the body.
Preceptors made
it believe that
it could survive upon the earth
as a butter-soft body
and a pair of long, wide eyes
without a body really in the body.
Grandmas maintained that
it was possible to exist
without a body
merely as a soul
or ghost or illusion
like the yakshi atop the palmyra.
Thus roosting on clouds
and poems
and migrating
into the Virgin Mary’s statue
and turning into plaintiff
in the courtyard of the school of spirituality
and as defendant between Lakshmana-rekhas
it existed.
That is why
I failed to notice my body
I failed to look at my body
till my da Gama arrived
traversing the ocean
intent on sighting land.
Long ago
in history Vasco da Gama came
and engraved in sand
the name that the waves couldn’t erase.
Like India got a map,
I got a body.
The sailor
taught me
that there is
an ocean
in the body
rising waves are there
man-made ships
voyage across it
rainbow colours and skies
reflect in it
and conflicts and amours
shimmer upon it
which hitherto undiscovered continent
is my body?
This body?

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