Shyaonti Talwar


"If there is a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it."
- Toni Morrison


Some of Shyaonti’s poems and stories dwell on survival, existential themes and the impermanence governing life while others reflect the predicament of lesser mortals and their peripheral existence. They often juxtapose or intertwine narratives from mythology with present day realities.

Poem : Alone

The theme of an alienated and solitary existence runs through this poem set against the backdrop of a highly digitalised world where most of the interaction happens virtually and helps retain the fallacy of communication.


There are moments of loneliness
And sometimes a pang
In what I guess,
Is the pit of the stomach
Where memories crowd and hang
Like upturned swallows
In a deserted sky
Pretending to be bats….
Only I know, they aren’t.

I look at the clock, and then the phone
The same arbitrary numbers
That tell you it’s time to go home.
Home with a door and a hall
And rooms beyond rooms
That neither beckon nor call.

I enter, a figure in handbag and heels
Sip water, open fridge, microwave food
Trying to recall what it feels
Like to have someone around…
I don’t know if that’s good…
scroll watsapp, like facebook, share insta
go on with what looks like dinner
in a Biocare.
dispose change brush comb
and stare.
scroll some more
for statements, texts and calls.

My world feels full now
peopled by the invisible
who send me excel sheets
messages and tweets.
I close my eyes, phone in hand
The screen flashing
Likes popping
Sudden Smileys blocking
My way to a dreamless sleep.

Poem : Two Attacks

The poem relates instances of two attacks on women and draws parallels in them – the first attack refers to the mythological attack on Surpanakha by Lakshman who defaces her by slashing her nose to allegedly resist her advances and respond to her rage at being rejected. The second attack refers to present day acid attacks which have an alarming frequency. Both attacks deface the woman but do a lot more than just that. They subject her to a lifetime of jibes, sympathy, pity, ridicule and revulsion thus marginalising her, apart from the extreme trauma they cause her. The attacks are symbolic acts of assertion of power and can be read as means to subdue her into a terrified state of surrender and remind her of her subordinate and inferior position in society.


The wielded sword shown
A black glinting arc
Against the midday sun
before it fell
and slashed her face.
Something opened
Something burst
And felt like fire
No. Even worse.
Hot Burn Pain Wet Cry
Nothing made sense.
She felt she had been cut in half
And left to die -
It was only much later she knew
That it was just, her nose.
From where she lay
She saw it, some distance away.
A neat, severed piece
The evidence of a masterstroke.
A Prince’s work of art.
The rest of her was there.
All was there.
Plus a hole
Where a nose had been.
A scathing pain
Where pride had been.
A clumsy fall
Where fame had been.
A growing fear
Where rage had been.
An ugly farce
Where a face had been.
And a dull throb
The rhythm of a lifetime.

In another part
At another time
On a busy street
Of buses and motorbikes
Of pedestrians and peddlers.
There was a tinkle
Of glass breaking
And someone screaming -
And smoky liquid
Curling up skin.
For bystanders
It was interesting to watch -
Skin, curl and shrivel like that!
In micromilliseconds
Like ants curling, shrivelling, dying
Of Baygon or Allout.
Only, this wasn’t dying.
It was being eaten alive.
Some Beast thrusting out its tongue
The firelick, and then
Chewing you bit by bit.
Till it chewed tissue and reached bone.
The screams finally stopped
Turned down to a low whimper
Rhythm broken by animal moans.
Or maybe animal groans.
Some things remained
A pit where an eye had been.
A cave where a jaw had been.
Pain where Pride had been.
Wail where once had been
Sunshine and pearl drops
And Fear where Fun had been.

Times change, Centuries pass
But stories - they remain the same.
As Swords and Acid bulbs
Conspire to crush a name.
And all that was with it.
Defacing with delight
With differing physical might
Working ‘acid’uously
To the same end.
Of reminding her
Where she belongs
Or rather ought to.

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