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Process of creation.

Sometimes the poem looks at the sheet of paper and averts her face as if the paper were a strange man

But sometimes as when a gift fasts faithfully on karva chauth and that night she has what seems to be a dream suddenly a man touches her body and even in the dream her body shudders

But sometimes licking fire she starts wakes up touches her limbs ripe with womanhood undoes the buttons of her blouse splashes handfuls of moonlight on her body and the hand that wrings her body dry seems to tremble

Her body's darkness spreads like a mat she lies face down on it breaks off pieces of its straw and every part of her catches fire and she feels that her body's darkness wants to break in someone's strong arms

Suddenly a sheet of paper moves forward and touches her trembling hands one part burns one part melts and she smells an unfamiliar fragrance and her hand stares at the lines that have inscribed her body

Her hand goes to sleep her body shakes and something like sweat breaks out on her brow a long line breaks and her breath soaks in the double fragrance of life and death

All these thin black lines as though they were pieces of a single line she stands wrung out silent and astonished looking thinking

This is a miscarriage of justice a part of her is dead maybe this is exactly how a young woman miscarries her child

AMRITA PRITAM (b. 1919) has emerged as the single most important modern writer in Punjabi, having published more than seventy books in the past fifty years, including twenty-eight novels, eighteen collections of poetry, and five volumes of short stories. She was the first woman writer to win the annual award given by the Sahitya Akademi, India's national academy of letters, receiving the prize for poetry in 1956. Her subsequent honors include the Government of India's Padma Shri award in 1969 and the Bharatiya Jnanapith Award, India's highest literary honor, in 1981. She has also served in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament. Among her works available in English translation are Selected Poems (1982); Revenue Stamp (1976), her autobiography; and Black Rose (1968), a novel. In her prose as well as verse, Pritam is frequently concerned with women's experiences and situations in Indian society. "Street Dog" and "Process of Creation" are poems written in the 1970s, both translated here from Punjabi by Vinay Dharwadker.
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Title Annotation:Indian Literatures: In the Fifth Decade of Independence; poem
Author:Pritam, Amrita
Publication:World Literature Today
Date:Mar 22, 1994
Previous Article:Street dog.
Next Article:Tamil literature.

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