Four Poems



Pedavva cried her last words,
Gadapa duram, khaadee deggera


Gadapa is the site of our experience – always nearing
almost touching like a wish.

It is where you will find our land, which we neither own, nor belong in.


Women slapped against walls nailed with frames of ancestors and blessing gods,
sit at the gadapa talking with the neighbouring women.
Hanumavva with more than tobacco-packet in her bosom
waits at the gate for more than a bus to the next village.
Nagaraju traded his body for some touch at the bank
where the stillborn are let in the river that Mogulappa cried.


The women who raised me accuse me of appropriating and violating their
carework of loving.

I love like it’s the only skill needed to survive in this country.


I can’t love like your men. Body full of violence, fascist to the teeth,
logically invalid by bones.

A blind bull tricked, shot and sold in the crowded Monday bazaar.


Pedavva cried like the waves of the flood that transgressed our thresholds with
all its laborious force on 26th July, 2005.
She entered life like the waves to collapse a home built to bury her body.


Like gutter flood she broke in through the roof, occupied from the cracks,
claimed from the toilet drain
just to belong.


Now squatting across the line, skilfully sifting the city sludge in sieves,

we strained no gold.
Only a wasteful amount of soil, soggy cooked rice and plastic.


Just like our dreams of breaking the world and the Mithi River

streaming with flamingos




for Nishant


At the mouth of the world
I ache for nothing but the feeling of being swallowed

In the slow, changing colours of the twilight
I saw God from the local train passing over the bridge

They were tailoring curtains
No third eye or big hands
Just crow wings & burnt skin spread across the sky
I prayed to them for their seeping light
in my veins and my pericardium
They sang to the drumbeats
Come find me at jaatara where pioneers meet their death

where you last confided in Begum’s eyes
where all your brothers descend
where the hearts turn as soft as entrails under the knife

Through the city noise of honking and revving,
from the narrow alleys of Dharavi chawls,
a dirge of birds migrated with the sound of Azan


O how full of holes and yet so heavy





The city-heart pulsates dream lights
(most strikingly in bright fluorescent green of plus sign with Medical

written on it)

by the labour of mana mandi.

Its many veins spreading like fish net or forest fire

(but on low flames to keep chicken parottas from burning)

skirting plastics on the margins into hibiscus curls that some

will put in their winnowing fans.


Street is a field cultivating tongues that touch everyone into action: praying,

breaking, leaving, falling, cleaning, selling, bleeding, moving against the

despotism of tar.


Here, we produce hunger unconfined to the borders of our bodies.

Here, we carve our own ways, so here we can walk and not feel like



The roads crack into shops under the light of the bulb used to pass

threads through the eye of the needle


as wise tailors seam piles of worn saris, sheets and offcuts of satin together into thick warm quilts


outsizing even the length of our homes, and if the road fights back through

our third-person reflections


on the leather shop’s glass doors, it is melted into the sideways by a child’s first perceptive touch;


the gaze sharp as mascara, soft as rain questioning the road.


At the juncture where two vehicles collide, we gather in circle arm in arm to

watch the spectacle of dying languages speak

unclogging at the valve in the middle


under the skin spread like blue tarpaulin
with holes the size of our eyes over the metal-ribbed bridge construction.


This street that once was a threshold, is our body too.

Mana mandi have died here.


The tongues invite us: Come, you can spit here.





when hunger is a black sky
the bellies turn into throats
moon is your sweet face my village Yellamma

all my daughters born on full moon day named

crossing hills to reach the dargah
who will carry you my village Yellamma?
all my daughters born on full moon day named

over the bund in the rice field
we will carry you
my village Yellammavva


SHRIPAD SINNAKAAR is a Dalit poet living in Dharavi. They hold a postgraduate in Philosophy from University of Mumbai. Their works have appeared in Dalit Art Archive and translated in Telugu.



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