Sweta Srivastava Vikram is a multi-genre writer living in New York City. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in literary journals, online publications,
and anthologies across six countries and three continents. Sweta has attended several writing residencies and workshops in the United States and Europe. She is a VONA writer and a graduate of Columbia University.
About this Chapbook...
We have all lost a dear one at some point in our lives. Grief, depending on the relationship with the one deceased, affects us differently. I feel my Dada and Mausi's absence every single day for disparate reasons. But these two losses have taught me that their time had come. And that life is about celebrating those alive and not just mourning those who have moved on. Optimism and faith are the keys to overcoming the roadblocks life puts in our way.
This book tries to state that there is always hope for anyone coping with grief. No one can tell us exactly how; the voyage has to be undertaken by each of us individually.
Learn more about the author at www.swetavikram.com
From the World Voice Series at Modern History Press www.ModernHistoryPress.com
POE003000 Poetry : Inspirational & Religious
SOC028000 Social Science : Women's Studies - General
SEL010000 Self-Help : Death, Grief, Bereavement
|Publisher:||Loving Healing Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.07(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Loss, like the seeds on strawberries,
A letter cannot swim across the ocean if the griever is insistent and smiles reach only halfway through the feet.
The effort has to come from the reef that's hidden underneath the guilt of mortal burdens,
Loss: a bookmark for embalmed pages marked with stains that should be revisited - only to learn, not memorize the events.
Mommy, we need to have this chat
You screamed with such joy until the trees shed their leaves in fall.
You screamed with such pain until winter drank sorrow on a moonless night.
You talk to the dead, for hours, but ignore the ones alive.
Has it ever occurred to you - maybe I needed another home and that's why I left you? A reason why I inherited an exclamation mark in the sky.
Mourning an uninhabited cradle,
Look at me
It wasn't the passion of a thousand fiery suns that brought them together like honey and bee.
We talk. Grandma and I. She delivers flakes of snow and cupcakes of hope with the ceaseless wind,
My parents, best friends, made a pact under the autumn rain.
It might sound odd but not for them.
I was born, a miracle of bad nature,
I don't know whom to ask.
Sometimes, loss builds bridges that bear no prints of a live passersby.
There is hope
Shit happens under the clear sky,
Life went on like the Ganges until her oldest stumbled upon twenty one and took a morbid holiday.
It's just a dip,
A year goes by she loses,
Five years have passed since she has read condolence notes to the remaining fingers.
An edifice of optimism to be revered.
Let me go
It's your will, not mine – we know if I were eighteen, I would change the direction of ink. But I am a prisoner -
You fear my loss – we know I am a rock sunk to the bottom.
Pink has turned brown – we know my breathing rasps my nerves. I hide,
I pray to the dirt near grandma – we know mine won't be the first bones to enter the courtyard where names are carved with bleeding roses,
How afraid I am, you don't know.
I spent my first fifteen years in your cocoon,
Don't talk to strangers
Don't talk to strangers, you would say. Was it five years, fifty days, forty months ago? I lick my milkfull lips of past, I can't remember the days. When I last learnt math, I couldn't count beyond 200, so it's hard to keep track. I try. I scribble on the walls with my grimy nails, so I don't forget. Not you, the time lost. I still remember you. How you smelled – a mix of lemon, chocolate, love. Were they my favorite things? Sometimes it's hard to tell - I am inside a dark room with few memories and imaginary visitors. The only colors I know are black, purple, and pink. But I am still alive. You taught me well. The others are now a part of his expanding rose garden facing the North Star. But I have grown into flesh. I don't fit on his pithless bed anymore. There is hair on my arms and legs. They poke me - like my painting brushes at home. Home where we lived happily until he came. Brought you sheets of unsuspecting kisses and me, Barbie and sugarcane juice. I didn't like him or his chaste tattoo. I spoke through silent walls, you thought I was being difficult. Missing daddy. You acted moody like Bianca, our blind cat. You should have listened. See, I didn't forget your words. I was good. I didn't talk to any strangers. Mommy you did.
It started with burning of leaves with no attachment over the grave of dead pebbles.
She, the over-bearing mother, blamed it on his boarding school upbringing – his long list of hippie friends, eyes of disinterest, and mind of frailty.
He, the phantom father, found the pot of mother's love responsible for the potion of self-abuse the boy drank.
No one saw he was lost in the sand,
He grew tall - so did the scar of self-abuse that wouldn't let him see the dawn of youth. With his chin sewn to this chest, he looked like a destitute cigar.
The whiplash of guilt tore the family and the boy.
But the wind changed its direction when his younger brother became two inches taller and a few ounces wiser. He decided three dead poems wouldn't be written.
In the coming and going of life, he whispered to his parents, there is always time to see with your heart and listen with your eyes.
Beginning of the end
Once upon a time there was a boy who ate food from the cat's dish –
that was the joke around town whispered by maple trees to twigs and creeks.
They had their reasons for being the witness and the judge.
on them and measure the length of misery around his neck.
Birds, a witness to this sight, knew something wasn't right with the boy. Pirates inhabited his skull, but no one spoke
of it. His parents wore thick sheets of denial,
He plummeted into a dark hole of seclusion.
as he waited for the one who never came. One morning,
looking free, orphaned by pain. Photography can capture what words miss – he was finally happy. Let him be.
I was young, an age where understanding loss of even milk teeth was inconceivable,
when my Dada, paternal grandfather,
for playing hopscotch beyond six p.m., the ill-bred cells lost their way home, did the hustle in Dada's system and
were not punished - drunk planktons swaying or shocking display of hubris, as the adults grieved. First the invasion,
then his melodious voice distanced itself like the tides from the sandy beaches. But we grew closer. A space that malignancy
couldn't touch. The hole in his throat, a kaleidoscope of catastrophe,
I assessed the language he spoke with his eyes – ashen rain of remorse that he had become tobacco's slave. A little too late, they
as the sweet angel took him away. Or not. Today, I am that age where I can throw rocks at the ocean all night. Swallow
fumes of adulthood. But I don't. My Dada's words play the record of repentance that I carry. We take our pasts wherever we go,
stashed inside our conscience.
Skipping a generation
The cup, a steel tumbler with a shrouded past,
with empty rum bottles, youth consumed by cheap whiskey. Soon beer cans lingered in the morning,
of every brick. A tired smile worn by a rickshaw puller in Calcutta, selling blood for a meager amount,
crawled behind grievous walls,
Not a flight like Icarus's, but like a swallow. Find a mate and smell the garden of roses where he would take his child and write poems with sugar and frost.
The myna told me:
I told the myna:
The myna said:
Memories. Tricky and sticky. Stored in the crevices of childhood,
Have you seen the birds,
You survived, defied the shadow,
One day she will stop digging up maggots of loss breeding in her memory.
One day she will ignore the wailing of broken bones,
One day she will forget the sinner who stole trust and left her with kohl-stained eyes.
One day she won't hear mourning in the monsoon pouring contempt through the sky.
One day she won't obsess about the end of her journey when her womb signals life.
It was supposed to be an interview, an exchange of 'hellos,' nods, and 'whats' with candidate #13 -
simple and complicated like love poems unwritten in the tulips about to be born in the spring. We sipped
the flavored morning dew as I watched the shadow of the day change sides. I bring up the topic. With her gaze
fixed, she says, You see the stray wolf in the woods,
the mountain of her life. But aren't all wolves vagrant, I speak with the gravel of ignorance stuck in my throat. The leaves plead to be raked, so the echo of my unawareness is absorbed by the penguins' trying to fly. I breathe deafly. She laughs with eyes
of infinite pity. I could have been that canine, smelling a vicious spirit in every touch. Tearing love with loneliness, hoping the wind
would whisper my plea into someone's ears and send them my way
Like a sand dune that doesn't know its name, I reach the end of the desert. I take my leave with empty pockets hiding feathers.
Butterflies of colors paint a rainbow in her life – schools of fish swimming towards their teeming family.
A permanent address
With prayers clasped behind my back,
a day when I would play carom,
Not house, home. There is a difference –
link. The loss of answers nudging you - why you were summoned to a circus of solitude.
With hundreds in the galaxy, not a star to call your own. Some kittens find a home, others wander. Called stray. I cry. The paws teach me
to pray. I crawl inside the litter box - old habit adamant like a drunk. I perspire
and wet my world with trepidation,
Flood of affection is what I get from her -
of assurance. She whispers that it was a recurring nightmare.
I cannot emphasize enough
It's not your fault that it was a hot summer day,
It's not your fault I decided to leave work early to stomp out a black moss of anger.
It's not your fault I drowned my eyes with sand and didn't see signs of the dark rain.
It's not your fault I distracted my lips with pale fumes as I boarded the train which never moved.
But it will be your fault if you don't claim the dusts of grief, throw them into the oblivion and move out of this transient world.
A different kind of Thanksgiving
At the time, they were living in upstate New York. The name of the town, elusive like vapor,
Wearing a cardigan of weariness with shoes of everyday abuse,
The man behind the wheel was hurling particles of nervousness. Tonight was it.
His blindside, her wrong side.
Life and death don't seek permission -
Making the choice
The battle goes on Barren heart, blaming fingers.
Excerpted from "Because All Is Not Lost"
Copyright © 2010 Sweta Srivastava Vikram.
Excerpted by permission of Loving Healing Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
A fallen soldier,
A note to the biggest thief in this world,
Mommy, we need to have this chat,
Look at me,
There is hope,
Let me go,
Don't talk to strangers,
Beginning of the end,
Skipping a generation,
A permanent address,
I cannot emphasize enough,
A different kind of Thanksgiving,
Making the choice,
About the Author,
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