by  Anamika


Salt is earth’s sorrow and its taste.
Earth’s three-fourths is brackish water,
and men’s heart a salt mountain.
Weak is salt’s heart,
very quickly it melts,
it sinks in shame
when plates are flung
due to salt’s varied strength.
There stands – 
a government building – 
like a salt shaker – 
shakes with much sophistication, sprinkles
salt in my wound.
Women are the salt of the earth,
they have all the salt in the mould of their face.
Ask those women
how heavy it feels – 
their saline faces? 
All those determined to pay the salt’s price,
all those who couldn’t betray their masters
have annoyed the seven seas and
the revolutionaries.
Gandhi knew the salt’s worth
as the girl-guava-sellers.
Whether or not something
stays in the world,
there shall always be salt.
God’s tears and man’s sweat –
this is salt
that balances the earth.

Translation from the Hindi 
By Sudeep Sen

Anamika is an established Hindi poet and essayist. She has won several national awards for her collections of poems, essays, and fiction and teaches English literature at Satyawati College (University of Delhi). Her trilogy woven around the characters of Pandita Ramabai, Dhela Bai, and Tara insightfully traces the meaning of mukti in its different registers. From salvation to liberation, from the divine call phenomenon to the call center and call girl phenomenon, Mukti travels a long way. Against the backdrop of the three phases of the Freedom movement, stree-mukti also has traveled far and wide. In its representation of different ontological and material issues, this novel in three parts has earned her wide acclaim.