We continue our Silk Rope poetry series with a poem written by Holland based Indian filmmaker and cultural expert Nandini Bedi. She told me that as a student she frequently took the seatless women only train carriages, as that were the only one she could afford at the time. The result is the following steamy slice of life poem:

 

Ladies Unreserved

 

We’re moving around now in straight lines,

Again we’ve hit the road.

Yesterday, it was vegetables in Sion

Today, another load.

Rocking, Rolling

Blocking

the bathroom doors—

Not an inch on the floor.

We’re travelling now on these rails

Together for the first time

Sharing shouts and stinks and baby’s wails

Women in our prime—

Sweating, Screaming,

Letting

the skyscrapers flash by.

When the noise subsides to familiar sounds

And every door is blocked,

Let those sacks, our burdens on the ground

with weeds and green well stocked

be our rest tonight

our beds tonight

It’s best we get some sleep tonight.

We’re moving now, on those tracks

along a different stream—

Lying—legs spread wide and on our backs

Eyes closed in tobacco dream.

We’re flying now—another space

Lying low in another place.

And in that restless roving train,

We have somehow let

it all come out and drain

with our bodies sweat—

breasts flattened, sarees flung

waist laid bare

And arms and legs and hair!

The night has not been so long

when quite out of the blue

A figure towering strong—

above—from low angle view.

Railway Police—

Just stay Where you are

You can’t go far.

Sheathed dagger hangs from side

Pants tight on bulging crotch.

Gun in hand, legs spread wide

Young eyes that calmly watch

Lying figures on swollen sacks

Trying their best

to get some rest.

We’ve been moving now just this way

A home away from home

Years of yesterdays and todays

And along he comes and lands there

just stands there.

In Ladies Unreserved.

 

The poem originally was published in the Indian platform for women’s rights and Democratic reforms Manushi in 1988.