Home Poetry Pinpricked Hands – Poems from India pay homage to the workers

Pinpricked Hands – Poems from India pay homage to the workers

Pinpricked Hands – Poems from India pay homage to the workers
A home-based woman worker in Sindh - Image courtesy: Global Giving

Maliha Iqbal

Maliha Iqbal is a student and writer based in Aligarh, India. Many of her short stories, write-ups, letters and poems have been published on platforms Live Wire (The Wire), Creativity Webzine, Cerebration, Histolit, Countercurrents, The Palestine Chronicle, Freedom Review, ArmChair Journal, Counterview, Good Morning Kashmir, Writers’ Cafeteria, Café Dissensus, Borderless Journal, The Cadre Journal and Indian Periodical. She can be reached at malihaiqbal327@gmail.com.

Pinpricked Hands

She embroiders the

Most beautiful patterns

Her leathery hands

Weave together

Bright moons and stars

In the dingy little workroom

Where all of them

Squint over fabrics.

Spools of thread dissolve

Into the magic of

Her pin-pricked hands

And patterns glowing

Like fireflies at night

Emerge on the dresses

As the clock points

Towards midnight.

She knows she

Can never afford

The soft fabrics

That she holds

In her coarse hands.

Not all pain comes

With the force of a

Black hole that sucks

All your life force

Some pain comes

In the form of

Brightly colored dresses

That are taken away

From you the moment

They are made.

Pinterest Image

Cheerless Celebration

They are wearing

Bright red coats

Glittering golden belts

With gaudy wedding turbans

They stand out in the crowd

Even from a distance

But no one looks at them

As they melt into the background

Playing the mixture of brass instruments

That they have brought with them

As they came in the bus

To the wedding destination

And waited for hours

For people to get ready

They are blasting out loud music

As gaily dressed people dance

But their eyes are not closed

As one expects from a musician

Their face is not a peaceful mask

Filled with the joy of the music

That they are producing

They look tired

Their bright clothes

Cannot hide the dark circles

Their cheerful music

Cannot hide the hopelessness

As they came to earn

Something on top

Of their other petty jobs.

They watch the happy guests

They watch the fireworks

They watch the groom on horseback

But no celebratory mood

Seems to lighten their hearts

As they trudge back

Through the night

In their gaudy clothes

And hang up their instruments

On walls with chipping plaster

In desperate need of a

Fresh coat of paint.

Image Courtesy: Human Rights Watch

Scarred People

Their faces are covered

In sweat and soot

Blurring out their features

Until they all look alike- machines

Machines that move the coal

Through narrow underground passages

Breathing in the dusty air

Feeling it blacken and congeal

Inside their lungs.

The ground beneath their feet

Is throbbing with the hollowness

As the trees were ripped apart

And the soil was scratched out

By the claws of a bull dozer

They are a scarred people

Working on a scarred land.


Courtesy: Counter Currents (Published on May 1, 2023)


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