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Terminal – Poetry by Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla from India

Terminal – Poetry by Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla from India
'Borders and Broken Hearts' - a book by Gayatri Lakhani Chawla.

Death is a great leveller, nothing more, nothing less

Award-winning poet Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla, based in Mumbai, India shares three poems selected from her book ‘Borders and Broken Hearts’
Gayatri-Lakhiani-Chawla-Mumbai-Sindh-CourierGayatri Lakhiani Chawla is an award-winning poet, translator, healer and French teacher from Mumbai, India. Her poems have been widely published in international anthologies and periodicals. She is the author of three poetry collections – Borders and Broken Hearts shortlisted for the PVLF Author Excellence Awards 2024 for Best English Poetry, Invisible Eye longlisted for Cochin Lit Fest Poetry Prize 2018, and The Empress winner of the 2018 US National Poetry Contest by Ræd Leaf Foundation for Poetry & Allied Arts. Her co-translations of Nimanoo Faqir and Sachal Sarmast are published in poetry at Sangam. Her translated Sindhi poem ‘Safar’ won the first prize at the Kavya Kaumudi International Poetry Award. She is recipient of the Rahi Kadam Inspiration Award 2021. She is the author of Healing Elixir The Hawakal Handbook of Angel Therapy, Numerology & Remedies. Her co-translations of Sachal Sarmast’s Sufi poetry are part of an upcoming book.


Sitting in the corner balcony of his one bedroom

Early mornings he is busy,

The ten kilo papad dough needs kneading

Handful of spices must be showered

And then there are spirits of solitude

From his backyard in Karachi.

His ailing father pays him regular visits

At his age he hates to be ignored,

He likes his morning cup of chai

Hot almost like the tongue-burn chili papads

Sun-kissed under the autumn skies.


From the age of five

He wears a talisman

Copper metallic plate

Cold like the dead body of the cobra

Coiled, de-composed, molted salt.

Death is a great leveller

Nothing more, nothing less.


Yesterday he dreamt he is a child,

Playing cricket with the boys of the mohalla,

“Don’t go too far my son,

The valley of moonflowers will entice you across the barbed wire”.

The words resonate again and again.

How does one switch off the little voice?


Jamshed Town Karachi


That summer we left our childhood behind

In the darkling mango orchard,

Before we knew it

 The julienne carrots and turnips

Left to sour and pickle

In the scorching sun,

Before we knew it

Grasping the stone-fruit in our fists

As if the sky had fallen

The lightening felling our wrists

Leaving our chappals in the yard,

The porch lights switched on

Awaiting our quiet return

We walked away,

Before we knew it.

[Note: Hiraeth is a Welsh word for nostalgia and homesickness]


Partition - Karachi Port - Sindh Courier
Partition 1947: Sindhis at Karachi Port awaiting the turn to embark the ship for migration. Photo Courtesy: Social Media

Flight 1947

Rubber slippers forgotten in haste

Walking bare feet

Naked realization

Dawned upon an Amavasya night.


Jamshed Quarters stands tall and stoic

The lights have been switched off

I look away a sea of fragments

Ahead, an oyster of tear drops


*Amavasya-No moon night.
*1947 the year of partition of India, is symbolic of displacement and isolation. It was a moment of emotional turmoil as overnight our family left their Homeland Sindh forever. Jamshed Quarters was our ancestral home in Karachi, capital of Sindh province of Pakistan. 

Also read: Longing for a homeland never seen


Also read: Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla: The Eye of Sindh


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