Swethlana Saraswat

/ Toye Room in Mussoorie /

Note: The haibun was an act of making peace with the sad memories of my adolescent years.

My butt tucks in my toes and protects it like a blanket, while I'm sitting on the platforms attached to the window pane of our hostel's toye room. I let my head rest on the closed glass and let my eyes throw dart gazes on to the olive-green ground outside. This hour is a luxury in my existence, a problem child conscious of the rise and fall of her chest which is enclosed within this chestnut-coloured room. This room is one of the many cellular units making up my school, whose body during the day runs thanks to the adolescent women circulating within its brick-red walls. We are the school's blood. This hour, no words decide to visit me, no poetry returns to haunt, and no memory is left with the energy to cross my mind. This room is a makeshift hall of peace and I am wrapped warm in it. Tucked in, I cried happy tears for the relics of safety left in the corners of senior hostel.

barren toye room breathes
along with me in comfort
we live in midnight


/ A guide to loving my body /

Note: A simple instruction manual for me and my lovers, on how to love it in its state of expansion.

First look at her and gently touch
bring your fore finger
where her hair
has left,
invite your other fingers in and caress
right before kissing,

Second let your hands become feet,
by that I mean make them run
across that grainy skin
and the full hair and misplaced lashes,
then water those houseplants
between her lips, fill in the cracks
that have come from not being kissed by anything close to Love.

Third Press your palms against her Blouse. Can you feel it?
The Ill-Fitting of clothes
that are never worn to be worn
but worn because it is The Magazine's top recommendation.
Her blouse is damp from hiding her for ever

Fourth hug the comforter back,
bury your body in it,
you are in love with her pillow body
and stare into her eyes
and thank the world that no thing
in her self is ever going to be
without miles of depth.

Fifth drop down to your knees,
kiss her belly
don't close your eyes
watch her when she stretches out
and rolls them in
don't pretend she's small
hold tight the extra her in her hips
and whisper into her navel how desperately you wished the room was the world
because you never want to leave
you never want to leave
whisper that into her skin
like a prayer.

Sixth take her out
to dinner and to movies
to art exhibits
to parties
when drunk friends accidentally let a joke slip out
kindly knock the humour out of their alcohol wet throats
kindly fight
Fight because she's tired
from being the only hero in her story
Join her army
big girls don't need saving but what we'd appreciate a little bit of company
her body is accommodating
but what we cannot is accommodate abuse

Seventh don't let her finish this poem snatch the virtual notepad from her hands let
her know
the world isn't so bad
that loving some bodies
will need an instruction manual

Eight she is tired
give her a peck
when her judgement falls asleep


Swethlana is a generic word-scribbler, often found dabbling with poetry, prose and everything in between. Having featured on college campuses of NIT and Mount Carmel College, and events frequented by Bangalore's young literati, she's a fresh baby in the publishing world, and plans to stay in it for the long haul. To read more, click on her writing account: https://www.instagram.com/@letters_by_lana.