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To Extinguish a Homemade Fire

"There is no word in our language that can describe what we are"

(After 1996 film LGBT Indian 'Fire', starring Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi. 'Fire' is the first mainstream Bollywood film to feature a lesbian relationship.)


Sita wanted so much more,

She let her eyes dance

until the house naked

She wasn’t impressed by the Taj Mahal

as much as by the slow clinking of Radha’s bangles.


The men looked the other way, they had the whole sky to see

so the women whispered before the sun came out,

and the whole air was electricity.


Fingertips tracing thirst in a scalp,

a foot massaged out of yearning,

two pairs of sarees undone,

a race against the sun;

and the audience watched, unblinking,

so envious, vying for the corrupted goddesses,

that they forgot to be outraged.

Only here, in this darkened cinema hall,

to the sound of a creaking fan,

looking at a painting of their own irrelevance,

did the men cry, so scared of being caught lying,

that they brought their sticks and slurs

and their homemade fire,

lest anyone else catch the truth.

Women, cardamom breath, a pretense of fear,

Running like they found the sea of longing,

and they didn’t just dip their toes in.

Here, limbs woven like a lattice at a shrine of desire, their longing holier than truth, the truth, a failed promise

“There is no word in our language,

that can describe what we are”- but let’s forget until morning,

language was never ours to keep anyway.


Artwork for the piece has been illustrated by Anureet themselves.

About the author

Anureet Watta is a poet living in New Delhi. Their works have previously been published in the Bombay Review, Varta Magazine, GAYSI, Ghost Heart literary journal and various other platforms. They currently head the Delhi based Artists' organization Forbidden Verses. Instagram: @alooreet



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