Kalpna Singh-Chitnis

Is Anyone Listening? Love that Cannot Live Long Enough: Kalpna Singh-Chitnis

Is anyone Listening?

She has lost her mind. It’s impossible to care for her.
A WhatsApp message notifies in the middle of the night.
I promise not to talk about the messenger.

They are considering a mental asylum or a senior home.
They are waiting for her lab results and the doctor’s note.
She no longer has a say.

She can’t remember her whereabouts, sits half-naked
all day. She can no longer button her blouse,
can’t clean herself. She is a mess!

She can’t stand on her own, can’t walk even a small distance.
She refuses her cane and hopes. She is convinced,
it’s time for her to go now.

Her hands, like the branches of a desiccating tree
birds have abandoned. Her hollow bones sing all night
the lullaby her mother sang to her. But she can’t sleep.

She can’t remember the days of the week,
the number of years she has lived. Do you?
Do the math, you smart ass!

Add her age with the ages of all her children and grandchildren.
She lives in their flesh, blood, and bone marrow. Let’s not forget,
she is just living on another plane where we yet have to arrive.

She can’t keep track of time, doesn’t know it’s day or night
and keeps calling. Cut the crap! Send her to a madhouse!
Shut the noises she makes — just a bit of advice.

It’s a lockdown, and she wants to go elsewhere.
Where to, she doesn’t know! Millions have lost their jobs,
and she has lost her mind!! Millions have died, but she is still living!!!

It’s easier said than done.
You privileged ones, sitting afar,
you are only eligible to foot her bills and be entertained.

People are dying of hunger, and she is wasteful,
smears her food all over her body and face, worse than a child!
She soiled the elevator the other day. How embarrassing!

She needs a diaper change every two hours.
Go away, you perfect mess! Stop knocking!
People are working from home, don’t you know?

They have bills to pay, family to care for!
But she keeps coming and coming,
knocking and knocking,

until a door opens, and she feels a blow on her face,
punch after punch on her forehead, until she collapses,
choking on her children’s names, and goes silent.

Love that Cannot Live Long Enough

Not long ago,
I was Kosovo,

then became Baghdad
by the river Tigris.

Then I turned into Syria
and Ukraine,

crippled and bled to death.
Only to wake up again,

without any eyes or limbs,
without any heart or soul.

And today, I’m Gaza,
covered in ashes.

And Kyiv—
siphoning rockets and bullets.

You can call me hatred
or hope that cannot die.

Or love that cannot live
long enough.

Kalpna Singh-Chitnis is an Indian-American poet, writer, actor, and filmmaker based in Greater Los Angeles. She is the author of four poetry books, the Editor-in-Chief of Life and Legends and Translation Editor of IHRAF Publishes in New York. Her works have appeared in notable journals and other venues like World Literature Today, California Quarterly, Indian Literature, Silk Routes Project (The University of Iowa), Life in Quarantine (Stanford University), etc. Her full-length poetry collection Bare Soul was awarded the 2017 "Naji Naaman Literary Prize for Creativity." Her awards and honors include the "Bihar Rajbhasha Award," given by the government of Bihar, India, "Bihar Shri," and the "Rajiv Gandhi Global Excellence Award." Kalpna's poetry has received praise from eminent writers, such as Nobel Prize in Literature nominee Dr. Wazir Agha, Vaptsarov Award, and Ordre des Arts et des Lettres recipient Amrita Pritam, and poet and Academy Award-winning lyricist, and filmmaker Gulzar. She has read her works at Sahitya Akademi, India's highest academy of letters, Poets & Writers, AWP Conferences, and other venues internationally. Her works have been translated into Spanish, French, Italian, German, Albanian, Chez, Arabic, Nepali, Urdu, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati, and published in anthologies worldwide. A former lecturer of Political Science, Kalpna Singh-Chitnis holds a degree in Film Directing from the New York Film Academy and works as an independent filmmaker in Hollywood. She is also a member of the United Nations Association of the USA and the founder and director of the "Silent River Film and Literary Society" and "Silent River Film Festival" in the USA. Website: www.kalpnasinghchitnis.com