She Refuses to Blame Herself

He went there to die, she said;
no premonition of his death awakened me
within the watches of the night
or blood-dyed nightmare make me clutch
his smiling face, his goodbye-waving hand.
(Her voice was steady as the wind,
her eyes were dry with tears.)
No dream of Yama and his noose
upturned my dreamless sleep
nor did I see my daughter kneeling,
fatherless, broken by grief.
And on the evening of his death,
(the candle of her voice fell low),
no bullet bit my breast
nor shrapnel singe my woman-heart.
I loved him as a woman and a wife:
I love him still, but he is dead
and I must live.


In 2005, there was a wholly unexpected “terrorist-attack” on the IISc campus in which I lived. There were several injuries and one life was lost, that of a man who was there just that day for a conference. I remember mention being made of his wife and young daughter – and wondering what it would be like for his wife when she heard the news. Written some ten years later, this poem considers the matter.

P.S: This is one of my favourite poems of mine.

For more about the poem, visit notes.

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