Poetry: Selections from Ankit Raj


An inscrutable joy rushes in
Every time I chance upon
An empty cabinet,
An unused drawer,
Or tight-lipped cavities
Hitherto undiscovered
In rented apartments
I move in from time to time.
The sweeter the joy
If the compartment is empty
And struggles before giving in
To endless space
And infinite possibilities
Tamed within tangible boundaries
Erected to ease the insecurity
We hold against voids limitless
And unfathomable.
Cavities console us,
Despite our wariness,
For things only dilute;
Empty spaces hold infinity
Within their walls.
Cavities are our
Partners in crime,
Where we lead
Secret lives,
Where we tuck
Our truest selves
For safekeeping.


I am a circle of my own making,
Drawing myself round and round
A centre I have tethered myself to,
A centre that houses
The what-ifs and so-whats
That wound and nurse my pride.
I keep waiting for a miracle,
A nudge from without
That’ll free Sisyphus.
Then I’ll be a tangent leaving its locus,
Never to be drawn back
In its godforsaken orbit.

Supposedly Stolen Lives

I often wonder if I could flip
The pages back to the time
Free of constant fretting
Over where I’m headed.
And in yearning to restore
What is long gone,
I tend to do stuff I did back then—
Lying with a paperback
And a song on retro radio,
Or strumming a Kishore Kumar melody
‘Till the blues go away—
All vain efforts at recreating
What fate has stolen from me.
I have realized lately
In these designs of mine:
If we are so capable
Of taking frequent detours
To our beloved past,
Doing all we could
In the days of our lives
(Days rendered spotless by bias and time),
Aping every memory worth pining for again
(Barring the few beyond resurrection)—
Are we really as wretched
As we pride ourselves in believing?

Ankit Raj is an assistant professor, rock vocalist and former software engineer from Chapra, Bihar, India. He teaches English at Government College Gharaunda, Karnal and is a PhD student at IIT Roorkee. His writing is published/forthcoming in Roi Fainéant PressThe Bitchin' KitschA Thin Slice of AnxietyRoutledge and Johns Hopkins University Press among others.