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On Learning to Write

by Nilesh Mondal

Nilesh Mondal’s poem talks about a woman’s road to literacy, even though it comes late in her life. Her feelings about easing into this new role of a student are bittersweet to her though.

she writes her name, on the white piece of paper
and looks at it, the way children of war look at
peacetime, with relief, and a smidge of pride
hidden between tired eyes

she came to this house the year she had her first
period and the panic of finding out what her body
could do, had both frightened and set her
free, her first pregnancy came three years later,
second after two more years, and by the time
her sons learnt the alphabets,
she didn’t miss not knowing
them herself, she could however
count, and knew some arithmetic
and it was enough knowledge for
a woman to have, she believed

now sitting beside her grandson,
her hands tremble with the weight
of a pen, her skin wrinkled and sun
kissed, her hair grey and wispy, she
slowly moves the nib across coarse
paper and watches the ink fill the space
where her fingers had been a moment ago

after an hour of trying, she finally
signs her name, in scrawling, wiry
hand writing, and those two words
small enough to fit into someone’s
finger nails, look humongous to her

like a marquee, that says in shiny
letters, “here’s a woman who knows
how her name looks, how beautiful
it reads, how proudly it stains paper,
how hard it is to erase”

Nilesh Mondal, 23, is an engineer by choice and poet by chance. He works as a writer for Terribly Tiny Tales and Thought Catalog. He’s also the prose editor for Moledro Magazine and an intern for Inkletter Magazine. His first book of poetry, Degrees of Separation, is scheduled for a 2017 release.
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