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"The Life and Times of Suku and Dukhu" by Ankit Raj

Once upon a time in a village by the river,

lived Suku and Dukhu, sister and brother.

Suku and Dukhu wasn’t their real name.

It was their father’s loving call,

which they grumbled was lame.

She played ludo in the tree and dipped in the pool,

little Suku wore her brother’s shirt to school.

Mother packed them fish-rice and a pickle of lime,

and sent the kids off with a bottle and a dime.

Seasons came, seasons were gone,

and many a trendy dress she wore.

But grown up Suku could love none

the way her brother’s baggy shirt she’d adore.

She did well, went to the fashion college in town.

But oft she wondered how to make a pretty gown.

She went on tweaking until the day it dawned—

the key was the village by the river

that held her memories fond.

My childhood memories I’ll weave on my gown!

Suku lit up as a smile soothed her frown.

Loose baggy silhouettes she made,

cut in her notebook’s geometric shape.

She styled her dresses with badges and ties,

drawing from her childhood

as she wondered how time flies.

Checks and stripes she borrowed from her brother,

thought long and deep to match one with the other.

Here and there she put some ruffles,

to keep it together she made fabric buckles.

She coloured her dresses in memories of yore,

going back in time as they flashed and wore.

Some came off vague, some were fresh,

hence the black and white, and ludo colours in her dress.

She styled her dresses, tried with a pony and a bun,

until it was fit for any woman.

And thus with much work and fun,

Suku stitched her Spring Summer Collection.

About the poem - I wrote this piece as a fun experiment while watching my fashion designer wife fret for weeks on end over her college design project (we were dating at that time). I took it upon myself to calm her and we travelled places and met artisans and craftsmen looking for inspiration until she found her project idea in her childhood. I have deliberately used a childish voice and amateur rhyme as an homage to every creative person out there who has managed to keep the child in them alive. Hold on. Did I tell you that she went on to win the Best Design Collection that year! She actually read this poem to the jury when asked to explain her project which also has the same title.

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 candidate at IIT Roorkee. He has poetry and short fiction published/forthcoming in Roi Fainéant Press, The Bitchin' Kitsch, The Broadkill Review, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Streetcake Magazine and The Dillydoun Review among other venues. Ankit's articles have appeared in Routledge and Johns Hopkins University Press journals. He tweets @ankit_raj01

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