April 2017: Satvika Jain
Satvika Jain is an 18-year-old undergraduate student of arts at Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi. She enjoys capturing simple, unnoticed stories through poetry and photography. She maintains a blog on Instagram with moments from her travels.
My mother stands
shoulders curving forward
facing her little mandir
with her little Hindu gods
and a bias for Ganesha
we have collected idols of the elephant god
over the years
my favorite is one made of green glass
so small I can hide it in one hand
the cool glass slipping in my sweaty palms
we only have two Laxmis
one from each diwali in this new house
My mother stands
fingertips shiny, soaking cotton wick in crumbly ghee
And I go to stand behind her.
she hurries through her prayers today,
anxious to slip in as much devoutness
before I slip away
She grabs the yellow metal bell
shaking it with vigor, in circles
and brings the diya to my face
her face lighted up, behind it, smiling
It isn't often that
my agnostic theist self comes here
without being asked
I laughingly ask for prasad
which I know she doesn't have
for there is nobody to give it to, on other days
and she fumbles, coming up triumphant
with a packet of mishri
We both know my lips haven't whispered any prayers
but she touches some mishri
to the green Ganesha's mouth
the rest into mine.
Sweetness bursts upon my tongue.
A Conversation with Satvika Jain
Richa: Your sample poem employs a lot of religious imagery. Does religion often influence your writing? What other themes do you try to explore?
Satvika: Religion has always been something I've struggled to form a clear relationship with, since many of my childhood memories have been attached to people and places with an essence of prayer and ritualism in them. So while it doesn't often become the central theme, religious practices and the idea of belief do often influence my work, in both their positive and negative aspects. Living in India, you can't separate yourself from them. Other than religion, I don't really choose any complex themes. Simple stories of people and quiet places, things we often miss if we're not aware enough. I like the concept of immortalizing the ordinary.
Richa: What has been your most important moment as a writer?
Satvika; I suppose it was when I realized that writing isn't something I necessarily love. It's just something I need to do, to make my life concrete. I need to put down everything in words just so I can know it all over again. Writing then became a way of life because I need to feel, and to remember how I felt. So I guess it was when I understood that writing is something that would always stay with me, unquestionably.
Richa: What is your writing schedule like? How do you try to infuse poetry into your everyday routine?
Satvika: My writing schedule is erratic at best. I don't write for months, and then I write everything. I feel it's easier, more real, when I'm traveling. In my everyday routine, something I love to do is pick up poetry chapbooks and scribble along with the poems, as responses to them. Apart from that, since April is National Poetry Writing Month, I'm forcing myself to write a poem each day and post it on Instagram. Nothing else, just blunt force, without excuses.