Alter ego

This is a playful parcel of words– I wouldn’t call it poetry–and I have thought of it in several ways: as a letter to a young wife from an old mistress, as a letter from one Other Woman to another, as a letter from an artist to a subject, from a subject to her alter ego, or one from a poet to a dancer-in-the-ring-of-life. Name it what you will, this dramatic formulation from one secret sharer to another.

The crossed-out words are deliberate; we all use them to speak to our selves, don’t we?

I hope the reader will do me the honor of including in the registers of these words Joseph Conrad’s “The Secret Sharer” and The Secret Agent, as well as Ashis Nandy’s The Intimate Enemy. We are intimate enemies all, and they haunt me, those old wily masters.


Secret agent,

I live through you, for you, you are my life.

Life gives you all that is/was/was never mine

And I weave you  your perfect representation

out of my life,

the shavings of my work.

You clothe me in the parings of your shringaar

                        my words, your tresses

and I draw you, perfect

my Other


who I would be, would not be,

O body swayed to love,

Which is the dancer, which the dance?


I see you take seven forms,

In the worlds I cannot enter

each of the seven thrones


Adorn, would bear

who I would be, would not be

my alter


I give you all that is mine,

My beautiful vicarious life.





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