Sukrita Paul Kumar

Sukrita Paul Kumar was born and brought up in Kenya and at present she lives in Delhi, writing poetry, researching and teaching literature. An Honorary Fellow of International Writing Programme, University of Iowa (USA) and a former Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, she was also an invited poet in residence at Hong Kong Baptist University. She has published five collections of poems in English including Rowing Together, Without Margins and Folds of Silence.

Sukrita’s major critical works include Narrating Partition, Conversations on Modernism, The New Story and Man, Woman and Androgyny. Some of her co-edited books are Ismat, Her Life, Her Times, Interpreting Homes in South Asian Literature and Women’s Studies in India: Contours of Change. As Director of a UNESCO project on “The Culture of Peace”, she edited Mapping Memories, a volume of Urdu short stories from India and Pakistan. She has two books of translations, Stories of Joginder Paul and the novel Sleepwalkers. She is the chief editor of the book on Cultural Diversity in India published by Macmillan India and prescribed by the University of Delhi.

A recipient of many prestigious fellowships and residencies, Sukrita has lectured at many universities in India and abroad. A solo exhibition of her paintings was held at AIFACS, Delhi. A number of Sukrita’s poems have emerged from her experience of working with homeless people.



A Tale Untold

(Dedicated to Sadhna Naithani)


This way or that way

Whichever way

Chaubeji looked


Tales spilled over

Tales told and retold


Squirrels scurrying out of

his eyes, his ears

Baby hedgehogs stumbling from

his hairy nostrils


Stories climbing up his legs

Nawabs and begums

Rajas and ranis crawling all

Over him as red ants


Their pinpricks and bites

Traveling from Gopalpur

To London and back


In English

the spice and sting

softened on entering

the white ears

of William Crooke


Ladoos became chocolates

mogra turned bluebells


The many tongues of

Pandit Ramgharib Chaube

Flapped smartly,

From Avadhi, Braj, Khadi boli

Bhojpuri and even Sanskrit

And Persian

To the language of Englishsthan


Fanning people’s imagination

from the times of creation

in the United Provinces


More and even more

Stories surfaced

from deep tunnels of memories

and poured into the

already full cauldron of

Chaube’s mind


The mind that swung

into swirls

and circles of insanity;


Invisible to history

a whole century deaf


He lay mummified

Packed between the covers

Of his handwritten book of tales


Until stirred by the smell of

Ink in the pen of a fellow traveler


Once again

The squirrels came scurrying

out of his eyes

And the pigeons flew from his ears


In the Folklore Society of London.




Your shriveled

Winter bark

Is a mere mask over

Those chirpy moments, tunnels of

Dense exchanges, breezy quarrels


Those hours of snow meditations


We soared through the skies

To the sounds of

The universe


The autumnal fall

cannot shed them all



I am not the summer green of your

Leaves that comes, teasing you

Again and yet again


On this wakeful

winter morning

I see it all

You are in fact

Empty of your ghost…

I see it all


Today too

Wrapped in that same

green shawl

That ageless spirit

Emerges from the nowhere

Of tall keekers of


Gently stepping


through rows of shadowy trees


as on other mornings



in search for another form

an oak, a chinar or

perhaps a peepal


The birds twitter

on my branches

As the mountains slide

into the jungles

on the plains.




To You, Whoever


I hear you in the

Veins of the peepal leaf


Loud and clear


Lit up in the grains of sand

in the afternoon sun



I see you appear

In the ripple of the

Baby’s giggle


When you slither back into

the snake hole

I know

the world will end.