WE’RE bound for the ocean

and a largesse of sky,

we’re not looking for the truth

or living a lie.


We’re coming apart,

we’re going downhill,

the fury’s almost done,

we’ve had our fill.


We’re passionate, ironic,

angelic, demonic,

clairvoyant, rational,

wildly Indian, anti-national.


We’re not trying to make our peace,

not itching for a fight,

we don’t need your shade

and we don’t need your light.


We know charisma isn’t contagious

and most rules are egregious.


We’re catabolic women.


We’ve known the refuge of human arms,

the comfort of bathroom floors,

we’ve stormed out of rooms,

thrown open the doors.


We’ve figured the tricks to turn rage

into celebration,

we know why the oldest god dances

at every cremation.


We’ve kissed in the rose garden,

been the belles of the ball,

hidden under bedcovers,

and we’ve stood tall.


We’re not interested in camouflage

or self-revelation,

not looking for a bargain

or an invitation.


We’re capable of stillness

even as we gallivant,

capable of wisdom

even as we rant.


Look into our eyes,

you’ll see we’re almost through.

We can be kind but we’re not really

thinking of you.


We don’t remember names

and we don’t do Sudoku.

We’re losing EQ and IQ,

forgetting to say please and thank you.


We’re catabolic women.


We’ve never ticked the right boxes,

never filled out the form,

our dharma is tepid,

our politics lukewarm.


We’ve had enough of earnestness

and indignation

but still keep the faith

in conversation.


We’re wily Easterners enough

to argue nirvana and bhakti,

talk yin and yang,

Shiva and Shakti.


When we’re denied a visa

we fall back on astral travel

and when samsara gets intense

we simply unravel.


We’re unbuilding now,





We’re caterwauling,




catabolic women.

— Illustration © Namaah K for Firstpost

— Excerpted with permission from Love Without a Story by Arundhathi Subramaniam, to be published by Context, April 2019

Also read:

Kala Krishnan Ramesh's What the Peacock said to Ganesha about his Brother’s Lovesickness

Sampurna Chattarji's Ghatkopar to Versova and Back

Karthika Naïr's Line 1