Abhimanyu – Amlanjyoti Goswami

Illustration by Ilisha Dhond

Passwords and firewalls

No matter

No city with gates so tall

Offices with locked doors,

Easy prey

Stadium entry, no ticket

Cinema seat

Like a cat

Breaking into hearts, soft as fur

When the men are away


Abhimanyu, I stammer,

Born of air


Father, I hear you still,


Deep inside



How to enter the circle of circles

In war


I listen intently,

But when sleep’s rosy fingers

Touch her moist eyes,

I too cannot stay awake


The lesson remains half-learnt.


Tell me, father,

How to find a way out


Now, I am called to duty, again.

Inside these grilled gates

Where they ask for identity


The office files fry

The game is bloody

The movie boring


The same old story called history

Reminds me


That men carry knives wherever they

Are.  They deceive just at that

Last moment when you think it’s all sorted –


Those ledgers, the balance of accounts.


I have to go out for a smoke.

There must be a fire escape somewhere.

Do you know the way out, father?

Note: Abhimanyu, Arjuna’s ill-fated son in the Mahabharata. Inside his mother’s womb, he listened to his father tell his mother how to enter the Chakravayu (the circle of circles in war). Half way through, mother fell asleep, the lesson remained half learnt. Abhimanyu knew how to get in, but not out of the Chakravayu. When called to war, a teenage Abhimanyu fought bravely, inside the inner circle, before being slaughtered, unable to find a way out.

Amlanjyoti Goswami’s poems have appeared in publications in India, as well as UK, Africa and USA. A bunch of his poems find place in ‘40 under 40: an anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry’, published recently by the Bombay-based poetry press, Poetrywala. He grew up in Guwahati, Assam and lives in Delhi.