The Girl Burnt in Acid
Don’t be afraid of the mirror, girl
the black scar on your moon-like face
is not a symbol of anathema—
but the raw enigma of resistance
the manifesto of a stark dignity.
Who're you covering your face from, girl?
The wickedness of the world pops up
all the defeated violators have knelt in
the deep wound of yours;
the helplessness and cowardice of men
are shamefully mirrored on your face.
Why're you ashamed of seeing them—
those who reduced you to a piece of
paper of compensation; why're you
afraid of them who sealed off the
bud of your dream with a stone?
Oh, timid girl, if you can’t become
a goddess of fluorescence;
can’t you become the sprite with your
tarnished face in this darkness?
Translated from Odia by Pitambar Naik
SUJATA SAHANI is a Ph. D. candidate at Ravenshaw University, Cuttack in the Department of Odia Literature. Her writings appear in numerous Odia journals. Her debut book of poetry, Naritie Kalam Dhariba Dina (Pakshighara Prakashani), was published in 2017 and was shortlisted for the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar twice. Her literary awards include the Akhil Mohan Foundation Puraskar, Ananya Puraskar of NAWO, Nabanita Patrika Puraskar, and Bhakti Smruti Puraskar among others. She grew up in Gobindapur and lives in Bhubaneswar, Odisha in India.
PITAMBAR NAIK is an advertising copywriter for a living. When he’s not creating ideas for brands, he writes poetry. His work appears or is forthcoming in The McNeese Review, The Notre Dame Review, Packingtown Review, Ghost City Review, Rise Up Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Indian Quarterly and elsewhere. He’s the author of the poetry collection, The Anatomy of Solitude (Hawakal). He grew up in Odisha and lives in Bangalore, India.