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The First Book of Indlish Poems

Author: Sheela Jaywant


About the Author
Born and educated in Bombay (now Mumbai), Sheela Jaywant works as Administrator of a group of small, private schools in Goa. Since 1983, her work has appeared in national newspapers and periodicals like Reader’s Digest, RHiME, Joao-Roque Literary Journal,, GOYA, and Indian Quarterly. She wrote a twenty-year-long humour column for the Navhind Times and Gomantak Times in Goa.

Her own books are Quilted: Stories of Middle-Class India, Melting Moments: a collection of “middles’’ and The Liftman and Other Stories. Her stories and essays have also been published in anthologies that include The Brave New World of Goan Writing 2018, Indian Voices, Vanilla Desires, She Writes, Carnival, Railonama and When They Spoke. Her short fiction has won prizes at Desi Writers’ Lounge, as well as Fundacao Oriente Short Story Competition and Pallium India’s Best in Print Media Award.

With a grant from the Government of Goa, she compiled essays on the journeys of Goan writers, composed by themselves, in the book From Mind to Keyboard. Her Marathi to English translations include Ward No. 5, KEM and A Life’s Journey: Opa, Goa to Cleveland, USA.



The Insides of Family Life, Middle-class Mumbai, 1960s

My grandma in bed, in paralytic unhappiness.
My mother unable to leave her unattended.
The kind and affectionate servant who would take me
To the nearby beach, to play in sand, tell me
About the gods, my people and her family.
The next-door Lonkars, who taught me
To follow rules by keeping footwear outside their door.
Or the Hoskots, who kept me curious;
Their kitchen didn’t smell of fish and coconut oil.
Or the Iyers, who had six children,
One severely disabled, who we respectfully called “Dada”.
Or the maali’s family,
Who lived in a single room under the stairway,
Who cared for the building,
Who were cared for by the tenants.
I played lagori, hututu and skipped on a naked road.
No cars were parked, none could afford them then.
I didn’t know who was Sequeira, who Levi, Shah or Sheikh.
Now I know.
That time our parents didn’t care much about
Who ate what or spoke which tongue.
If one grazed a knee, the closest adult
Gave a biscuit, patted the bottom and sent one off.
That Bombay has long gone.

Introduction / 9

The Insides of Family Life, Middle-class Mumbai, 1960s / 11
Working Late with an Office Mate / 12
The Annual Vacation to the ‘Native Place’, from Bombay to Palolem, a Small Village in South Goa / 13
To Sell One’s Soul to a Corporate Goal / 14
Kace to Case / 23
A Senior Citizen’s Lockdown in Verse / 26
Death on the Table / 28
Individual Needs / 33
Inoculation Time / 35
The Fruit Juice Stall outside a Hospital / 37
A Druck to Flavour a Sweet / 39
The Sweet Coconut Wadi / 40
Uses of a Sandwich-Toaster / 42
Konkani Curried Crabs / 44
A Meal in a Sandwich / 47
Queen of Rotis: the Purann-pollee / 49
Rice Puris with Gravies / 52
This Is the Way We Make Duddpay Pohay / 54
We Call It Lucknowi Omelette / 55
A Glimpse into a Middle-class Neighbourhood, Shivaji Park, Mumbai 1960s / 56
A Not-so-old Building, Mumbai No Longer Bombay, 1990s / 57
My Four-legged Companion / 58
School, Locked Down / 59
Dear Phone / 60
This Is Why the Job Got Delayed / 62
Unseasonal Rain in Goa / 63
Who’s Wrong, Who’s Not / 65

The First Book of Indlish Poems

  • Pages: 68
    Year of Publication: 2022
    ISBN: 978-81-956648-3-2 (9788195664832)







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