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THE HAIBUN GALLERY: 11th August — a Thursday Feature

Hosts: Shalini Pattabiraman and Akila G.

11th August 2022


The second haibun in this series featuring Marietta McGregor won the Ekphrastic Challenge in Rattle [March 2018].

THE VISITANT


We never found out where she came from, our hen. One morning she was just there, in the back yard. That was one of the times when only two of us, Mum and I, lived in that house. One of the times when Dad had gone off, we didn’t know where, driven by demons we couldn’t imagine. It happened at unpredictable moments. Something would set him off, he’d start drinking, and he’d disappear. We had the house to ourselves. Life settled down a bit. I’d go off to my Seventh Day Adventist Primary school each day and hurry home, glad to have Mum to myself.


And then someone else came to live with us, this plump, glossy Black Orpington, gentle and sweet-natured. She loved a cuddle, and would sit on my knee, crooning soft warm chicken songs for hours while I stroked and settled her feathers and babied her as my special doll. She had a whole repertoire of contented burbles and trills. Sitting with her warm bulk on my knee I felt happy, protected. I wondered who she was, really.


I found out much later that chickens make about 30 different sounds. We’d do well to learn their language. I tried murmuring her talk back to her, which she seemed to like, arching her neck under my hand, fluffing and resettling herself. I don’t remember how long she stayed with us, I only remember the pleasure of having her there. One day she wasn’t. There were no signs of pain or mayhem—no foxes in Tasmania in those days. We thought she must have moved on to warble to another family.


My father came home later that year. He’d been in a War Repatriation Hospital for some time, and looked ill and tired, the emphysema beginning to cave in his chest. We never saw the chicken again.


a handful of mash

that ache for something

different



In this haibun a simple image is turned around to create a narrative which fits into its own space, creates its own world.


This week as we celebrate seventy-five years of Indian independence, I invite you to consider how you view India on the world map. Think of lines we draw on paper to create boundaries. What do these boundaries mean to you? What if there were no boundaries? Create a haibun that experiments with the politics of space, identity, freedom, access and equity.


As always, a good haibun will find its way into the next issue of our fabulous journal. Akila and I are eagerly looking forward to reading your haibun.


PLEASE NOTE:

1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt.

2. Share your best-polished pieces.

3. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written. Let it simmer for a while.

4. When poets give suggestions and if you agree to them - post your final edited version on top of your original version.

5. Don't forget to give feedback on others' poems.


We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished haibun (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in the haikuKATHA monthly journal.



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76 Comments


Xenia Tran
Xenia Tran
Aug 14, 2022

Thank you for sharing this beautiful and deeply moving haibun by Marietta with us Shalini.

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Replying to

Hi Xenia

Thank you for your kind words. Hope to read one of yours too.


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Vidya Shankar
Vidya Shankar
Aug 14, 2022

Thanks to all who have commented on my post. I have incorporated all your suggestions. By the way, Tricolour is written in caps, hence Tiranga also has to be in caps as they are proper nouns. Same goes with national flag. When 'national flag' is used to indicate a particular flag, as a proper noun, it is written as National Flag. I checked this out, but I am open to correction if I am wrong.


Here is my edited version:


75


My husband and I stand on our terrace looking at the rows of Tiranga all down our neighbourhood.


“I wish Father had been alive now,” says my husband. “He would have been ecstatic to see our National Flag flying…


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Anju Kishore
Anju Kishore
Aug 19, 2022
Replying to

The revised version sounds great, Vidya. Noted about the caps in the national flag.

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Vidya Shankar
Vidya Shankar
Aug 14, 2022

Shalini and Akila, thank you for sharing such an emotive piece of work. Marietta McGregor truly deserves the honour.

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sangita kalarickal
sangita kalarickal
Aug 14, 2022

Thank you @Shalini, @Vidya, @Akila, @Anju, @Reid, for your kind feedback! Many, many thanks. Sorry it took so long to get the edits in. Here is my edited version, I made several cuts to get rid of a lot of telling. Hopefully the prose is tighter now. Also got rid of the italics.


Crimping the fringe


My fingers stop at the bottom of the box of my Indian clothes. The khadi scarf, soft with wear near caresses my hand. I bring near-blue fabric with the slim purple border, close to my face and breathe deep. Memories woven into the warp and weft of the coarse, yet smooth cotton threads sailed to me. Is it sandalwood or is it my mind?


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Reid Hepworth
Reid Hepworth
Aug 16, 2022