Past As Present / Neera Kashyap

Pictures, journals, books, a stone idol –

and we know the past.

We grip our armchairs as the present whirls

a dervish dance of forgetting;

door closes and the slit of light disappears.

But if we take the words, images and idol in our hands

we know they have waited – unchanged.

We turn the pages and know the beginning,

we leaf forward and know the end.

We hold the idol and it is alive.

We tell the story that they who lived it,

can only tell in part.

If we wait for the tea leaves to settle we will read

the configurations –

the past in the present

for the past returns to tell us about ourselves

like a curse or a charm based on how we choose –

a rich wide burbling river fed by many sources

or a muddy trickle, blindly impervious. A flowing quest for knowledge or a sludge of


Neera Kashyap has had a career in environmental & health journalism and communication. She has authored a book of short stories for young adults, Daring to Dream, (Rupa & Co.) and contributed to five prize-winning anthologies of children’s literature (Children’s Book Trust). As a writer of short fiction, poetry, essays and book reviews, her work has appeared in print and online literary journals and poetry anthologies published in the USA, UK, Singapore, Pakistan and India. She lives in Delhi. 

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