Dance of the Dancing Girl / Neera Kashyap

Jauntily, her right arm juts akimbo.
Her left hand rests on her thigh,
her plaited hair in a huge bun on her shoulder.
Her large eyes, nose and mouth inscrutably crafted
in bronze, she is four inches tall; twenty four bangles massed on one arm,
she displays just a few on the other; a tiny necklace with three pendants
rises as outcrop on her nude body which she may have paused during dance.
A masterpiece of Harappan art, she is more than three thousand years old,
safely ensconced in a glass case at the National Museum
flanked by more cases of terracotta seals and artefacts –
reminders of our ancients still extant in symbols today –
the Mother goddess, the swastika, the endless eight-shaped knot, the pipal leaf,
the one-horned unicorn-bull, fire altars, urns, the priest’s amulet.
The early glimmerings of religion….
A figure on a seal engraved in Yogic pose is crowned by a tricorn headdress,
surrounded by animals – Pasupati, the Lord of the beasts.
The tricorn a precursor to Trimurti, the triple Hindu Gods of Creation, Preservation,
Siva, the destroyer is pervasive in the trident, rife in Harappa’s still undeciphered script.
Visnu the preserver lives on doggedly in art, architecture, urban planning.
Even as Brahma re-creates through endless cycles of Creation, Preservation,
The dancing girl’s pose just a pause.

Neera Kashyap has had a career in social & health communications. She has authored a book for young adults, Daring to Dream, (Rupa & Co.) and contributed to five prize-winning anthologies for children. As a writer of short fiction, poetry, book reviews and essays, her work has appeared in several international literary journals and poetry anthologies. The Indian poetry anthologies include Hibiscus & Shimmer Spring (Hawakal), Freedom Raga & New Normal (Exceller), The shape of a poem (Red River) and The Brown Critique anthology, 2021 among others forthcoming; the international poetry anthologies include The Poet’s ‘Seasons, Poetica 1 & 2 (UK); The Kali Project, Voices from within and Hunger anthology (USA). The literary journals that have published her poetry include Verse Virtual, Life & Legends, Failed Haiku & Setu Magazine (USA); RIC Journal (Indo-French); Bloo Outlier (UK), Kitaab (Singapore); The Punch Magazine, INNSAEI, Kritya, The Literary Yard and Narrow Road (India), among others. She lives in Delhi.

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