Keki N. Daruwalla is a brilliant Poet and Fiction Writer. He has published nine volumes of poetry, two books of children’s poetry, and three collections of short stories. Has edited an anthology of Indian poetry in English. Daruwalla has been honoured with Sahitya Akademi Award, and Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia). Daruwalla retired as Secretary to the Government of India in 1995.

The Tribal Goddess


I salute her in absentia,
this goddess of the tribes of the forest
of shadows scrimmaging
on the fern floor of the forest
not just the goddess of the dark heart of the forest
but of the forest-fringe
who extends her hand
to meet the vegetal goddess,
protector of those who limp into the forest
trailing a thread of blood,
the ones who subsist on a diet of nettles,
protector against the lords of the buckshot
and the iron trap, hide-robbers, horn bandits
and the ivory thieves

the rational ones continue to despise you
as do the monotheists
who think they are very advanced
and aeons ahead of the polytheists
and the pantheists and solar theists
and lunar- and-planet theists

but as brick forests rise
on concrete plinths and smoke belches forth
coating the sky’s lung
we’ll be migrating to you
in barefoot trickles at night—always night
in silence or with din
the goddess of nocturnal silence
and the nocturnal howl are the same,
one eye Capricorn and the other Cancer
you’ll shortly be in demand
for moss-masked as you are
you are the mother of secrets
goddess of the water springs
still hidden in the earth