The Learned Pig

Art – Thinking – Nature – Writing

Time Go Slow / The Violence Raga


Time Go Slow

After the painting Day and Night by Arpana Caur
and for my aunt



Marry at 16, emigrate at 17


Nurse your baby, your in-laws, your husband


Clean toilets, wash dishes, bag groceries, ferry geriatrics


Fly Toronto—New Delhi—Toronto once in two years


Gift chocolates, sweaters, money to relatives back home


Call the same relatives who don’t answer any longer


Trail sentences like emptying packets


Can’t speak or walk straight


Worry about being alone


Don’t remember home any longer


The Learned Pig


The Violence Raga

In the beginning there was the taal

The thump of fours, the base of the palm

flat at each quartet, signaling the next.

She learnt to moderate her voice to the rhythm,

synchronizing with the beginning

of the taal Dha dhin dhin dhaa—dhaa

She was a suitable girl—studious and shy,

equally skilled in acing exams, singing, and making chai.

He wasn’t good-looking but his narrow eyes gleamed

with the intelligence proclaimed by his Ivy League degrees.

Like all fairy tales, they had a destination wedding.

Followed by a dream destination—Ca-na-da.

She worked for the best companies rising through the ranks

designing magical codes that enabled people to try new things.

He was the crème-de-la-crème—forming companies that sold for millions,

praised by everyone that mattered for his entrepreneurship and zeal to succeed.

They bought a large house, filled with collectibles and their children spoke with the right twang.

They hosted parties and were celebrated for their wit and humor




Upon returning home, the walls reverberated with the same songs

—the questions about her intelligence, her abilities, her vying for attention,

—interweaved with the thwacks of slaps and kicks.

Of course, it was all right to hit her when she couldn’t breast-feed right.

Or slap her till she answered properly. What else was one supposed to do?

She took so long to reach the right conclusion—that she was worthless.

And the blows followed the same old taal

Dha dhin dhin dhaa—dhaa …

Until one day she realized she deserved better

Used her codes and gadgets to record him

Trapped him with his own rhythm

And walked away…

Krandha krandha krandha


Taal: A traditional rhythmic pattern in classical Indian music. It is either counted out by clapping or on the tabla. The most common one is Teen taal, that has four measures of four beats, summing up to sixteen.

Image credit:
Ismail Gulgee, Untitled, oil on canvas, 2006, via AstaGuru


This is part of RHYTHM, a section of The Learned Pig devoted to exploring rhythm as individual and collective, as poetic and biological, and the ways that rhythm dictates life. RHYTHM is conceived and edited by Rachel Goldblatt.


The Learned Pig