☛ Submission for October, 2024 issue (Vol. 5, No. 2) is going on. The last date for submission is 30 September, 2024.

A Feminist Reading of Nalini Priyadarshni’s Doppelganger in My House: An Authoritative Revelation of a Woman-Self next to Door

 A Feminist Reading of Nalini Priyadarshni’s Doppelganger in My House: An Authoritative Revelation of a Woman-Self next to Door

Chaitali Giri


Department of English


Burdwan, West Bengal, India


If to talk about female liberation is what is meant by feminism, then Doppelganger in My House is obviously a feminist magnum opus of Nalini Priyadarshni as the volume liberates the liberal aspect of a woman who is candid and free every time in exploring her doppelganger who is much more valiant and radiant a self and who is enough to build a world for herself without the set rules and regulations imposed by the supremacy-mongers of patriarchy. Moreover, a self who is never confused with her heart and never doubts her mind. This article will focus on that spontaneous overflow of the true feelings of Nalini Priyadarshni.

Keywords: Romanticism; Eroticism; Passion; Feelings; Poetry; Flavour


A man, a lover, a husband will always unfold his heart and mind, his sensuality and sexuality, and thus, will always be the spokesman of a relationship – this stereotype has been proved to be outdated by the poet of sheer and sheen emotion, Nalini Priyadarshni in her anthology of poems Doppelganger in My House. If the Victorian poetess Elizabeth Barrett Browning had boldly pronounced her man in Sonnets from Portuguese: ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height/ my soul can reach…’(Browning 327  ), the Indian Priyadarshni of this era has not only made the readers count the ways she has made love to her lover but also has made them visualise a picture of words of a complete woman with all sort of emotions. Such is the power of the execution of emotion of Priyadarshni in the book.  While the theme of a buoyant depiction of love and passion, sensuality and sexuality has pervaded the anthology, a sharing of mortal experiences of a female entity has also added an awe-draped aroma in accomplishing the collection. Sometimes she is a messenger to talk about the time and revolt, sometimes a bereaved beloved to enumerate and recite the days and moments she spent with her parted lover, sometimes a resolute personality, a self-contented woman to speak her mind with valour, sometimes a toter of a sanguine soul never to yield and sometimes a torrid and passionate beloved. What makes her anthology more intact is that she not only has experimented with the themes but also with the forms of poetry. One can get to know about some exceeding, and long lost Japanese forms of poetry in her collection of poems.

Nalini Priyadarshni, a much read poet in the field of Indian English Poetry, was born in Jalandhar in 1974. She is now widely well- known all over the world. Beside A Doppelganger in My House, she has co-authored another book of poems named, Lines Across the Ocean with Dwight Russel Micnhimer. A doppelganger is usually ‘a ghostly double of a living person’ (Doppelganger in My House vii). The anthology has rightly named as Doppelganger in My House as this is the speech act of the counter-self hidden within for long, of the poet in particular and of all such women in general. She herself has said in the introduction of her anthology: ‘I believe there is no beginning or end of our creativity only a time when we become aware of it and want to share it. As a person who has lived most of her life within her mind I lay no claim to have any intimate knowledge of the doppelganger that comes to inhibit my house, nagging my kids for clearing their room and hassling my spouse while I am chasing the muse.’ (A Doppelganger in My House vii) the poems of this anthology are so true to the heart and can be felt truly by heart because those are not the well-knitted and plotted stanzas of a creative mind, rather are the spontaneous outcome of a the mind of a person emotion: ‘ The best poems are those that write themselves. They come to me some days and if I am ready I write them down otherwise they are lost,’ (A Doppelganger in My House vii)

Entering the anthology one can see a rainbow of emotion of a woman matured by heart, not by scores. The very first poem Time Travelers showcases the journey of human lives from the bliss of innocence to the domain of adulthood ransacking one’s heart of its inborn prowess of finding delight in petty day-to-day objects. It also hints at the changing nature of values in mortal life when something becomes less beneficial. Her employing some native images has made the poetic appeal more vibrant:

We are time travelers

Forever making beds on crossroads

Patting down pockets for stolen kisses at gloaming

Eyes fixed on horizons livid with promises

Of soft beds and masala tea in glasses

Listening to chapattis being slapped on griddles

As jars of mango pickle waited on wall (Doppelganger in My House 2)

Not only does she know to lament the loss and count the reminiscences of the lost past, but knows well how to make her voice of protest audible and to raise the sole self out of the mass of bent block heads to the perch of self-respect. In Love in Times of Intolerance she speaks of the protestless cowardice of people who out of baseless and unnatural fear and hesitation easily give in to others’ domination. They swallow the stated truth knowing it not fit to swallow but still do not protest. The poet is confident enough, as if, has got some premonitions that this can never be the ultimate nemesis. The world will one day come to its end and thus before we lose our time, we have to be with the time to raise our hands not to shake them with the dominators but to stand against them. We have to throw down our weapon of helplessness i.e. silence before we are taken back by the eternal silence:

it’s just some background sound

we refuse to give in to the fear

That this world will come to an end

 before we have run out of our silences(DIMH 5)

As said earlier that a gradual unlocking of a matured heart is what pervades the anthology. A bereaved lover plunging into the fathomless ocean of long-preserved memories is what has bounded the poems like Noon Raga, The Doors, Backward I Walk, Summer Sweetness, Longings etc.. In Noon Raga the poet has used a very typical Indian habit of taking day nap at noon. The surroundings are silent and isolated and the speaker is spending the noon listening to the music and getting flashes. A gloomy strain of disillusioned feelings is covering her. She pays a cold ear to the unspoken words of years but some broken dreams still contain sparks and can catch fire of desire. As soon as she realised that she is growing roots in her present melancholiac self, she shook her legs off hastily. The sorted woman within then realises that ecstasies are like the silvery celestial bodies of the sky and  are thus prone to fade away and disappear soon, even the almighty has not the authority to undone what is done:

I float on swirling discards

listening to remembrances…

but like celestial diamond ring

ecstasy last but a moment

even gods can’t undone the past(DIMH 6)

Humans first want security of love, guarantee for sex, provider of attention, a genuine heart to take care of and when they prove to be fortunate enough to get blessed with these, they want a possession on the source as they afraid are to lose it now: I live in fear/Of loving/And losing/Those I love/They seem to slip right through my fingers/Like fistful of white sand (Fear and Beyond, DIMH 7) and thus the ugly frog march of separation starts from a frowzy, musty domain of lovelessness. In that life after separation, being engulfed by a mood of pensiveness then we slam the doors of heart at all the earthly pleasures and happiness, swearing never to reopen them ever. Even if we dare to open them sometimes, we relock them in fear: ‘some locked and / key tossed down the throat/with a vodka shot’ (The Doors, DIMH 9). We wish to become unemotive phlegmatic like sod. The locked rusty doors entice and enchant us to reopen them with the promise to find us out some lost treasure. It in this moment of allurement that we must figure out, discarding the allusion, that those which are locked now were not our chosen decisions rather were imposed. So let them remain locked. What all we need is a freedom. Freedom from a painful past, an anxious future, freedom to soar high unbridled and unrestrained in the sky of existence:

Freedom is what I seek

From gnawing pustules

Of yesterdays and tomorrows

To rise and soar

Unshackled, unbridled, unaffected (The Doors, DIMH 9)

What we fail to realise is that life always existed on the other side of fear and insecurity and that whether we allow or not a planned or unexpected spring, like a bolt from the blue, enters our heart with a whip of new love:

I wake up to the fact that

Life always existed

On the other edge of fear (Fear and Beyond, DIMH 8)

 In the poem Backward I Walk she is resolute to get back her vanity which she had lost giving her lover the utmost priority in her life whereas she became ‘[…] just another number / in the system’ the lover ‘devised/ where no hierarchy exists for people, things and events (DIMH 20). She wants a retreat until the distance is far enough to put him back amid the mass of general folk from where she had once chosen him and until she feels that the world around her is beautiful enough not to be shared with anyone else and until she gets back her previous true self, the individual self of being a woman above all:

Backward I walk

Into my true self

Come to meet me there

some day (DIMH  21)

Poems like Summer Sweetness, Longings are all celebrating this mood of separation as an opportunity to retrieve the lost and forgotten entity of being a woman first and then a beloved.

Moving from the theme of loss and remembrances, the poet shifts her focus on various emotions and feelings she experiences. She feels herself to be crowded by unwanted troop of feelings lie anguish, jealousy, anger etc. so much so that her real self scarcely has a place to set her foot in. They arrange and ‘rearrange’ and tell her ‘[…] what to feel/how to act or react’ (DIMH, Soul Speak 10). But she knows well that nothing is perpetual in the realm of feelings as they are transitory. ‘nothing has lasted forever, nothing will’ (Soul Speak, DIMH 10). One day the ‘soul suckers’ will get dispensed and she will speak her soul because however strong a castle of imposition is built ‘Last word will always be mine’ (Soul Speak, DIMH 10). Padma is another vivid example of this with the symbol of ‘padma’, the lotus. Women all over the world through all the centuries  are deemed as objects of negligence, the holder of the second slot, the residual part of the creations and what not, all because they were born with a different set of genitals. All the ‘discrimination’ and ‘rejection’ is like being buried in ‘a sea of muck’ (Padma, DIMH 12). This is, anyhow, a very old and known story. What the poet’s message is that it had always been, it is and it will always be depended on their choice either to remain damned as sinners in the eternal darkness of hellish patriarchy or to emerge as a pretty and pure part of the creation going through a purgatory of self-respect. It is their interpretation of life whether to be ‘padma’ in muck or to be ‘padma’ in the hand of Vishnu, the Benign Creator, because what matters is where you end it not where you started:

It’s not the place you start

But where you reach

And what you become

Padma in the hands of Vishnu (Padma, DIMH 12)

It is in such a moment of emotional crisis and loneliness that we need some ‘beautiful people’ who can make us realize that our past was not our fault but our nemesis and that we are still a useful part of this society:

The most beautiful people to be around are those who

Tell you to live and love always, in all ways and

Be exactly whatever and whoever you want to’ (Beautiful People, DIMH 25)

At the same time she warns us that the instinct within will always prompt us to try to own and possess things which are beneficial to us. But such beautiful people and their presence in life are themselves no less like blessings from the Almighty and this gift should not be possessed, but must cherished all through life:

They cannot be owned or possessed. Their presence is a gift.

When they hold your hand, you know you won’t be same again

And the world is a better place for your meeting. (Beautiful People, DIMH25)

And all these sufferings, agony, illusion, distress come because ‘we love who we are some days and hate our very existence on others’ (Sijo, DIMH 28). The solution hence is ‘To slowly become the person we could love everyday’ (Sijo, DIMH 28) like the tunes of a sijo is loved and liked always, but what comes in the way is the feeling that ‘Sijo are sung with musical accompaniments, and/ the only instrument I can play is the strings of your heart’ (Sijo, DIMH 28).

To be at least the heroine of one’s own life and to propagandize her real self should be the motto of every woman. Unless and until, a woman loves herself enough, she will never be able to love others enough. Changes, evolution and recreation are the part of natural process of this mortal world. Anything, no more like its previous form does not mean dies but ‘[…] only changes /into something else/ like old songs/that blow gently/into new ears/to find new meanings’ (Old Songs, DIMH31). So nothing is perpetual and hence to cry over anything lost is like hatching broken eggs. To find meaning in the change and to accept the change is the only probable and possible way to live life.

Priyadarshni has used a few cultural myth as references in her poems. Some of the poems proffer the superstitious beliefs of the native people. In Food Fantasies in Moral Fabric the poet has taken a dig at the Indians’ belief on the rituals and restrictions on in taking food which, according to some, eventually decide their fate to be entitled to the heavenly bliss or to get damned eternally in the fire of hell. The widows were supposed to eat only ‘sattvik’ or ‘kosher’ food and not the ribs of chicken:

Make no mistake when you

Fast from dawn to dusk

Or eat only kosher or sattvik […]

Your piety depends on what goes down your throat

Or does it,

Really? ( DIMH  17)

 As mentioned at the very outset of the article, the anthology is a never ending ocean of emotion. The emotion of being in love and being loved, the emotion of choosing and being chosen have, however, overshadowed others. If to recollect the myth of man and woman being the two broken halves of a nut and by matching the right halves the creation gets a complete shape, then a woman must feel actually like a complete living being when she meets her male counter-part. How a girl nourishes an imaginary portrait of a yonder lover and how with all her love and adoration she awaits that dream figure to come and meet her someday in real:

You do not exist

Except in my mind’s eye

A dream I had in the fall,

Years ago with eyes shut wide (Whirling Ritual, DIMH 13)

But how interestingly and with purged wit, the poet has defined  the lover’s position in the life of the beloved, is what can be called a perfect execution of self-awareness: ‘more than a lost limb/ less than my master/ but everything in between’ (Whirling Ritual, DIMH 13) and also ‘that no one else could be’(Whirling Ritual, DIMH 13). She has used some Turkish terms like ‘dhikr’ (recitation), ‘sema sans hirka’ (a particular dressing type), ‘senazen’ (the meditation style through whirling) and ‘kemal’ (perfection) to the waiting - a state of being whirled in between dream and reality- a ritualistic touch, a platonic touch.

A woman, madly in love, impregnated with burning passion counts her days to the time when ‘the scent of your being mingles with my becoming’ (Ocher Handprints, DIMH 20) because her love which started as an ‘innocuous drizzle’ has now taken the form of a ‘torrent’ that beats her ‘baked thirst’ and all she wants now is him and his presence to get printed on her heart like ‘ocher handprints’. But finding love or meeting the same person from your dream is never an easy job as ‘All lovers are strangers once, caught in vortex of time/ walking the same road, drinking coffee from roadside cafes’ (Lovers and Strangers, DIMH 27). If lovers are eternally in search of their broken halves of the nut then she wonders what it is that helps them to find the right matches from the ocean of mass:

Is it an instinct or a primeval code

Imbedded in their minds and souls

That endures the onslaughts of experiences and memories?

(Lovers and Strangers, DIMH 27)

Love can be felt or may appear in many forms. A bunch of red roses, a glance of the love-laden eyes, a smile of blush or the lines of a song as well are enough to make you fall for someone at the very first chance. When despair, loneliness, negligence drive you crazy, then a few songs from a stranger come like rays of life. The songs are composed with some very ordinary words or might have heard by her before but still what makes them special is that ‘he chose to share them with her’ (New Songs, DIMH 40). She plays them again and again as every time their words warm her heart with the hope of new dreams:

She plays them over and over

Until the songs percolated into her dreams (New Songs, DIMH 40)

At every play the songs are unfolding new meaning to her. Perhaps she feels, as if, he himself is singing them to express his unspoken love. And thus he not only sends her songs but ‘brings her a slice of life’ (New Songs, DIMH 40).

In Own Me in Fragments the lady in love is making an urge to the lover to make a possession of the moments spend together, moments that remind him of her lips, eyes, face and thus own her only in ‘moments and fragments’ and also asking him to make ‘fragments and moments/ be the only thing we own/ never each other (DIMH 44).

Blooms of Dawn portrays the picture of a love-smitten beloved in a trance of being half asleep and half awake and desiring a whispering morning wish at her neck at her full awake so that she can feel the warm passion of her lover. A cooking imagery has been used in Bread of Oblation where a couple is endeavouring with all effort to let their best versions to come out to meet each other. They are pouring forth the grains of their ‘granary’ of heart as offering, as ‘bread of oblation’ tough they are not ‘depleting’ themselves. What the beloved is up to is that she wants to knead a well moisten dough with all their moments of high and low, up and down to cook a perfect, well-spiced dish to be liked by both:

as I mixed oil first pressing with eggs and milk/

knead the sweet and salty moments together/

to bridge the gaps between knowing of our hearts (DIMH 48).

The moral of the story, thus, is that ‘A man shall not live by bread alone’ (Bread of Oblation, DIMH 48). He needs bread of love to add up to make living worthwhile. Again it is not necessary that every time feelings are to be reached its destination through words only. If love is true then the loved one can ‘catch in, the lover’s ‘cupped palms and drink deep’ (Your Words, DIMH 63) as she ‘knows its taste from another place another time’ (Your Words, DIMH 63). When love can be felt deeply and profanely through unsaid expressions, warm breath, trembled lips and speaking eye, words will hence only mar the effect. True feelings emitted from true hearts find its means to reach its true destination:

There is no putting in words what can only be felt

Live it and trust it will find its way to me (Your Words, DIMH 63)

On the contrary, though one can avoid words as medium of delivering love messages, but lovers cannot keep themselves away from pronouncing the names of their loved ones which to them are like the source of admiration, affection and attraction:

One reason

I talk about

Is your name […] (Your Name, DIMH 65)

And the syllables, the letters have got rolled the way in her tongue that it has left such a ravishment that she does not want to end the taste by taking other names:

And the aftertaste […] precisely the reason of my refusal

To speak about anybody else (Your Name, DIMH65)

In the poem Intimacy the lady love is enquiring how much the lover loves her. Whether the lover at his untimely awaking at midnight gets the first thing in his mind is her name, whether at bed he remembers her face and plays their last conversation as a tune in mind, whether he awake untimely just to get a glimpse at her photo, whether in the morning at his awake he wishes her to be by his side lying candidly, whether he can feel the smoke of the morning tea or coffee as the warms breath of her, whether he can feels her presence everywhere in the world and in his world everywhere or not: ‘Does your face light up every time you think about me? ‘(Intimacy, DIMH 62). Thus all what she wishes to know is that have they grown to a level of an absolute soul to soul intimacy instead of one between bodies or not.

If man cannot live by bread alone and he needs love, then he needs a passionate physical consummation to complete the torrential passion intensified out of exuberant feeling of being together too as there is no such existence of  a platonic love. A parallel theme of eroticism, vividly consummated lovemaking also roams random the anthology, though the erotic illustrations are not vague or vulgar but are the very obvious result of the fervidness of being together with  as we witnessed in the previous poems. In the poem Getting Past Clichés the poet candidly refers to the ambience of endlessness from getting it done through conjugation. It is never enough ‘until we get tired of it/ and think of a new game (DIMH 30). The impatience and biting passion during coupling are so deviously and circuitously presented such:

Unhooking the connotation

From unzipped senses

Flustered at your obvious impatience

With my lexicon

I bite my lower lip (DIMH  30)

The height is the usage of a child and shaft imagery for a male organ:

And then with a thrust

A hairless head emerges

But it’s not a child

It is a shaft

I need to lick it

To see

How it grows (DIMH 30)

Summer Sweetness visualizes the relishing of the body of one’s loved one through the images of summer fruits full of juicy sweetness:

I place carefully

Between your lips

On a sultry summer noon


You will relish

allness of me (DIMH 33)

The difference between a full relish and a started but never completed has become her subject in Half Kiss where through the image of a half enjoyed kiss the poet has put the focus on the unquenchable, indomitable and unappeased fieriness one goes through:

Rare, illusive and pure torture

You can’t possibly begin to imagine what

A half kiss is unless you’ve had one (DIMH 35)

If, on the other hand, we take this half grabbled and grappled  kiss to be somehow symbolic, then this half kiss is like in our social life something owned or owned and the very moment we start feeling our victory over it, it is snatched away all in a poof. This semi-won thing pains the more than anything which we wanted but were never granted. The endurance of half-won and half-lost memories is longer than memories of things we tried but never attained at all or things we completely attained:

One moment it’s inside your mouth

Melting your lower lip

You let out a barely audible gasp

And poof- it’s gone

Just as its flavor begins to hit you. […]

Half-life of any half kiss is way longer

Than regularly kiss of any variety

Typically, a lifetime. (DIMH 35)

The poem Shared Ras Malai, too, has a very connotative description of sexual activities. The imagery of an Indian sweet ‘rasmalai’ is employed to picturise the male organ during a redundant sexual intercourse:

Ripe strawberry dipped in dark chocolate

Resting lightly on a crimson pout

Is not the only sign of imminent fireworks

Sometimes it’s a shared piece of rasmalai (DIMH 52)

Thus the licking and relishing part of a consummated intercourse has been hinted at hard which is righty ended that:

Ecstasy has many flavors (DIMH 52)

To give it a flavor of myth we can refer to the prophet, Tiresias who in The Metamorphoses had sorted the dispute between Jove and Juno giving the verdict in Jove’s favor who bet that “you women enjoy more pleasure in bed than ever we men do” (108). What the woman within thus wants is always an excess and such a similar air of abundance can be felt here:

Rub your scent into my skin

Pour your moans into my ears

Let this wretched lump of heart

Break every night with too much love. (Untitled, DIMH 69)

Any gender based rejection by the society or family in childhood often leads to rejection of their femininity by many women. The poet here cites the annual celebration of femininity of Goddess Kamakhya and wonders why femininity is rejected everywhere else as she ponders over the consequences of such an important part of self in the poem Ananku which means female sexual power. This power is often considered something unsavory which should be controlled. Acceptance of one’s own sexuality is very important to lead a wholesome and healthy life. The poet emphasizes it by repeating the opening line at the end

Femininity that goes unaccepted remains unforgiving. (Anaku, DIMH 15)

What is special about Nalini’s poems is that if there is a lost self, a resolute, confident self to regain the lost feminine authority has to be followed by. Letting Go: A Bussokusenika is thus simplifying the fact that those who leave were never destined to stay. One should let them go unrestrained like morning dew and day dreams - once gone and never recollected:

Those who go away

Were never destined to stay

No words could stop them

Or make them retrieve their steps

Let them go with grace to make

Room for those who come to stay (DIMH 26)

In the midst of despair and failure, a tiny success in any little field, where you excel and you know none can outdo you, can camouflage your soul with new hopes and confidence. Like a good hand in cooking or a good sense in baking and an effortless outcome with perfection act like the harbinger of the feeling that you are, above all, a capable personality:

In a world where everything is fallible

It’s rather nice when every once in a while

You come across something that never fails

And if it is a chocolate cake

That turns out perfect every time you bake

It’s absolutely priceless! (Never Fail Cake, DIMH 56)

The poet has used this baking and cooking imagery for the art and skills of writing poetry. The war between those who emphasize on the forms and those who concern only with the content is not new a thing. Those who take a well-knitted form as a token of their mastery in the field are mostly like the cookies makers who put words in a pre-prepared diced texture to produce a poem giving their feelings a proper shape just as the cookies makers put flour and water and other stuff in the cookies cutter to bake perfect shaped cookies:

You wish me well when you ask me to

Shape my expressions with cookies cutters

To make them look like those of old masters (Poetry Cookies, DIMH 54)

But she does not want her poetry to be cooked or baked with a beautiful garnish, rather she ‘being more concerned with texture/ of ingredients I mix and slap into place’ (Poetry Cookies, DIMH 54) wants people ‘to relish my poems/ as they dissolve in your mouth/ excite your palate, making you ask for more/ foe poetry is mostly about flavor not shape(Poetry Cookies, DIMH 54).

Last but never the least, the most notable feature of Doppelganger in My House is Nalini’s experiment, rather an effective endeavour to embolden and to reinvent some of the long-lost Japanese forms of poetry. The forms of ‘waka’ (Japanese poems) used in the anthology are ‘tanka’ (short poem), ‘bussokusekika’, ‘mondoka’ (dialogue poem), ‘kinuginu’ (parting of lovers after sharing bed at night), ‘choka’ etc. The poem Sun and Dew: A Bussokusekika posturizes a destroyer-preserver imagery. The very early rays of sun makes the dew drops, resting on grass tops, look beautiful as diamonds and the very rays of the sun turns them into vapors in day time. Escaping the Matrix: A Choka and  Colours of Rainbow: A Choka are two long poems of one single stanza each. Both the poems draw the transformation and metamorphosis of our inner soul to a newer one to predominate our life forever:

Dye bodies we inhibit

In rainbow colours

Till our heart in unison

Beat to divine tunes (Colours of Rainbow: A Choka,DIMH 29)

A ‘mondoka’ is a poem in the form of conversation between couples. Here the lover is represented as ‘him’ and the beloved as ‘her’:

Her: Her verses rebound

Around desperate desert

Await familiar rustle

Of returning feet[…](Secret of Spring: A Mondoka, DIMH 72)

Him : His soul hastening

Through mud and dust

Towards her

(Secret of Spring: A Mondoka, DIMH 72)

Blossom of Wondrous Heart: A Mondoka is another long poem in the form of conversation of the alienated lovers. Just Before Dawn : A Katuata is a ‘katuata’ which is an emotive ‘waka’, which is more intuitive than logical. It expresses a beloved’s gratitude towards her lover who has enlightened her life, has polished her as a better human being and has opened the door to earthly joys to her:

Lights of our loving

Unlock enchanting visions

Sweet symphony to twain souls

Focus of living

Shining key to ecstasy

Open all chests of treasures (DIMH 81)

Kinuginu’ means the parting of a couple in the morning after spending the previous night sharing bed. The poem Kinuginu Tanka is a ‘tanka’ i.e a short poem of usually five-lined stanzas, is about the leaden feelings of a woman who is cold-hearted in the morning as she is to leave the limbs of her lover. But she is fully determined to get back the touches and warms kisses at night again:

Adieu dear moonlight

I resign to rising sun

It must ride through sky

Before my love returns with

Sweet kisses to my embrace (DIMH 46)

This innovation of her is justly thus praised by D Russel Micnhimer: ‘Nalini has no trepidation about trying forms of poetry from beyond her native land to add to her repertoire of expressiveness.’(Doppelganger in My House iii)


The anthology is no less than a power house of emotions, to be a little digitized, a Wikipedia of emotions. The doppelganger residing unidentified, unrecognized in Nalini’s house has left no trait of a woman’s heart unfolded and finally enlightening her path to absolute freedom from all shackles and all bridles. In James Joyce’s novel Ulysses the last few pages are strangely without any punctuation mark which is explained by critics as the bearer of  the symbols of a flow explosion and emission of true cognitive feeling without any syntactical restriction: “[…] the jasemine and geranisiums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and hoe he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower […]”(1305). Similarly the poems of this anthology by Priyadarshni, too, in most places are without any punctuation mark, with unusual length of sentences and with abrupt endings:

Femininity that goes unaccepted remains unforgiving

Vengeance of Kamakhya in mouth of Ashaad

Brahmaputra devoid of ichor

Corroding muliebrity till it shrivels into a vestigial flicker […] (Anaku, DIMH 15)

“I shan’t be tied down prone for eternity

For love or fear

Smattering of vermillion on your brow

Or handful of soil from Kalighat

Drunk on blood yet asking for more

Breathlessness may be but not baying

My heart slay no goat […] (Saudade, DIMH 17)

Thus, we can opine that these poems are the effusion of a genuine lateral heart, the stanzaic collection of certain moods of a woman’s heart and her worldly experiences that came some other day or other to her, that came all spontaneous, and thus were not merely composed. The genuineness of the feelings is such that any woman can identify with them and can ask in utter astonishment - how can the poet know what I feel like! In this context Nalini has justly said in the introduction of her anthology: ‘This books is best read in small doses, perhaps one or two poems a day […]’(viii), so that one can amply relish and savour each and every word of it. Thus ‘as they dissolve in your mouth/ excite your palate, making you ask for more’ (Poetry Cookies, DIMH 54). Rightly has she understood that ‘poetry is mostly about flavor not shape’ (Poetry Cookies, DIMH 54).

Works Cited

Browning, Barrett. A Poetical Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, London: Oxford University Press, 1904. Print

Joyce, James. Ulysses. http://www.planetpdf.com. eBook.

Ovid. The Metamorphoses, London: Penguine Books, 2004. Print.

Priyadarshni, Nalini. Doppelganger in My House. Gurgaon: The Poetry Society of India, 2016. Print.