Gopal, Revathy: Voicing Mrs. Buddha

I like writing persona poems, and fellow Indian woman poet Revathy Gopal’s two Yashodhara poems resonated with me. She has depicted the anguish of the wife Buddha left behind, beautifully. Everyone knows of Buddha, but has forgotten about his wife. These poems lead us to question – Buddha is such an ardent proponent of dharma, but is what he did right? Leaving his wife and child? Here are Revathy Gopal’s poems.


Already she feels herself
recede in his consciousness,
as if she were an idea
to which he had once
paid lip-service,
or a distant place
he had once visited
and could
no longer recall.

She has ceased to exist.
In her dream,
light crackles like fire
around his head.

Trees shrivel at his approach,
and thorns tear at the scabs
of untended wounds.

Her head aches with unshed tears.
Not a look, not a word,
not a backward glance.
Did it all then cloy,
as too-sweet fruit must,
with just that faint
hint of corruption ?

Moths blunder in
and out of the night;
hurl themselves
at the flickering lamplight.

She must now put away
their time together,
wrap it in fine silk,
preserve it with sweet herbs
and bitter neem.


In the palace, no one speaks above a whisper. The women avoid each other’s eye as they walk past the musicians who sit beside their instruments awaiting an order that will never come. Outside the fruit trees droop, the flowers listless, the fountains still. Young girls no longer frolic in the pleasure gardens. From the inner rooms, a child cries incessantly… an agitated maid rushes out calling for a wet-nurse…

I could have told you then,
If you had asked,
(but you never did)
what most women know
without seeking to know.

We prefer the pain
of being human,
the bonds of attachment
that you flee.
We prefer the endless cycle
of birth and death
to your inhuman
and unavailing quest.

What was it then,
the usual male revulsion
at what you had wrought,
gross consequence
of a moment’s pleasure ?

You loved me then,
when I was slim,
and could ride with you,
and shoot with you,
and lie with you.

What was it then,
amplitude of flesh,
or my nerve-shredding cry
or the child’s pitiful wail ?
My breasts are dry,
there is no answer to that.

They call this delivery
but not deliverance.
Deliverance from what ?
What else is there
but to be human ?

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *