A Kind of Freedom Song
New Delhi, 2019
Aditi Rao is a poet in search of language—she looks to history and mythology, to beaches and forts and around street corners—she finds herself in this language—resurrects bones, body, but most importantly, tongue. She presents the words to us—a kind of freedom song—like the trees she writes of, who ‘wear their roots on the outside’. She is speaking. Listen.
Aditi Rao’s poems remind us of rites of passage and survival strategies that need to be relearned time and again: how to discern ‘the smell of high school phone calls’, how not to hide vowels under consonants, how to reclaim the right to rage, to grieve, to say no and to stand still. These are poems of love, loss and recovery by a poet who understands ‘splatter’ but also learns how to find her way back to becoming that nondomesticable beast: ‘a woman unafraid of regret’.
What Aditi Rao does with vulnerability will astound you. Her resolve to overcome
violence with her words is a quiet, searing spectacle unfolding on every page of
this book. No one ‘decides her’ here. Her words become meteors crashing into us,
slowly. She steps out, taking on cities made of ‘too many men’. She doesn’t acquit,
she puts in dock. Till she reaches the scorching, right note for her freedom song.