Of Hypocrisy and Cheekbones
"Of Hypocrisy and Cheekbones" is a very popular award winning Indian poem by the Indian English poet, writer and film maker Shahnaz Habib. The poem won First Prize in the Ninth All India Poetry Competition conducted by The Poetry Society (India) in 2000. This was the first major literary award for Shahnaz, who subsequently switched over to film making.
Excerpts from the poem
- Sometimes you see a man
- With such irresistible cheekbones
- You feel an urge to raise your hand
- And touch them
- Simply to know how they feel
- To your skin.
- And then he looks full in your face
- And dazzles you with a reckless, innocent smile,
- Not of invitation, merely inviting.
- And then,
- All those years of prudent upbringing,
- Your religion, your values,
- The stern concern of your father
- The hushed chiding of your mother,
- The sour wisdom of generations
- The hardened core of civilisations
- Rise in indignation within you
- And quash the cave-woman
- So that you give him
- A grim, ladylike glare
- And turn your face away in disgust.
- And then,
- The next day you take care
- Without really thinking why,
- Not to get into the same bus.
Comments and criticism
The poem has received rave reviews since its first publication in 2000 in the book Emerging Voices and has since been widely anthologised. The poem has been frequently quoted in scholarly analysis of contemporary Indian English Poetry.
- Ninth National Poetry Competition 2000 - Award Winners
- Shahnaz Habib - Inside Outside
- India Writes - Contemporary Indian Poetry
- "Award Winning Poems - AIPC 2000".
- Poetry India - Emerging Voices by H K Kaul, Virgo Publications, 1998
- Contemporary Indian Poets by Jeet Thayil, Fulcrum, Bloodaxe Books, 1996
- "Fourteen Contemporary Indian Poets – Rana Nayar in The Tribune".