Sunday, 21 September 2014

The lands of foremothers

To stand just once, as my foremothers stood
on humped mud-markers between their paddy rows;
to feel the same earth that once held their shadows,
to dip and drink from that vast solitude

that was once their sky, stop at a ruined shrine
where they knelt; rest in a mango orchard
touched by their work-roughened hands, and nurtured
offhand in leisure, planted without design,

a crude hammock hitched there some monsoon day.
I’ve loved my amber earth as it is, but still
I’d have been a deeper, broader tranquil
had I been able to touch that old pathway.

Yet, all mud’s wind-blown. And as likely true -
soil that dusts my feet might have crumbed theirs too.

I belong to the third generation of a "Partition" family.  My family origins lie in a village that is deep in rural Bangladesh now.  I have this dream of going back there on a visit some day.  

The picture is of a traditional Bengali temple in a 400 year-old rural homestead in West Bengal.


  1. Hi Nila ... love the poem and the scene you painted, I could smell the earth too ... Equally I can quite understand your draw to return to your early home village where your roots are ... the photo is just such a good one to describe your poem and your heart pull back to rural Bangladesh.

    Loved it .. cheers Hilary

    1. The pull towards roots is a universal thing I think, even for 2nd,3rd generations of those who move voluntarily and for whom there is no sense of historical injustice/trauma.
      Thanks for being here.
      Have the loveliest week.

  2. What a lovely and beautifully expressed composition Nilanjana. Very poignant too...

    1. Thanks much Aparna. Hope all is going well with you..

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