Sunday, 8 July 2018

Grey city




The skyline doesn’t change much, but underneath
a few doors close, keys turn firmly in their locks.
Never again the same those routes, entire cities -
as hearts and hearths both seep out from crumbling blocks.


Every year monsoons pour down and new vines reach
for a bolder grip, the banyan saplings stalk
the cracks between mortar and bricks, something’s breached
that can’t be made whole again with skill or talk.


The days and nights turn just like keys in keyholes
and they shut me out. Pulverise the bedrock
in rude light, trap me in tangled wires and poles
in broadened ruins of lanes and their aftershocks.


Each visit fewer paths and doors to call on,
no stones to turn, more bridges burnt. More alone.








This one was sparked off by a close aunt, who asked sometime ago - has Kolkata become a city for the aged? 

It hit home harder while I was there last month. A younger cousin was planning a move after almost a decade there. A good few houses in my circle are now locked up or sold off, because the senior generation is no more, and the younger ones have made their lives elsewhere. Each time I go back, there are progressively fewer people to call on, fewer roads to travel.



Kolkata has been greying for a long time now, deindustrialisation has meant jobs drying up. The city was once reputed for its premier institutes of education, but they got riddled with political interference way back and never recovered, with the result that many students today pursue post-16 studies in other parts of the country. All in all, young people are leaving in droves; the elderly are increasingly alone and isolated. Not exactly a brilliant recipe for happiness. 



12 comments:

  1. Poignant, painful and sad.
    And beautifully expressed.

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    1. It seriously needs to reinvent itself. A bit disheartening sometimes.

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  2. Very sad when that happens. Something similar happens here with the Native American Indian reservations. The young people all leave.

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  3. your poem is so forlorn.
    Alas, this happens to some cities. But then, there's a movement that sparks rejuvenation and folks rediscover a new charm. We might not see it our lifetime, but you have to hope that's the future.

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    1. Well yes, I'm not likely to see it but hopefully that's what happens in the future...it was once a very different, gracious city...sigh

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  4. Hi Nila - it seems to be the way in some cities and areas ... the young leave for 'brighter prospects' elsewhere - I guess rejuvination hasn't occurred, so the structure crumbles - homes, areas, land ... and yes we see it around us ... Kolkata was certainly a thriving city and industrious area at one time. Beautifully rendered ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Yup, once upon a time it was the 'brightest prospect'...sadly all things have to pass.

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  5. Due to what is invariably described as "progress," too many parts of the world have that odd quality where the older people will say "See that? When I was a kid, that was..." and they continue, trying to impart a segment of their life that the young will never truly appreciate.

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    1. I have no quarrel with that - things will change, every generation will live differently from their previous ones. What is sad is that in some places the older generation might say "See that?..." but there are no young ones around to listen anymore...

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  6. The same situation has happened to the area where I grew up. It’s really sad. The previous generations have passed away and the younger gens have left for newer pastures.
    The inevitable transience of life and all living things... Cheers Nila

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    1. It's probably that inevitability that makes it so depressing.
      Hope all is well with you and fam.
      Have a great week!

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