Tuesday 26 May 2020

আমার আকাশ

আমার আকাশ, আমায় নিয়ে চলো বাড়ি
যেখানে দেয়ালে দোলে বাংলা ক্যালেন্ডার
কি জানি হিসেব লেখা কাঁপা হাতে মা'র
আলনায় ঝোলে কয়টি কস্তা পেড়ে  শাড়ি,
না সে কোনো স্বপ্ন নয় হাজার দুয়ারী
বর্ষায় বাড়ে কমে নেহাত সস্তার  দুয়ার
প্রতিবার চেঁছে চেঁছে রং চটা তার
মধ্যবিত্তের  দরজার মাপও মাঝারি।

আকাশ এবার আমায় নিয়ে চলো ঘরে
সপ্তপর্ণীর পাতায় ঘেরা জানলার কাছে।
ফাটা চৌকাঠে ঋজুর বিয়ের আল্পনা
কালিঝুলি মাখা রান্নাঘরের কোণা।
বাইরে ভাঙা ডাল নেড়া তার ঝুলে আছে।
যেখানে জীবনসার ছিন্নভিন্ন ঝড়ে।

My skies

My skies, please take me home
where there's a Bengali calendar on the wall
some indiscernible account written in Mother's unsteady hand
and plain bordered saris hanging on the clothes rail
No it's not a dream of a thousand doors
in fact, it's a cheap shutter that expands every monsoon
and the paint's peeling because it has to be trimmed every year -
the doors of the middle class are also moderately sized.

Skies, now please take me to my home
to the windows curtained by the leaves of the seven-leaved tree
rice slurry patterns drawn on the cracked threshold,
to the sooty kitchen corner draped in cobwebs
Outside broken branches and bare electric wires dangle,
where entire lifetimes lie in ruins after a cyclone.

My home state West Bengal has been devastated by Cyclone Amphan. We were already reeling from the pandemic. The cyclone has killed nearly 90 people in a few hours. Thousands of livelihoods and lives ruined. Some of my relatives in Kolkata were without power/running water/communications  for 5 days, there are still areas in the city where the first responders are struggling to restore supplies. Even worse impact on the rural communities. It will take years to rebuild. But we will get it done. 

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Let them eat some cake!

How many hearts have been crushed in these fifty days

how many pairs of feet have walked the national highways

and how many lives were sliced open on the rail tracks

how many children starved as their parents trudged back

the unbalconied people who'll go anywhere

and work everything from harvesters to daycare.

Well, there's no vote this year - is that the reason why

you talk about bells-n-petals, and let them die?

Sunday 10 May 2020

Maybe then...

Maybe when aeons of rivers flow down
to the sea, maybe when lightyears of time
stand ripened, rippling in the autumn sun,
when gallons and gallons of hymns and homes
are blown out embers, landfilled out of town  
when fathoms of feet have trampled stations
maybe then, maybe then? maybe then…

Maybe when memories turn blue black, grown
into the sky, fade inward to smoke and grime,
maybe when the weight of stories equals millions,
when miles and miles of birds and biomes
slink out slowly, escape this long lockdown
to love again - always an affliction,
maybe then, maybe then? maybe then…

Sunday 3 May 2020

How much?

The question is - how much time? mere six weeks
to knit bones, much less than that for a scratch,
forty days for the womb to rest and bleed
out its slow postpartum debris, to catch
its breath after birth. Exactly how much
time after death is the trauma safe to touch?
All my days are sleepless nights far too deep
for tears. It was she who taught me not to weep.

She was a little old school, but it’s rubbed
off - knit into the brain, the mesh of neurons
and won’t unravel, however hard I tug.
I touch this wound only when I’m alone
and my fingers come away wet, not with blood
or tears, any fluid I have ever known.

April was a monumental month, a whirlwind of events public and personal - some terrible, some devastating, some just bad and some not so bad. 

I failed the A-Z 2020 Challenge because I couldn't comment/visit, though my posts all got done as per schedule. I withdrew halfway through. 

I was absent from the WEP Challenge for the first time since I joined. The support, well wishes and prayers from my fellow WEPers were...just beyond words. They chose to award this entry, which was pre-written and scheduled, of course. What can I say? To all those who wrote here and at the WEP site, emailed or used other social media channels to reach out - thank you! But thank you doesn't even begin to cut it.