Old Acquaintances

Walking along rain scattered roads usually makes me think of that odd line between happiness and sadness. For on days when the sky looks majestically grim and enchanting, things can happen. A girl walking along the side of the road, carefully making sure to press her feet down evenly, her pink Bata rubber slippers glistening in sandy water, may smile ruefully, remembering an exasperated voice explaining why slippers are impractical for monsoons. A rickshaw wala yells at her to get on the pavement, but she can’t as the gritty pitch of the road is the only thing her weak soles can hold on to. Water drips from her bangs, right into her wet-lashed eyes but she can’t push the hair away because of course, she chose today to wear full, billowing pocket less pants that threaten to slip off her waist unless she holds on. She is happy, a gentle contentment evident after a day well-spent.Frustrated at the moment maybe, but she knows once she can put her bag down, the smiles she has been keeping back the whole day will erupt like she knows the sun will erupt tomorrow, having been denied today. The city shines and shimmers in an aqueous magic of it’s own making, like it’s winking and giggling at the sudden bustle and dismay of the regular pale blue synthetic salwar kameez women who are disturbed by the sudden mood swings of the usually placid city.
Yellow lights flicker coquettishly engaged in a risky game of quick lovemaking with the electric-tinged rain that drips along their faces and lights them up in a loving purple glow; can you imagine their surprise at being the receivers of light for once? One blinks out of existence, above her head and she purses her lips at the spent guide. A baby brinjal rolls down the mountains of roughly plastic-sheeted vegetables on either side of the road, the owner grinning sheepishly from under the awning of the now very full tea shop. The young boy there, busily measures out tea in earthen pots and the rising steam is quickly chastened by the now misty ilshe guri, engulfed and snuffed out like a precocious child about to defame her family. She steps on crunchy cabbage leaves and skids a little on the road strewn with once vibrant now brown and squelchy ganda flowers and bel leaves, thrown out by the flower shops because so what if they are not humans? They are subjected to their own forms of discrimination where the ochre gets precedence over the lemon yellow and the saffron is chosen over the milky orange.
She spots a garland of both kinds swaying in the sudden buffeting winds and sniffs in a hidden laugh at the thought of a pair of eyes that wouldn’t have known the difference and probably wouldn’t have cared anyway; after all their owner doesn’t like flowers. Schoolgirls with skirts hiked up to their waist, squealing about the unfair weather pass her, packets of salty beguni in their hands and this time she really laughs, realising that they have neatly packed umbrellas sticking out of their bags, put in probably by adoring guardians who hope that THIS monsoon at least, will be by passed without 4 antibiotic bills.
But not even the scare of amoxicillin can put out the delighted sparkle in the eyes of the young girls, thin and ungainly ducklings yet, deliberately stepping in puddles, and not having to worry about whether their white shirts will leave them naked to the eyes that hunt for such pleasure on wet days.
Another rickshaw wala passes, a plastic packet on his head, shoes dangling from the handle of the contraption, he cannot risk his job, on the simple luxury of wearing chotis in the rain. The bell in his finger jingles as he jogs carefully past, avoiding potholes, that have been emptied by the huge splashes owned by car wheels as they zoom past.
She walks past the red cart that heralds doom for the itchy thirst that is an accompaniment of getting wet in the rain. Like the throat sets up a gherao, a protest march, against the unconventional drinking done by the skin, unusual and unprecedented. Images of orange juice imbibed ice coating her tongue with shivery bliss, dance in front of her water-logged eyes, but she stomps past, curling her drenched black dupatta around a raindrop studded hand. A little boy, climbing up the steps of the pool looks longingly at the whistling quality-assuring man near the cart, while his mother brandishes a tupperware box of sugared chhola towards his unwilling face.
She remembers that she has seen a man, probably dead, today on the road while the winds rush in around her, lifting her soul in her old favourite dance, her anticipation making her heart quicken and face turn up to receive whatever the sky has to offer. Worries crowded in even then, horrors of paint running on natural dye clothes, and cherished books on the perpetually water-filled Sundarbans, now threatening to acquire hidral pools of their own…
But she pushed them back, in exasperated laughter at this playful childhood friend, whom she has never been able to best, but maybe does not really want to. Her friend who covers in an all consuming love like no other, kissing her coldly, yet setting her veins on fire.
Rain, covering the gradually slumbering streets of the city, golden and grey, laughs in her ear while she is walked home, by it.
– Upasruti Biswas

The now and forever

I have never written a spoken word poem,
So let me make one up now.

But is this the now?
Or is the now somewhere in the past,
Where all the nows of eternity accumulate as ghosts
and take a Sauna Bath?

They never tell me anything!

Or I might be lying.

I might know exactly where the nows go,
Where tomorrow waits in irritated anticipation,
Where Flying promises hover,
Where forgotten yesterdays weep,
Where the forevers and the always hug it out in mistaken loneliness,
Where hopes go to die,
And where unfulfilled expectations look for closure under feeble torchlights!

I might have seen the walls that hide our sorrows and our smiles,
Knocked uncertainly on closed lips to peek inside and decipher the secrets of eternity…
Pursed lips failed to open,
And Krishna’s secret universe remained a fable.

See i am speaking without necessarily looking at a white page with scribbled words as interruptions which are hard to decipher from that seat which your butts have claimed as their own!

I might not have a page, a paper, a sheet, a copy or even a phone or a tab!

I might be speaking slowly, savouring each mispronounced word.

Or very very fast,
Eluding proper comprehension.

You don’t know me,
Don’t know how well i lie,
Because all poems lie;
Just very honestly!
That is why all poems are lies,
But all lies, well…. (smiles)

Are you following me?
Are you falling and rising with my words as they traverse the vacuum of this room in strides,
Prancing in and out of your ears, eyes, nose, mouth and bored consciousness-
Tasting delicious thoughts that were never meant to be?

Does my lie of a poem;
Meaningless, now and forever,
Penetrate your curly organ?
Does it move in and out of time’s contraptions,
becoming your past, in this presence, to be remembered in a distant future over a cup of forcefully Irish Coffee, and the nth rerun of F.R.I.E.N.D.S?

Does my poem visit your nows and forevers,
Reminiscing a ‘then’ which is as much a lie as the meaning of this poem?

If I end the poem ‘now’
Without an attempt to explain anything,
Would it explain everything?
Or would that be a lie
That would join the ‘whys’ at the edge of eternity under an umbrella shaped out of question marks?

-Shakya Bose

A room in the world

Supposing that the room is the universe,
The whirring fan above my head,
An Absolute, defying description,
Making Hegel turn in his arrogant grave-
And the words in numbers
Are the waves of an inherent vice,
Spreading curses along parallel worlds-
As the spreadsheet of time is ripped to shreds,
Allowing the ridges of space,
And the genitals of the universe,
To lock in a fierce carnal expression
of love,
hate
and passion!

And the light-
White in its burning agony,
Covering the dirt and dust of the room,
And the cannibal cells that live
Within me-
Building civilizations
Of decay and death,
And utopian worlds
That collapse in satisfied bliss
Of smoke and earth!
That light
Splinters out of existence
Trying to reach darkness.

To think,
What a tragedy…

– Shakya Bose

A poem for love

You should go-
yes,
I should work.
Or sleep-
Because my lids are like the sun and the horizon on a windy afternoon;

Aching to meet…

But.

All I think about,

Are how your chocolate fingers slip through the mess on my head.

My own queer appendages wrap around your throat;

Like Atlas’s

Around the belly of the sky…

And sometimes,

I wonder,

In crimson dreams,

How your little baby breasts look

Unfurled

And free…

My mind opens up to the body,

Like a sunflower…

What am I,

If I don’t see

The depth that separates the border of your breasts

From the boundary of your tummy

With the tip of my fingers?

I trespass the no man’s land

Navigating what can only be a world

I was not supposed to see…

Yes…

And through closed eyelids,

I see stars on a night sky,

And the moon,

Floating like a flag on a pirate ship…

My body is a slave to the endocrine,

As logic and all of her secretaries take a holiday,

And I walk home through ordeals,

Like Odysseus after the Trojan War!

But I am already home.

-Shakya Bose