Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Two poetry in public after a long time, thanks to Goirick Brahmachari of The Sunflower Collective. I thought will share one of the poems here. The other you can read at The Sunflower Collective blog You can read the other stuff too. They have plenty of cool stuff.

The poems went through numerous revisions. So it is not the same as it appeared in The Sunflower Collective.

In which we dream of fish

I cannot eat fish anymore. The bones prick my gullet.
I cannot eat much else either, an old man without teeth
imprisoned in his bed smelling of piss and filth
waiting for the boatman to free me of this body.

I close my eyes and my mouth tastes ilish with mustard seeds.
I gulp and I see other fish – a roasted dark goroi for the
breakfast of water-soaked rice, a dancing kawoi in the courtyard
a kingly bhokua caught in the bamboo net in Moranadi
a rough kokila for the uruka feast
and a single scale of a tall rou, wearing which
she pledged her miserable life to mine.

I turn and find myself in a rice merchant’s barge
riding the red torrents of the lunatic river.
Is he Tejimola’s father
in the quest for that lonesome lotus which would be
his daughter destined to be murdered and be born again?
Is he Chando Sadagar
who would share with me the oozing pain of Behula’s floating mausoleum?

The lunatic river takes the rice merchant underwater to keep
company with the childless widows, ugly virgins, paddy
seedlings and mute goslings, and the boatman tells me how
a mermaid stole his heart and how he now fills the emptiness
inside his ribcage with hyacinth roots and dry fish bones. He
opens the cave beneath his withering flesh and I see
the river dolphins in the waves taunting my ambition.

I ride a river dolphin and escape the lunatic god
for the tattered embrace of the wizened Beki, who takes me
to her jubilant granddaughter, the dancing Manas, who
insists I join the feast within the breadth of her betrothed.

I turn and Luit shallows me. He is the creation, the farmer of
the fish, the satiation of man’s hunger, our very breath, rice
fields, thatched huts, betel leaves, fishhooks. I dazzle in the
sheen of the silvery embrace like the fins of a kanduli, amidst
the sandy islands the Old Man River wears like golden
armour to fight the surging blue waves in a faraway country
which is his enemy, his one true love, his everlasting death.

I follow the creator’s son on his endless hunt, lose my way and
find his offspring, each bountiful, who offer me fishes plucked
from their hearts, puthi, darikana, moua, bariala, pithia, pabho, the
restless chegeli, the fulgent chanda, and the reeking gethu, magur and
turi and brown little crabs, tadpoles and violet hyacinth flowers and
yellow bamboo shoots, red tomatoes, and creamy elephant apples and
magenta banana flowers, blue flowering stalks and green leaves.

I jump from one boat to another. I cross one river for another.
In Bhogdoi, I witness Sukaphaa’s royal procession. In Dhansiri, a
Bihu dancer washes her glee. In Dihing, Joymati keeps quiet. In
Barak, the Goddess dances naked. I find grandfather’s bones in
Kolong. In Kopili, rice fields turn golden. In Subansiri, I mourn for
Jhonki and Panoi. In Kushiyara, I meet him again, desperate lover
Luit, the mortal enemy, rushing to his death for a new birth.

The Old Man River, he cannot wait. He is now his lover
Jamuna, fertility spilling out of her uncontainable youth, drowning
villages and cities, until they would come to life again when the
youth was spent and she was an exhausted old crone, Meghna, at
the edge of that inevitable end where memories are mirages and
expectations are prickly thorns in the heels, where you despise
your desired destination and you have no ways to begin again.

I close my eyes and my mouth tastes ilish with mustard seeds.
I cannot sleep, an old man without teeth
imprisoned in his bed smelling of piss and filth
waiting for the boatman. He would not catch me a fish.

[This is for my paternal grandfather: After half of his family, including his parents, succumbs to cholera, Bipin Chandra Bhattacharya travels to Rangpur, now a city in Bangladesh not far from Cooch Behar in West Bengal, to be a priest. He claims he made it there, with a large farmhouse, cattle and servants, in a beautiful village. His young wife, Prabhabati Devi, who is left behind and whom he visits occasionally, dismiss the stories with a smirk, for, in the end, on a hot July morning in 1947, he returns to his ancestral home in Nalbari a beggar, with just a handful of Queen Victoria’s gold coins tucked to the knot of his dhoti. Yet, until the end, he regales us with the stories of the open country blessed with Teesta’s yearly visits.]

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