Ketaki Datta (Voices Within)

Ketaki Datta is a poet, novelist, critic and reviewer apart from being an academic. She has two novels, A Bird Alone and One Year for Mourning, to her credit along with two books of poetry, Across the Blue Horizon[published from U.K. with the aid of Arts Council, England] and Urban Reflections: A Dialogue between Poetry and Photography with Prof. Wilfried Raussert. The photographs of Street Art of Americas have been taken by Prof. Raussert and the poems are by her. She is a translator too. Shesh Namaskar[The Last Salute] is her noted work of translation[Sahitya Akademi].Selected Short Stories of Tagore in Translation, The Voyage are her other works of translation.


A Journey from Calcutta to Kolkata

Calcutta was green in those days,
The trees lining the thoroughfare
 Stood refuge to ample of birds,
 Which nudged us out of sleep, each dawn,
 Breathing new life in us, filling us with
 A new ardour, to make the most of the day.
 The tramcars were not a luxury then,
 Nor was it a vehicle of joyride,
 It was a necessity, a mode to trudge on quietly
 To the furthest nook, trailing a track of
 occasional stops,
 Opening up fresh moments to get lost
 in ourselves.
 That Calcutta of early ’eighties
 Was waking up to continual digging
 Of earth, filling us with wonder to
 Dream of an underground railroad!
 Journey from the North Calcutta
 To the South was not a cakewalk then!
 The buses with overflowing throng
 Suspended mostly from their doors
 Was a common sight, to sigh on!

 ’Nineties saw a Calcutta, donned in
 A new look, a snaky underground
 Tube rail was added to its
 three-hundred-year-old
 Body by then!
 One or two flyovers were about to
 Raise their heads like
 hydra-headed dragons!
 “ Keep your city clean” was pasted on
 Each wall, each hoarding!
 Calcutta became Kolkata in the meantime!
 Gangopadhyay and Chattopadhyay
 Toasted the event at Flury’s over
 Cakes, bagels and glasses of hot chocolates!
 Journey of Kolkata begins!
 Tram-fares, bus-fares, cab-fares
 Begin to scale high,
 Premier educational meccas face
 Terrible phases of crises,
 Value system of the yesteryear
 Is in for a violent jolt,
 The flyovers begin to crumble down
 On the passersby, on jaywalkers,
 Stephen Court, AMRI, Dhakuria get gobbled by
 An atrocious conflagration,
 Three-pronged light-stands, spruced up
 Rabindra Sarobar and Ganga-Bank, well-curved
 Park-benches, dazzling
 Snazzy looks of Shopping Malls with
 Smartest Cineplex are enough to make
 Us feel like we are in London!

 Yes, our Kolkata is green, our Kolkata
 Has the purest air to inhale, our Kolkata
 Has much-improved medical facilities,
 our Kolkata is culturally vibrant,
 AKLF, Film Festival,Kolkata
 Literary Meet, Book Fair, Trade Fair,
 Dover Lane, ITC music soirees—
 all keep us warm, proud and happy!
 Even slums have been replaced by multistoried
 Common man’s Housing Complex!
 Why then the burnt-faced beggar still sticks out his
 Palm to the man in front of the Metro Station?


A Swing sways on...

The swing rocked like a pendulum—
 Not from one end to the other,
But from hind to the fore,
 From the front to the rear,
 Backward and forward
 Forward and backward,
 In rhythm, in seamless harmony,
 Just like the keys of a piano,
 Touched with softness,
 Like moving lips,
 parting in a smile!
Like alternate bass and treble,
Like surging crests and receding troughs!

The swing rocks to and fro,
 The swing oscillates, on and on—
 The past, the future
 Fall in its trajectory,
Though it skims past
 The present, inadvertently!
 Past to Future,
 Future to Past,
 With Present intervening
 Like an interlude
 of a medieval play!


Call it Rose or Fragranta

A soft-petal-rose was plucked
 by the blind woman,
She waved it beneath her nostrils
 Twice, thrice—
The fragrance entered her breath,
 Stirred her whole being,
Enveloped her in an amazed feeling,
 She fell head over heels
 In love with the sweet smell,
 She in half-opened eyes,
 Whispered ‘Fragranta’!
 Is rose ‘Fragranta’?
 Or just a reddish-rosy flower?
 Does really rose have
 Sundry names to be
 dearly addressed with?
 Does rose have its beauty
 Locked in its petals?
 Or its stalk, or fronds
 Or its thorns?
 Or in its maddening fragrance?
 Both fragrance and charm
 Endear it to one and all,
 It will keep enthralling us,
 No matter by hundred names

 Or with just one we call!

Voices Within-2020 :: Setu, February 2020

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