Poetry: Basudhara Roy

Basundhara Roy
Topophilia

Not all places grow into you.
You have to let them settle
and negotiate, the place and you,
till both decide where, if at all,
they may, uninhibited, meet.

Places have souls too. Empty
rooms are full of waiting till
the right tenancy arrives. Floors
cannot rebel and ricochet under
your feet but to have them yield

to you in love is fortune.
A surface, crack, bolt, switch
can be stubborn, hostile till you
summon empathy to touch, and
read their frayed tender longings,

braille-like, on fingertips. You
must be grateful if corridors
usher you along, if windows freely
give way to light and air, if
shadows protect you from the

excesses of truth, if the murmurs
of blinds keep you safe like
vigilant fathers across distances.
You must give yourself up
to a place before it can take you in.

And once the choice has been
made, the heart written over
and sealed with a kiss, even
the final ashed return shall be
a planting in dear love’s name.


In an Urban Household: Day’s End

It’s well past ten and
the night’s sirens have dissolved
in weary waves of determined
headlights speeding home.

I suddenly notice that
the lamp at my altar has remained
unlit. Are the gods likely to be asleep?
Grandmother always tucked them to bed

by seven when she lived.
I strike a matchstick and hesitate. But
if it’s all right to pray and be heard at
all times, why must gods be allowed

to sleep at seven?
I mutter to grandma under my breath. In
nocturnal homes like ours, gods perhaps
never sleep. They must keep awake listening

to voices, doorbells,
awaiting footfalls, making phone calls,
meeting deadlines, tagging attachments
to never-ending emails. They must

heave a sigh of relief
when we roost for dinner at the table,
when the warm, hearth-smell of rotis
fills the air like the hungry hurtling home;

when the child asks for more;
when pots and ladles chatter in bonhomie
with spoons and plates. At places in the
world god’s work may have failed today.

By chance’s logic, however,
things here have stayed in place. As the
clock strikes twelve and the house is taken
over by the assured purr of air-conditioners,

the gods too stretch
themselves, yawn, as the blinding lights
turn off leaving a phosporous glow so
hope remains undaunted by the dark. 


Basudhara Roy is the author of two books, a monograph, Migrations of Hope: A Study of the Short Fiction of Three Indian American Writers (New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 2019) and a collection of poems, Moon in my Teacup (Kolkata: Writer’s Workshop, 2019). She has been an alumnus of Banaras Hindu University and has earned her doctoral degree in diaspora women’s writing from Kolhan University, Chaibasa. Basudhara’s areas of academic interest are diaspora writing, cultural studies, gender studies and postmodern criticism. Her research articles and book reviews have widely appeared in reputed academic journals across the country and as chapters in books. As a creative writer, she has featured in an anthology, Dancing the Light: Poems from Australia and India,  and in magazines like Borderless, Muse India, Shabdadguchha, Cerebration, Rupkatha, The Challenge, Triveni and Setu among othersShe is Assistant Professor of English at Karim City College, Jamshedpur, Jharkhand and can be reached at basudhara.roy@gmail.com.

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