Voices Within: Nishi Pulugurtha

Dr. Nishi Pulugurtha is Head and Associate Professor in the department of English, Brahmananda Keshab Chandra College and has taught courses at West Bengal State University and Rabindra Bharati University. She writes on travel and her travel essays have been published in The Statesman, Kolkata, and online - Café Dissensus and Coldnoon. She guest edited the June 2018 Issue of Café Dissensus on Travel. Dr. Pulugurtha writes on Alzheimer’s Disease and Film. She has published short stories in The StatesmanCafe Dissensus and Queen Mob's Teahouse. Dr. Pulugurtha dabbles in poetry and has published in Cafe DissensusPoetry at the Heart of the Nation (Journal of IPPL, Kolkata) and in the anthology Tranquil Muse. . 


It has made her quiet, completely silent
The smile is still there, at times ebullient, at times muted
It still brightens up a dull mood, it tells of the unspoken
She nods her head, she makes motions with her head and hand
The responses are muted, I see them, I know them
They are there, in spite of the tangled nerves with the plagues wrecking it all.
The wrecking is so much obvious now.
When talking goes on around her, she listens
When the music plays, she listens
When she sees a familiar face, she smiles
There are no words, a small gesture tells me a little
At times she makes a noise, a noise that carries a lot unsaid
Ma is telling me something, what is it that she says?
I listen, smile and keep talking to her
She likes to hear my voice, she likes all the voices around her that she hears
She smiles at some, she looks around
Then looks away, at times in thought, at times distracted
At times awaiting a response, a gesture, a call
Life goes on for all of us.


As I enter I see them there
Lots of them, cooing, noisy, flapping wings
Moving about, a look here and a look there
A peck at the food, a sip at the water
Most of them on the ground, a few on the raised plinth
Lined up on the cables high up
They are up on the temple too
Black against a light background
A couple of white ones too amid the black and grey
I pause to look as I enter
A two year old, still wobbly, looks at them, smiles
Looks at his mother, she smiles back
Holding her hand he walks towards them
They are used to humans around, a few just move away
The child walks in, this time alone
Laughing, making noises, he ventures forth, hands outstretched
Happiness writ on his face, as he moves here and there
They move too, further away, a couple fly to perch high up
He looks at them in flight, mumbles and goes ahead
I sit on the steps a little further away
I was there too, amid the pigeons
I remember the whole lot flying away as I surged towards them,
Only at a different time.


It is a huge structure that stands out against the skyline
Nestled beside a river, a holy river that travels miles
The steps at the ghat are muddy and wet, slippery
People climb down to have a dip in the holy waters
Faith that prods them, the water is muddy
In the distance straw floats by
An empty bottle, no message in it drifts
It is distorted in shape, used and thrown off
Some used flowers dance about in the waters
Mud banks clearly revealed as the tide gets low
It also reveals debris and garbage thrown in
The river takes it all, the moving waters carrying it all
Waste, cast off, anything that lands up in its folds
A lady sells empty bottles, that have been cast away
Bottles to fill with the holy water, to be taken home
As it surges ahead to meet the ocean, the river becomes the waste bearer
No, we are not bothered about what goes into it
It is holy, we believe a dip will wash our sins away.


Sprawled over a large area, huge red structures
Red bricked, on both sides of the road
Interspersed with iron and cement
Beautiful trees lined down to balance
Machines working, people moving in and out
As the bus moved ahead, a familiar sight
Now, a poor shadow
Overgrown with foliage all over
No human soul enters there
Huge creepers, leaves and trees all over
Uncared and forlorn, a reminder of bygone days
Green in the huge chimney too
Lives had been built around it
A rail track that splits it, now worn out
A stark reminder of what had been
The green looks alarming almost
Strange isn’t it?
The only sign of life too amidst all that desolation and ruin.

Voices Within - Complete List of Poets :: Setu, January 2019

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