Poetry: Sayan Aich Bhowmik

Sayan Aich Bhowmik is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Shirakole Mahavidyalaya, Kolkata. When not under the burden of answer scripts, departmental work and meeting deadlines, he can be found nurturing his love for watching movies and writing poetry. A published poet, he is also the editor of the blog Plato's Caves, a semi-academic space for discussion on life, culture and literature.


1. Choices

Once in a while,
If you ask a poem,
It will choose a language
And dialect, all by itself.
The one's talking of madness in love
Not listed or classified
In Western Medical journals
Will slowly tip-toe their way across
Your study and pick
Swahili for itself,
And then stand in front of you,
Not for your approval,
But for a salute of recognition.
Poems that whisper of second hand books
And of rains. that somehow miss
The spurned lovers of the city,
You might find,
Wearing an old Parisian Dialect.
Urdu and Sindhi
Are automatic choices amongst poems
Which have a graveyard of stories
Somewhere in them.
Within such poems, you'll  find,
Calendars of the past,
Preserved in tiny bottles of attar.
And courtesan's songs
That sometimes changed
The course of Jhelum, and sometimes
The fate of lovers.
The one reading this,
Know that some poems write themselves
And no matter which language they choose,
End up in hearts
Where springs once had
Doors slammed upon them.


2. Shrunk

I dangle my feet,
Off the edge of the rims
Of a discarded spectacle
And the world shrinks with every blink.
The trees, from the top of which,
One could sprinkle twilights,
Over cities forever lost in grandmothers' tales,
Now appear to grow along
The confusing alleyways on my palms.
The days shrink into
The dial of a watch
And the nights inside a beggar's bowl.
The city's lanes and by-lanes
That once led to rivers
That kept flowing, even when
Your tears dried up,
Have now lost themselves
Like old women suddenly
Forgetting where they are
While telling stories.
I shrink with the world,
Not knowing who will end up first
As an evening no one remembers.


3. First Time

Across that long courtyard,
Where I once sat,
Eating pistachios and drinking tea
Your ghost talks with mine,
In a tongue
Which turn words into air,
The kind which remains
Between lips
Meeting for the first time.


4.  The Plutos of Our World

The tiny pebble that lies
Unwashed and unloved
When in the hands of the
Plutos our world,
Can cause great panic,
In the river, carrying on
With its own business.
Ripples of seismic proportions
Generally reserved for the young at heart
Who have just come to know
How love begins, and how abruptly
It ends, have travelled
To the opposite bank,
Where it has startled women,
Washing their poor days and nights,
And midnight beatings
Off their skin.
On afternoons like these,
One is hardly certain,
Which unfancied or insignificant act
Of whim or despair,
Might lead to ripples being
Shot across oceans or skies,
Or which pawn has slipped un-noticed
Upon the chessboard,
Threatening the balance,
Across Sixty Four squares.
Because of ripples like these,
Our hearts move like tectonic shifts,
And some of us move
To and fro
Between rainbows and sleeping pills.


5.  A Foreign Tongue

Having enrolled myself
In a foreign language course
I was asked to read up
On their history and struggle
And how, a country once,
Of grass and mud
Now boasts of software hubs
And a hundred KFC outlets.
Instead my pages smelt of
Indigo evenings and a darker sky,
That were robbed inside government offices
And by more fluent historians
And were stored
Inside palimpsests of night and days
I went from one book to another,
For the different names
By which hunger in known in that tongue.
Google Translate told me,
That hunger has the same name
In every language.
Next day, when I told my
Instructor about it, she forced me
To unlearn everything.
It has all worked out well,
Just that at times,
I go back to old searches
On the internet,
And try and imagine
How it would have been possible
To say out loud,
That one was hungry
In a tongue
Which is now not spoken anywhere else.

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