Sharmila Ray (Voices Within)

Dr.Sharmila Ray is a poet and non-fiction essayist, writing in English and anthologized and featured in India and abroad. Her poems, short stories and non fictional essays have appeared in various national and international magazines and journals. She is an Associate Professor of the Department of History at City College, Kolkata.. She has authored nine books of poetry. She was on the English Board of Sahitya Akademi. She conducted poetry workshops organized by British Council, Poetry Society of India, Sahitya Akademi.. She has been reading her poems in India and abroad.. Her poems have been translated into Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Slovene, Hebrew and Spanish. She has received awards for poetry from Green Tara Initiatives, 2018, from All India Qaumi Ekta Manch, 2019 and from Ethos Journal 2010.

Mangoes And Jackfruits

Will you come down and sit beside me
amidst a world of mango and jackfruit trees
 or be distant like cherry trees in far off lands?
Touch me and it is the mango pulp sweet and smooth
that I have eaten. Masses of yellow –orange make my skin tawny.
and my flesh entwined with leaves and branches.
You will find wild flower and mystic hour and I shall
wrap you in mango –bark and memories freezing
 inside luscious jackfruit.
Smell the perfume that waltzes from
tree to tree and then settles on the damp grass.
If only you would come the mangoes and jackfruits
would expand and touch the stars,
gods and constellations will knot the moments
and we would merge with the carpet of time.

I Will Tell You A Story

 I will tell you a story where the wind moves through tall palm trees
or settles on the Banayan to create a violet night, shadows brushing
against an indigo sky. Of red and white sarees with a dash of gold worn during festivals,
of dancing as the new moon rises and the cloying smell of incense. The chants to goddess
create pathways to the stars. Here and there are marigolds in a floral design with few petals still soft and moist and clay pots with colourful glazes, offerings to the universe.

 I will tell you more. There is no metaphor here. The city never sleeps. Each slanted station, each stop is linked by shadows and open spaces. It stretches till mangrove forests appear and the blue line of an ocean glistening gem-like glow. The ancient tales corroded by pure acid waits behind hurried footsteps.

 I can only gift you words. They will travel, compressed and foamed. Sometimes they might get lost journeying across continents and oceans, their marrow melting with waves and landscape, tunneling time, linking hemispheres with sound, scent and tint. The invisible road that brings each unknown world with much more immensity.
You will be climbing the morning mist wrapping the old-new world around you with a variable key unlocking a house with thousand unheard of manuscripts.

Dear Daddy

 I have lighted candles for your birthday and a hundred dreams burn subtly
 in my bosom. Memory is embalming me with its feathery touch and you and I are like slow motion shots rolling one after another.

Shot 1: Your fair fingers picking a piece of an apple from a plate at breakfast, and I,like an eagle
swooping down on the apple.

Shot 2: Your chair standing still, polished by years, amber, old-your presence in abstract silence.

Shot 3: Empty hangers in the wardrobe speaking of shirts, checks, stripes, colour bold. Your smell now veiled from me by the scattered ash.

Shot 4: Da…ddy…

O daddy I’m glad that I never left you for some distant shore. I was never your Material Girl.
If I was then it would have been:

1. Skype-Hello, happy birthday. Did the care giver come? (camera panning my room, my trophies and myself smiling wide, sipping tonic water…)

2. Money transfers.

3. E mails (that would have been rare.)

4. Maybe you would have visited me once a year or I, if I wasn’t busy.

5. Virtually I would have given you the world.

But I wouldn’t be there to light your nocturnal shadows nor hold your idle fingers, your sleep-languid eyes half closed in a humid afternoon. I would miss just talking about the day that has gone by.
The smell of Jasmine is everywhere .Nonexistence and time are nothing when you love someone.

Dear daddy, the wind is rising and muffling my reminiscences.
Years have created a filter and they are sepia-soft. Who knows I might see you tonight in the maze of sleep. I’m speaking to you, only to you in my quiet tongue-

Happy Birthday dear one. 

Voices Within-2020 :: Setu, February 2020

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