Gayatri Majumdar: Poetry (Voices Within 2021)

Gayatri Majumdar

Gayatri Majumdar is founder-editor and publisher of critically acclaimed literary journal, The Brown Critique. She began her career as a journalist in Mumbai and her career encompassed leadership in the publishing industry.Gayatri’s work has been published in major journals and anthologies. Her books include A Song for Bela (a novel) and poetry collections Shout and I Know You Are Here. As co-founder of ‘Pondicherry Poets’, she curates the annual three-day Pondicherry/Auroville Poetry Festival and other literary events. Her third volume of poems and a non-fiction book titled The Lotus of the Heart are due to be published in 2021.


If I Should Die Tonight*

It’s a cruel summer,
my measured breaths evaporate
turning my melodramatic heart into red Gladiolus.

I wade as if through this dream
collapsing at street corners, holding up fresh tomatoes,
a box full of fairy lights and a book;
waiting for nothing spectacular
only seasons change, butterflies migrate.
In dreams, there are no destinations.

I watch all my loved ones stoic like always
queuing to receive me with jewellery, complaints
and payash^; little nods here,
disapproving looks there
in corridors of infinite nothingness.
I join the feast and congregation of
these colourful shadows of my soul.

My finger dialling long-distance calls
to someplace else.

After all the weight of giving, receiving,
a pat, a few pranams, stories
of ghosts hoist beneath mango trees,
decades slip from my tongue.

When you passed away and away,
I should’ve grasped your hand –
whispered a poem into your ear
about journeys across captured lands
leading us to troubled shores, empty suitcases;
of contentious ideologies, MF Hussain and Madhuri Dixit.

If I should die tonight,
we will embrace this utopia
of aporia, repartee and unshackled
soliloquies – repeating tall tales
enough to make them believable;
gather again at funerals, Nandan, Waldorf;
listen to songs by Paul Robson and Suchitra Sen,
discuss Vivekananda, Robert Redford, Sukanta, Ganesh Pyne;
take jeep rides to Jalpaiguri –
I could go on.

If I should die tonight, rest assured
the message will beep across the Queen’s Necklace,
cricket fields, skywalks.

Shake your head a bit, share a photo
just as I did.
Find the peace. I did.

*Dedicated to all the loved ones I lost through 2020 especially between 3 April and 4 June
^Rice pudding



Busy morning,
I think it may rain.
The bells of the red & white church
toll at odd hours,
and b&w posters of long-forgotten smiles
now abound my busy streets.

Who would want to leave in such a hurry?
What is the urgency to converse now
about colours of sunsets and curries?

A lady draped in a sari
gathers flowers and farewells;
she tries to recall where she needed to be
with the park’s benches empty,
vacant chairs gathered by the sea;
flamingos calling out to the sky
losing their way.

Still so much to do;
and the coffee tastes like saw-dust,
days and clock-hours drift to unknown shores.

The lady now convinced she’s here for a reason,
wildly waves a white piece of paper at no one
in particular. No one is there.

She touches the morning’s face,
her days scattered to the blues and aroma of the living
and memories of brisk walks and arguments
in a dream park beside her slowing heart.

Generosity Fair 

At this Generosity Fair,
there’s large-hearted display of Ragi, raison & lemon cakes;
mandalas, cartwheels, vegan pasta,
Ming China, tea ceremonies, divine talk.
Sergei, a pied piper from Russia –
wandering keeper of lost ways of serenity
does not know the local language,
and so plays his flute all afternoon.

Someone decides the value of sentiments, our breaths,
what we should abandon, blow up in a minute!

A Swedish boy swings a rose crystal pendulum
dangling every struggle, every victory;
up for grabs are other vagaries and scars of time.
He mutters, you can rise from this deep sleep, re-imagine reality,
watch how the crystal always hangs around all that’s precious to me.

From the edge of a b&w sketch, a spirit bird rises
just this once again slipping away
from the edge of the picture frame, from my palm
flying beyond the walls, paintings, the trees and clouds.
Who would tag a price to this?

A little girl from Italy has her eye on my blue-silver empty chalice.
I give it away.

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