Ketaki Datta: Poetry (Voices Within 2021)

Ketaki Datta is an Associate Professor of English with Bidhannagar College, Kolkata. Apart from a slew of academic writings, she has two novels, “A Bird Alone” and “One Year for Mourning” to her credit. She has two collections of poems, “Across the Blue Horizon” [U.K.], and “Urban Reflections: A Dialogue Between Photography and Poetry”, coauthored with Prof. Wilfried Raussert [Germany]. She has two translated novels. She is a lyricist too.

A New World to be Born 

Wash your hands for twenty seconds,
Wear mask when you go out,
Leave not your own self behind
 Take it along—
 Well-masked, well-camouflaged,
 Hands, washed off of all sins,
 All misdoings like the 
 Indelible stains of homicide,
 Committed long, long ago.

 The soul-less roads cry out in anguish,
 The wind howls on the empty roads,
 Listening to its own swoosh,
 Like the wolves in an African jungle.
 The sky getting bluer,
 With no avion to cross
 By leaving a smoky trail
 of civilized humanity!
 A new world is about to be born
 On the feathers of a
 long-lost sparrow!
 Dancing down the steps
 of a spiralling staircase,
 of the dilapidated house
 across the road.

The roads lying in quiet abandon
 Speak to themselves,
Seeking a little attention 
 Of the people
Of the post-Covid era,
 Who will at least
 Care not to clutter them,
 Care not to trample them
 With careless abandon.

Post-Covid Roads in Conversation

We lay in a quiet abandon
 With sun on our shoulders,
 The men who ran on us
 At breakneck speed
 With two- or four-wheelers,
 Were all locked indoors!
The beggars who sat cluttering 
 Our nooks and crannies,
Had all been taken for quarantine
 To local hubs,
 We think.

What about you?

I am just a lane,
You are a junction
 Where so many 
 small roads meet!
Yes, I was happy too,
Basking under the afternoon sun,
 Being regaled by bird-songs,
 And greeted by cuckoo and nightingales,
 Kept wondering, where had they 
 All gone for so many years?

Then they spoke in unison,

Yes, I was having whiffs of fresh air,
 Yes, every day made me calm, calmer,
 I know, from tomorrow
 The old tale will repeat.
Again we will go deaf by the
 Honk of cabs and cars,
 And maddening footfalls of
 Millions of men and women!

Let’s hope for a better tomorrow,
 The humans would not clutter us anymore,
 They will be a bit empathetic,
 A bit more accommodating,
 They surely will be,
 Won’t they? 

 A Quiet Diwali 

 Cops came blaring a microphone,
 “No crackers, no noisy fireworks please”,
 Little Pumpu went in dumps, 
 Went to the balcony to mull over 
 these terms!
 His mind went roving around 
 The dear aunts and grandpas
 Whom he lost to the ruthless 
 Clutch of Covid -19, oh alas!
 The cops added, “We should 
 Keep the air clean,
 We should make the surroundings
 Cleaner than it had been!”
 Pumpu looked around 
 And found the air clean already,
 So no need to garb it with smog
 By bursting crackers, leaving it untidy!
 Pumpu came into the room
 Sadder and wiser,
 He sidled up to dad to say,
 “ I want diya, not a cracker!

 Dad tried to read the lines 
 On his little son’s face,
 He spoke so wise,
 What was really the case?
 Pumpu stood straight to say,
 “ I want all of us to pray
 To keep everyone hale and hearty, 
 Happy and sprightly!
 If our air gets polluted,
 We will suffer instead!”
 The happy parents exchange a glance,
 Being happy to see their son, in a trance. 
*Diya: Earthen Lamp

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