Purabi Bhattacharya: Poetry (Voices Within 2021)

Purabi Bhattacharya was born and bred in Shillong, North-east India, now lives& works in Gujarat. She is a writer, poet, involved in teaching and writing for over two decades now. She has authored two collections of poems, both published by Writers Workshop, India; and reviews books as a panellist for the literary e-journal Muse India. Her contributions in the form of poetry, prose, photography can be read, viewed, reviewed in And Other Poems, Through her lens Zubaan, Ink, sweat and tears, Lake poetry, Spark the magazine, Muse India, Setu Magazine, Tuck Magazine and others.

 

Layer of skin

(to my Khasi friends& classmates) 

 

Strong whiff from the dell, a howl of sorts, a masked label stretching across

my dainty hometown marks you and me from nations, Muhuri[1] cleaved, nicknaming me

the bat, clipping my wings screaming love antonym. I have only learnt to fly kites,

screaking like the street kids before the other kite flier slit my thread. It’s the blue, the blue always

hope hefty, extracts smile unhindered. You have to be unseasoned, truly

to be in love, be the brook let the foliage float along, flow; become life. You crochet poetry in the winter discards turned filemot, almost dijon yellow. And see, how life moves beyond

the scab of partition[2]. It was yesterday, you gifted me pine cones from our hills, we frolicked up and down, muddying our childhood with snickering

laughter and peach stains all over

our school uniforms.

I

and you

shared

colour brown.

 

About the poem: On the 21st of October’2020, every Meghalaya (One of the seven North-East Indian states) born, Bengali speaking was labelled Bangladeshi by a Students’ Union. I was born in the capital city, Shillong and I am a Bengali. There were posters all over the place. The scar of abjection, racism, discrimination faced over a long period of time is the sauce of the poetry.

 

[1] A transnational river between India and Bangladesh

[1] The Partition of India of 1947

 

Words don’t matter

 

 

There are stars, there is this untreated barrenness.

This is the raven hour. The petitions

loosely let free filtered through the masks, particulate

I don’t think the believed receives anything, any longer.

We are forsaken to the strepitant of the plates and ululation

from the rooftops and balconies, leaving the stars in

amusement, the resting beings to bewilderment. In this strange

heaven or may be hell stalked by sorrow, we have stopped

looking at the dead or crying a river with their families. I

discreetly pick shapeless night now as the favourite part of the day,

I can lie alone let darkness pull me in, be brave

in its irenic favourable nothingness, least of all one

doesn’t have to look for golden, silver or even marble hopes.

The night birds of late have become better companies, lending ears

to silences, sounds: worded out, eaten like raw leafy vegetables. Sometimes,

the days begin with stealing tracery of threads from the sun rays. Sometimes

the nights end with imagination taking shape out of those collected threads. It is

the passive obsession of watching the pre-winter preparatory leaves

caught off guard whirling wild at the touch of October wind. Here,

words don’t matter.

 

 

Facing the sinking sun

 

This evening I can be the tailorbird again

fly in and out of bitter neem tree

and still send out unburdened songs,

This. This is my birthplace.

 

This winter evening there’s very little space to look at

I set my eyes on the bipeds

out with their sickness, place worrying lines

stretched on their forehead, on the bark of the tree

and pluck serum for their home

 

I am quite a charm and i wonder

how a photographer up there

holding her camera takes my portrait.

It is quite a thing to be a nubivagant and pose

 

facing the sinking sun

facing the last one of a scarred year

 

Quite a thing isn’t it to be in love with oneself?

 

Up here

the worry for a perilous summer is put on hold,

up here

there is

plenty of room for prayers.

 

 

I have lost home

 

 I was little then, he gifted me

a pine box brim-full of memories

 

now I connect one to the other

to find appropriate lyrics for my song

 

an almost forgotten image of a home

sodium chloride streams down my cheeks

 

couple of months back I became a sturdy city

devouring dreams.

 

I have lost home

and a spicy nostalgia tails me now.



[1] A transnational river between India and Bangladesh

[2] The Partition of India of 1947


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