Essentials of Living: Laksmisree Banerjee

Laksmisree Banerjee
Weaving cane baskets
darning rags
making coconut-brooms
sun-drying dung cakes
for stoking half-dead fires
wrapping up cracked huts
with muddy slime
along denuded roads
is what they know of
as destiny---

the dented coal-tar
the beaten corn
the wheat in meagre spread-outs
on the margins of highways
compose their lives ---

their nude children
progenies of darkness
kick on the outskirts
away from life, light,
human kindness ---

their black burnished bodies
marvellous oily statuettes
used for hard sun-burnt labour,
picking up firewood
or dry, half-rotten fruits
in deep, pachyderm-infested jungles ---

for back-breaking chores
in devastated fields, farms or homes
for leasing themselves out
to lazy, lascivious males,
owners or husbands
in liquor-stupor---
The moon steadily blinks
on these tired horizons
of Singhbhum or Simlipal
of Bethla or Bamnipal
yarning her stories
on an eternal spindle.

+ Singhbhum, Simlipal, Bethla, Bamnipal—Tribal Areas/Districts of Jharkhand, Eastern India


My friend
I have just met
Is an international scholar,
A fellow Fulbrighter
From the Arab world
Of learning,
A herald from 
The crescendo of the Pyramids,
Of Tutenkhamens who knew
The deepest secrets of life ---
He knows the ancient Egyptian classics,
West Asian as well as
Greco-Roman history and culture,
And of course he is immersed
In the scientific scholarship of the West.

I planned to have with him 
An exciting scholarly affiliation,
Join in for the Washington Conference
On Global Climate Change ---
“I am the Dean of my University”, he said
“And a Food-Technologist,
My country still believes in the Purdah ---
You know, our women at home 
Are best-fitted behind the veiled lattice,
But we are progressive
And my country is Pro-American”.

We discussed over coffee at a café
World issues far beyond our homes,
The same important ones, as we would be doing
At the Interface at Washington DC ---
I felt good as the sky soon changed colours, 
Elated by my scholarly company
Till he said “I have travelled across the globe”
While his eyes did the same
Across my body.---

Late in the evening I got the hint
From the Man
As he stretched out his hand to hold mine
I said “Good Bye”
 And forgot the damned scholar!

I have known him
In the cerulean shadows
of my dreams:
I have felt him
in the gnawing pulse
of my desperations:

I have drunk him
through the clenched roots 
of my moist, muddied soul:

I see him often
beaming through the countless
faces of 
my feelings, 
my fears,
my hopes,
my tears ---

I often touch
his fleshy, ardent pinkness
through stretches of 
my deepest sleep,
through the soul of
my hardest awakening ---

I have heard this god of mine
through the midnight intensities
of joys unknown,
through the cacophony of living,
in the flappings of my free lines
in the sonority of my heart ---

Being is the only god I know,
a splendid reverberation,
a magic serenade
lilting through
the mirage of my golden screen.


My Mother perhaps was born
 on the same day as Anne Frank

Anne saw the cherry blossoms
 dreamt of the chaste beauty of life
in cloistered darkness
 till life said goodbye,

Her dreams were fulfilled
in the buoyancy of eternity.

My Mother planted her hibiscus tree
 watered its roots daily

Added vital soil to nurture
 its soft growth and
save it from the burning sun
 while she always dreamt through drudgery.

Her dreams lived throughout her
full life, forever unfulfilled.

(this poem was first published in WASAFIRI, Routledge, London 2010)


the brown wilted leaves in whorls,
cuddled in parched mud
can hardly breathe,
some of them still hang
on twigs of the crooked tree
with a bent broken spine unquenched forever
along the thirsty brackish shores
of an orange-grey sunset ---

the withered flowers on ground
trapeze in a dance of death
rolling in a wayward breeze
crunched and beaten by the chill
of heartlessness inviting
the dark clandestine night ---

I sit lonely with the warrior waves
thrashing my feet frail with endless walking
searching for seashells with live mollusks
hoping to find a susurrating oyster
a brilliant preserved pearl in its core
I seek to hide in me
from the tradesmen out there ---

waiting for the drowsy sun 
to drop into my lap lovingly
for a tranquil sleep ---

yet no scintillating pearl, 
no warm love in sight
as the sun dives into
the abysmal cold waters
leaving behind the fathomless night
myself lost in an eternity
of search
for the light!


as I wallow in the salt-sand seas,
 a briny minuscule, a grated mote
of dust in the slush of the temporal,
 wriggling in whirlpools,
you sweep downwards with your
 great flailing wings of eagle poesy,
an ethereal swoosh from an elysium
 into the flush of my cheeks, a tingling 
 of the eternal aorta in my heart
 as I fly in your wraps on a magic carpet
 beyond the time-space continuum, 
 I spread my cosmic wings in a merry void
 of thoughts buoyed to sail and swim 
 in a flowery, feathery, fragrant whim
 of our melting lilting divine poesy
 fulfilling me to the ultimate brim.

Prof. Dr. Laksmisree Banerjee is an established Poet, Writer, Editor, Literary Critic, Educationist, International Scholar, Rotarian (a Multiple Paul Harris Fellow) & practicing Vocalist, with many National and International Awards, Assignments, Books & Publications to her credit. She is a Senior Fulbright Scholar, Commonwealth Scholar and a National Scholar in English from the Calcutta University, India. A University Professor of English, Poetry & Cultural Studies, an Ex-Vice Chancellor of Kolhan University, she has taught, lectured & recited in Universities and Literary Festivals across the globe. She has been widely anthologized with Eight Books of Poetry, One Hundred Twenty Research Publications and Several Academic Books. Of the many Awards she has received, a special few need to be mentioned  viz. Sahitya Akademi’s “Avishkar” Honour  for her multiple expertise, cited as “A Scholar-Artiste and Poet-Musician”, her UGC Postdoctoral Research Award for her path-breaking Literary Work on the Comparative Studies of World Women Poets, the Honour of The Connossiuer of  Creative & Literary Arts by the Tunisian-Asian Poetic Society, the Kala-Ratnam Award and the Reuel International Lifetime Achievement Award 2021,among others.
   Dr. Banerjee happens to be the Indian Rashtrapati’s Nominee on Boards of Central Universities & believes in using her Pen and Voice for Social Justice, Peace & International Understanding.

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