Poetry: Snigdha Banerjee Agrawal

Snigdha Agrawal

I’m not surprised…
You haven’t changed
As much as I have
Though we meet after
More than three decades
Your sinewy body remains
Mine has shrunk and bent
Your vision has expanded
Beyond the line of horizon
You remain source of strength

I’m not surprised…
At how you have retained
Within and outside yourself
Ancient and recent blended
Into one harmonious oneness
While I continue to struggle
Whether to accept or reject
Impositions of change

You are constant yet keep moving
With so much dignity and grace
While age has withered me
I stay caged
Because of compelling circumstances

I’m not surprised…
That through all the perils
You have come out unscathed
Sun shines on your upturned face
Wind plays on your surface
Fire burns inside your bosom
Transporting souls to heaven
And if I so much as err in thought
Branded as immoral overambitious, flirtatious
Coz my profile mentions I’m saposexual woman
Betwixt you and me 
Differences stay immeasurable.

Why? O Ganga do you win over me
Both women carrying same baggage


O Ganga… you flow with so much dignity
In your old brown arms
I feel protected from invasions of evils
Despite carrying human detritus
Is it because in you I find Ma?
And just like Ma 
You cradle me to sleep 
With music from your gentle ripples
Allowing me to suckle
 On your spiritual bosom
I draw comfort, inspiration
Frenzied mind, lulled into calmness
Uplifted from the morass

O Ganga…tonight I am witness
To your spiritual presence
The full moon hangs like a gold pendant
Around your slender neck
Sequins glittering in your tresses
Like stars in the sky overhead
Each lighted lamp, a pray for deliverance
From the sins of the mind and flesh

O Ganga…your fabric is old
And at places threadbare
Embroidered with threads
Of hope and clairvoyance
Your purity inseminated 
With seeds from heaven
Giving birth to Hinduism 
Oldest religion, non prescriptive 
 A way of life one chooses

And as I wait on your banks
Watching mortal remains of man
Rising in flames sky high
I comfort myself there will be a time
Not too far in the horizon
Flesh and bones of mine 
Will dissolve to rest in your bosom
O Ma… then with you I shall be one
Completely liberated!


Burning dead flesh
Sandalwood paste
Strong smell of incense
A heady concoction
Releasing tears 
A spiritual connection
Mother non-partisan
Ganga, her name
Embracing the living 
And the dead
In her bosom

Aroma of blackened roasted Brinjals
Filling dark alleys
Wafting from windows
Assailing the nostrils
Somewhere a poor widow’s
Spartan meal being eaten
Rolled with dry chappatis
Pushed down the gullet
Once she cooked meals
Fish, goat meat, chicken
Rated five star
Now denied from diet
Palate long dead
Eating salted rice
With mashed vegetables
Society ignores her presence

Sweetness of cannabis
Hangs in circles
Deeply drawn in, slowly exhaled
Sadhus and saints
In deep meditation 
On Ghat steps
Foreheads ash smeared
Unable to determine fake or real
Drama of life goes on
Surrounded with hippies
Seeking enlightenment
Under the influence
Of several drags shared
Camaraderie of souls dancing in unison

Scattered wilted flowers
White, Orange, Russet
Some still fresh
Hanging around the neck
Of souls trapped in shells
For thirteen days
Some blossoms burnt with the flesh
Tuber rose wreaths
Carrying inexplicable fragrances
Water, Mud, Wind, Fire
Punched with sweetness

In your narrow alleys
On your cemented banks
Filling up olfactory pathways
A potpourri of scents


You ‘O Ganga’ the primordial mother
Was… is… will continue to provide succour
Growing old, shrinking, resuscitated
Moving on beyond time
Eternal Mother to men
Respected, enjoying retirement

Mothers on earth
O your roles are so different 
You have to fit into tight grooves
With no room for expansion
No… no… you cannot grow old
Stuck in your assigned roles

“I want dal cooked like Ma makes it” he says
 “Food cooked by Bahu is what we’ll have”
Saas, Sasur declares
Others auto suggest “nobody can quite cook like her”
Too much rests on her shoulders
Stooped with age, pleasing palates
And, if she so much as complains
Of failing eyesight, back pain, sore knees
No one pays attention
She is not supposed to be sick
Hailed as ‘woman of strength’
Never mind her age
The unprivileged woman
Retirement for her, off limits

C’mon Ganga say something
Come to her defence


They spoke a secret tongue
Between a heart and soul
As if, nobody existed
As if, they were in a world
Of their own

The bubble burst the day
She stretched her hand outside
To catch the glittering stardust
Instead fell broken glass shards
Of false hope

For years she’d been stringing 
This garland of love
Of multi-hued beads of glass
Falsely conveying to others
How beautiful life was

Those beads kept dropping off
Under the weight of truth
Leaving the naked rope around
Hanging like a noose
Truth glaringly exposed

This twisted, weather beaten rope
Red and white bangles on hands adorned
Thick Sindur
Proudly proclaiming her status
A beautiful camouflage!

Bio: Snigdha Agrawal (nee Banerjee) is Bengali born, raised and educated in cosmopolitan environment, with exposure to the eastern and western cultures, imbibing the best of both worlds. With more than two decades experience of working in the corporate sector, her outlook on life is balanced, which reflects on her writings. A versatile writer, she writes all genres of poetry, prose, short stories, travelogues, hotel/restaurant reviews on Tripadvisor. A published author of three books, the latest titled “MINDS UNPLUGGED Lockdown Stories And Rhymes For The Six To Sixteen”, is now available on Amazon.in, Amazon.com, Flipkart. An intrepid traveler, her travel diaries can be accessed in word press blog: randomramblings52. She lives in Bangalore (Karnataka) India.

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