Gayatri Majumdar (Colours of Love and Barriers)

Gayatri Majumdar
Gayatri Majumdar is founder, editor, publisher of critically acclaimed literary journal, The Brown Critique. Her published and upcoming books include A Song for Bela (a novel), poetry collections Shout, I Know You Are Here and The Dream Pod, The lotus of the heart (non-fiction) and ‘Home’ anthology, which she co-edited. As co-founder of ‘Pondicherry Poets’, she has been curating the annual Pondicherry/Auroville Poetry Festival. She often features poets/artists on the Brown Critique YouTube channel.

Blues for Brothers

So said R, all of 14, alighting from that rickety green old bus – 
about the turn at Moulali in 70s Calcutta,
“the Beatles will outlast Abba, I promise you this”,
like I was the dancing queen. I shook a leg.
He then attempted to climb a few mountains – whipping up
egg-white-coffee dreams to keep himself warm,
waiting with yaks beside the pebbled bank of no-place.
R then settled in Shantiniketan, I hear, 
with a homicide and the mania quite dead – 
a long way from Steely Dan, the moon
with Lennon buried in his queen-size bed.
He prophesied my entire life in two crisp sentences;
somewhere in between the mater and pater,
the edifice disintegrates – I rest my case.

Sure, S had a deep philosophy,
I’ll give you this
which finally consumed his belly toes 
leftover hours (no, not his soul), in tiny bites.
He frequently shifted his thought-furniture about,
his Kintsugi-heart bumping against cracking walls, relationships . . .
Now S could never step back, now could he
on this star-speckled mission to space,
smoke billowing his reckless convictions?
I was not going to be the one to convince him
he was always where he wanted to be –
looking for solid ground to hoist the blue flag that high
even as he chipped at bones barricading his home –
always dependable, staying – never leaving, never there.
He preferred walking along Bandra Bandstand
with midnight-chai blowing smoke rings to sea,
his purple heart at bay, still bombastic – 
unlike Alan Parson Project’s ‘Raven’ long playing his windowless bed
sinking into the afternoon rain of this Saras Baug . . . 
What I would do to return to S’s exuberant Bombay ways – 
gazing with wonder at make-believes, prancing about Colaba
taking the Harbour Line inching home…
Chasing a life, we pleased?

Now B was a mystery – I should have granted him that;
unable to decipher the codes of his mind
or what I thought was his cold heart, I let him be.
Early on, he recognized the utter futility of all this – 
the chasing butterflies, the stomping around trees.
He lived off the glory of a dead century – 
alma mater of hard-working men with striking plumage,
who knew what mattered most
plaque-d on walls to prove it.
Now nothing ever mattered to B.
He went about his grand and jagged streets,
demanding little – cradling by the sidewalks
of this illusion sure-footed, reading faces 
scurrying to the beginnings of theories and a hearty Bangla meal.
Like that proverbial old monk – the bottle and the man,
he shied away from petty transactions 
bartering dreams for solitude – 
for that’s what he could afford . . .
so much for small talk, sci-fi eyewear, Darwinism.
Minimalism couldn’t even begin to sketch his sanguine heart
at once fearless yet cowered gasping as if frozen.
B gulped down his last peg to remember 
and forget he ever belonged to this city,
this sacred nowhere – ten rupees still tucked in his pajama pocket.
For what is this but a lila, distorting images 
on the mirror reflecting uncertain arrivals, hurried departures.

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