Poetry: Sawmitra Roy

Sawmitra Roy
Five lessons of waiting

 

1

It was a one hour ride

from Chotojalenga to Silchar

standing on the footboard of green Bajaj Cheetak.

 

Between leaving a home

and finding another

I had my first lesson of waiting.

 

2

We live in a bubble of silence.

It can only be punctured by words.

But this prick needs a perfect timing.

 

This was my second lesson of waiting.

 

3

Some letters take a whole sleepless night to write

and a thousand to find a reply.

And when it came

I had already moved to another city.

 

This was my third lesson of waiting.

 

4

 

Music box chime...Lullabies...

It takes a long time

to tap your child to the last sleep

and wait for him to decompose and become

tender blades of grass in your memories.

 

This was my fourth lesson of waiting.

 

 

5

They say a story ends in a circle.

Will the starting point collide with the end?

This is my fifth lesson of waiting.

***

 

 

Tonight

(a ghazal)

 

Stars pricked on my eyes tonight.

I tried but couldn't sell any lies tonight.

 

The owner asked for the pending rent yesterday.

I went out early. I returned late tonight.

 

Old letters piled up in the drawer cabinets.

I felt cold inside. I burned them all tonight.

 

I needed acid to sanitize my soul.

I bought a quarter of the cheapest rum tonight.

 

The last train's horn echoed from the station nearby.

I kept looking at the ceiling fan and searched for a rope tonight.

***

 

 

Heat wave

 

One day, suddenly this heat will decline

clouds will send letters from beyond Barail.

 

A cool zephyr tease the curtains. We slide and push

open our windows apart and let syllables of wind

 

run havoc inside our rented room. Dates cling

to the tin borders of calendar as it sways violently

 

on the foolish nail. Dust rise after thousand and one night

of tyranny of boots and put spears and arrows in our eyes.

 

One day we will forget about the atrocities

of this heat that ruled this suburb and this city and

 

cool shades of gulmohar and banyan will reclaim

the footpath kingdom of this city. One day

 

we will forget about the heat and caress each other bare,

skin to skin at night as if nothing ever burned our skin.

 

Barail: The Barail Range is a tertiary mountain range in Northeast India, between Brahmaputra and Barak basins stretching from Nagaland & Manipur to the east and Assam & Meghalaya to the west.

***

 

 

Kite Paper Hyacinth Flowers

 

 

but whats the point of remembering all these again?

 

Finding a new home is like waking up from a dream,

half remembering, half forgetting what you left behind.

Only a faint memory remains

 

Of a Assam type house,

of flies swarming on cows

slumbering under the shade of guava tree.

 

Of a yellow river

whose ghat was filled

with sounds of bilingual tales and bamboo groves.

 

Of an old village priest

marking planetary fates

with a reed pen on scrolls,

under the light of Krishnachuda.

Brahma sitting on his forehead

and unpaid bills and credits

piling on his name.

 

Of his wife pushing hyacinths aside in their pond.

And as she returns from her ablutions,

the wet saree stuck on her frail body

she hands me a hyacinth flower.

 

I kept plucking the soft petals and

held them to light near the termite eaten window,

the days of Shravana sifting through the petals

filled my world in a strange purple light.

 

For my last school project, the old priest makes me

a bunch of kite paper hyacinths.

I left it under the desk and never went back.

 

Finding a new home is like waking up from a dream

into another dream.

 

The village grew cold.

Only the sounds of wild rats

gnawing our dreams on wooden roof.

 

I am drowning in a swamp

filled with purple dreaming hyacinth flowers.

And whenever the cold slimy roots grows on my face

the world turns dark around me.

 

 

Krishnachuda: a species of flowering plant in the bean family Fabaceae, It is noted for its fern-like leaves and flamboyant display of flowers.

 

Brahma: is a Hindu god, referred to as "the Creator" within the Trimurti, the trinity of supreme divinity.

 

Shravana: Fifth month of the Hindu calendar year, typically beginning in mid to late July and ending in late August.

***

 

 

Cremation

 

Two birds didn’t return to their nest this evening.

They perched on electric lines

that cuts the storm-cleansed sky of the crematorium.

 

On the pyre

the eyes melts down in an endless river of dreams,

the bones become dust

as Agni consumes up your body slowly,

you have become a story.

 

The dark smoke form the pyre

rises up, spreads and then becomes the night.

 

There are no fireflies tonight,

just embers from the pyre flying south in the wind.

 

When we die

our last breath becomes the wind.

But the soul hide inside the head.

The skull didn’t burst.

The drunk chandal shatters the skull

with a bamboo cudgel.

 

Two birds flies in the darkness.

One with the soul in its beak

and the other following it.

 

chandal: one who cremates the deceased.

***

 

Bio: Sawmitra Roy is a school teacher. His debut book of poetry “ In the streets of your city ” was published by Writers Workshop, Kolkata(2022). His poems were published in Assam Tribune, Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi)Little Journal of Northeast India, Madras Courier, Bengaluru Review, CultCulture “Masques”. He is the editor of Yawp: Barak’s English Little Magazine.

 

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