Not a Very Happy Time, Not a Very Joyous Time: Shakti Chattopadhyay

Tottering from head to toe, from wall to wall, from parapet to parapet, swapping pavements at midnight
On the way home, a home in a home, feet in feet
Breast in breast
Nothing more – (a lot more?) – even earlier
Tottering from head to toe, from wall to wall, from parapet to parapet, swapping pavements at midnight
On the way home, a home in a home, feet in feet, breast in breast
Nothing more.
‘Hands up’ – raise them high – till someone picks you up
Another black van in a black van, and yet another
A row of windows, doors, a graveyard – skeletons lying awry
White termite in the bones, life in the termite, death in life – therefore
Death in death
Nothing more.
‘Hands up’ – raise them high – till someone picks you up
Throws you out of the van, but into another one
Where someone waits all the time – clutching plaster like a banyan seed
Someone or the other, whom you don’t know
Waits behind the trees like a hardy bud
Holding a golden cobweb noose, he will
Garland you – your wedding will be at midnight, when pavements are swapped, tottering from head to toe
From wall to wall, from parapet to parapet
Imagine the train waiting while the station runs, starlight by the dying bulbs
Imagine the shoes walking while the feet are still – heaven and hell turned upside down
Imagine children trotting to the crematorium bearing the corpse – in afterlife
Decrepit men dancing horizontally at a wedding

Not a very happy time, not a very joyous time
That’s when
Tottering from head to toe, from wall to wall, from parapet to parapet, swapping pavements at midnight
On the way home, a home in a home, feet in feet, breast in breast
Nothing more.

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