Eight poems: Binoy Majumdar

Memories

Still those age-old memories linger in my head
In youth I visited the Botanical Garden often
Flowers from various countries were collected there
And yet fate never never held gold dust for me.
All my life I have cut diamonds in different ways
By some magic those diamonds left for other people’s rings
The flowers in the Botanical Gardens have even birthed seeds
All those memories are pink, blue, red, eternal.


The Sound Of Trains These Days

The sound of trains startles me these days.
Railway lines run right past my house.
And a train passes my house every day;
I sit in my room listening to its sound.
The sounds, rhythms, punctuation and metaphors
Of these trains appeal to the heart in unison.
For years I have seen that the sound of trains
Does not awaken the gods. No matter how loud, they don’t wake up.
The railway lines are barely two hundred feet from my bed,
Still the night trains do not awaken me.
Those who created all these trains of the world,
These creators have made arrangements for our sleep not to be disturbed.


There Was A Storm Yesterday

There was a storm yesterday, I see there have been storms sometimes in human history.
There were storms in the Gupta era too.
Everyone knows what a storm is like – suddenly
The wind turns violent, and water-laden clouds from the lowest sea
Soar the highest so that they can burst for it to rain long and wildly.
There was a storm yesterday, all the trees were shaken hard by the storm.
In this orchard of ambrosial fruits, many unripe fruits fell to earth.
Many unripe ambrosial fruits have fallen early to earth in human history.


The Movement Of The Moon

In this universe the moon orbits around the earth.
Not in the direction of the clock’s hands but the other way
The moon circles the earth, a scene the north star observes.
This means the moon travels from west to east –
From England the moon moves towards Bengal, a truth
I have realised watching the moon journey through the stars.
Yet the moon rises in the east over Bengal – sets towards England.
This contrary sight can be viewed around the axis of the earth
Because of its rotation, which means the moon seemingly progresses
In a direction opposite to its real movement – I have learnt this in middle age.


My Own Light

If I switch off my own light the moonlight outside
Is visible, and if I keep my light switched on
And let it spread, then I cannot see
Other people’s lights, when I look out the window
The manicured garden in that world out there seems dark.
And I cannot see the people walking past, although
It is through the courtyard of my world that they walk
But still my light is switched on, it is in the box.
The box, it is locked, my light is inside the box,
Still the people out there find this out, just the way
They have always found this out.


The Body Of The Earth

The body of the earth does not touch the body of the moon.
My body is in contact with the body of the earth.
The moon circles the sun in its own orbit
It keeps circling and the body of the moon
Is not in contact with the body of the earth.
I circle around the sun in my own orbit
While keeping faint contact with the earth.
My situation is almost like the moon’s.
There’s very little difference between me and the moon.


Lay Down A Mirror

Lay down a mirror in your yard at night
Face up, all the stars in the night sky
Will be visible in the mirror, as dazzling
As they look up there in the sky. Therefore
If the village of Shimulpur were covered with a mirror
It would not be so dark, it would be well illuminated.
Not that I have personally tested this theory,
I have only thought of it, is anyone willing to experiment?


The Price Of Meat

Let us assume adding a kilo of flesh to a human
Needs eight kilos of rice.
Eight kilos of rice cost thirty-two rupees,
Which means a kilo of human flesh when attached to the body
Costs thirty-two rupees.

Yet, see, a kilo of chicken meat costs forty rupees.
Why is human flesh so cheap? I have thought
A lot about this. If a kilo of rice had cost
A hundred rupees we could have bragged about it
We could have said a kilo of human flesh
Costs eight hundred rupees and, in comparison,
Thhu! the meat of chicken costs a mere
Forty rupees, merely forty!

Amalkanti: Nirendranath Chakraborty

Amalkanti was my friend,
We went to school together.
He’d be late to class every day, couldn’t do his lessons
When told to decline verbs
He’d gaze at the window with such surprise that
We’d feel very sorry for him.

Some of us wanted to be teachers, some, doctors, some, lawyers.
Amalkanti didn’t want any of this.
He wanted to be the sunshine.
The elusive sunshine after the rain, filled with the cries of crows
Which dangles like a fragile smile
From berries and berry leaves.

Some of us grew up to be teachers, some, doctors, some, lawyers.
Amankanti didn’t grow up to be the sunshine.
He works at a lightless press now.
Sometimes he comes to see me for a cup of tea
And a chat, and then says, ‘Time to go.’
I walk him to the door.

The one among us who teaches
Could easily have been a doctor instead
It wouldn’t have mattered much if the one
Who wanted to be a doctor had been a lawyer.
Everyone got their wish, except Amalkanti.
Amalkanti couldn’t become the sunshine.
The very same Amalkanti who, musing on sunbeams,
Had wanted to grow up to become the sunshine

brown concrete bricks wall
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

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Let All That Be For Now: Manindra Gupta

After a million years of living together
It will be decided whether you’re mine.
Let all that be for now.
Wild plums have ripened in the Mikir hills,
Let’s go eat them.
Against the sunset
Unkempt rust-coloured hair
Is flying like gleaming orchid roots.
– Let me, let me look at your coppery face

The sun will set any moment. Gaunt as beasts,
We’re wading through a knee-deep stream –
The current keeps growing stronger…icier…

Fire of my reverence: Shakti Chattopadhyay

Fire of my reverence
Incinerate me
First, torch the two feet that can no longer move
Then the hands which hold no love or order today
Now icebergs of flowers in the crook of the arms
No more responsibility settling on the shoulders
Burn them in proximity to life
Stop a moment, then destroy
The silent seat of knowledge coloured by truth and lies
Save the pair of eyes
Maybe they still have
Something left to see
When the tears have stopped flowing crush the eyes
Don’t burn the garlands and bouquets dishevelled with fragrance
A loved touch lives on their bodies
Let them drift on the river freely, wilfully
Fire of my reverence
Incinerate me

Stone: Mandakranta Sen

Your breast is like stone, you’re a man
Let me lie on it, I want to lie on it
I’ve rubbed my mouth on stone, such a terrible wound
On my lips

How shameless the wound is, it refuses to heal
It doesn’t want to hide its face
It’s an ugly sight, but still it doesn’t seem
Reluctant

Stone is cold, stone is so bare my love
I have rinsed stone with my tears
On this stone I’ll just smear a fistful
Of soil

Your face is smeared with earth, you’re a man
Let me wash it off, I want to wash it off
The wound is old, and yet a touch still
Makes it bleed