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

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


An Unequal Extramarital Affair: Mandakranta Sen

You can talk to my parents
I don’t mind if you do
We’ll talk later, you and I

So restrained in every way
But reckless in private
When was it I came to know?

My mother quite likes you
You’re a brother to my father
But actually, you’re my friend

Why didn’t you bring auntie, darling?
You mustn’t tell her ever
How well I can kiss

To open the front door
We’ll go downstairs together
Our moment of madness

A secret storm in our breaths
The scorpion stings without warning
A constant flow of blood and pain

It’ll be staunched soon, it will
Have you seen how easily my face
Fits on the width of your chest

How are auntie and Mitali?
Do they ever come near you
In search of marks and bruises?

I’ll go to your office tomorrow
Exactly at four twenty-five
We’ll lose our way after that

Climbing to the top of Shahid Minar
I’ll scream out to the skies
Indra-uncle is my lover


A Foreign Land: Mandakranta Sen

Wait, before being torn and ripped
Let me memorise your lips
The border of grass beyond
The lips; the slightly fragile
Intensity; the danger-engendering
Heat; the irresistible, excellent
Rain; so much of it, so much
And, on this bursting summer day,
From the northwest corner of your lips
A storm arrives

I stand with my feet on the frontier
Within our lips there’s a growth of
Barbed wire. Say I’m dying to visit
Your lips today, I think it will
Take many years. Still, tell me
Try to remember and then tell me
What was it that really changed
After our lips were partitioned
Besides our kisses?


This July: Mandakranta Sen

This July you went to the mountains
Are the rains different over there?
Do clouds suffer less from forgetfulness?
Does Tiger Hill always keep its word?

It rained in the city too, as usual
She wandered alone on mud-splattered feet
Weeping without reason, an old habit
In the sky the hours signalled heartbreak

In the mountain were you distracted
Your hair soaked in rain? Did young clouds
Garland your body with vaporised sweat
Falling to earth at your faintest touch?

In this city, in its lanes and bylanes
A cloud had sought a familiar cruel boy
Who had promised, hadn’t he? The rain
At dusk returned alone to the outskirts


The Tale of the Arjun and the Krishnachura: Mandakranta Sen

The Arjun tree stood alone in that field
An Aryan male – a pillar of aristocracy
All the other trees bowed to it
This was merely the beginning of the story

From somewhere came the Krishnachura seed
A few years later she was a young woman
A Santhal girl, with crimson in her hair
At once Arjun wanted her as his own

She was not a girl who would submit
In spring she dressed up without help, alone
She wasn’t drawn to the Aryan male
She was busy making the buds bloom

Last night’s flowers had fallen from her hair
Rippling leaves had woven clothes for her
Arjun – he was an Aryan male, who thought
Only he could claim beauty so fair

From the distance the Arjun tree could see
The Krishnachura’s cascading heart
Bewitched by beauty, his perplexed eyes
Wondered when he’d find his way to it

I’d better finish this story quickly
The Krishnachura is far too obstinate
Her pride won’t let her sell herself
She’d rather be a neighbour or a friend

The story isn’t quite so simple
Arjun shed his bark, sheds it still
But the Santhal girl can shed blood
The Aryan male accepts he cannot win

Be reborn as an Arjun tree
Consider the Krishnachura a friend
Don’t confuse me with others, upright one
When I bleed, shed your bark, call me then