March-April, 2016

March-April, 2016

i.
Sananta Tanty                                                                                                         poems (Assamese)
translated by Dibyajyoti Sarma
Myself like you

I’ll break you
Breaking, I will enter you
Will measure your mass
Your length and breath
Breaking the limits of your consciousness
Will walk inside you 
Will find out if after being broken
You remain there or not
 
I’ll break you
Your shape, your shadow
Your dance and your song
Even your pride
Will break everything and see
If after broken
You remain there or not
 
In wind and storm, I will break your memories
Or in the destruction of your heart,
I will find out even after everything is broken
How remain your remains
 
I’ll break you
To build myself
Like you
 
 
File photograph
 
A few file photographs of my sorrows I am sending you for publication
Likes the tables and chairs of my house inundated in the last flood
To save these when I could not think of anyone else, without delay
I have posted them to you.
 
I trust to arouse democracy
And to poke people at their smooth appearances
To make blank the apparently beautiful colour of freedom
And finally, to awake the entire country from sleep
To stir the driving force called time by throwing sharp swords constantly
You can use the file photographs of my sorrows.
 
Cannot help explain that in the file photographs sent to you
There are tableaux of war of people exasperated with hunger every day
Cries of dominated and tortured women
Scenes of the eyes of children who die every day
Above all the riot created by the notorious murderer called communism.
 
A long time after keeping these pictures of my sorrows
Neatly arranged deep inside my heart, suddenly when I remembered your
Trusted face, I sent them to you without delay.
 
I trust making a connection of these pictures with current affairs
You will inspire people to have a dialogue with themselves.
 
Would you be able to wage war with yourself?
 
Would you be able to wage war with yourself?
Be able to touch your heart with war
To enter your heart to visit your conscience
And tell it: I am with you
I live with you, with you I respond
To my emotions
Walking ahead of your conscience would you
Be able to fly the flag of conscience
 
Suppose your reply is plain and simple
Suppose to answer my question, you did not really think through
Or to offer a positive answer to my query
You did not even take a moment
 
Then let’s come to the next question
 
Do sometimes I make you think of the sad eyes of
The poor, helpless, scared to death people affected by flood
The sigh and breath of the sleeping children next
To the flowing water of the embankment destroyed by the river?
The look of those children who have thinned down
Spending sleepless nights in hunger and thirst?
 
Do these scenes reflect on your heart?
Do the tides of pain and sorrow surge up in your heart?
Sometimes unknowingly, do tear drops fall from your eyes?
 
Do you accept the condolence for 10-year-old,
Jonali Kalita, who died from
A simple fever and malnutrition?
Do you mourn for 10 days?
Jonali too was innocent like your daughter
Like your child even on her eyes floated dreams
Her lips were smeared with the colour of freedom
The feet eager to dance
On her thin hands were long fingers to draw pictures of dream
To receive some love even her heart was desirous.
Yet like your child, she wasn’t lucky
To live in a dream
 
Now, my third and last question to you
Directly –
 
Would you be able to make your conscience agree?
To the scenes of
Thousands of Govinda Kalitas who with their wives
And children, had not eaten for a month take
Shelter on the roofs of their houses fighting
With death incessantly, or
The lives of tea garden labourers
Dinanath Rauris, who walk towards death turning
Into a profit-making machine for the garden owner
 
If you cannot, then come, protest against the
Disparity in the social system, to join the people’s movement
We respond to our conscience.
    
Warrior
 
After a few days of training, now he’s an expert in firing
Guns. He can now pin the heart with a bullet. From one
Ear to another, can propel words. From any difficult
Place can garner hundred percent success.
If needed, he can defunct each organs of his enemies
One by one to make them suffer. Aware of each word he
Now plants in his blood the seed of an assault.
 
He is now a dependable warrior in my troop.
ii. Shirin Bismillah                                                                                              poems



Untouched by Blood
 
She who had come in, jostling, at the end
Of the performanceonly eighteen years old
Was yet to experience a confusion of soaps
And bottles of lavender water! “Zooni, never
 
Reach out for that house in the suburbs!”
But let us row ourselves, through the bygone
Stardust of that lost soul. Let us forever submerge
And leave. The Night of Joy had pushed him visit
 
The ‘city of suspense’. Yellow ceiling exposed
A roasted appearance, when he waited and she
Came. A red flash ruddied her forehead in doubt.
“Am I to vanish? Or survive?” When the parrot
 
Died, she left the balcony opened on a brisk night
And the railing gave them a cool feeling of living
Flesh. (Cool limbs of Eileen). “Come now, he wants
To kiss you”. Excited in a shameful misery, he is
 
Full of three women’s indelicacy. She
Would prefer to wait, and rinse out the basins –
Poisoned with musk. A boy, meanwhile, was trying
To spool his tapes in the crowded lane.
 
His father—the pastry cook—had given the
Mother a whole week of love and blows.
A monster breathes in every warm cave. “Are
You lonesome tonight? Will you miss me tonight?
 
They went on pretending for long. He would fast-
Forward the times, she would rewind the dreams.
Some ruthless words lurked in dark spaces,
Where promises were discussed. (Oh, you are
 
Still here). A rose stands, dried, for the set of two.
There is a palpable forgotten mound. The staircase cast
Shadows of shawls on the wall. The ‘city of suspense’
Had long gone, ate them up. Rewind to zero!
 
 
Fused Thoughts
 
From Moscow to New Delhiwe attempted
To paint the flakes of cloud, intruding in the
Unknown territories, reading Kafka.
 
Sparrows who had a crisp morning dialogue,
For the last twenty yearshad been looking for
An empty branch and some action in Sheikh Sarai.
 
From the trains of night Zafar had come,
And my five-foot frame shook with mirth.
The birds were now looking for a home-exile.
 
We fell and called each other by all dear names;
Yet his temple burned in sadness. The smoke of a dry cigar
Scented the air. A stranger coughed his burning throat.
 
“You were the aqua in my thirst”, said he.
We wanted to forget the moment of
Remoteness but could not cry, even across the oceans.
 
Pain was love’s foremost thirst. The children
Here had quickly made us smile and entered
Our lost cell. (They left). We could not speak a little more.
 
When the call to prayer reaches usfollowing silence
We hear our fishmonger calling again.
“Rahima is a mother of one.” He knew we would
 
Return no answer to him. Now each night at
Kremlin we look at each other, without a word.
He was alivehe gave signs, but I lit a candle
 
To zoom into his emptiness every night.
Tears careen down, my smile fades away when I say,
“Why are you still steeped in past?”
 
I rewind to happier times, the years of
Jewels and monsoons, ancient and recent.
We still watch the seasons, and centuries pass.
 
iii.
Amrita Dutta                                                                                                 poem

Tranquillity
I close my eyes in wait.
I’m waiting.
Waiting
Waiting for the hurt to give way to understanding
Waiting for dismay to give way to hope
Waiting for light to penetrate the dark
Waiting for gloom to pave way for glee
I’m still waiting.
I’m trying.
Trying not to feel. Not to think.
Trying to numb the pain that numbs my senses.
Trying to keep going. Believing. Loving.
Trying to overcome the contradictions that challenge everything I put my trust in.
Yes, I’m trying.
And then you come along.
Stare me in the eye, assuring.
You calm me, soothe, promise of a better land.
I believe you.
I feel no need to try any more.
There’s no more waiting.
Who said death isn’t beautiful?
 
iv.
Poornima Laxmeshwar                                                                                    poems 
      At the dusk
 
I have always loved you Karna
Even more than Krishna
I like your other names Angad
Or even Radheya more
For a matter of fact
You are a true warrior, a loyal friend,
An unfailing son
A man any woman can wish for
A man who can stand by his values and words
One who offered his kavacha and kundala
To those who wanted to bring you down
With pure deceit
You knew it all
Tell me Radheya
How did you feel
When Kunti came to you
To reveal your identity
Was it hatred or love
That you felt for her
Learning that she gave birth to you
How did you feel when you were cursed
By your master
For protecting him
For not being a Brahmin
Was it guilt that haunted you
What did you feel in the battlefield
When you knew your time has come
That you will be killed
With bent and broken rules
Was it pride
Were you still able to forgive
Because you always have been forgiving
 

A dark blanket

 
The sickle like a half moon
Is soaking in the faint night light
Smiling back at the ogling moon
Awaiting a murderous tomorrow
 
*
Under a starry canopy
The newly wed couple
Taste the first bitterness
Of marriage
 
*
The night embraces silence again
It is only the flowing river
The uneasy crickets, your snores
Which seem disturbing
 
*
The moths are engaged
They are indulged in distances
In search of some light
 
*
How the emerald belt
Slowly disappeared
Into black

Expectations
 
From that picture
I see you looking through
My dark circled eyes
Questioning about my life’s
Unclaimed achievements
I whisper into the thin air
That I am waiting
For the awakening
While all your life
You fought for the trees and animals
Who could never vouch
For your selfless acts
Fought for the green Ghats
Which could not even keep your home safe
From the fire that failed
To ashen your will
Don’t expect any of that from me
I am happy to live
In this valley of concrete
There is at least a home
I can always come back to . . .
 
v. Paul C. Blake                                                                                                          critique
Pastoral Concert
Playing with the Muses
        
Pastoral Concert by Giorgione is a depiction of a group of young people gathered in a lush landscape to make music where a shepherd tends his flock in a nearby pasture.  Most puzzling are the nude women, one of whom is about to play a recorder while another pours water into a well.  “One proposal identifies them as the muses, ancient female divinities who inspire the arts”—in this case, presiding over music (Davies 584).  Without definite literary account, the painting seems to elude a historical narrative.  

 

 While considering this proposal that the women are muses, with seemingly little intent for intimacy, much could be gathered from the configuration of the assembly. The two men fully dressed seem to be conferring about the music they are about to play as one attends to his peer’s fingering on the fret of the stringed instrument. One woman sits in the company of the two men holding her recorder apparently waiting for them to get the tune together. Is she merely waiting for them to get it together, or could it be that she is the tuner cluing them to start on the right pitch? Either way, she is engaged in the concert to the music, however impertinent she might appear to the men whose ignorance is alluded to in their shadowy faces.
The artist, Giorgione, has recalled the shifting posture of Classical Greece in his figures with more naturalism while discarding the frontal stance in the archaic types. In reflection of the Greek’s revolving posture, life seems to enter the figure when the body assumes a slight twist suggesting an active and more relaxed stance. According to E.H. Gombrich, “Archaic art starts from the schema, the symmetrical frontal figure conceived for one aspect only, and the conquest of naturalism may be described as the gradual accumulation of corrections due to the observation of reality” (118). The standing female figure appears revolving in her posture as she reaches to draw water from a well, slightly turning her back on the group.  Therefore, her nudity is less distracting to the trio in concert than she is to us the viewers. She seduces us as she leans on the side of the well with her fallen apparel to expose her right thigh.  Even more seductive is the way she guards her sex by the crossing of her thighs and her active arm—all captured in the movement toward pouring water into the well. In her advances and departing roles, she is a kind of antithesis to her counterpart, the other figure in the nude sitting to the left of her.
The purpose of the seated muse appears to be a mediator between us and the conferring men in the duet. In her revolving posture, she draws our attention to the music with her extended left leg as she connects her engaged right leg with the protruding leg of a musician. As the tuner, she not only draws the attention of the viewer but sets the pitch for the musicians. She, no doubt, has become a key component in the musical triad. However, the concert has the blessings of the good shepherd who looks over from a distance.
The artist’s intention, to create a pastoral concert, is best served as he blurs the line between nature and culture to set the mood for this special concert. In a psychological way, he has used his creative eye to pitch a harmonious concert between man and nature. How he engages the muses in the nude to frame the music is quite remarkable. In the case for visual perception, Arnheim has recalled, “To the physicist, balance is the state in which the forces acting upon a body compensate one another. In its simplest form, balance is achieved by two forces of equal strength that pull in opposite directions. The definition is applicable to visual balance” (19).  The artist has perceived balance, one of the important principles of art in a very dynamic and unusual way. “In a painting, a physically unrelated object, such as a curtain in the background, may counterbalance the asymmetrical position of a human figure” (Arnheim 20). In Pastoral Concert, an asymmetrical balance is achieved by the posture of the standing figure on the left in relation to the seated figure on the right whose body is extended upward by a tree in the distant background. The divergent oblique nature including the luminous bodies of the nudes is the dynamic symmetry. “The tension created by obliqueness is a principal impulse toward depth perception. Under certain conditions the tension can be diminished by an escape into the third dimension, which straightens out the obliqueness to some degree” (Arnheim 426). The breadth of the distant horizon is the check and balance in the oblique variables of line and form along shadowy grounds.   
Instead of telling a story, the painting seems designed to evoke a mood—one that is mysteriously lyrical and poetic at the same time. A soft crackling light along the horizon and its dubbing shimmer elsewhere mark the ebb and flow between the clouds, along slopes, and in nearby fields next to the cast shadows of trees. The mood set to this haunting melody translates the scene in equal proportion to the concert taking place.  The light music in nature is all pervasive and deeply perpetual as the soft harmonious rhythmic tones of light and shadow play notes in crescendos and decrescendos along the periphery of meandering mindscapes. In this soft and tonal treatment, the artist has rendered the scene as a unified whole. “A judicious distribution of light serves to give unity and order not only to the shape of single objects, but equally to that of the whole setting” (Arnheim 313). Forms, once rendered in a soft chiaroscuro technique, provoke intriguing thoughts about such inexplicable appearances. Here and there, the landscape seems to flicker in reflections of light sometimes far and near, however greater the luminosity emanating from the nudes. 
The muses in our being now conduct a melody between nature and culture in reference to the unparalleled nakedness in our once primal past. In the more recent experience of the pastoral, we begin to sense our roles in earthly devotional activities. Here, all apparels are fallen to the ground to tease out visions sometimes blurred in the cultured eye. The concert between culture and nature strums a note in time, as the wonder sparked by the sensuous in the divine contrapposto of muses allures us to their charge—to consult with the other muses in our spiritual being. This warm tonal hue is the adagio of musical notes in sensuous experience reflecting on the primal past. “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, /So long lives this, and this gives life to thee” (Shakespeare 3). 
2/18/2014© 
Works Cited

Arnheim, Rudolf. Art

and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye. Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1974. Print.
            Davies,
Penelope J.E., et al, eds. Janson’s
History of Art: The Western Tradition 8th Edition
. Upper Saddle
River: Prentice Hall, 2011. Print.
            Gombrich, E.H. Art
and Illusion:
A Study in the
Psychology of Pictorial Representation
. New Jersey: Princeton University
Press, 1969. Print.

            Shakespeare,

William. “Sonnet XV111.” The Pelican
Shakespeare: The Sonnets
. Ed.  Alfred
Harbage. New York: Viking Penguin Inc., 1970. Print.
 

vi. Gulam yazu                                                                                                                poem                                                         

The Dawn
 
The dawn is shrouded
with the fog of loneliness
I try to open
my eyes
but I am afraid to
step out
in these mournful days
No one comes here
to knock my door
I just wait for someone
sitting on my veranda floor
But the noon passes
then
dusk arises and goes down
Yet, no one arrives
Then in a tragic tune
my moonless night cries
Don’t know what dawn
is coming next
But I won’t give up
I will just keep trying
Till I get
a joyful dawn
blooming next
 
vii. Meher Pestonji                                                                                                    4 poems 

The Philanthropist 

He’s
come to feed the pigeons . . .

but today

goats
grab gram shells
scattering
the birds
into
suspended
foam
drops.
 
The
philanthropist
stones
the goats.




Renewal 1
Burning Love Notes
 
Charred  black but smouldering
                        then a bleak grey
 
Ash!
No more letters
Ash!
No more sentiments
Ash!
Burnt out and shapeless
Ash
       crumbling
                        ash-links
 
ash
tear-drenched and trembling
ash
soaking soft soil
ash
sprouting leaf
ash
      breathing
                      ash-life
 
 
Everything ends.
 
Sooner or later everything
ends.
 
Even the climb up the
mountain
ends when you descend
to the base of
another
ascent.
 
In a graveyard
corpses
have barely six feet
stretch-space
on either side.
 
So they lie
facing the sky.

Renewal 2

 
When a house crumbles don’t wait
for termites to bring down
grain by grain
 
Use a hammer
so you can build again
 
Grass
that bows
beneath your feet
springs back to life
as you pass
 
At mid-day
the sun is
almost always
boring
 
but sunsets
match the softness
of a sunrise
 
Wave follows wave
Moment by moment
 
Tides take
Twelve hours
To turn
 
The wave that licks the shore
caressingly
will recede
and return
in varied combinations
of sand, salt, shell, wind and water
Trees
Trees
tease
dancing
ripe mangoes in the breeze
at
high extremities
with
branches too thin
to
reach them.
 
Flaming
gulmohurs
defy
the heat
to
burst blossoms
when
sun parches grass
to
dry dust.
 
The
trees we planted
one
hundred months ago
stand
upright tonight
weathering
storms
and
summers both
 
Now
they don’t need watering
to
make them grow.
 
When you toil in midsummer
sunshine,
a rest
in the shade
of a banyan tree
makes sunlight seem softer
 
When
a great tree falls
it
brings fruit closer
to
the people.
 
Of
the five trees we planted
 
one
died
but
three thrived
and
grew to give flame flowers
 
One,
stunted by a rocky bed
struggled
to stay alive
but
survived
when
transplanted
in
soft soil.
 
Now
they live
at
different heights.
viii. Rani D.                                                                                                            fiction
The Corner House                                                
I read it again.
It’s been several years since I started reading the diary and over the years,
the corner house has become an inextricable part of my life. My father’s story,
my mother’s pain and loss has made me go over and ruminate over those stories. The
corner house, the narrative of which never seems to end, our family which
separated still finds itself mirrored in that house’s walls, floors and
silences. I have never set foot in that house, but its my dream to buy that
house and to bring the family together. The corner house… the saga which will
end only, when everybody will recount their narratives or… will it?
Why do I need to
tell the story now? What good will come off it? And to whom should my story be
addressed? Oh! There are many questions and no ready answers. More than that,
from where should I begin my story? Who should be my narrator? Or, there should
be several narrators? Whose point of view should reign supreme? And, where am
I, where do I figure in this story of love, suffering, laughter, anger,
jealousy and endings- both death and separation? The story has not ended…
cannot end either as long as I stand there, at the corner of the street.
         I think so it should be better if I
start from the very beginning, from the year 1942, when that family came from
all the way from Benares to stay where I stood magnificently, at the corner of
the street (I should not tell you the street name). Standing tall in 10,000
hectares of land, I can veritably be termed as a mini-palace to say the least.
There were three Venetian pillars, carved with the minutest engravings of
Renaissance paintings (who did build that house?). I am that three-storey house
with a history that partook both the traumatic despair borne of Partition, and
the optimism that arose out of Independence. Amazingly, that family never owned
me, they rented me, but my name is forever etched in history, as the corner
house belonging to that family. Why so?
          Its been a long time, some memories
have changed, taken on a different sheen and hue, few faces I have forgotten,
after they left, many other families came to live there but none I accepted.
Which family was that, that came to live after the younger son left (I don’t
know what to make of him, shall talk about him later)… ah, the Mathur family,
they died in a span of two months, and then the Saxenas, they literally escaped
after half their family wiped out. Why did I not accept them? Was it because
they were not so educated, or because they did not wish to intervene in the
processes of history (big sounding words, acting pompous or partial? Well, time
will tell) Why was my name attached only to that family?
             On second thoughts, I don’t need
to start from the beginning – I shall come to it later. So many stories,
narratives, actions, but those actors have died, have forgotten me,… probably
no, even on their deathbeds they remembered me. But there was one who hated me…
it was the very beautiful wife of the youngest son. She was just 21, slim,
petite, with very beautiful eyes, who did not speak much. She was doing her
graduation in psychology, belonging to an illustrious family of Calcutta
(forgive me I still speak of the city with its old name). Why did she hate me?
Well, for one she came from a house with a different feel and ambience. Her
family owned about half the property of North Calcutta (again!), which of
course over the years was squandered (as one can very well expect of large
families) and only a portion of it remained. Belonging to a writer’s family
(this is one of the banes of both the families, everything they wrote led to
protests), she was articulate, mature and balanced, unlike her husband, the
youngest son. He was handsome, and unlike the other members of the family was
more into sports than studying and of course, he was the neighbourhood hero. He
still figures in those maiden’s imaginations, I would like to believe (though
few of them are dead, few old), they could never forgive his beautiful wife for
frisking him away from them and their desires.
          It would seem that I am partial
towards this youngest wife or choto bauma,
as she was fondly? called, in spite of her hating me. No, but probably she
understood me the most. Her marriage to this youngest son was nothing short of
a fairy tale romance, but then again… it was her entry to my portals that
announced my end and the narrative of power to be ripped open, to be laid bare.
Chosen by the wife of the eldest son in the family, she was also rejected by
her, because bodo baudi (the wife of
the eldest son), realized she would not be able to manipulate her, also the
fact that she was very beautiful. Ah!… I am going off in a tangent, but she
was the outsider, who though part of the family was never accepted. Why? Was it
because she dared to question and dared to change. Perhaps its time she should
tell you her story, story that saw my end. I shall let Choto bauma to begin the story of my end…
     I got married on a Sunday, it was the
hottest month of the year. Why did I have to fall in love with him, she hated
me that old crone… oh God! I shouldn’t be speaking like that. To put it
plainly, I did not get along with bodo
boudi. Baba
said they were a respectable family, and that he (my husband)
loved me and I would be very happy”.
I still remember
that day, when he came to meet me at bodo
boudi
’s maternal family home. He was bored with all the family members and
was waiting to say no, to reject me. But then, he saw me, I guess it was love
at first sight (still confused about whether it was love at first sight for me
as well) and boy! did he not fight tooth and nails against bodo boudi’s dictum. It does seem paradoxical, that the women who
had chosen me after having heard of me from her family members rejected me
outright after having met me…
“She is good…
but she will not do for Raju…” she
screamed (this was told to me by Raju
after marriage). “She is too liberal, too modern, how will she run our family”,
this by the way she kept on saying after we got married. As per I know or
remember, each and every friends and family member, that knew me, thought of me
as intelligent and liberal but also as one who did believe in the concept of
family, love and tradition. Then, why did she criticize me like that?  Unlike my husband, I was the eldest in a
family of 15 odd brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews… I was supposed to carry
the burden of my family tradition. I loved being amongst people, loved
discussions or addas as we called it
in Calcutta, loved to play the mediator, and loved troubleshooting problems. I
was always a very quiet person but baba used to say I was very strong from
inside (does that mean I was a cold person?). I never really understood what he
meant, but when I married and came to live in that miserable corner house, I
realized what he meant.
             My husband wooed me with letters,
stories, songs (he was/is a brilliant singer), I still have some of his
stories, which I have changed somewhat (now, why did I do that?) After that
fateful day, when I messed up with the tea, bodo
boudi
scolded me, “tumi chao o banate janona”? (you don’t even know how to
make tea?), my future husband came to meet me every day, under some pretext or
another. We started exchanging letters, and then I came to know about few of
the absent members of the family who were in America or England or Timbuctoo
(again the resentment! Or was it jealousy?) and that “corner house”. It was
embarrassing when in front of my baba he
proposed to me (why was/is he so silly in romance?). I looked at my baba, saw him both amused and confused.
Before I could answer Baba asked,
“what will your bodo boudi say”? As
always, he said, “I am my own master, I want to marry your daughter. You don’t
need to worry, apart from her everyone loves your daughter”. Baba came round and so did everyone else
in Raju’s family… well, almost
everyone.
       We got married, didi (the eldest member of the family) was there, so was dada and bodo boudi, so were there many nieces and nephews. Most of them
were studying, there was their friends as well. My husband introduced me to all
of them, his favourite being his middle brother’s son who was merely eight
years younger to my husband and two years, younger to me, but I liked
unfortunately, bodo boudi’s son, who
was three years younger to me. Anyways the marriage rituals went off well, only
problem was my husband’s impatience with the rituals brouhaha.
    And on Monday afternoon I came to live in
that corner house. I hated it at the first sight, there was loss and pain
written on it everywhere. I spoke of this to Didi, she looked at me surprised and thoroughly frightened. I asked
her “ki holo, aami ki kuchu bhul bolechi” (Have I spoken something wrong?). Didi
said, this is what her mother used to say of the corner house, to hear it from
you after so many years, makes me fearful. I said “why fearful”? Didi said her mother used to warn that
the house will take everything from them, there shall only be pain and
silences.
         “Why am I being criticized”? Always
me, the ‘corner house’ who is the villain.” I must tell you, that my landlord,
the one who rented me to this family, felt there was a ghostly presence.
Anyways this said mother, who first experienced this eerie feeling, was a woman
who was extremely well-read, and a no-nonsense person. She was a strict
authoritarian who even during the pre-Independence era, believed in the
emancipation of women and against all odds in the 1930s when many women were
not even allowed to move outside their homes, she permitted her elder daughter
(Didi) to study under the tutelage of
Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan.
The instant she saw me, the mother exclaimed: “eta kothai niye escheich amake?”
(Where have you brought me?).
“Did she like choto bouma, realized that I never let
go. Whoever I loved, their lives shall forever be entwined with me. Anyways let
choto bouma ramble on, I shall have
the last laugh….”
I asked Didi that why haven’t they thought of
shifting, why do they need to stay in that house with 30 rooms. Many of the
family members are not even there, wouldn’t it be a better idea to shift into a
smaller place? Didi laughed and said,
“taa hobe naa. Ei baari amader rokto moton amader bhetur dukhe geiche, ei baari
amader praan. Tumi kichu din thaako, eita tomar moner mordein, ho ghar korbe”
(This cannot happen. This house is like the blood flowing in our bodies, this
house is our heart and soul. Stay for a few days and this house shall plant
itself in your heart.) I said I would try, but knew that this would not be
possible.
            Dada
and bodoboudi, his two sisters
used to visit regularly and so did all the nieces and the two respective
nephews, one favourite of Raju and
the other favourite of mine. Bodo boudi
realized I was getting along very well with her son and what did she do? She
dismissed all the servants and that meant I was supposed to clean up the whole
house all by myself. Since early morning I had to do all housework, including
cooking. She didn’t realize that both my husband and her own son used to help me
in various ways. It was fun, …fun to play hide and seek. After a month or so,
my husband’s sisters revealed that they (my husband and his nephew) were
helping me with the housework to bodo
boudi
. That was the beginning of the end.
         Every evening I used to go out with my
husband for a small dinner or even for a rock and roll party (I thoroughly
enjoyed them and even used to teach her own son). Where did the house figure in
all this drama? It waited patiently, for this honeymoon to come to an end. It
did, my favourite friend and my husband’s nephew was asked to go (he was so
much like my brother), with a warning to not to keep in touch with me. However,
he did keep in touch by sending books, music through my husband. I guess that
really did hit her hard… dada used to
like me as his own daughter, so did didi
and jamaibabu (Didi’s husband). Inevitable had to happen, I was asked by her to
open the closed door of a room (challenged by her, in fact).
         From that time onwards it was a battle
between me and not bodo boudi, but
the corner house. I completed my studies amidst that huge, rambling place of 29
rooms. But as I mentioned earlier, this was a house of 30 rooms… one room
belonged to my father-in-law, which after his death was always kept closed. It
was I who opened it… my first argument with my husband occurred over this. I
said I wanted to clean it… he who was not scared of anything, was trembling and
said his father lives on there, the father who had been dead for almost a
decade. I scoffed at the idea of a ghost and asked him “whence did you start
believing in ghosts, he said no, it is not ghost, it is something else.” He
said nothing more, but made me promise not to open the door again. Before I
closed the door, I realized the house was a constant living presence in the
minds and hearts of the members of my husband’s family, Raju’s sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews and Raju himself.
        What was in that room that I saw? Well
nothing spectacular, but I felt, heard voices, spectral presences of long time
ago. I heard clashing off scissors (there is a story), and lathis, loud
screams, and unmitigated laughter. I was scared, scared that ‘past’ here was
never dead or buried but alive, very much alive. That room changed everything
for me, every impression and sensations flowed, merged to create a feeling
where I was being submerged. I couldn’t resist asking bodo boudi what was it all about? And she told me, “I have been
married for approximately twenty years and this house now resonates in every
fibre of my being. I hate it, but my husband loves it. I promised to myself I
will make him come out of it.” For once I agreed with her and asked, “was it
always like this?” She said it was “worse, much worse. The house throws up
another image of yourself as if asking you to interrogate yourself.”
           I went to Raju and asked him what his opinion about this house was? He said
with passion and I felt even resentment, “I love it more than I shall ever do
you.” I was stumped, angry and lost. “A house more than me and my love.” Yes,
now 35 years later, with my children grown up and more than15000 kilometres
away from that wretched house, I can say it with conviction my husband never
let go off his love for that corner house.
          The opening of the door to that room
was like opening to a raging storm, the door unlocked the secrets of the house,
or did it just try to suck me deep within? From that time onwards, I knew
something was definitely wrong in that house, some memories which needed
cleaning or simply wiping off. Every evening, after the lights were switched
off, I could sense so many things, so many voices in conflict, as if some
tempest was constantly sucking me in. I started maintaining a diary to record
my daily impressions of that house as the tension and the nervous sensation was
unbearable. Every day without fail I recorded everything, but again a surge of
self-pitying tendency used to bog me down. I lost my father, after I wrote
about this house in a letter addressed to my Baba, he died leaving me all alone. The house was now my constant companion,
please believe me when I say that it was not a ghostly presence but a ball of
memories knotted and tangled together which I used to face everyday.
              My husband and I used to love
each other but there were moments when he seemed so much remote from me. He
realised my suspicions about this house was in fact making me question the very
existence of his life. I asked him about his father and also to the other
members of his family , in particular Didi
and Dada, who was supposed to be very
close to my late father-in-law. But both of them clamped up and I did not find
them as willing to speak up about their father. It was a romanticized picture
that they had drawn up, of a man entertaining
the leaders who were struggling for Independence like Subhas Chandra
Bose in that same very house, as well as recount how most of  the academics used to frequent our house
during his time, the regularity of which had dipped but did continue at least
monthly. That my father-in-law was an extremely well-read man was a known fact,
but what much less known was that he was an avid hunter, one of the best horse
riders and swimmer of that time (my husband and his favourite nephew, Bobby can
now compete for that title). He owned several estates in Orissa, Benares and
Calcutta, but what happened to those lands no one knew. I gleaned knowledge of
my father-in-law as a taciturn, not given to an overt display of emotions and
an extremely egoistic man. My husband’s account of him was of an individual in
awe of that person, and I did not find it very reliable. What I did notice was
that Dada and Didi refused to say anything intimate about their father. I tackled
another person, Mejda (my husband’s
middle brother), here, another account was shown to me of a man motivated by
personal whims and fancies. Mejda hated
his father but was very close to his mother. I asked him about his mother and
he passionately exclaimed “baba amaar
ma ke bishun kosto diye chilon” (“Baba had given lots of trouble to my
mother”). When I asked what kind of trouble, he replied laughing, “tumi to dedh
maas teke oi baadi te achcho, bujhte padhle na?” (you have been staying in that
house for about one and a half months, you haven’t realized it yet?”)
          “Why did all the trouble began only when
they entered that house?” I asked innocently. It was at this point Didi entered the room, and stopped all
conversation. But something snapped that day and I realized that from this time
onwards I would be an unwelcome visitor to their lives. Was there a mystery
which remains undisclosed and locked in those rooms of the corner house? Amazingly,
after all these exchanges and stories, I came to feel as if I was being
watched, the house took on a macabre shape and seem to follow me everywhere.
That there was pain, and some untold story I was very sure but unable to find
out.
     Around this time, Bodo boudi and Dada left
the house and never came back. We were alone and I became nervous, suspicious –
which my daughter believes started from this time because of my loneliness. In
those 29 rooms, I had no one to speak to, to converse, to share my pain. My
husband missed everyone and believed I was responsible for his family breaking
up. It was not I … why doesn’t he believe me? My diary became the witness of my
daily struggle to cope with the silences and the ghostly presences of the past.
Did my mother-in-law who had died when my husband was merely five years old,
suffer also like this? Who was she? What kind of a relationship did my father
and mother-in-law share? The house never gave me any answers but I used to feel
as if the house was less a building and more a storehouse of past secrets,
silences which were breaking at the seams, the cracks that needed to be filled
up?
         We have lived together for about 40
years, but the togetherness seems to be lost or vanished? He doesn’t sing songs
anymore… we left the corner house after one year of Dada’s leaving the house. I was happy, felt relaxed but my husband
continues to remain in the past, in that house, in that terrace where he
recited so many of his stories. The mystery remained unlocked and the corner
house is unfazed with all unfolding drama. I remain alone… I believe my
daughter has read my diary several times, I am not sure.
            I am going tomorrow to buy that
house for my mom and dad, for my family whom I have hardly met. The corner
house, now belongs truly to us and … dadu’s (paternal grandfather) room will be opened after 28 years
(nobody managed to open the room during our family’s absence). It’s the youth
in the family who have come together to unravel the secrets of that house. Let
the journey begin…
              Ah! After several years choto bouma, Raju is coming back and I am eager…. I shall wait. This time the
secret shall be unlocked.
ix.

Nandini Mazumder                                                                                                2 poems                                                                                                                 
Dilli                                                                                                                                                     
 
Dilli
The monster city.
The monstrosity.
Little truth.
A lot Myth.
Then what is it really?
A city,
Of traditions, of history,
Of change, of modernity.
Of crumbling walls of Siri.
Glaring lights of the hoardings.
The sprawling Mehrauli,
Of the lone tombs of Lodhi,
The stones of Tughlaq that gave way to Lutyen’s Delhi,
Ghalib’s poetry,
Shahjahan’s crumbling old city,
Power corridor, home to the mighty
Dilli
The immigrant colonies
A city of refugees
Of malls and markets,
Mixed colours, a cacophony
Loaded with money,
Yet living in deep poverty.
Poverty of the mind and soul,
Competing with hunger and homelessness.
Too loud for a song,
Yet here we are, singing its name,
Dilli.
A mad man’s muse,
A cynic’s nightmare.
The pursuit of many.
Often alive,
Dead with every horror story.
Never alone,
Yet unique.
Dilli
 
15 January, 2013
 
Abandoned City
 
I have lived many an eternity.
Yet I wait patiently, I call you silently.
Most can never hear me,
Yet the few who did, came and lost themselves to me.

I am the abandoned city.

I invite you to explore me.
Carved from red sandstones,
I am the dream that came to reality.
I welcome you and yet I remain the enigma.
In my fanciful fit, I might reveal my secrets to you.
Yet for most, I remain the eternal mystery.
I am the abandoned city.
Once the home to kings and queens,
Lit and bejewelled, today my fate lay in ruins.
Yet you come from far just to see my remaining glory.
My abandoned, faded walls,
Tell-tale signs of my ancient story.
Proud of the abandoned courtyards, crumbling walls and barren palaces,
What must have been the sound of celebration is now an ordinary silence.
My royal afternoons left me long ago.
Now I make peace with the birds that fly over, the cattle that come grazing and the people who still visit me.
People, mostly without any interest and some merely out of curiosity.
Yet I wait for the rare one that has heard my call and have lost themselves to me.
For I am the eternally lone, abandoned city.
29 December, 2012
x.Vasu K.                                                                                                   poem                                                                                                           
Emily: The Story Untold 
Amidst the muffled cries, and a snubbed
voice,
There was a soul that cried without a noise.
During the beatings and the sudden outrage,
There was a fight fought without the courage.
During the sufferings and alongside pain,
It was just the tears which shed as rain.
With the blood and that arm shattering,
It was the bruises, the flowers from the spring.
The suffering was endless and the pain no limit,
The poor child shattered after every hit.
It was someone he thought it was own,
He was hurt when the real face was shown.
the child did cry and it did sob,
for this was when it was laughed at by the mob.
People didn’t know what it had been through,
they thought this to be fun when its feelings they brewed
people didnt notice the tears it shed,
they took it for a toy and played instead.
The times went wrong, its mind went blank,
the abuse got physical and they called it a prank.
It was all but a happy time
for it was greeted with crime
the kid grew old its fears unfold
its life took a turn and became “the story untold”.
Things went worse as it grew up a girl
the life turned along a sadder turn
it was all chaos once she was raped
she was a victim and was left without her drapes
She ran scared and with blood she was flushed
There was a constant voice, very gently it hushed
She had had enough and turned to her family
She recognized the voice as it screamed “EMILY”
The voice was familiar but not soothing anymore
It was her uncle who had left her smeared before
She was assaulted and made part of a sin
He pinned her down and left a scar along her chin
The scar though small had an impact in her mind
The trauma it gave was irreparable beyond time
She lived in a fear of being assaulted again
All the efforts for living she made but in vain
She finally got strength and stood against all
She became her voice like the poet of a fall
The voice travelled far and was heard loud
The girl was right and the truth exposed to the crowd
Her stand was firm and her view was clear
She faced the society without any fear
She led a battle she fought it herself
She had a broader mind and didn’t think of self
She took along the likes the suppressed and abused
Bravely she fought and the exploiters were appalled
Her voice grew loud and her motive got the strength
She spread the wisdom far across the lengths
For the voice was simple the voice was heard
Stop child abuse, they too are a part of the world.
 
xi.
  
Prantik
Banerjee                                                                                    poems 
Mappings     
 
I’ll map the places
Draw those lines
Intemperate
That distance even dreams.
For when you travel
Further than meridians,
I’ll bring down the sail
Drop anchor, and rest
Myself, a little
On the edge of time.
 
Back in school, I remember
Bartholomew’s Atlas
Had made continents
Drift across fingers!
Remember how
We used to put together
The world in pieces,
Making itineraries
That put Marco Polo,
Vasco da Gama to shame.
 
Now, in your transit
At airports, tubes
You leave me behind,
The newspaper rolled
Under your arm, the phone
Charged with a missed call.
I feel adjunct
To you by so many miles.
 
I try to mate
Your moves in time-zones –
The differences
Lurch me in my tracks;
I worry if you are up
Not knowing about
Not finding around –
The long habits of love
Home-bound, run astray.
 
The souvenirs
You shall bring
Will mean the world:
Their touch
A feel of places where
You slept, ate, walked.
You’ll bring memories,
Stonehenge, Stratford,
A district full of lakes
A theatre of life.
 
I keep turning yellow pages –
Dog-eared, spit-licked.
Home
Is a country removed
A map discoloured.
 
Mrs Shakespeare 
 
So you looked for her
Favouring the “second best bed”
Wondering if Will did ‘hate away’
The linen soft, downy
Frayed at the edges though.
Perhaps you stood bemused
To find a seamy affair, a handfast marriage –
Ah! Those loose tongues, willy-nilly
Making her making out
With a lad a cougar of vice.
 
You reckoned
History had made
The unkindest cut –
A woman turned into a shrew
Vilified by a man’s plot
And his purple patch.
You looked but found her little;
The Man doth strode like a colossus
Looming over the chimneys,
The timber frame, the acreage
Barn, forest and hearth
Earth, sky and water
And where else she may have been.
If only (you wished)
She had a room with a view.
 
The cottage now has a touristy look
With his elements mixed so well
In stone, statues and slab.
Well might you have exclaimed,
“Was this the
Woman?”
Such stuff, facts stranger than
Dreams are made on.
 
The cottage
Did burn down once  –
An accident of history, perhaps?
But she survived.
The crowds come
To its admiring steps,
Paved by Falstaff’s mirth
Brutus’s frown, and Lear’s snarl.
Somewhere inerasable
Last a handful of words
“Where there was Will
There hath a way”.
 
Grammar of Love
 
Your ‘him’ and my ‘her’
Always are in accusative
Cased in third person.
They seem so lonely  –
Plural in our thoughts
Yet agree not with any verbs.
Their forms are so possessive
When they trap us in ‘mines’.
 
How funny it is then
That we make perfect
Concord in sentences
Serving a life time  –
In first person
Singular, but together.
 
 xii.Swati Chawla                                                                                                       2 poems 
 
 
The Wedding Cipher
 
I am her mirror.
Painted in Warli.
I become her.

I
Sometimes I become
her youth.
Doused in pinks of
her mother’s gardens
and the color of
laburnums.
I return
immediately but,
to her anointed forehead,
A monochromatic
vermilion
Of deep red.

II
Sometimes I become
a girl young.
Interweaving locks
of hair
with home-made
barrettes that she’d brung.
I return
immediately but,
to a rag of cotton
piling into heaps
over her sagging
bosoms.

III
Sometimes I become
the charmer
that she thought
she’d espoused
for a love that was
to be her armor.
I return
immediately but,
to the grey in her
hair
a protracted
neglect
traded for
embellished cookware.

IV
Sometimes she
trades me
with a tall,
radiant stallion
of hope and desire
that gaits
steadfastly across heath lands,
unto maddened.
This is when I
become her conscience.
A spattered history
of truisms.
It is the wedding
cipher that
she must embrace
resile from want,
desire and anger.
That’s how she
becomes me,
and I, her face.
Tonight

She comes to him as the supple sonority,
That thuds aloud in a bedlam underground
when the Merpeople unclasp their wings
to the silent sea..
Today, when the moonless sky
Lit as her brown reef eyes,
And thunder struck, at the stretch of dusk,
She housed those daring lips
Around the fragments of nakedness that lay bare
Of his beaded sweater!
With the unfamiliarity of a child,
He jostled for forgiveness of the crowd.
But the sky was moonless still,
And his eyes held bountiful innuendoes till
The moonless sky gave away its thunder,
And the rain, its petrichor..
But the moonless sky and the thunder
Had come together tonight,
To unclasp her, of her wings
And as the merpeople, she let the thud of her heart
Grow louder still.
 
 
xiii.
 
Debarun Sarkar                                                                                                      2 poems


the museum storeroom 1
[…]

a day of worn legacy after a
day of labor
resonated
with his yesteryears
 
he a quiet citizen, of this nation-state
which validated itself in his body, so he
was told
lambasted the yesteryears’ actions
 
had he not charted his journey
across the borders, his plight
of recklessness
would have been reduced to a
story
of immense glory
he wondered, he imagined, and
desired
for glory, that he situated in
the blunders of yesteryears
 
had he not moved across the
borders
constantly, one step here, one
step there
trading adventuring
he wondered the alternate
possibilities
 
his youth of recklessness
was written about by critical
theorists of academia
self-posturing their
radicalness of transnationality
and discoursing, migration,
of border crossing, of
transgressing
yet theorizing the inability
to transgress
 
his youth was filmed
by documentary artists, archiving
‘his’ oral history
 
today his day of labor included
begging for some work to
transport goods
from one part of
the city to another

[…]


the museum storeroom 2

The fossils were numerically arranged in
an ascending order
sorted, enumerated behind the
museum glasses
They were carbon dated, and
the dates
were written on tags kept in
front of the the artefacts
A head was reconstructed of
hominids, neanderthals
and there was moisture in the
air, an eerie sense of
artificial weather control to
balance the dryness
inside the airtight glass
displays
 
On a nearby table was a book
on display, the
book of Jehovah, nearby the
Constitution, on the
next display a manuscript with
a map of
the town describing the land
of 1776
in a storeroom behind the real
museum
 
xiv.                                                                                                                    4 poems

Yuan Changming


idiomatic english: do not burn the midnight oil
 
You see, Elvis has left the building
And you may be glad to see the back of
A hot potato
Jumping on the bandwagon
But once in a blue moon
You will hear it on the grapevine
Rather than straight from the horse’s mouth
Which is a far cry
From the best thing since sliced bread
Something you can see eye to eye
While cutting the mustard
By drawing all the best of both worlds
To make a long story short
 
Now if you feel a bit under the weather
Why not just let the cat out of the bag
Or you might just sit on the fence
Give it the benefit of doubt
And then hit the sack
Even in this heat of the moment

at the threshold

 
From the darkest
moment
Of last winter to the
heaviest fog
Of this summer, I
fumbled all my way
To this spot, where I
stood, hesitating
As I tried to pull the
structure
(Actually meant to be
pushed?)
And push it while
might mean
To be pulled. Confused
and
Confounded, I slid it,
folded it
Turned it, tampered
with it
Through trial and
error, but still
Failed to move the
blockade
 
Sesame, open! –
Am I facing a fake
door
Or just bad design?

the meditation master

takes a nap
 
As he began to cross
his legs on each other, his mind
Was wandering nowhere
between here and there; he
Withdrew his vision
from the skyline of the city
To the cool fire
burning in his belly; listening
To the whistling and
whishing of traffic, he heard only
His own pulse. With the
breeze came the odor of garlic
But he held his
breath, while leaving all his inner doors
And windows ajar,
letting his sensations travel freely
He believed in Qi,
which was circulating with his blood
And his feeling and
his thought. The light dimmed
A baby crow was
flapping by. He found himself totally
Lost in a temple among
puti trees within his yellowish
Skin. That was all the
harmony of yin and yang he knows.
 

to your cup

 
Whatever contains h2o,
the origin of life, could
Be contained in it,
always ready for another fill
 
Whether it is bubbling
with heat, or
Chilled with sandy
juice, it can hold
 
Any fluid with all the
calmness that will push down
Impurities into the
bottom as unwanted sediments
 
Most tolerant, and
most receptive: green tea
Black coffee, red
wine, fresh blood, sour milk
 
You are jealous of it,
a container ready to hold even
The heaviest water,
and would love to be more like it
 
In spirit, as you take
it to your lips, closer to your heart
Like these words that
are trying to contain your spirit
 
xv.
Gayatri Majumdar                                                                                                  poem
Pondicherry Series  


Mother and Child – Rabindranath
1. The sea is my mother.

Empty shells, white waterlines and baubles stretch the
horizon

into noisier shorelines. I could hear the Rabindrasangeets
inside your head 
curled up on a black rock nursing this
emptiness;

how would I have known you were waiting for me all that time?
And all that I was waiting for, was you.
The sea whispers nothing; waters on waters.

The sea is my best friend.
Fluorescent snails crack open the winter sun
and herons mate. Some look for the occasional fish or a flower.

You sat there all day, a melancholy ship waiting to unload;
anchored to nothing but a red string
that is now tied around my waist and a little faded.
Then you abruptly left beyond into the horizon somewhere.


Isn’t the waiting all? Surely, there is no arriving.
No returning to sea its restlessnessbuilding stories
and gargoyle cities along the water’s edge.
Waiting here with the slow watering, crossing borders and
continents

and other realms where I am not equipped to reach yetdiagonally across
the park, running up the grandfather steps—chipped and graywhere you used to await our arrivals.

Mother
when you left
my first thought washow would she find her way?
She, whose life depended on a song?
You want to know how it is to not have you around.
Was the light blinding enough for you to locate your Chand,
which you loved so much?

The way
strangely lit with pink and turquoise and other fantasia
(just like in your dreams that kept you awake)
is the bed of the sea: The same luminosity which you lit my heart with
in that dark room from which the red traffic lights faded into fables, incense, and honking.

The sea birthed me to shore
a land of miracles and wise council
As I wait for a final glimpse or word
of departures, arrivals
forgetting the waiting is allhas always been so.
As matter spins and roars in a cosmic game,
there is little choice left but to wait

Remain grounded, apart, erase distances
to come out and play with you
in your lulling garden of frolic and half-remembrances

And so the sea . . .

Is my mother

And the waiting to catch a glimpse of her sweet smile is all there is to it.

23 February, 2016

 
book news
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
xvi.
 
Bishnupada Ray
Tribute to Rabindranath
                                                                                                                     book review
 

This small collection of poems
(only10 and 10 wonderful paintings by Kazi Anirban) on Rabindranath
can be taken as an epitome of a tribute, for the poet is quite assured that
Rabindranath is space-less and time-less, and no matter if it is 10 or 100 poems Rabindranath will remain a vast ocean to grasp on any canvas.
Indeed Rabindranath has grown into an ageless Banyan tree supported by an ever-active
industry (unlike other poets of his time, Rabindranath is institutionalized by
way of Biswa-Varati, Rabindravarati and organized professionals) so that the
tree has grown with more roots and beards to touch numberless pilgrim souls of
humanity. The subcontinent’s cultural life is incomplete without Rabindranath,
so pervasive the contribution of the seer has remained over the years. It is
not astonishing that countless admirers sing in praise of him, draw
inspiration, solace and succour from him and are healed and sustained by this
eternal source of sweetness and light. Ishita Bhaduri’s Rabindranath is an apt homage and tribute to this cultural hero of
our nation.

 
It’s natural that such a collection
must exude a glowing eulogy for the hero in superlative terms, for the poet
must measure the three-dimensional space that her hero occupies vis-à-vis our
two-dimensional existence, with all the expertise that she can muster and also
with the best of her ability. Surprisingly however, Ishita Bhaduri is a poet of
simple touches and outlines with which she draws her picture of Rabindranath.
Simplicity, brevity and an unassuming air mark her poetry, so there is neither
cloying sentimentality nor any feeling of a bad taste in the mouth while
reading her poetry. (This is also due to the quality translation of Bhaduri’s
Bengali poems by Soma Roy). Bhaduri is definitely a good poet on this count. I
give a few examples:


You are still a vast ocean even
a century later
You drift me away from shore to
shore
 
You are moonlit glow after a
century
You immerse me from soul to
soul.
(‘Kabiguru’)


Or,

This cloud-burst rain
And the dazzling flash of
lighting
That you have given me . . .
This silver of the skies with
Rows of trees in between
That you have given me . . .
What can I give you?
 
This vast expanse of fields
And twilight-toned flaming skies
That you have given me . . . (‘Rabindranath’)

The imagery is striking,
dynamically presented with colours and music so that the vast expanse of nature
is filled with dancing and singing.
 
However, the collection should
have contained some insight into the being of Rabindranath as a tormented soul
in his relationship with women and how dearly he felt the necessity of true
love, a love that would have stood parallel to a genius and the faltering quest
that he made in his life for this true love. It is all the more required since
the collection contains poems such as ‘Chitrangada’, ‘Dark angel, Krishnakoli’
and ‘Letter from a Wife’. It goes without saying that poetry enriches our quest
for meaning when it contains truth-revealing insights into our seriously funny
business of conducting life or existence. Otherwise this collection stands as a
product of good taste and culture.
 
Rabindranath
by Ishita Bhaduri, Kolkata, Sristsukh Prokashan, 2014
 
xvii.                                                                                                                                        

Architecture of Flesh                                                                          new releases

Ra Sh

 
A collection of N. Ravi Shanker’s (Ra Sh) poems titled Architecture of Flesh was published by PoetyWala, Mumbai, in the December, 2015. 
 
In a review Madhumita Ghosh writes, With unusual imagery woven in to explicate passion, emotion, lust and love, Ravi’s poetry is very metaphysical in a way.  The physical transcends the physique to explore deeper human emotions to compel the reader to internalise, pondering and reflecting within. The body never becomes bawdy. The theme of the physique never becomes erotica in his hand, while the physicality yet being a throbbing vibrant presence throughout.”
 
 
 
The book is available online here.

Architecture
of Flesh
Ra Sh (N. Ravi Shanker)
Poetrywala 2015
INR 225

xviii.

Beyond Milestones

A Journey Through Life

Surinder Rametra and Akash Vasil
In Beyond Milestones, the essential message that Surinder Rametra wants to share with his 16-year-old grandson Akash Vasil and others of his age is, ‘Life itself is a journey. At each cross-section, new people join the journey and a few may drop out; but the journey continues.’


Among other online stores, Beyond Milestone is also available at amazon.in or you can write to [email protected] for further queries.




xix.soulscapes

Awakening


Enter the sublime world of digital wall art, home decor, accessories and paper products at Soulscapes — created by Vivechana

Soulscapes is inspired from an exploration of the spirit inherent in every object, uncovering the inner aspect of beauty that is the true face of every form. Our attempt is to bring out the deeper aspect of symbols that are the building blocks of manifestation. Much of the work is the result of a deep study of ancient sacred geometry principles, wisdom of ancient Indian spiritual texts and spiritual masters.The design philosophy behind the products at Soulscapes is based on beauty, universal ancient symbology, inspirational words of the Masters with an intention to manifest beauty and light in daily living.

xx.

Light of Lights
An Anthology of Spiritual Poetry


Strange Journey 

Harindranath Chattopadhyaya

Shaper Shaped
In days gone by I used to be
a potter who would feel
His fingers mould the yielding clay
To patterns on his wheel;
But now, through wisdom lately won,
That pride has died away,
I have ceased to be the potter
And have learned to be the clay.
In bygone times I used to be
A poet through whose pen
Innumerable songs would come
To win the hearts of men;
But now, through new-got knowledge,
Which I hadn’t had so long,
I have ceased to be the poet
And have learned to be the song.
I was a fashioner of swords
In days that are now gone,
Which in a hundred battlefields
glittered and gleamed and shone;
But now that I am brimming with
The silence of the Lord,
I have ceased to be sword-maker
And learned to be the sword.
In other days I used to be
A dreamer who would hurl
On every side an insolence
Of emerald and pearl;
But now I am kneeling
At the feet of the Supreme
I have ceased to be the dreamer
And have learned to be the dream.
Nightingale 
Romen
I heard in a dream
A silver nightingale
Singing from woods of silence,
A remote pearl-throated wail.
You came to be
In this silver hush of night
Breaking the wordless peace
With your spell of delight.
O bird of paradise
Flying over my seas –
Far splendor of the west
Carried by the breeze
With wings of shadow
And body of gold
You flew back to dawn’s azure
Dense-aureoled.
Now you have departed
On a breath of wings
Above my woods of dream,
Over voice-enchanted things;
Across my life’s darkened seas
Emptiness pale . . .
All my mind is haunted by dream
Of a nightingale.
Next Future
Edited by Vijay; Published by Sri Aurobindo Society, 1985
Contributors
Sananta
Tanty
was born in Kalinagar Tea Estate, Karimganj District, Assam, into a tea
plantation worker family. A popular and influential poet in the modern Asomiya
language, he has more than 10 collections of poems to his credit. Critic Ananda
Bormudoi writes in a piece in
The
Telegraph
: “In the seventies a new group of young poets began to raise
voices of protest. They were Samir Tanti,
Sananta
Tanty
, Gyan Pujari, Jatindra Kumar Borgohain and a few others, (who). . . were
careful about the technique of writing poetry. To a great extent their technique
was also an extension of symbolism and imagism but they read progressive poetry
of different countries of the world. They no longer made Eliot, Pound or
Baudelaire their ideal. Corruption in public life, unemployment, poverty,
hunger and frustrations became themes of poetry and the poets, especially Samir
and Sananta expressed anger and protest. . . . The new poets of the eighties and
nineties have added to the variety in Assamese poetry by picking up symbols and
images from the mosaic of ethnic cultures. Samir and Sananta Tanty have
articulated the misery of tea tribes with a force that draws attention . . ..” 
(Selected from the collection, ‘Apuni apunar hotey juddhya karibo paribone’, ‘Would You Be Able To Wage War With Yourself’? 2008).

Dibyajyoti
Sarma
is the author of two volumes of poems, Glimpses of a Personal History (Writer’s Workshop, Kolkata, 2004) and Pages from an Unfinished Autobiography (i write imprint, New Delhi, 2014), and co-editor (with Dr R Raj Rao) of the
book Whistling in the Dark: Twenty-one Queer Interviews (Sage, 2009). By day,
he is a PhD scholar, who has published papers on Indian Writing in English and
Queer Theory; by evening he is the senior copy editor with a national daily,
and by night, he is a creative writer, who has published short stories and
poems in various journals. Originally from Guwahati, Assam, and having a life
in Pune, Maharashtra for the last 14 years, he now struggles in Delhi.
Shirin Bismillah recently completed her Masters in English Literature from University of Delhi and formerly Bachelors, in the aforementioned stream, from Jamia Millia University, New Delhi, India. Currently, she is pursuing a course in ‘Translation Proficiency in English’ from Jamia University and also working with Central Square Foundation as a Translator. Recently, she has translated two short stories of Abdul Bismillah from Hindi to English and poems of Agha Shahid Ali and Sudeep Sen from English to Hindi. Shirin has also written two short stories that are being considered for publication.

Amrita Dutta, is a grade 12 student in Hyderabad, India. She loves to write and have started experimenting with various writing styles recently.
Poornima Laxmeshwar has authored a small poetry collection Anything but Poetry published by Writers Workshop. Her poems have been published in Kritya, Muse India, Northeast and in anthologies Dance of the Peacock and Suvarnarekha. Her haikus have also been published in several magazines.
Paul C. Blake: I grew up in the Bronx where I attended De Witt Clinton High School, after migrating to the United States with
my parents from the island
of Jamaica in 1975. After
high school, I attended City College of the City
University of New York.   Upon graduating as an art education major, I received the following
awards in the art department—the 1983 Grumbacher Silver Medallion in art and
the 1984 Department Silver Medal of the Royal Society of Arts England. In the Fall of 1984, I
studied painting and printmaking as a graduate student at Columbia University.
Then, in 1989 I began post graduate work in painting through the NYU/Venice
study a broad program. In 1996, I
graduated from New York
University with a Doctor
of Arts degree in painting, and received the honor to become a member of Phi
Delta Kappa. I was an exhibiting artist
member at Viridian Artists Inc. where I had several selected solo art exhibits—1992-2001. Besides Viridian, I was also
included in several selected group shows. Some of the more significant shows were the following:

1986 6th Annual
Artists in the Marketplace Exhibit at The Bronx Museum
of the Arts.                                        
1987 Krasdale Food Satellite
Gallery                                                     
1994 Krasdale Art Gallery /White
Plains NY          
1999 Stamford Museum &
Nature Center
(New Art Annual) CT.                                                                        

A highlight in my career as a visual artist came when I received two important art reviews inThe New York Times / WC by the art critic William Zimmer on July 12, 1987 then on September 11, 1994.  Fourteen years later, my dream to be a writer was realized when my first novel, A String of Knots, was published. Now, twenty-eight years in public and private education, I still enjoy teaching. Besides teaching, painting and creative writing, my other special interests are creating residential garden designs and gardening as I am also a freelance Landscape Designer and Gardener. When I am not teaching art, I divide my time between writing and painting or gardening and family.

Gulam Yazu is an undergraduate student of science (but his soul is weaved of lit . . .). “I live in a little town named Kishanganj in the state of Bihar. I stepped into poetry when I was in 8th grade, but couldn’t continue. Now I’m totally into it, actively writing for past 3 years. I think it’s enough.”
Meher Pestonji is a well-known  Mumbai-based journalist, novelist and playwright

Rani D. (indrani Das Gupta) is currently pursing M.Phil in English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. Fascinated and spellbound by the way words weave music, she aspires to become a writer. She lives in Delhi-NCR region and can be contacted at [email protected]

Originally from Calcutta Nandini Mazumder came to New Delhi in 2006 to pursue a Masters in Sociology in Jawaharlal Nehru University. Following which she joined the development sector and specialized in issues affecting women and children – she worked on human trafficking with Sanlaap, Calcutta, on alternate forms of education and life-skills building in children from disadvantaged backgrounds with the Kutumb Foundation, New Delhi and now on improving sexual and reproductive health for Sex Workers through HIV/AIDS Alliance, New Delhi. Nandini started writing poetry in school and continued to write poems as an expression of how she perceived the world inside and outside. Emotions and feelings are a driving force for her poems whether these emotions stem from personal experiences or larger world events that cause great personal emotions to build-up. Nandini constantly strives to write and share her poetry with a larger audience. So far she has been published on Indian websites like Youth Ki Awaaz and Parallel Post. mki.

Vasu K is a 20-year-old Engineering student from VIT Vellore and a poet by choice. “I have a dream to become an executive and have a zest for writing poetry as i always find it relaxing and also it calms me down.”
Prantik Banerjee  teaches English in Nagpur, Maharashtra. His first book, A Postscript on Missing Keys, was published by Writers Workshop, Kolkata. His poems were also shortlisted 3 times in the All India Poetry Competition held by British Council. They have appeared in Sahitya Akademi’s Indian LiteratureKavya BhartiThe Journal of Indian PoetryFemina, PEN, The Brown Critique, and several international anthologies. 
Swati Chawla is a New Delhi-based Political Scientist/Researcher with a
law firm. She has worked with various governmental/non-governmental
organizations in the past. An ardent lover of philosophy, like Socrates’ Theia
Mania, she too believes in the gift of madness; of sanity in the insane.
 She scribbles poetry in her free time and can
gaze endlessly at institutions/monuments that are of historic nature.

Debarun Sarkar supposedly wrote the above texts. He sleeps,
eats, reads, smokes, labors and occasionally writes and submits them.

Yuan Changming, 8-time Pushcart nominee and author of 4 chapbooks (including Mindscaping [2014]), is the world’s most widely published poetry author who speaks Mandarin but writes in English. A PhD holder, Yuan grew up in a remote village, started to learn English at 19 and published several monographs before leaving China. Currently he tutors and co-edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver. His poetry appears in Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Cincinnati Review, Threepenny Review and 969 others across 31 countries. Do check out Poetry Pacific at poetrypacific.blogspot.ca and get in touch with [email protected].
Gayatri Majumdar is Founder, Editor and Publisher of brown critique. Currently, she lives and volunteers in the research section of a not-for-profit spiritual-based organization in Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry). Her first novel A Song for Bela is ready for publication.Bishnupada Ray is an Associate Professor of English at the University of North Bengal. An Indian English poet and his latest book of poetry Winter Sky and Selected Poems was published by Brown Critique in 2013.

This issue of brown critique is dedicated to the memory of Gayatri and Bhaskar’s parents  Sunil and Gouri Majumdar — who were both ardent and huge supporters of the magazine ever since it was launched 20 years ago.
“You would not cry if you knew that by looking deeply into the rain you would still see the cloud.” ― Hanh Nhat Thich 

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