We talked of Kolkata’s garbage boys
Scavenging on India’s poverty in glory
Their cheeks gone pale with knowledge
Amid Nobel prizes lost and not found,
Their brown sugar level intact in blood
From cigarettes puffed in silver rings.
This morning we find some Boston boys
From yellow blogs scavenging in forties
On mountains of putrid Western glory.
Thank God we are level with those guys.
Now we do not carry giant size hurt egos
Any longer, on our drooping shoulders.
In the evening there was some exquisite music
That flowed smoothly on a silk-soft winter breeze
With a burning torch ahead, duly abetted by oil.
As God went out with his wives on the palanquin,
A bamboo stick went musical in its circular holes
And a goatskin went into fever long after its death.
The pig-tailed men carried their God on shoulders.
The torch burnt the night till it smelled like flowers.
In the seven colors that make light
The sun’s fiery chariot swiftly moves
Towards the equinox, our own thing
In backyard, a cross-square of twigs
That turns a chariot on a bean leaf .
Our rice and milk ,stewed in smoke
Tastes exquisite, like his warm gold
Of morning rays on weathered bodies.
We love our sun but cannot see him
With our naked eyes ,except in smoke
Or as he is fully eaten up by our earth.
( Rath Saptami (a Hindu festival linked to sun-worship) is the seventh day following the Sun’s northerly movement of vernal equinox, starting from the Capricorn.-beginning of spring.The day is also believed to be the day on which the sun was born)
On the banks of the River of Desire
The abodes of our Gods are empty .
They deserted our village long ago
Leaving behind our lofty sanctums
That had crumbled through the ages .
Their broken walls yielded fine bricks
For the masonry of our village homes.
The River meanders about our village
Threatening to swallow temple ruins .
Our children have hunger in their eyes
We have no oil to light our God’s lamps
The River is now threatening to swallow
Our green paddy fields and our homes.
(About the 30-odd heritage temples of Patra village near Midnapore(W.B.) lying in neglect; Kankshavati means the River of Desire)
In ancient Lothal,a combination could be lethal.
Here combinatorial creativity enhanced a pool
To a pretending jetty for far off ships of cargo.
Ghosts had done their bit in their broken plinths
Their ghostly footprints disappeared in shrubs.
They had streets with dirty water running under
And houses of brick – mortar,with living dreams.
The potsherds were gathered up in a museum.
The ghosts were potsherds , standing on one leg.
Their thin insubstantialness went up to a hot sun
Showing up in cowherd clothes, waiting for a bus.
The then cowherds along with cows turned souls
Standing on ,among potsherds of the then mud.
The crowds fascinate us in their wisdom.
Lately they have turned rebels for a cause.
They are now iconoclasts on the lake side.
Our lake is now blooming heads like lotuses.
The torsos left behind recite rebel poetry.
(Crowds have recently vandalized statues of history’s great men of culture installed on the lakefront in the city)
On the road before their houses are women
In turquoise and blue, their heads and back
Bent with earth- sweeping , water sprinkling
The way elephants do in the morning forest.
Their mothers-in-law had done it their time.
Like them the earth smelled of their bodies.
And the children wait for school in uniforms
For yellow buses to stop before wet patches
Careful not to tread on rice powder designs
Their mothers had made on their wet patches.
Their designs are pretty but highly transient
Only to be eaten by sparrows of the morning.
The sparrows have turned heavy in stomachs
Of rice powder eating from beauty designs.
But the sparrows are now not there in mirrors.
In the afternoons they were pecking in mirrors
At their sworn enemies in the mirrors of women
When they combed oiled plaits for the evening.
The birds may have gone of morning sickness
Or of far too many cell phone calls in their air.
Women love their afternoon gossip ,you see.
Luckily mothers-in-law are now gone for good,
Like sparrows that have gone from the mirrors.