Kolkata Mindfulness

 

Resting like a cocoon it has been long,

I didn’t realize when I became a butterfly,

Of human soul and had wings to fly high,

I was living there in her lap naively,

With eyes closed hearing to the town’s

Lullabies that came from the hustle-bustle,

Of Nawabganj and of many things I didn’t

Realize I had in my frock’s pocket, as I roamed,

Around a little girl, but my soul an observer,

Oft brings back the reminiscences of those lanes,

 

I have walked, watching the ducks in the,

Green ponds, swimming and quacking,

Idly seldom times, on the still waters that,

Twinkled with the sunlight, they loved the sun,

Even on warm dawns, that started with the,

Smell of smoke rising from the dung and coal,

Stoves, the mud tilled homes and roofs,

And women wearing thick cotton saris,

Blowing the first fire to the mornings’ sleep,

To be broken as the inmates too awake,

 

The mornings were always busy, not like here,

The women yelled, men shouted each other,

Amid their morning chores, those particular cries,

I had always enjoyed, they reflected love,

Warmth and care, I have seen yet not seen,

They were just scenes of a day in my life,

That I spent in there in holidays, now they,

Have become part of me, as I am far from,

Those smell of fish curries, cooked on earthen stoves,

Filled in the house of my uncle’s and aunt’s

The fish fresh from the Ganges, dipped fry,

 

What days were those! When careless and free,

I haven’t thought would become part of me,

When I grow up, pushed far into the mediocre,

Life, yet I remember those slumbering noons,

When there were feasts in all the homes,

Of that narrow brick lane, the windows nets,

And slow-moving table fans blew the essence,

Of delicious meat rice in the air, days on,

When our hunger roared with increased appetite,

Now no more are such feasts, nor those essences,

 

I smell, it wasn’t only those days I miss, that love,

Of all the aunt’s and grand ma, fresh in my soul,

Fresh in my heart, the days are lying alive, when,

Small and curious I used to go my grandmother’s

Small room, where she sat and prayed for long,

Those many racks in her room filled with,

Idols and gods, she bathed those with sandal,

Paste and Ganges water, her white sari, the,

Sandal paste on her forehead, the Rudraksh

Necklace around her neck, that smell of her older,

 

Being is still fresh in me; many are lost in time,

Or perhaps it’s me, who has come lot ahead in time!

Those giggles and laughter of my childhood,

Audible only to me, when we pulled buckets filled,

With cool waters from the well, pouring over,

Each other and then shivered for long,

The mornings were fun even more when,

Children all made a gang to bathe in the Ganges,

For hours and hours the boys played, as I sat,

On the stairs watching the world moving slow,

 

The women cooked and gossiped, cared not I,

I had chirped and hopped from house to house,

Playing, and roamed around with my cousins,

On the evenings watching the sunset over the Ganges,

That crimson hue, the twinkling waves and the,

Sounds of the steamer still echoes inside of me,

The fresh cool breeze that touched our naive skins,

And our feet dipped in the pious river,

Time seemed frozen when, and the world small,

In here I feel seldom stuck, trying to go back there,

 

When I have seen those days of autumn,

Women dressed in white and red sari, playing

Vermillion Holi, as the air turned red, I saw,

Goddess in all, such beautiful red faces of joy,

I am far away now to all that’s has been once,

My pride, now a hilly bride I am in another space,

I still pick pieces of broken earthen pots and smell them,

Trying to feel the same essence, my childhood is caged,

In them, when we ate yogurt from small mud pots,

I kept licking long even when the curd was done,

 

That taste of mud, I am so lost to find it back,

When the crowd of local trains agitated me,

But the ride on the ferry over the heart of the Ganges,

Overjoyed me, and one more time I want to live,

Again those childhood days spent in Kolkata,

To glimpse again those Raj structures, imperial,

But dead, I am still wandering in those streets,

Near the Fairy House, awestruck eyes I had always,

Dreamt of going inside, now only I have few grains,

Of sand stuck in my palm of past, of lost time,

 

And I don’t know from where the tears come from,

When I wave that little girl, who waves at me,

With a big smile, resting as she sits beside her,

Beautiful young mother, the ferry keeps moving,

Farther and further, and I stand a mute observer,

Often nostalgic, I want to borrow some more glee,

From that girl’s lap, and keep safe in my abode,

And the fragrance of tuber roses and jasmine from,

Nuptial nights I attended there, are fresh and reminds,

Me of lost, but not forgotten my Kolkata mindfulness…

 

~ Monalisa Joshi~

Glossary

Nawabganj: A small town in Kolkata where the poet has spent a good amount of her childhood days.

 

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