"A father is not a horse, he never gallops": Poetry by Sawmitra Roy

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"A father is not a horse, he never gallops": Poetry by Sawmitra Roy

Two Poems by Sawmitra Roy

Rivers that flow through me


From the mystic highlands of Liyai Kullen,
where the descendants searched for water pools
surrounded by canopy of blood soaked Rhododendrons,
comes down an endless river that flows through me.

Father sold the home and the paddy fields,
scared all the sparrows from his Agrahayan harvests,
and donated his sweated soaked cricket kit to the club.
I hid one worn out Maruti deuce ball in my school bag,
rode through the unseen roads,
covered for miles by primeval forests,
standing in front of a grey Bajaj Chetak,
reached this town one evening
in search for a goldfinch.

I saw a man sitting
by the bank of this river.
His eyes had inscription of stories
carved as cipher in the syllables of wind.
He was ruminating on the cowdust crumbs of the day.
I tried whole night but couldn’t decipher his story.
I might have read it upside down, who knows?


This river runs incessantly- a giant serpent of time,
hissing along the bamboo forests and ferry ghat,
shedding skin on silent sand, never waiting for those
who waits for it on these banks.

Invisible banana trunk raft of stories floats on it from generations.
Tall Charak post and the cheap stalls of Baruni mela
sprout out from this barren banks.
After all that I heard in the dark last night
I think twice to ask for pocket money from my father.

A strange fever keeps me awake day and night.
My Adam’s apple protrudes more; the voice no more seems my own,
I borrow the voice of my ancestors. I don’t talk much.
Adult magazines pile up in my bottom drawer.
And in the rejected nights I hear
the gliding of reeds on the escaping water.
And after the nights of storm I find
mango blossoms fallen on my pillow.

A Kodak camera hangs on my neck on the last day.
With the entire thirty-five millimetre film roll shot
I have thirty six photographs of my five lovers.
I gradually turn into another story.
The photographs fades away.

This city has always been a wild horse galloping, exhaling infernal flames.
The river holds it as an iron shoe. My skin is withering.
A cosmic timer is running to the annihilation second.
My roots run deep searching for two rivers.
The horse gets stuck on the bank.

*Agrahayan- Bengali month, from mid November to mid December.

Charak- A Bengali Hindu folk festival in honour of the Lord Shiva.

Baruni mela- A Bengali Hindu folk festival in honour of the river goddess Ganga.


Night of the Dead


His eyes- a primeval black hole.
All the lights of the room entered and vanished into its singularity.
He looked at me and murmured something incorrigible
in the syllables of wind.

The weight of a thought is much heavier than the entire universe.
It might have crushed his soul.

Around eleven forty five pm he died. The customary crowd gathered outside.
Some rushed for the local doctor, some talked about what went wrong and when.
The silent walls crumble with the sudden wail. By the time the hearse arrives
I hear the stories of his college days and how he made it on his own.

A father is not a horse, he never gallops.
He is a donkey, carries the weight of his children
all along the city.

And once you ride on the shoulder of your father
you never come down, even if his ribs are crushed under the load,
even if his chiselled muscles becomes pulp, even if he is dead.
Only when your children sit
on your shoulder you find yourself carrying this weight.
You turn into a donkey. Our donkey-story proceeds in progression.

If a man dies at midnight how long do you remember him?
Till evening?
Till forever?
How many seconds makes a forever?


Sawmitra Roy is a lower primary school teacher who works in Sewti, Cachar, and lived in Silchar. His poems have been published in Sindhuvox, Shadowkraft, The Assam Tribune, and elsewhere. He edits an English little magazine called Yawp!

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