Losing a City(Down and Out in Guwahati) I The city is an incantation for deaf ears. Solitary voices in the central junction sink into a ugly hullaballoo. Newspaper men, fruit sellers, beggars, school children--- all in sight with outlines barely distinguishable from the city don’t fit into your geometry. Little frustrations of living fail to take any shape. No ovals, rectangles, pentagons, squares. II Loneliness recited in this very lane that sleeps and wakes into a “Allah-Hu-Akbar” from a mosque Southward announces the day, not out of any purpose, but to suffer the clumsiness of the light. III The rain sprawling all over the city is a last attempt at survival. Tiny insects in the skyline deal with personal matters in secrecy, their fate being sealed for days to come. The white clouds blossom as a matter of pressing importance gaining some weight like a lover’s indifference. IV The suffering mangoes look more like defeat in cellophane papers. They opened the mouths once or twice at the prospect of inevitabilities, and said nothing. V This city is a gradual farewell to my youth, the first troubles of love, the last remnants of love. The vague yellowing bamboos walking slowly away from the speeding car offer their last wakefulness. ***
Another PersonThis poem has completed a lifetime for looking after you--- your files. Newspaper cuttings, Roadster shirts. For the flavour of grief comes back to me unchanged. For love has no time for speculation. How little concerned you are about the silence within. Did we return to the sound of our home? To the incommunicable smell of musty furniture, pinewood windows, condensed milk in the fridge? In the greed of closeness, I travelled to stranger places, almost become another person. ***
LeavingConflict is central to the way we leave--- cities, homes, people; food joints serving black adrak chai, its taste of unbelonging. The imposter memories ceasing to cross the threshold torn between an inside and an outside look for a inconsequential beginning in frail air conditioned airports. You leave cinema halls, post offices, malls. The overtly funny Wills Lifestyle hoarding with acrobatic women hanging upside down in brown shorts, mid-air, in a filmi style, is a thing of the past now. You leave skins, faces, masks. It is unexplainable, what provokes your laughter. We don't laugh when we leave. Look. The sky is a letter of conspiracy. The horizon is the colour of anxiety. The footfalls on earth lost their social membership. Leaving has an element of exclusivity, like love. Only you have to fulfil a set of criteria to leave. Leaving can be collectively managed. ***
Semantics of Everyday LifeMy words don’t have a house to live in. Stuck in cracks of the pale walls, plastered haphazardly by unkind hands of strangers, their faces mimicking familiarity, roughened by five sweltering summers, heady homecomings, they have not arrived yet. Breathing hard, my poor aspirated babies. Choked. You looked away, masking your despondency with a noiseless smirk and in the frigid airless room, my words took refuge in the feathered shuffling of pigeons. Pigeons encircling a faithlessness. Pigeons in flight weighed down by the haughty sun--- Words in folds, creases, wrinkled silences, storms, your cup of untouched tea, creamy bougainvilleas, trellis and leaves, old notebooks, Kafka--- Words--- everywhere coil up in a cold uterus, my disowned embryos, Babies with limbs drawn up to the torso, the back curved, the head bowed down. They pretend not to belong. ***
Tasting a Half Ripe Guava on a Fateful DayA cold hardness speckled by time. A green ball dissolving in the mouth. Freshness. A tug of war, a wanton need to lick the hungry fingers--- fire, seasoned love, desires. Here. There. Gulabi raatein. the moon in the bansuriwala’s stare, weathered hills smothering your restlessness. A grey shirt dipped in a smoky laughter, a lovelorn puff, concentric circles rising up and up, the roar of a grinding machine in a juice parlour. Salt. The even slices. You sinking your teeth at the border's hollowness, filling your mouth with love's apathy. *** Dr. Namrata Pathak teaches in the department of English, North-Eastern Hill University, Tura, Meghalaya. She has an M.Phil and PhD from English and Foreign Languages University (formerly, CIEFL), Hyderabad. She has four books to her credit, and her latest is forthcoming from Sahitya Akademi.
Read more poetry on Bengaluru Review : ‘In Bronxville, I meet a banana tree’ : Six poems by Devi Sastry ‘And we smelt like guavas’ : Five poems by Nilim Kumar ‘You may see the city slowing down’ : Five poems by Malcolm Carvalho