The Diva Sings Again

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Image credit: Shutterstock

She becomes a sublime blue in the gossamer evenings of numinous arc lights and mad, concerted human cheer.
Her voice breaks out in mad bursts of diabolical fire and her electric beauty
An infinitesimal light
Unbound, the world sees her in her finest atoms
Her glittering particles awakened in her exotic melodies.
Wine, the color of the night pours on her in staccato coughs and topaz red
The star girl of the rock solid earth
Wipes her transitory woes and tramples them with her pointed heels.
Dresses in lush satin and sequins
And cradles her guitar, rehearsing her choreographed, practiced, self-same numbers.
Inside her, the synchronized melodies
Swell and rise in ripples, and the notes
A crescendo of a hurricane, never ravaging a life, other than her own.
The night pulls her in, a rancid fairytale
A few blasts of jeering, leering voices
The repetitive strokes of allergic fanfare, weaned at the onset of a hazy dawn.
Tonight, she presents her last love song, a melancholy strain while the crowd craves to dance to her fast, rhythmic renditions.
One glaring teardrop, a blasphemy,
A banishment in the bottomless pit of anonymity.
The arc lights turn brighter and the weight of the world, bulkier beneath her drooping, sinking frame.
She lifts herself again, spreads her joyous, dainty wings to let them know
She was only a weary hummingbird,
A heart beating on, one of their very own.
But would they take any of it? She was a diva, a joie de vivre, after all, floating around their wondrous, impalpable wants.
All Rights Reserved. Lopa Banerjee. November 8, 2017.

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The Wheels of Life

Note: Inspired by this beautiful photograph of the Kolkata lanes and the rickshaws, old, hand-pulled vehicles still rampant in the city, taken by my friend Aditi Bandyopadhyay, a doctor, Orissi danseuse and an advocate for the cause of Autism.

B&W_Kolkata

The wheels of life go on, the mortal flames of the earth,
crushed, brittle, under its trampling trails.
A city wakes up, stays put, flees in recycled habits
and retires at night, its moist desires wax and wane.
A city, orchestral, sublime in its monochrome cacophony,
throbbing, pulsating in its sultry summer wind,
its short-lived winter’s tale.
The wheels of life fade and resound in slow spirals
of a forgotten autmn’s last longings,
a city which has buried my words without echoes,
a city where I have returned, barefoot
in an annual ritual of jinxed interludes.
A city where the honking rickshaws
still trample over my dark, ghostly footprints,
a city where goodbyes
are a waxy dribble of some terminally ill, fugitive words.

Lopa Banerjee. October 29, 2017

‘Darkness There But Something More’: Up, Close and Personal With the Two Editors Dr. Santosh Bakaya and Lopa Banerjee

In conversation with the two prolific authors and editors of the ghost story anthology ‘Darkness There But Something More’, Dr. Santosh Bakaya and Lopamudra Banerjee (yours truly). The book has recently been published by The Blue Pencil and is available in Amazon and Flipkart.
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Sharing some excerpts from the interview:

As for me, I always seemed to have a keen interest in the esoteric and the unknown, the mysterious, and my background in literature and also avid interest in films portraying the other world have only fueled this interest. The enigma of the world beneath the mundane flesh-and-blood world has intrigued me to no ends. Be it the dark, murky world of the three witches, Banquo’s ghost in Shakespeare’s Macbeth or the sombre, haunting spirit world of the Mughal times and the captivating, mysterious woman in Tagore’s Ksudhito Pashan (The Hungry Stone), the exploration of the other-worldly has filled me with an insatiable awe and wonder that has been hard to resist since my college days.
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Be it in the Veda or in the scriptures of our ancient culture, it has always been propagated that we are not only flesh and bones and our ‘Atma’, the greater consciousness, that never perishes, is a vital driving force of nature. So as a conscious exercise, I always ask myself what happens to us after we exit the physical world. Though I have known there are quite a few schools of thoughts regarding out of the body experiences, the paranormal and the supernatural, one contradicting the other, the thought that there is a realm engulfed in mystery and speculation and will remain like that for many, many years, gives me goosebumps.

It is this ongoing quest in my mind that resonated with the infectious vigour of Dr. Santosh Bakaya in narrating her own ghost story The Boulder and in curating mind-blowing stories infested with other-worldly beings, and thus, gradually, organically, our book ‘Darkness There But Something More’ took shape. While trudging the road, I also happened to pen my own story in the collection, which came to me rather unexpectedly, as it is actually my first short story written about the spirit world.

Do read the full interview here, friends:

https://learningandcreativity.com/santosh-bakaya-lopa-banerjee-interview-darkness-there-ghost-anthology/

Author Spotlight: Otherness: Souls of Brown Women

OTHERNESS: SOULS OF BROWN WOMEN
by
De.B. Dubois



Blurb

Who is the brown woman? How does she live defined almost solely by her skin colour and all the history it carries? How do we carry racism deep within us even when we think we don’t? These are questions that require deep thought and reflection, and that’s what Otherness encourages us to do. In a world increasingly divided along the lines of colour, despite its apparent modernity, here’s a hard look at the realities that lurk within us, both as individuals and as a society.

Read an excerpt here:

Who is the brown woman? How does she live defined almost solely by her skin colour and all the history it carries? How do we carry racism deep within us even when we think we don’t? These are questions that require deep thought and reflection, and that’s what Otherness encourages us to do. In a world increasingly divided along the lines of colour, despite its apparent modernity, here’s a hard look at the realities that lurk within us, both as individuals and as a society.
Grab your copy @

About the author


De.B. Dubois is an Indian-born-Swiss visual artist and feminist writer. She grew up in Calcutta until she stepped out to explore the world by herself. Debolina Dubois-Bandyopadhyay, better known as De.B. Dubois is licensed with International Degrees in Communication Arts and Cultural Studies, as she extended her Fine Arts and Design education in Mumbai, Sydney, Basel and Paris. She is titled with a Master of Arts FHNW in Design from Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, Basel, with special emphasis on Design Culture, Design Research and Sociology. This apart, she enjoys long walks through nature trails, a good glass of absinthe from Val-de-Travers, and creating visual arts.

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Guest Post: Interview with De. B. Dubois

“Who is the brown woman? How does she live defined almost solely by her skin colour and all the history it carries? How do we carry racism deep within us even when we think we don’t? These are questions that require deep thought and reflection, and that’s what Otherness encourages us to do. In a world increasingly divided along the lines of colour, despite its apparent modernity, here’s a hard look at the realities that lurk within us, both as individuals and as a society.” Otherness

Thus goes the blurb of the recently released book ‘Othernees: Souls of Brown Women’ by author De. B. Dubois. In a brief chat via email, she explained to me the overarching theme of her book and also the social construct regarding skin color and a woman’s identity.

Lopa Banerjee: What, according to you, is ‘the woman of color’? How would you define it in terms of the societal construct, in terms of the realities we see around us? And most importantly, how did it affect you as the author of this book?

De. B. Dubois: According to me, and for the topic of the book “Otherness”, the (textbook) definition of “Women of color” (singular: woman of colour, sometimes abbreviated as WOC) is a phrase used to describe female persons of colour. The term is used to represent all women of non-white heritage, often with regard to oppression, systemic racism, or racial bias.
In the preface, I have mentioned that “Otherness” is an appropriation of William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.” Du Bois’: The Souls of Black Folk. This book “Otherness” is written from my perspective as a student of sociology, design culture, design research and art, during my Master thesis (research work done on “Perception of Beauty”), where I was examining Eastern and Western print advertisements and how these visuals sub-consciously constructs and constricts our perception of good and evil. For example, if you see a film – any given film – the protagonist is visually represented as someone beautiful compared to the antagonist. Often times, terms such as “ugly”, “dark”, “dirty” and “brown” are associated with either the way the antagonist looks like, or the way the antagonist behaves. Sub-consciously we are allowing visual media to tell us what is to be considered clean (white), dirty (brown), and evil (black). This colour signification is very complex and has been thrown at our sub-conscious through centuries of artwork, literature, religion et al. And the problem of colour is far more devastating in terms of iconoclasm than any other problem – to the point that it white washes any coloured existence. Shockingly, as coloured people, we tend to idolise whiteness at some point.
So, if I have to define the societal construct in terms of the realities we see around us, simply, it would be this: “They don’t like you. They don’t dislike you. You are different. Sooner or later the difference scares people.”

As an Indian Bengali, I am no white person. I might be tall, I might be “paler” than the average Indian, I might even speak three European languages – but visibly I am Brown. Therefore I stand with not just first hand experience of this:“They don’t like you. They don’t dislike you. You are different. Sooner or later the difference scares people.” but also as a witness to other brown-women around me. Especially the ones who were adopted as a baby, and only know the West as their home, and culture; when I get to hear these brown women (my friends who are perfectly integrated within these “white countries” – growing up as a western children with non-coloured parents), phrases such as: “I wish I was fair like you…” – it effects me on a level that simply cannot be expressed in words.

To find out more about author De. B. Dubois and her books, do visit her Goodreads page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16194571.De_B_Dubois

___

Darkness There But Something More: An Anthology of Haunting Ghost Stories

Back after a long time to the WordPress blogosphere, with a fresh new update for you all. Do you believe all ghost stories essentially need to have blood-dripping venomous vampires, blood-curdling ghostly shrieks and the deadliest of ghostly fangs? Do you also believe that some ghost stories can be emotionally gripping as well, to keep us at the edge of our seats while reading them? With this mission, me, along with my co-editor Dr. Santosh Bakaya, a prolific author and poet from India have come up with ‘Darkness There But Something More’, an anthology of 30 haunting, emotionally dense tales comprising of other-worldly beings, written by some very talented, seasoned as well as young authors dispersed all over the globe.

Darkness_cover

The blurb of the book in Amazon touches upon the essence of the stories in a succinct way.

“Who has not been intrigued and enthralled by the spirit world, ghosts, other-worldly beings, or in other words, the paranormal? Ambiguous presences around us, whether in the form of orally narrated stories by our grandparents, or in the form of haunting, riveting supernatural stories in books and movies have held us in their spell, engaging, alluring us even to this date.

In fact, the prominence of paranormal investigators, ghostbusters and others documenting the other-worldly in today’s age overpowered by science and technology only points to the fact that we crave to push our boundaries as rational beings and delve into the phenomena which we cannot define or explain tangibly.

This anthology of 30 selected ghost stories by authors dispersed all over the globe celebrates the spine-chilling thrills and sense of awe and bewilderment of this very inexplicable world inhabited by the other-worldly beings. Come, experience the cataclysmic, weird, and at times, benevolent spirit world and you will never have a dull moment in this roller-coaster ride!”

Darkness poster

In the editor’s note, Dr. Santosh Bakaya writes:

“Some of us are wary of ghost stories, some are skeptical, scoffing at the very idea, and some prefer to ignore the topic with a supposedly wise shake of the head. Whether ghosts exist or don‘t, whether these spectral illusions are the result of an overworked imagination, whether they reflect our subconscious, the fact is, everyone likes a ghost story. It has never failed to enchant us with its eerie gothic ambience, of hooting owls, of bats hanging from cobwebbed ceilings, of terrifying screams, goose bumps, poltergeist activities, and also vulpine jackals howling, with their snouts raised to the moon! My mind is brimming with those horror stories of childhood, which have left an indelible impression.”

To which, I add, in my turn:

“The paranormal, ghostly, eerie world of spirits, witches, demons and other corporeal beings have been endearing, timeless entities in literature, films and other mediums of human communication ever since one can remember. As for myself, my early memories of encountering ghostly beings have been in the tales of the Arabian Nights, as I clearly remember the jinns and monsters, the impervious souls being invoked, or even coming out of bottles, casting magic spells, granting wishes, while even the seemingly benign narratives would be shaken and stirred by the thunderous gust of their sheer presence. The wondrous supernatural phenomena in Sinbad‘s tales that I read in school still lure me as magical memories with their gripping images; his fantastical adventures of encountering the monsters and other supernatural beings had me under their spell for quite a long time, when an indescribable chill ran down my spine, reading of the giants, monsters and the stories of entrapment during his vicarious voyages.
In my college years, my tryst with Victorian literature was embedded with the first memories of the spine-chilling image of Catherine‘s unquenched spirit roaming within the precincts of Wuthering Heights, the paranormal figure with icy hands that haunted her sadist lover Heathcliff. In fact, Heathcliff was steeped in her ghostly essence, and said: ―I know that ghosts have wandered the earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad.”

The cumulative passion of Dr. Santosh Bakaya to attempt to unravel this ambiguous terrain of the human experience has resulted in this anthology of fiction.

darkness book launch

Do check it in Amazon Kindle:

Amazon India (paperback):

https://www.amazon.in/Darkness-There-Something-Stories-Anthology/dp/1635359503/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1506311534&sr=8-2&keywords=darkness+there+but+something+more

Amazon India (Kindle):

Let The Night Sing: My Maiden Poetry Collection

It gives me much happiness to share that my maiden poetry collection ‘Let The Night Sing’, an assortment of 70 various poetic musings on being a woman, a mother and a lunar soul has been published by respected poet laureate and veteran litterateur Madan Gandhi sir and Global Fraternity of Poets (India) and is now on Amazon India. Soon to be available in the US and worldwide.

I thank dear fellow poet, amazing artist and co-founder of Rhythm Divine Poets, Sufia Khatoon for the brilliant cover illustration, Dr. Santosh Bakaya for the very in-depth and enriching foreword, Dr. AV Koshy for the kind and generous blurb encompassing the theme and the nuances of the poems.

Sharing the introduction page of the book, which speaks of the overarching theme of the poems. Hope some of you will like reading it.

Introduction:

‘Bodies are visible hieroglyphics. Everybody is an erotic metaphor and the meaning of all these metaphors is always the same; death.’
Octavio Paz

For those who are in love with the poetry of the body, continue to revel in it through its bruises and blood, continue to see the molecules of living glittering in darkness, for those who talk to the strained ribs of our Mother Earth, to the hollowness and inviting quiet of cities and landscapes in your dreams and waking, for those who see even in the body of death, a gorgeous, pitiless song in its smoky embers, here I present my lunar musings, springing up from the splinters and shards of my being. These broken pieces, these wayward poems have taken me to unexpected places, delving deep into my childhood and puberty. With them, I have seen my womanhood evolve, with them I have traveled to the long-forsaken terrains of my hometown in Kolkata, India, where I keep going back again and again. With them, I have recorded the phenomenon of death as I have seen it, a silent language of communion, as my voice flattened against its ethereal quiet.
Hope you will enjoy the ride, the bumps and bolts along the way.
Lopa Banerjee

Let the night sing_Lopa Banerjee

The Amazon India link to buy the book:

http://www.amazon.in/Let-Night-Sing-Lopamudra-Banerjee/dp/9383755342/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499285605&sr=8-1&keywords=Let+The+Night+Sing

Mademoiselle

Note: Written as a poetic tribute to Emma Bovary, the voluptuous, beautiful, forlorn heroine of Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary, also later adapted into an Indianized version in Ketan Mehta’s film ‘Maya Memsaab’.

Madame Bovary

A whiff of smoke brewing in her eyelashes,
A touch of the wet earth, her body, a failed, blurred mantra of desire.
Only in the dusk settling beneath the hills, she returns home
To the smothered fairy tales of her body, looking for the salt
When her husband might have kissed her many light years ago.

Her moon flesh, her pale, eager hands, the blood, coursing through her veins
Restless, settles in vain, in the familiar smells of a solicitous husband.
The homecoming, for a nomadic soul, is only true when she decodes herself
Undresses, flinging herself in her lovers’ arms, kisses their soft, velvet mouths
Turning as the slutty Madame in the amorous nights, a ripened woman
Pressing against the barbed wire fence of the provincial life, her marital gift.

In the opera, the fangs of her passion unfold, like birth pangs,
The smoked particles of lust, the perfumed ghosts of erotic cravings,
The gusty winds of music and the symphony,
Digging deep into her panting breath.

Is she a nymph, darting through the infinite darkness of a conjugal silence
That hangs around her neck like a noose, choking her voice,
The intent adrenaline rush that erupts in spurts?
Why does she need her giant share of lovers, long to be torn asunder
Dissolve in their wanton dreams in her dark luster, turning ashen, forlorn
With every lavish affair, with every adulterous escapade
That she thinks, would salvage her, giving wings to her romantic fancies?

Vain woman, adultery is the rain that bursts forth from a littered sky,
Don’t you know the sacrilege of baring open, elsewhere than your own home?
Didn’t you know, when you had waltzed, your sweet scent
Crushing against your partner’s musk, all this was a prelude to a glaring nemesis,
A nemesis where feeling embittered, lost was your only truth,
By all the men you had given yourself to?

In the burning fumes of death, her being dissolves, and resounds
Much like the lovelorn raindrops that would pelt on the precincts of the estate,
In the arms of death, her caramel being is tossed and turned,
Just as in the arms of life, she had craved to be caressed, blossoming,
Rising and ebbing in her blasphemous wants.

Jorasanko

Note: Dedicated to the illustrious Jorasanko Thakurbari, the home of Bengal’s bard Rabindranath Tagore. Published in the very prestigious print anthology ‘Cologne of Heritage’ (Viswabharati Research Center, June 2017), celebrating the unique cultural heritage of Kolkata, the proverbial city of joy in India

Jorasanko 1.

(1)
The red brick building, jagged edges of lives lived,
Lives lost, stubborn with hope and shimmering poetry.
Songs tear me, lyrics scrape me, one by one,
Petal by petal, the coatings of aristocratic gentry
Fragmented letters scald, deep, fragile, the cloudburst,
Rain songs, Bhanusingha, the gossamer wings
Of death, the poison, the inevitable salvation.
Locked doors open wide, us prying
In the wet womb of Thakur bari,
Seeking songs, prayers, cadence, the blue sighs of loss.

(2)
Curious feet hopscotch through the sepia tiles.
The once home, a museum of memories
Handpicked, baked fresh for visitors sticking fingers
In the refurbished contours of the walls,
Portraits and memorabilia.
Multicoloured vintage adorning the black
And white of handwritten lyrics
And the mystery, bewilderment of the lines traced,
The images, illustrated. Kadambari, Mrinalini
Sing still, gazing from the white, lingering void.

Panchali

[Inspired by the elemental image of Draupadi/Panchali, the undisputed heroine of the epic Mahabharata, depicted in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s masterpiece of a novel, ‘Palace of Illusions’.]

Draupadi

Panchali, I am, to you, my Partha, my love,
Painfully displaced in recycled domestic patterns
Circulated freely amid all your brothers and you.
The saint who determined my cycle between one coy bride
To the next had created enough music in my bones
To satiate all you Pandavas as equal husbands,
Though he never knew how trapped
My luminous smile had been,
My dark-skinned charm, colliding
with so much of your chivalrous cacophony.

Panchali, I am, to you, my valiant Bheemsen,
A luscious lilac that you craved to engrave
In your voluminous heart, never knowing
How the absence of light rustled in my bare form,
My deep, dark tresses, shedding its rhythmic dewdrops
Not in unconditioned love, but in stoic, formulaic surrender.
Panchali, my Dharmaraaj, I am to you,
The untamed fire that spread all over you, in spurts,
The easiest pawn you could have settled for,
Reckless, warped in a gambling spree
you could very well do without.

Did I burn you too, my cognac fire
Was it a bit too scalding, Nakul and Sahadev,
My youngest husbands, moving in the orbit
Of your elder brothers’ wants? Did you get
How my splinters and shards surrounded you
In a vain rapture in the palace of illusions
When all I waited for, perhaps, was the Mahaprasthan,
The final journey of my nemesis, with all five of you,
Following the slit throats and mashed up corpses
Of my sons, of our kith and kin?

Panchali, I am, to you, Karna, my all-pervading bruise.
For I had forgot, in spite of your irresistible musk
That you and me both were wiggling children
of the cracked earth. The fiery flashes of your pride
Matching my own insolence, had borne a cursed utterance,
‘Sutaputra’, my vanity had attested a lie, a lie that resounded
Every time we crossed paths, as a rhythmic reminder.

Panchali, I am, to you, my Sakha, Krishna,
The smoke and fury of my mind’s badland
Soothed from time to time, when your hands touched mine.
What magic did your words unfold
To this dark, forlorn child-woman,
As you hovered in my life, presiding over its queer equations?
Dream girl, I wasn’t for you, when disrobed,
shunned of my womanly honour, your drapes covered
my bruised, black moon. Your words revealed,
Like half-shining flashlights, draped my life
In the ambiguous sheen I myself couldn’t fathom well.
Here, you touch my hands yet again, for one last time,
Where I find myself beyond the rims of time, and tell me
I have played my part well in this chaotic and tumultuous play.
Is this a new beginning, where I dissolve and form anew?
Panchali, I am, look, the boundless sky, my new palace, engulfs us all.