Chisel: Ballad of a Daydreaming Maid

April 28, 2015

National Poetry Writing Month

 

Tender, soft and young hands
Spread out in spirals of want,
Tiny feet, walking barefoot
Over the cloud train of
fairy-winged dreams.
The softest coos, gurgles
and milky, blabbering words
Leap from the depths of the earth
As the mother chisels
the little forms
raining over her,
kissing the soft petals,
the dark hazel eyes,
the happy flowers sprung open
to her, a resonant spring song.

The days her weary hands
Wipe rooms, wash sticky dishes,
Beat, wash, strain
and pat dry stained clothes,
Her tongue parched to the core,
She chisels virgin daydreams
that she had nurtured in her womb.
The dreams scream in the sickening heat
While she hums silently,
The mosquitos and ants, all back,
Crawling over her in the numb dark
Of the kitchen counter
she wipes the kitchen tirelessly,
Spik-and-span, till her masters
come home in the evening,
The glint in her eyes, grabbing
the paper notes.
Her body, shrinking, coiling,
the vermilion smudged in sweat.

At home, the walls reek
of cheap, store-brought liquor
Coughing up, in constant phrases
The avalanche of her dreams blasted.
At home, inside the crumbling walls
Her toddler girl tumbles over her belly,
The snowy shrouds of dreams
Come back again, in the dark,
As the babe in her womb kicks and nudges.
Her morning begins, digging in the dirt,
Sculpting yet another daydream
and the next, under the flame-lit sky,
Within the polka-dotted walls
Where she breaths, flapping, undone.

Scattered Pearls – “A Love Letter to the Mighty Niagara Falls”

scatteredpearls1_zpsbeymqfg7

“Your resolute ripples, the sheer beauty of your Godly, cascading canvas had been etched, in indelible strokes, in my deep, innermost recesses. For the first time, my mind was soaking in your paintbrush and your palette that had created this beautiful, rippling symphony of azure blue and foamy white, a portrait that was eternally still in its resolute, constant flowing, yet perpetually moving in its timeless continuity.”

‘A Love Letter to the Mighty Niagara Falls’, my travel narrative or photo essay that wistfully speaks to the Niagara falls that was once my ‘cherished sanctuary’, published as my April column of ‘Scattered Pearls’, at B’Khush. Do read and enjoy the journey.

http://www.bkhush.com/dev/content/scattered-pearls-love-letter-mighty-niagara-falls

Revisiting An Old Home

National Poetry Writing Month.

Revisiting an Old Home  

The streetlights flicker,
I am caught unawares
in the fleshy orange call
of the tattered, brown dirt road.
My skin is sliced into nimble pieces,
The black tires of my homecoming
Screech, strangling the road
Like rotten banana skin.

One blink, the smell of dust
And the aroma of wet hair
And coconut oil, two blinks,
Then three, and four,
A waking up, the sharp,
shooting tremors and
The boiling, bubbling up.
The wide, gaping mouth,
The rolling waves, childlike
The froth and the fancy
of remembering my body, growing,
resting my back against
Those damp, breathing walls.

I speak a crisp, powdered language
My hunger for touch, for a caress
Burns into the skin like
A forgotten incense.
The waiting mouth of the old home
sprinkled with the remnants
of used up turmeric, cumin,
the rough hairs of
an unruly childhood
bursts wide open,
I slip down her throat
as she gags, darkened, acidic,
Slowly burning, chipping away.

All Rights Reserved. Lopa Banerjee. April 25, 2015

Note: A journey and an epiphany…to be continued….

The Stillborn: Short Fiction

Image source: dict.space.4goo.net

 

In a crumpled bed of blood and free-flowing love, my child is born. Let me hold him close. Let me look at him him in his fairy-winged sleep. Let me bathe him with my milk and unrestrained tears, that had awaited his first cry, sprouting open, unfurling the soft petals of his sleep.

“Nurse, please tell me if it is a boy or a girl!”

“A boy? Oh, my bunny boy, I did dream about you with your curly locks, your drooling mouth and tattering footsteps, chortling away. And I would love you all the more if you were a dimple-chinned, chubby cheeked girl with soft, precious fingers, curling up to my face…..”

“But where are you, my child of delight, my baby boy?”

I can feel his tiny fingers folded, resolute, his curled up limbs, his body like a sonnet, unfolding before eternity. Do let me hold him close until his cry merges in whirlwind, in spirals, in harmony with my never-ending lullaby.

****************************************

“The patient is still in a delirium. We will still need to keep her under strong doses of morphine and narcotics to deal with the postpartum pain and stress”, the nurse walks out of the recovery room to work under the instructions of the team of the doctor, other nurses and the midwife.

“The baby boy was stillborn. We are extremely sorry for your loss. It happens sometimes with premature deliveries, and there were complications since the first trimester.” The young nurse and the aged midwife came up to the perplexed, anxious family waiting outside the surgery room. They were trying to console the bewildered young man who had dreamed of holding his offspring of love in his arms at this very instant.

A helpless, insistent bout of tears flowed, vulnerable, dismayed, followed by the inevitable act of settling down with the bitter truth, the query and the striving to move on.

“But how is my wife doing? Can I go and meet her now?”

“Well, you can, but at this point she is still not in her senses, you see—she is having intrusive thoughts, intense distress and is delusional. She is asking to see the baby, believes that he is alive. We are trying our best to revive your wife. She should be back to her senses soon.”

“How are you, sweetheart? See what I brought for you!” He came to her and hugged her.

“You know, both of our parents, your sister, your nephew, my little niece, all are waiting for you in the reception lounge. Get well very soon and we will take you back home. Ok? Now be a good girl and eat this favorite pudding that you asked for before coming here.”

“Have you brought our baby boy? Where is he? Does he have my curly hair, your hazel eyes and the pout of your lips?”

“Sweetheart, listen to me. You love me, don’t you? For my sake, you have to recover, and be strong, really strong…” he implored on her, held her tight, trying to feed her a spoonful of the food she had loved.

The muffled tears, the feeble shrieks and yells echoed in the plastic silence of the surgery room. The tears of both intertwined in the room, just as they did a year back. A tiny embryo stopped moving and came out of the nurturing comfort of the womb and splattered on the bathroom floor in spurts of blood, battered and slain. With frosted, shaking hands, both of them craved to pick up the pieces, the tissues, the scattered formation of their love that lay afloat, surrendering, dying.

“Listen, we diagnosed her with some Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) problems. It is sometimes an after effect of childbirth, especially after delivering a stillborn. We really need some invasive medical interventions and antidepressants to bring her back to normal.” The medical team reentered the room, requesting complete privacy.

….I don’t care a hoot for the tingling wave of pain in the folds of my muscles, for the soreness, the swelling of my nerves, my bones, the monitor and the machinery, the bubbles of conspiracy lulling me to sleep. I won’t succumb to the call of sleep till I hold my crying baby, till I don’t feed him. Bring him to me; I want look into the verse, the melody of his face, the valley of my body gleaming with the first ray of my newborn’s smile.

I am not a part of this vicious silence, this numbness around. The room stinks with your hushed conversations, your measured intrusions and the smell of sedation. Whose demon hands plunged into the room and plucked my cherub?

“Is that you, or is that the nurse? Who took away my baby? Is he still sleeping in his nursery? When was the last time that I fed him?”

The questions, the frail voice, the clattering of teeth and writhing, the urgency and the disbelief was numbed, silenced with a couple of injections as the medical team came back to the room.

…In my inviting arms, I rock and lull my baby to sleep. Sleep, my precious child, while I tickle and caress your angelic face.  All this while, my body had been bursting open in pain and surrender, to see him cry, to settle him in the soiree of my bosom. The silence of the room is numinous, resounding. I hum, in voiceless notes, my unsung lullabies.

Note: This short fictional piece is a humble dedication to mothers who have lost their little angels in the process of childbirth. Most of the narrative written in a ‘stream-of-consciousness’, poetic voice of a delusional mother who believes that her newborn is still alive.

 

The Rootless

City-Street-Wallpaper-Hi-Res-Pictures-310922

Image source: http://www.1zoom.net

 

They plunge in the adrenaline rush of yet another day.

Converge with the faceless crowd, the rough rhythm

And noise, crackling, all around.

They walk, long, irritable steps in the dusty bends

Of the winding, serpentine city streets.

 

The cars, trolleys and the fresh paint

Of the sightseeing city buses brush past,

Nonchalant, no strings attached.

The parched, plastic looks of the buildings

And skyscrapers, the placid nooks and corners

Of the giant fast food joints, a city throbbing

With rootless souls, fusing in transient comfort zones.

 

The madness and euphoria of trampling on

Their forlorn ancestral homes, meandering,

Scattered, cutting through their repainted contours.

The city entraps them, greedy, formulaic,

In long-term mortgage and bills.

 

The lumps in the throat, the cracks in the skin

Forgotten embers rekindle, tongue-tied,

Gather and circle around in speckled, torn flesh

In the murky, wrinkled nights.

 

They had nibbled on the juicy recesses

Of their roots, stripping bare

While the morning coffee and croissants

Numbed their mouths, pale, bitter, tasteless.

 

With mismatched steps, they now meet,

Talk a load of crap and forsake each other

In the dead end of the city, panicked, restless.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Mirror

Image source: pixshark.com

 

The bedroom stains breathe and thrive
On shimmering streaks of air.
Each new luminous morning, starting to smell
The flames of the day.

The mirror, tucked away in a quiet nook
Smells of poetry in its atomic particles of dust.
The toiletries, jammed in the dresser
Bathes in the colorful beauty of the sun.
The mirror breathes in the looming shadows
And light, sings along a mundane, familiar song
With the walls in the room,
Smeared with dirt, ink and old habits,
The golden pulp of the coiled bodies
Smelling of stale, recycled dinner and
The colored promise of the sun.

The mirror is their oldest confidante,
He laughs and cries with the crumpled bedsheets,
The old, unwashed linen blinds.
The mirror takes in all–bodies engraved
In the warm sweat of the room, bodies moving,
Spinning fast, legs and arms bloated,
Dragged in a household of dreams and despair,
The lips that are peeled, sore, yet singing,
Sucking the blood beneath the fingernails.
The mirror luxuriates, reflects and enlivens
The powdered beauty camouflaging
The dark night’s empty crevices.

Lopa Banerjee. April 21, 2015

Note: My attempt to demystify a fairy tale and replace it with an ordinary, mundane portrayal that is close to my heart.

Ode to the Incredible Woman

pic of housewife

Incredible woman you are,

Your silken tresses, your fragrance

Wafting like a cascading reverie.

Incredible woman, your man molds you

In the clay of his lust, as you tug

At his bare chest, his eyes, tongue

Drooling at the artwork of your neck,

The symmetry, the swelling,

The soft petals of your curves.

 

Incredible woman, the sure remnants

Of testosterone smatter your crimson lips

In the clingy dark, the lipsticked pout,

Peeled, laid bare, slain…

Your satin smile, your starched sari

Striving to sugar-coat

The nights’ roaring darkness.

 

Why do you flounce in lacey delight,

Incredible woman? The glittering waves

Of your curves beneath your saffron drapes

Explode and diminish, as you construct

And deconstruct your own saga of love

In charred, burnt out days, nights.

The seedling of your love,

The living skeleton of bruises, gashes, submerged.

 

Incredible woman, did the verdant young lad

Of your dreams let you bloom for once,

A flower, a bird, a sea song,

When you too were young?

Did the red flame of your body nurse

An eager, lovelorn soul?

 

Incredible woman, in the nights

You lay bare, the flame, gripped, grouched,

The dreamy love became a bluff.

Krishna, the daughter of Panchal

Had lost her heart to Arjuna.

But, what did even the losing mean?

The ebbing, swelling, crushing of the waves

Lapped up by five men, calling themselves ‘husbands’?

 

Bit by bit, the beautiful virgin vessel

Dresses up, one molecule, and the next,

The ‘padmini’, ‘the shankhini’, ‘the tilottama’,

Trampled and stripped off, bleeding

In the roaring, cussing assembly of men.

The Sati, the Sita, submitting, being the pawn

Mopping up the mud and dirt

Of male vanity and viciousness.

 

Incredible woman, did your man,

Your eternal Sakha, your paramour,

Your Mohan in Vrindavan tempt you,

Nibble on you, evade you, wrong you?

Twirl and swirl around him in your shringar.

In the dense maze of your being,

Twisted and coiled, he will be undone,

As you have been, for long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Touch of a Mother

mother baby

Image source: forum.santabanta.com

 

National Poetry Writing Month

The touch of a mother, a peck on the cheeks
Light wallowing softly in a crumpled bed,
Propping the head between pillows and arms,
Nursing the face, head, clothes up the body
Of the babe, dips her lips in succulent love.
The liquid pearl of joy, brimming,
Floating downstream.

The touch of a mother, light, feathery, dense,
Encircling the night in the womb’s warm aroma.
The touch of the mother, a slow autumnal caress
Tattered, torn, burnt out eyes, fingers, lips
Tempering the spluttering spices and oil,
The sound of footsteps, shimmering waves,
Fading, resounding, watching over the night.

The touch of a mother, gulped down deep
Bubbles up in the frothy burps of memory.
The touch of a mother, imprinted in
Unopened souvenirs, forlorn lullabies.
The dust of time upon
commonplace whispers and summoning.
Slivers of raindrops and light,
A golden glow of times gone by.

Note: Dedicated to the memory of my mother and all mothers who have loved their children, unconditionally, selflessly.

A Fistful of Want: Short Story Published in Readomania

My short story ‘A Fistful of Want’ published at Readomania, encompasses the emotional journey of the protagonist Anupama and her husband Aurko in a time span of twenty years. Sharing a short excerpt from the story here:

“She was astonished by the clarity, the sure, unwavering, relentless urgency in his voice which played against the stings of her emotions as she decided to meet him that day. The city was a bejeweled crown of torn memories. In every street, shop or station, her smoky eyes had looked into her drifting shadow trudging in the pursuit of a soulmate, dissolving like a short-lived dream. Where would she meet him in the endless labyrinths of torment that the city streets had led to?”

“Give me your choices. Near Esplanade metro? Inside Rabindra Sadan? Or, what about Park Street?”

None of the places, which had once engrossed her like a child, had any thin semblance of nostalgia and beauty left for her. They pinched her with further pain, like salt in the wound. He waited for her outside one of the less frequented, new cafes in Salt Lake, which he took enough pains to locate, following her curt directions over the phone. Like two carefree children, they stuffed each other’s mouths with imported chocolates to celebrate their first face-to-face meeting.”kolkata city image

To read the full short story published at Readomania.com, do visit:

http://www.readomania.com/story/a-fistful-of-want

Summer Rain

National Poetry Writing Month

Writing prompt: Summer rain

summer_rain_by_sugarock99-d2y7w1c

Image source: Summer rain by SachaKalis on DeviantArt sachakalis.deviantart.com

 

Blisters and burns, achingly trail
Through the soft inner molds of me.
Simmering, trying to reach for
The night sky, a canvas
Dancing with want.

Come to me, caress the folds
Of my lips, my April skin,
A pitter patter song on my roof
And let us rain,
Silver liquid drops.

We crawl in and out
Of rooms, the damp walls
Sing a lullaby
Amid the squeaking and
Wild cacophony.

I know not why
I dip my wings,
Treading through this
Wild, momentary anarchy.

Let me lay bare,
Soak in
This mad song of
The summer rain.

Lopa Banerjee. April 2015