‘Invoked’: An Elegy for Moni Mama

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My beloved Moni mama, Anupam Bhattacharya. Many moons back, a tall, lanky guy, in Digha, 1976

Time had sung its inevitable song, a body

That had once planted a tree of love,

Had burnt to its last finishing embers.

The face, hung in silence, floating around

Unspoken words, etched in the timeless annals of memory.

 

The face of life, a sudden, elemental burst

A gleam of hope along the rusty corridors of nothingness,

Hungered for the pitter patter raindrops of a moment in time,

In the plastic quiet of the hospital room, death waited,

A silent companion at the next station, while life

Chewed on his final wishes of a succulent meal.

 

The finishing touches of words, beneath the breathing tube,

The pinching ache of the intravenous, the seeking out

Of lovingly knit faces, the hands gripping unfulfilled promises

A flash of seconds, then hanging loose.

Life had been beckoned in an unknown itinerary.

 

Twenty-one years since the sun had last gone down,

Memories unfailingly water, nourish the roots, the leaves,

The fruits the tree had borne, while the face

Hangs in the wall, a dusty portrait, in a home full of the living.

Copyright: Lopa Banerjee. January 11, 2014

Footnotes: An elegy dedicated to the loving memory of my maternal uncle, Moni Mama (Anupam Bhattacharya) who left us on this fateful day twenty-one years back, only in his early forties, succumbing to cancer. A youthful and intelligent person full of life and a quirky sense of humor, his memories are invoked till today and he will always be the face of life for me, yearning for love and the closeness of family even in the excruciating pain of his last surviving days. This is for my cousin brother, Arijit Bhattacharya who never had the chance of knowing his father. Bhai, this is for reminding you of the treasured gift of love that your father had for all of us during his short life span. Hope you remember and cherish him, always!

O Calcutta!

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1)   

I don’t know how these empty years have passed, in evanescence.

I want to swim the deep waters of a shady past

Of my rainy day caresses with you.

Here I spread out my arms and light the flame

Look back at quick stings, ruckus and impending doom,

Screams and murmurs alive in a hazy sleep.

Fighting away the memories and stings to free myself,

I am bound up tight in ropes– surrendered to your flames.

One last time, I want to reach out to the trembling and beauty

Of long nights and the smell of youthful, candid smiles

Lighting up the smothering traffic,

Old stairs, shady buildings in twilight haze.

Smiles that ran into the tramways, the busy subways

Of uncertain miles, bring me again, to nothingness

As I allow open wounds and scars of a castaway life

Whip me with a splash of colors.

My eyes walk across the Atlantic Ocean

As I sit at the edge of a slumber, whimpering and pining

Silly old tears of a forlorn city…..

(2) 

You knock me down each time with your quandaries.

You knock me down each time with sins and sighs

Crush my breath–as if the sky is torn off my life.

I keep coming to you barefoot, scattered in ashes and dust

Walk back to you over rocks and thorns,

Stark dead and grinning, every time you grind the pieces in me–

Together and apart, you watch me blown to death.

You cherish me, limp and crazy

The constant cold departures, the sinking away”

While you know I would come back again to your dingy streets

And undo’ ME’.

————————————————–

I am–bits, pieces and splinters of you

The frozen memories, the buried yesteryear sins.

The betrayals, the thwarted passion, the wilderness that bleed

Summer’s scarlet tears in your naked, primal chest

Bleed and ache, whisper and scream, within ME.