Take Me In

The November smog, fluid, ethereal, stings in my eyes. I drift again, from one nook of the city to the next as my eyes browse through the burnt hedges, shrubs and trees; it’s time to rebuild from the leftover pencils and brushes of my messed up, old days. I take in the haunting smell of homecoming as I soak in the toxic chlorophyll, trudging past the traffic lights as smoke rolls through my tongue….I know as I move around in deeper shades, the nape of my neck hurts, this nocturnal photosynthesis tosses me up again, root to branch…the smudged moon sinks yet again, dusk to night, night to dawn, breathing heavy, in its sniffed grains of light. I flop down beside her, my whispers broken, my voice hovering from across the void. I sway, holding my clothes, under my clothes, my ribs and bones, my veins and tendrils dance in the smog.

Many moons back, on yet another November day in your city, I had waited, heavy and slow, I had been twisted and turned over and over until the wait became a cursed game. Today, as I come back to those ashen fringes, I lean over your rickety balcony, rehashing those lost, jinxed words as I gobble up old Sundays, smell the old clouds, before holding them tight. I burn, like incense, into your skin, flying through the arid air, chasing after the smog and lost colors, descending, slowly waning, melting into you.

Do take me in, dear Kolkata…

Musing

 

All my insomniac nights,
Sharred, love beckons,
Hovering ghostly, possesed.
In your wrenched, blood-spilled heart
I rain down, a torential monsoon
Flowers lingering in sensual sweetness,
The rustle of my musings brush past you.

I have unzipped myself, undone you,
My rusted, forlorn poems.
In the looming, barren room,
My fingers crawl up to you,
Fumbling, lost, I mutter
My virgin dreams,
Blotches of clumsy pain,
Seeped in your skin, tickling.
And then, we part silently.

All these broken, frail days
I have wronged you enough,
Cracked open your ribs,
Tasted your gashes
In my own inner void.
And then, ditching you
Was known, customary.

I have soaked in
Your stuttering breath,
Licked up your dried blood,
Broke open, with your pain today.
As we write down our verses together,
Our lunacy sings, flutters, wordless.

Note: A letter to my old, forgotten, forsaken poems, on the occasion of the World Poetry Day.

‘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!

Dreaming: The Resurrection

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Image source: bestfreepoems.wordpress.com

 

The Times Square in your words of lilting love,

A happy coronation, giving a home to your candle-lit promises,

A lustrous, magical night on the New Year’s Eve, with its winged flight.

The Caribbean cruise, our bodies undulating in the sensual calling

Of the ocean, the mirrored reflections of us, coiled, smothering.

 

Deep into the sea, in the turquoise blue waves,

Your hungering touch races, sobers down, and whispers:

“Would you love me, all your life, little mermaid?”

 

 

Resting on my new bridal breasts, deepest sighs of pain

Slide down to the waters, holding me for moments,

Strumming their unsaid words like fingertips dancing, playing,

I feel the ripples of their fingers, emaciated, drowning.

Fingers that had wrote a world for long forsaken love stories,

Drift ashore. I open my mouth and moan, in an island of sanctioned love.

 

And yet, the world around us, a carnival of trampled love,

Our longings, crackling with unfinished songs,

We forget the impending warranty of our mortality.

In the ephemeral twilight of the island,

The conch shell blows, awakens, unleashes and conjoins

Copulated souls. The symphony of a new, unknown raaga

Plays on, “na jayate na mriyate va kadaachin, naa yam bhutwa  bhavitya

Na hanyate hanyamaane shareere”……

The soul that is unperishable, immortal, old, eternal,

Undefined by birth or death, becomes a trembling, raging river of love.

The newly discovered terrain may or may not be

The bustling Times Square, the iconic Eifel Tower,

Or the mighty, cascading richness of the Niagara. But it sure is

The smoldering hearth of the bride who takes you in,

Throws herself with you in the boundless waters, melts with you

In the wild spring’s song, as you whisper to her:

“Would you love me all your life, little mermaid?”

 

The dream is but a commonplace one, collapses and resurfaces

In every wake of dawn, a corpse washed out of its last remnants of blood,

As it calls us, in a chilled world of grey, to take in its scattered ashes.

We breathe in and breathe out the promises that blossomed,

Weaved memories in pieces, wilted and died, to rise from their ashes,

Phoenix-like, spreading across the spring canvas.

“Ajo nityo saswatohayang puraane/Na hanyate hanyamaane shareere”.

The soul that is unperishable, immortal, old, eternal,

Undefined by birth or death, chases you in curved lines

Of the landscape of this life, dances barefoot,

To the silken music of death. In the horizon beyond,

Another life, surges, ripples in light, dreams,

In the shared tapestry where we have woven our love.

 

Lopa Banerjee. December 9, 2014

 

Footnotes: This poem is actually a sequel of my other love poem ‘The Drunken Lovers’ Song’, part of a series of love poems that I am developing out of the thoughts and contexts of some old Bengali love poems I had penned a decade earlier. The Bengali poems were written with more or less similar thoughts, but with different nuances.

 

 

 

Cocooned: A Refrain of Love

My first published story at ‘Morsels and Juices’, a women-centric e-magazine, a story/creative nonfiction piece, ‘Cocooned: A Refrain of Love’, written as a tribute to the loving memory of my dear Bibiji (Grandmother-in-law). The piece encompasses the bond of love that we both shared in the six years that we had known and come close to each other, the bond of love that she shared with the old ancestral house of my in-laws’ and also with my elder daughter, though only for a brief time span.

Sharing a small excerpt from the piece:

Bibiji with her one and only komolheere!

Bibiji and me at my in-laws’ old ancestral house’. September 2007 Image Credit: Lopa Banerjee

“She came to see me, chaperoned by enthused relatives and her only son almost a fortnight before my wedding day. A lady with white alabaster skin draped in the starched whiteness of her muslin saree, oozing with style and composure, she lifted my chin and bent towards my eager cheeks to plant a kiss. Her wrinkled skin smelled of the ardor of a long-lost love, the love of a grandmother I never had a chance to remember.

Mishti meye. Amar sona” (Sweet girl, my love), she uttered, seated on the makeshift bed in our damp, yellow living room where the cacophony of other elderly voices mingled with the TV commercials of toothpaste and perfumes, and the mellow, trembling voice of my own. I sang a couple of Tagore songs, watching her intent eyes blinking, glistening in the half-light of the room.

A couple of days prior to this meeting, we had talked and roused ourselves across the oceans, me and my husband-to-be, our over-enthused minds waxing and waning with the faint moonlit nights, discussing, among other things, this encounter. “Do call her Bibiji (dear Mistress), not Thamma (Grandma), as I call her by that name since my childhood. She is a bit impulsive and also has a strong mind about everything. But she will like you, my instinct is telling me.”

To read the full story, do visit:

http://morselsandjuices.com/tea-room/lopa-banerjee-cocooned-a-refrain-of-love/

Do read and leave the imprints of your mind!

 

The Revisiting

Notes for the readers: An elegy of a lost love, or a few lines dedicated to the wayward memories of a long lost relationship. A random love poem, yet again.

An old love flaunted itself in half-written letters.

An old love buried in the slippery sands of time.

An old love puffed fiercely, flashed sugary smiles,

Clenched at me tight, and loosened,

Cried in long, ragged sobs.

An old love finds me in smoke, sips of coffee and yawning.

An old love comes to visit me, his face ghostly and blurred.

I take him in and we begin to talk,

Greet each other in discreet, playful nods.

We talk in shadows and scribbling,

In warm monotones and the equation of rhetoric.

We’ve rubbed off awkward kisses, wayward fantasies

With the palm of our hands.

Our delicate, birdlike buffoonery slapped hard

By a slate of routine chores.

A scrapbook of lost words careen around the room.

My hands, stretch out to him in stray lines

Azure blue, green, purple shades of calf love.

Keystrokes of a lost harmony, fading, resounding,

Crossing paths in a dim, complicated dream,

Melting, wafting, diminishing again.

An old love is a long smear on my whiteboard face,

In twilight memories, summons me

In anonymous blinks and glittering.

I watch him from afar, lanky, white-haired and lost,

Leave the room with the faint odor of our used up days.

 

 

 

 

The Other Self of Chaos is Love

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Note for readers: A prose-poem on love, my delightful daughters and cooked food.

If you want to know more about our home, pierce your feet in the stained carpets sticky with remnants of hot chocolate, chewed edges of ‘mickey mouse’ stickers and the foam of carpet shampoo. You can observe, over the next few hours, the unruly symphony of baby voices, the happy kitchen spatula cooking fried fish, the robotic stillness of the laptop, the prosaic murmuring of adult voices. You can see tears, bickering and grief, returning through the back door, like a hungry, homeless dog.

Let your feet soak the dust and dirt of the unkempt rooms. Let your fingers touch the walls smeared with crayons and pencils. Let your hands touch the unwashed linens, feel their crinkled corners. Do not still lose your mind. You are the uninvited visitor. You will know our little moments of disruption and calm. Wait until you listen to the rocking and weeping of tiny bodies melting into sweet dreams while you know, they will breathe safely inside the womb of an earth plagued with danger and pain. They will breathe, until the world outside will suck them, into ruthlessness and sin.

Welcome to the den of midnight movies and spicy fish curries. Wait until you feel the rhymes of our speech and the melody of lullabies. Amid the chaos and running around and the sputtering of hot oil and cooked food, you will see lovers. They will be there in the room, kissing beside the windowsill, looking at the pale moonlight in the frozen winter sky. They will find you, threaten to cover you like the dark fog rolling in. They will see your prying eyes, staring at their stained walls and carpets, unwashed bedroom linens, unclean kitchen, overloaded dishwashers and the stack of unfinished laundry. They will sense your cautious queries, your voyeuristic pleasures and curiosity.
Let them revel in their own, imperfect world of chaos and love. While you step out of this world, bid adieu to the noisy footsteps, to the rhythms and sounds, to the stains and dust that adorn the home.