Poem: Five

By: Tanmoy Biswas 


Groom could not be found for Shontu’s sister.
She was squint-eyed.
She buried her life behind the noisy sewing-machine and inside dumb kitchen.
Once Shontu took her and their old mother to Darjeeling.
when in the cloud-free morning Kanchenjunga flashed in the horizon
for the first and last time ever
smile flashed in her squint.
I asked the skinny teenager with eyes glued on computer-screen,
“what makes you happy?”
He blushed, “when I see a new ‘like’ on my FB photo.”

He was feeling at a loss.
First time living outside home;
new job, new people, new city
that speaks a language he does not understand.
One day when he was sobbing
humped by a battered bath-bucket in the little-light bathroom
suddenly smell of baked curry leaves filled air, floated around.
Next day again. The day after. Every day.
He never knew the neighbor whose kitchen
shared a wall with his bathroom, but
before long he fell in love
with his curryleafland, his Bangalore, his Dakshin.
Once I smelt autumn
I smelt Durgapuja approaching,
during leisurely loiter in college balcony in wee minutes between two classes
I suddenly smelt happiness that change of season brings.

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter, says the poet.
I’ve never heard my parents
avowing their love for each other.
I only know
once I share something with maa,
before long baba would know it.
When they talk,
about monthly expenses, sitcom plot, washing bathroom or mutual affection
I’ve never heard.
Wedding brings back to mind the tune of sanai,
monotonous but incessant – conjugal.

You walk down the ramp of Garuda foodcourt.
Small cabins with big brand names
Beijing, Empire, PapaJohn’s, California Burrito
welcoming you and many like you
with bulky wallets and wanton tastebuds.
I remember a certain Sunday my grandmother cooked kosha mangsho.
Promise of a recipe from a bygone time.
But I forget, as do you and many like you,
the young boy with shrunken face and bamboo leaf body of a pabda fish
(300Rs. Kilo hence he can never eat).
He was born and brought up in slum on streetfood.
McDonald’s hoardings glare his eyes but never welcome him in.
Once inside a roadside bin he found a McDonald’s wrap-
there was nothing inside.

Saibaba’s touch cured many.
The little boy needed a doctor though
to wade through pangs
of the disease that dragged him to death.
But once in a while he’d feel cure and calm
when his mother’s touch would reach him.
Mother who sat day and night by his bedside.
Will you touch me?
I’m harijan too. I’m queer.


Categories: Poetry

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