Poem | Sahana Mukherjee

Photo Credits: Lee La

Untitled Lies


Dried leaves, autumn leaves, breathe me into them. Do not assume me, do not assume me, do not assume this death.
You’ve come to me with a broken heart. It’s been raining ever since. The walls have enlarged by a hundred and two, and I am you under our wet tiled roof – large-hearted, and always waiting.

This time, like the last time round, I am early. The collapse is of a lifeless tree. This collapse is the purple in my heart. Move away. Settle down. Settle down like you can’t breathe.

The sky has been darker this year, every evening. The moon has floated in -
lesser and lesser, after midnight, so faint, so green. I forget how relentless, about corners and spaces,

I forget how relentless, about rain, you’ve been.

Come now. Closer still. Sit with me this monsoon. Hearts, I’ve gathered, shut down when we speak. Yet so much room, I’ve learnt, so much room might also suck us in.


If you know how drunk my father gets on Saturdays,
ask me how I speak on Sundays. Talk to me of dead trees
wanting to grow on sand. I’ll talk to you of fault lines, and when
on the seventh night, we forget all about our heart-to-heart,

I’ll spell out secret compilations of love, amnesia, and war.


You had hoped to meet me after the war. I waited till the twelfth night.
On the thirteenth, when it was all over, you wrote to me:

There is no war. There never was. I just ran out of loss.

I left after that. Packed my bags and left for my mother.
Now, the world awaited, but not like her.
Don’t mistake me, or psychoanalyze;

It’s just what they do to the womb --
you keep coming back stagnant,
in circles

like Summer
like Winter
like loss.


Prose | Shalim M Hussain

 The World’s First Crow
- A Folktale from the Chars, adapted and retold.

'Landscape with food chain' by Bill Angus

This is how it happened.

Long long ago, there was a very old woman, so old that she remembered how the earth cracked and split after the earthquake and the river spat out hot water and half-cooked fish. 

She was so old that she remembered a world before potatoes, rice and turmeric. Then turmeric came and oh how she loved turmeric! Her hands were dry and flaky and in the winter, when the lines on her palm opened up, if you looked closely you could see deep within the crevasses remnants of the first batch of turmeric that ever grew. If you looked even closer, you would find rice, ground chillies, ground pepper, ground jackfruit seeds; for the old woman was always grinding: grinding rice, grinding fish, grinding salt and sand and when the great famine struck, she ground grass seeds into bread. Her hair was jute, her bones were jute sticks and her teeth gravestones.

This old woman had had many children and many more daughters but they all died except one. Her husband’s grave was lost in the river but some say that the waters carried his left foot’s big toe to the National Highway No 37;  when the road was built, the contractor covered it with cheap concrete and tarmac and the old man’s toe was not happy. Oh no, it was not happy! During the day, the traffic was heavy and at night, when the toe wanted to rest, Punjab-bodies came rushing through the dark all jingly and jangly, their fumes smelling of chicken and the poor toe’s sleep was broken. Like all cranky old toes, it turned mischievous and sometimes, just on a whim, it split the road into two and the unassuming driver, if his luck had run out, took the illusory road and plunged headfirst into the river. Anyway, what was I saying? Yes, so this old woman and her husband when he had all his toes intact, had had many children and many more daughters but they all died. Every summer the old woman fed her children prodigious amounts of bottle gourd: bottle gourd with fish, bottle gourd with meat, bottle gourd with eggs, plain bottle gourd, fried bottle gourd, boiled bottle gourd, bottle gourd leaves, bottle gourd flowers and yet when the nameless disease came, all her bottle gourd magic did squat and the children died. Only one son survived but he was more bird than man.

‘I laid an egg,’ the old woman used to say; ‘The egg hatched and out jumped a pigeon.’ Much like a bird, the son hopped from one relative to another, staying until their grain and love dried up and then flying to a new home. The villagers were polite, extremely polite, so they didn’t give him dirty nicknames but simply called him a Vadaima or aimless wanderer and the woman whose name they had all forgotten, they called Vadaiamma or the mother of the aimless wanderer. 

‘Did you know this woman? Where did she live, here in our village?’

No! you little rascal, I am not so old. Where was she from… let me think… Marisakandi maybe or was it Kasumara? Well, it doesn’t matter, does it? Simply know that she was a very old woman with a tongue punctured by years of chewing betel nuts and wits sharp as the point of a boroi thorn. Okay, so one evening this old woman was in her kitchen frying teler pitha with her daughter-in-law. They had begun in the evening, as everyone does, pounding rice in the dheki, sieving fine flour from the moilka and by the time the old woman had begun mixing water into the rice flour, it got dark. The daughter-in-law turned to the Vadaiamma and said, ‘Mother, I am tired. Can you carry on while I get some sleep?’

The mother-in-law spat through the window. ‘Hussy,’ she said, ‘what is it with you young women- not yet maghrib and you are already tired!’

And the daughter-in-law said, ‘Mother... you know… it was painful and… my stomach…’
The mother-in-law was busy kneading dough, her thoughts already on the pithas. Besides, once this silly girl had made up her mind, there was little she could do to convince her otherwise, so she said, ‘Okay my daughter. Spread a banana leaf on the floor and sleep here.’ It was a mid-summer evening and the rain hadn’t stopped since last night. The roof of the main house had caved in last month when a ripe jackfruit from the neighbour’s tree crashed through the aluminum, tore itself open on the jute stick ceiling and plopped on the flooded floor with the fragrance of heaven. Besides, her oaf of a son was away. Before he left, she had heard him tell his wife, ‘Adori, I will return after the rains with a boat full of sweets,’ but the old woman knew that all he would bring after a month away from his wife was a ravenous hunger. In the meantime, the two women had to always remain in the same house. What if the dreadful jackfruit branch fell when the wife was in the house all alone? Her son, the villagers and everyone who had an opinion would say that she had climbed the tree in the middle of the night and hacked the branch herself. 

‘Is this how your story is going to be? Where’s the crow?’

Oh, okay. You have no patience, boy! Anyway, so the daughter-in-law spread a banana leaf on the floor and within a minute, she was fast asleep. The old woman laid her patha on the ground, cleaned the hil, dropped wet moilka on the patha and as she had done all her life, started grinding. She added some dried cardamom seeds, some sugar, some milk and continued grinding.
All this while, the thing was sitting atop the betel nut tree, watching the scene closely. As soon as the daughter-in-law fell asleep, he grabbed a strand of air, whispered something and flung it at the sleeping woman. The string entered the wife’s head through her left ear and suddenly she was a gypsy girl, the Vadaima was a prince and they were running through the kohua grass singing ‘Beder meye Joshna.’ The thing then collected his skin around his waist and jumped from the tree. A betel leaf tore when he crouched and his body was so light that he and the leaf glided to the ground with the same speed, lightness and ease.

But this thing was a new thing. He hadn’t learnt that old women’s skins get more transparent with age, their eardrums get tighter, their noses wilt like medusa leaves when a new smell touches them and their hearts become dry and hard like the soles of their feet. He didn’t know that the old woman was listening closely, that though the rain was falling hard and fast, she could feel him on the betel nut tree, smell his fishy smell, and hear each drop of saliva form in his mouth every time a cardamom or a clove cracked in the mortar. The thing didn’t know that the old woman was waiting for him and that the old woman was ready.

So when he fell to the ground with the lightness of an air bubble breaking on the tongue of a snake, the old woman’s ears thudded and she said, ‘Kera goe? kera goe?’ (Who’s there? Who’s there?).
 And the thing was so surprised that he blurted, ‘Nothing mother, just the feet of rats chasing nuts down the roof.’

‘And who are you?’

‘Mother, I am a lonely hungry traveler.’

Oh, but the old woman had heard too many stories of lonely travelers: she had heard of them sitting on the riverside with a lantern at their knee and an umbrella over their heads and hailing boatmen, ‘Give me a ride, O naiyya.’ And when the naiyya paddled his boat into deep water, the traveler told a sad sad story and the naiyya suddenly knew that his life was meaningless and jumped into the river. She had also seen lonely travelers: she had seen them hiding behind bushes, their lungis growing heavier at the crotch, she had seen them whistling from behind the sweet shop, throwing clods of earth from the sky, dragging their chains on the mud, unless of course you carried a piece of iron in your clothes because lonely travelers are scared of iron. So the old woman said,

‘And what do you want lonely traveler? We are two helpless women under a broken roof. We have no place for you to stay.’ And she looked at her daughter-in-law and thought, poor girl let her sleep. I must fight the thing on my own. And she waited for the thing to reply.
And reply he did, with words like tengra fish slipping from your grasp. ‘Mother,’ he said, ‘I am hungry. Can you give me two pithas?’

The fire before the old woman was glowing, the oil was boiling and the small round pitha in it was turning. She poured some more dough into the oil, let the hissing hide the shiver in her voice and said, ‘Yes son. We have enough for the two of us. Get inside the hut; let me lay a pira for you.’
But the thing knew that though he might camouflage his voice, he couldn’t hide his ugliness. His skin was white as the sun, his body not fully formed and the only thing about him that remotely resembled a human being was its right hand. 

‘I am scared!’

Arre, it’s just a story and I am sure you will love the ending. So, this is what the thing said. He said,
‘Mother, it is written in the holy books, “I forbid you to enter their rooms, I forbid you to look at them at all. If one wants to take something from them, one should do so without looking at them. If one wants to ask a woman for something, the same has to be done from behind a screen.” I crave your pithas but who am I to break the laws our ancestors have set in stone? So I say mother, let me put my hand through a hole in the wall and you can pass the pitha to me.’
The old woman waited, boy, she waited. She waited as the thing slowly put its hand through the kitchen window, she waited as the claws, almost human nails but not quite, passed from darkness to light, she waited until the palm, folded over and over like an onion slipped through and when the palm cupped, she jumped. She jumped as if twenty years had suddenly been taken from her. She took a long handled ladle, scooped boiling oil and poured it right into the thing’s hand. 

‘And then? And then?’

And then what? Oil burnt through the thing’s skin, entered his veins and travelled all through his body. He puckered his lips in pain and as his body was not yet formed, his mouth turned into a long thick funnel and then solidified into a beak. The old woman stood on her old, arthritic legs and cursed him,

‘You will never be a traveler of the night. You will be a lonely traveler of the day which will never accept you, you will never have the heart to hunt or the decency to beg but will shamelessly pluck food from the hands of children, you will scavenge in dirt heaps and dumps, you will be chased, beaten, cursed. Your voice, now as light as an eel’s tail on water will be rough like a cow’s tongue and forever and ever more I, Vadaiamma will chase you.’

The thing thrashed on the ground. Mud and rain ran through his skin and coloured him grey. He breathed deeply and a section of the sky entered his lungs. The hole it left behind burned with a soft ungodly radiance, thus becoming the first moon. In utter pain he shriveled and as he flapped his hands, they turned into wings. Then he gathered his wings and flew to the top of the betel nut tree. There he cringed and cried and finally, the daughter-in-law woke up.

‘Mother,’ she said, ‘What is that terrible noise? It sounds like someone in pain.’

‘Take no notice, girl,’ said the mother-in-law and went back to frying  pithas.


Poem | Ramshankar Vidrohi ( Translated by Dibyajyoti Sarma)

'Satire Has Many Faces' by Anil Karanjai

I am your poet


I, Simon
am standing in the dock of justice.
Let men and nature be my witnesses!

I am speaking from the last stair of the pond in Mohenjo-Daro
where lies the blazing corpse of a woman
where float numerous human bones.

You would find this blazing corpse even in Babylonia.
You would find scattered human bones even in Mesopotamia.
I wonder, and wonder constantly why must
the foundation of an ancient civilization
begin with a woman’s blazing corpse and human bones.
Which continues
From the rocks of Scythia to the fields of Bengal
and from the wilderness of Samaná to the forests of Kanha.


This woman could be a mother,
a sister,
a wife,
 a daughter.

I tell you, get out of my sight.
My blood boils, my heart singes, my skin sears.
They have killed my mother, my sister, my wife, my daughter.
My female ancestors wail in the sky.

I could have banged my head against the blazing corpse of this woman
and given up my life
if I did not have a daughter, and she tells me:
Papa, you worry about us girls for nothing.
We are just firewood born to light the kitchen hearth.

And yet these scattered bones could belong to
Roman slaves or the weavers from Bengal
or the ultra-modern children from Vietnam, Palestine, Iraq.

British or Roman, or the brand-new American,
an empire is an empire, which has but just one task
to scatter human bones
in mountains, plateaus and fields, in rivers and on seashores.

It claims to define history in three sentences:
Look, we have lit up the world.
Look, we have scorched the earth.
Look, we have scattered human bones everywhere.

But I am Spartacus’s descendent, I have his resolve.
Go tell Caesar, we will gather
all the slaves of the world and one day together
we will enter Rome.

No, we are not going anywhere
because at this very moment,
as I read my poem to you
the Latin American worker is
digging the grave of the Great Empire and the
Indian worker is filling the burrows of its pet rats
with water.

The fire of loathing that flames from Asia to Africa
cannot be doused, my friend!
because this fire is fed by the blazing corpse of a woman
because this fire is fed by the human bones scattered on earth.


A woman was killed in history for the first time
by her son
at the behest of his father.
Jamadagni says, Parasuram, I tell you, go kill your mother
and Parasuram obeys.
This is how the son comes to be his father’s.
This is how patriarchy starts.

This is how fathers start killing their sons.
Jahnavi  told her husband, go drown my children in the Ganges
and Shantanu, the king, obeyed

But Shantanu couldn’t be Jhanvi’s
because the king belongs to no one
because wealth belongs to no one
because religion belongs to no one.

Yet, everything belongs to the king
the cow, the Ganges, the Gita and the Gayatri
and god makes sure the king’s horses
have enough grass to chew upon .

He was a nice fellow, this god, devoted to the king
it’s a pity he’s gone, died a long time ago.
The king did not even give him a shroud or two square-feet of land
for burial
no one knows where he is buried.

Yet, god died in the end and it was a
historic event, historians maintain.
Historians also maintain  that even the king died and
the queen too and their son as well. The king died in combat,
the queen in the kitchen and the prince while cramming his notes.

The wealth granted by the king remained and like talk, it proliferated.

Again, we return to the foundations  of all civilizations and
find the blazing corpse of a woman and scattered bones.


This body did not burn by itself; someone set it on fire.
These bones are not just strewn around; someone scattered them.
This fire did not flicker on its own; someone lit it up.
This war did not begin spontaneously; someone started it.

Even this poem is not just transcribed, it was written down.
and when a poem is written down, a fire blazes.

I ask you, my people, rescue me from this fire.

Rescue me from this fire, my friends from the East
you, whose bountiful fields were tilled with swords
whose harvest was crushed under the wheels of  chariots.

Rescue me from this fire, my friends from the West
you, whose women were sold in the markets
whose children were fed into chimney fires.

Rescue me from this fire, my friends from the North
you, whose ancestors were forced to carry mountains
which were then broken on their backs.

Rescue me from this fire, my friends from faraway South
you, whose settlements were burnt down in forest fires,
whose boats were drowned in the bottomless seas.

You, all of you, whose blood and sweat
built pyramids, minarets, walls,
deliver me.

Deliver me to deliver the woman whose corpse lies
on the last stair of the pond in Mohenjo-Daro.
Deliver me to deliver the people whose bones float in the lake.

Save me to save your ancestors.
Save me to save your children.

Deliver me!
I am your poet.

मैं तुम्हारा कवि हूं।


मैं साइमन,
न्याय के कटघरे में खड़ा हूं,
प्रकृति और मनुष्य मेरी गवाही दें!
मैं वहां से बोल रहा हूं
जहां मोहनजोदड़ो के तालाब की आखिरी सीढ़ी है,
जिस पर एक औरत की जली हुई लाश पड़ी है
और तालाब में इंसानों की हड्डियां बिखरी पड़ी हैं।
इसी तरह एक औरत की जली हुई लाश 
आपको बेबीलोनिया में भी मिल जाएगी,
और इसी तरह इंसानों की बिखरी हुई हड्डियां 
मेसोपोटामिया में भी।
मैं सोचता हूं और बारहा सोचता हूं
कि आखिर क्या बात है कि 
प्राचीन सभ्यताओं के मुहाने पर 
एक औरत की जली हुई लाश मिलती है
और इंसानों की बिखरी हुई हड्डियां मिलती हैं
जिनका सिलसिला
सीथिया की चट्टानों से लेकर बंगाल के मैदानों तक
और सवाना के जंगलों से लेकर कान्हा के वनों तक चला जाता है।


एक औरत जो मां हो सकती है,
बहिन हो सकती है,
बीवी हो सकती है,
बेटी हो सकती है, 
मैं कहता हूं
तुम हट जाओ मेरे सामने से,
मेरा खून कलकला रहा है,
मेरा कलेजा सुलग रहा है,
मेरी देह जल रही है,
मेरी मां को, मेरी बहिन को, मेरी बीवी को
मेरी बेटी को मारा गया है,
मेरी पुरखिनें आसमान में आर्तनाद कर रही हैं।
मैं इस औरत की जली हुई लाश पर...
सिर पटक कर जान दे देता अगर
मेरे एक बेटी न होती तो...
और बेटी है,
कि कहती है
कि पापा तुम बेवजह ही हम
लड़कियों के बारे में इतने भावुक होते हो!
हम लड़कियां तो लकडि़यां होती हैं
जो बड़ी होने पर चूल्हे में लगा दी जाती हैं।

और ये इंसानों की बिखरी हुई हड्डियां
रोमन गुलामों की भी हो सकती हैं
और बंगाल के जुलाहों की भी,
या अतिआधुनिक वियतनामी, फिलिस्तीनी, इराकी
बच्चों की भी।

साम्राज्य आखिर साम्राज्य ही होता है,
चाहे वो रोमन साम्राज्य हो,
चाहे वो ब्रिटिश साम्राज्य हो,
या अतिआधुनिक अमरीकी साम्राज्य।
जिसका एक ही काम है कि
पहाड़ों पर, पठारों पर,
नदी किनारे, सागर तीरे,
मैदानों में, इंसानों की हड्डियां बिखेर देना।
जो इतिहास को तीन वाक्यों में
पूरा करने का दावा पेश करता है-
कि हमने धरती पर शोले भड़का दिए, 
कि हमने धरती में शरारे भर दिए, 
कि हमने धरती पर इंसानों की हड्डियां बिखेर दीं।

लेकिन मैं
स्पार्टकस का वंशज,
स्पार्टकस की प्रतिज्ञाआंे के साथ जीता हूं-
कि जाओ कह दो सीनेट से-
कि हम सारी दुनिया के गुलामों को इकट्ठा करेंगे,
और एक दिन रोम आएंगे जरूर।

लेकिन हम कहीं नहीं जाएंगे,
क्योंकि ठीक इसी समय जब मैं 
ये कविता आपको सुना रहा हूं,
लातिन अमरीकी मजदूर
महान साम्राज्य के लिए कब्र खोद रहा है
और भारतीय मजदूर उसके 
पालतू चूहों के बिलों में पानी भर रहा है।
एशिया से लेकर अफ्रीका तक
घृणा की जो आग लगी है
वो आग बुझ नहीं सकती है दोस्त!
क्योंकि वो आग
एक औरत की जली हुई लाश की आग है,
वह आग इंसानों की बिखरी हुई हड्डियों की आग है।


इतिहास में पहली स्त्री हत्या
उसके बेटे ने अपने बाप के कहने पर की।
जमदग्नि ने कहा कि ओ परशुराम!
मैं तुमसे कहता हूं कि अपनी मां का वध कर दो,
और परशुराम ने कर दिया।
इस तरह से पुत्र पिता का हुआ
और पितृसत्ता आई।
तब पिता ने अपने पुत्रों को मारा।
जाह्नवी ने अपने पति से कहा
कि मैं तुमसे कहती हूं कि
मेरी संतानों को मुझमें डुबो दो,
और राजा शांतनु ने अपनी संतानों को 
गंगा में डुबो दिया।
लेकिन शांतनु जाह्नवी का नहीं हुआ,
क्योंकि राजा किसी का नहीं होता।
लक्ष्मी किसी की नहीं होती।
धर्म किसी का नहीं होता।
लेकिन सब राजा के होते हैं,
गाय भी, गंगा भी, गीता भी और गायत्री भी।

और ईश्वर तो ख़ैर, राजा के घोड़ों को
घास ही छीलता रहा,
बड़ा नेक था बेचारा ईश्वर,
राजा का स्वामिभक्त!
पर अफसोस है कि अब नहीं रहा,
बहुत दिन हुए मर गया।
और जब मरा तो राजा ने उसे कफ़न भी नहीं दिया,
दफन के लिए दो गज़ जमीन भी नहीं दी।
किसी को नहीं पता है कि ईश्वर को कहां दफ़नाया गया।
ख़ैर, ईश्वर मरा अंततोगत्वा,
और उसका मरना ऐतिहासिक सिद्ध हुआ,
ऐसा इतिहासकारों का मत है।
इतिहासकारों का मत ये भी है 
कि राजा भी मरा,
उसकी रानी भी मरी,
और उसका बेटा भी मर गया।
राजा लड़ाई में मर गया,
रानी कढ़ाई में मर गई,
और बेटा, कहते हैं कि पढ़ाई में मर गया।
लेकिन राजा का दिया हुआ धन रहा,
धन, वचन हुआ और बढ़ता गया।

और फिर वही बात!
कि हर सभ्यता के मुहाने पर एक औरत की
जली हुई लाश,
और इंसानों की बिखरी हुई हड्डियां।


ये लाश जली नहीं है, जलाई गयी है,
ये हड्डियां बिखरी नहीं हैं, बिखेरी गयी हैं,
ये आग लगी नहीं है, लगाई गयी है,
ये लड़ाई छिड़ी नहीं है, छेड़ी गई है,
लेकिन कविता भी लिखी नहीं है, लिखी गई है,
और जब कविता लिखी जाती है, 
तो आग भड़क जाती है।

मैं कहता हूं तुम मुझे इस आग से बचाओ मेरे लोगों!
तुम मेरे पूरब के लोगों, मुझे इस आग से बचाओ!
जिनके सुंदर खेतों को तलवार की नोकों से जोता गया,
जिनकी फसलों को रथों के चक्कों तले रौंदा गया।
तुम पश्चिम के लोगों, मुझे इस आग से बचाओ!
जिनकी स्त्रियों को बाजारों में बेचा गया,
जिनके बच्चों को चिमनियों में झोंका गया।
तुम उत्तर के लोगों, मुझे इस आग को बचाओ!
जिनके पुरखों की पीठ पर पहाड़ लाद कर तोड़ा गया
तुम सुदूर दक्षिण के लोगों मुझे इस आग से बचओ
जिनकी बस्तियों को दावाग्नि में झोंका गया,
जिनकी नावों को अतल जलराशियों में डुबोया गया।
तुम वे सारे लोग मिलकर मुझे बचाओ-
जिसके खून के गारे से
पिरामिड बने, मीनारंे बनीं, दीवारें बनीं,
क्योंकि मुझको बचाना उस औरत को बचाना है,
जिसकी लाश मोहनजोदड़ो के तालाब की आखिरी सीढ़ी पर 
पड़ी है।
मुझको बचाना उन इंसानों को बचाना है,
जिनकी हड्डियां तालाब में बिखरी पड़ी हंै।
मुझको बचाना अपने पुरखों को बचाना है,
मुझको बचाना अपने बच्चों को बचाना है,
तुम मुझे बचाओ!
मैं तुम्हारा कवि हूं।

Source for the original version of the poem in Hindi : Vidrohi


Poems| Bhaskar Chakraborty ( Translated by Brinda Bose) 2/3

Beat inspired artwork by Divya Adusumilli


আজ বৃষ্টির দিনে তুমি কোথায় ঘুরছো, কে জানে। তোমার ওই ছোটো ছাতা কি তোমাকে বৃষ্টির হাত থেকে বাঁচাতে পারবে? বড়ো গরীব হয়ে আমাদের হয়তো বেঁচে থাকতে হবে সারাজীবন, পারবে তো তুমি?


On this rainy day where are you roaming, who knows. Will your tiny umbrella be able to shelter you from the drenching rain? Perhaps we will have to eke out the rest of our lives in deep poverty, you will be able to, I hope?


তোমার চুল উড়ছে হাওয়ায়– বাঁ-হাতে, তুমি ধরে আছো তোমার টেলিফোন
শীতের আলোয়, আবার আমি ফিরে এসেছি আজ তোমার ঘরে
তোমাদের বিড়াল- দেখি, আগের মতো
ততোটা ক্ষিপ্র নয় আর- তোমার পশমের বল
দেখি, গড়িয়ে চলেছে- আরও গড়িয়ে চলেছে ঢালু খাটের নীচে –
চুপচাপ বসে আছি আমি- চুপচাপ হাই তুলছে তোমাদের বিড়াল
শীতের ঝর্না, ডেকে ডেকে ফিরে যাচ্ছে আমাদের


your hair is fluttering in the breeze – in your left hand you clutch your telephone
in this winter light, I have returned to your room again today
your cat – I see, is now
not so skittish any more – your ball of wool
I spy, rolling along – and rolling along some more where the floor slopes under the bed –
silently I sit – silently your cat is yawning
winter’s cascade, is calling, calling out to us as it recedes

নীল সাপের মতো

নীল সাপের মতো, খুব রাতে
আমি জড়িয়ে থাকবো তোমার গলা
তুমি ভয় পেলেই, তোমার মুখ লক্ষ করে
আমি ফণা তুলবো---
তোমার স্বপ্নের ভেতর, তিব্বতী সেজে
আমি বাঁশি বাজাবো নেচে-নেচে
তুমি চমকে উঠলেই, আমি বহুদূর
সমুদ্রের ধারে চলে যাবো।
অচেনা পাহাড়ে, আমি নিয়ে যাবো তোমাকে
চুমু না-খেয়ে, খাদের কাছে
তোমায় দাঁড় করিয়ে রাখবো---
তুমি [চমকে] উঠলেই, আমি ঠেলে দেবো তোমাকে
খাদের ভেতর
তুমি লাফ দিতে চাইলেই, ভীষণভাবে
তোমাকে জড়িয়ে ধরবো।

Like a Blue Snake

Like a blue snake, in the deep night
I will wrap myself around your neck
If you are afraid, marking your expression
I will raise my hood ---
In your dream, dressed like a Tibetan
I will dance around you playing a pipe
When you are startled, far away
to the seashore I will retreat.

To unknown mountains, I will take you
one day
Without kissing you, beside a ravine
I will make you stand ---
When you [start up] in alarm, I will push you
into the deep
The moment you want to jump in, mortally will I
wrap myself around you


কেন, উন্মাদ করে না ভালোবাসা-
আমি শুধু, নতুন
কাগজ কিনি-খালি গায়ে
ঘুরে বেড়াই ঘরের মধ্যে-চারপাশ
থেকে, কেশে ওঠে মানুষ-চারপাশ থেকে
কতশত ব্যর্থ দিন বহে গেল-
লাল মোটরগাড়িতে, আমার
হাসা হলো না-বিয়েবাড়িতে, যথাযথ
হাসা হলো না আমার-চিহ্ণহীন
বছরগুলো, ওই, পড়ে আছে পেছনে-প্রত্যেক
জানলার পর্দা সরিয়ে, আমি
বাড়িয়ে দিই মুখ-আমি দেখি
একটা দিন, আরেকটা দিনের মতো
আরেকটা দিন, আরেকটা দিনের মতো
একইরকম, অস্থিসার, ফাঁকা


Why doesn’t love drive one insane –
I only buy
fresh paper – barebodied
I wander around the room – on all sides
people start to cough – on all sides
so many hundred futile days flow by –
In a red automobile, I did not get to laugh –
At a marriage-hall – as is wont,
I did not get to laugh – unmarked
the years, there, lying behind us – at every
window, pushing the curtain aside, I
lean my head out – and I see one day, then another day like
another day, and another
just the same, bare-boned, barren

আমার কবিতা

আমার আগেকার লেখাগুলোয়
কবিতা করার চেষ্টা করতাম একটু
ভাষাটাকে একটু সুন্দর করার ঝোঁক ছিলো
আর জুতসই সব নাম লাগাতাম লেখাগুলোর
কবিতা, তর্ক করতাম টেবিলে,
সৌন্দর্য ।
কাকে বলে সৌন্দর্য ?
এই যে বাবুরা
গেলাস নিয়ে বসে পড়েছে সন্ধেবেলা
আর মাছভাজা চাইছে ডিমভাজা চাইছে
সুন্দর নয় ?
লোকে বলে : ভরসা করা যায় না
এমনই এক মানুষ আমি,
সৌন্দর্য কি লুকিয়ে আছে ব্যাপারটায় ?
চাকরি করতে আর ভালো লাগছে না
লেখালেখির জন্যে আরো সময় চাই
ছেড়ে দেবো চাকরি ?
সুন্দর হবে তা কি ?
একসময় লিখেছিলাম : স্বাভাবিকতাই সৌন্দর্য ।
কথাটা আরো একটু ভেবে দেখতে হবে ।
আমি চাই, আমার কবিতা বাউলগানের মতো
বিশাল আর খোলামেলা হয়ে উঠুক
একটু নিশ্বাস ফেলুক সহজে ।

My Poetry

my earlier writings
I would try to make a little poetic
had an inclination to make my language a little beautiful
and would give them suitable titles
poetry, I would argue at the table,
is beauty.

what do we call beautiful?
what about the babus who sit down every evening with glasses in hand
ask for fish fry egg fry
is this not beautiful?
folks say: unreliable
is the kind of person I am
does beauty lurk in such a condition?

I don’t feel like working any more
I need more time for writing
should I give up my job?
will that be beautiful?

once I had written: what is natural is beautiful.
have to think about that some more.
I want that my poems like baul songs
grow enormous and freespirited

and breathe a little easy.

প্রেমিকেরা প্রেমিকারা

প্রেমিকেরা একদিন স্বামী হয় । স্বামীরা তারপর আর
প্রেমিক থাকে না ।
অথচ ওমলেট খায় । ফিশফ্রাই খায় ।
দু-তিন চারপাক রাস্তায় ঘুরে এসে
বিড়ি খায় ।
আরো একটু রাত হলে ন্যাংটো ছবি দেখে ।
প্রেমিকারা ? তারা বা কোথায় যায় ?- তারা তো স্ত্রী হয়, আর
পেটে বাচ্চা ধরে ।
কথাগুলো, কোথায় হারিয়ে যায় । রান্নাঘরে আলো জ্বলে ওঠে ।

Lovers, Beloveds

Lovers one day become husbands. Husbands no longer
remain lovers.
But they eat omelettes. They eat fish fry.
After rambling, two-three-four rounds in the alley,
they light up a biri.
And later at night, they gaze at dirty pictures.
The beloveds? Where do they go? They become wives, and
grow babies in their bellies.
The words, they get lost somewhere. The lights come on in the kitchen.


Poem | Sarah Parijs

Beat inspired artwork by Divya Adusumilli

Histories of Desire

Swirl, swirl, swirl, swirl.
Images and lines that wile away seconds.
Time seems strangely, perversely sexual,
invasive and sensational.
I can feel it ticking by,
but I equally want to invade it
and make it beg for what I offer.

Could I fuck time?
Could I make it mine or at least pretend it’s mine?
Subjective and subjugating in tautological cycles.
Slow. Fast. Sweet. Harsh.
I want to play it at my fingertips
so each second is slow and crisp.
Chronological cunt: I would taste it
as a metaphysical master,
letting it spill into my mouth.

Drink history and future
and dog-fuck it with my fingers
to drive it higher and make time beg for more
like I do – more time together.
Rimming and worshiping
at the celestial and ephemeral altar
of temporality, to feel an alien anus
quiver against my tongue.

I want ownership and inscription
to write meaning onto time
and have it write on me;
to carve myself into time
and have it carve into me so that
we’re always, already, ambiguously
fucking, fleeing, and freed.

Then again, it swirls, escapes,
makes me want it more.


Poem | Debarun Sarkar

Beat inspired artwork by Divya Adusumilli

On unemployment and drugs

The word 'freelance' is easier
to throw around at cocktail
parties. As if the word were
a sign of rebellion, non-conformity
in the hyper-corporatized world.
Hiding behind the ambiguity of
the word I can attend conferences
dinner parties, talk to the start-up
crowd, the academicians, the ad
guy, the journalist, and all those
fixtures of urban middle class
'social' lives.

I have been unemployed since
the day I was born. When odd
work came my way I did it
and saved up enough money
or blew it up in hedonistic
rage. No one checks your
savings account balance sheet
if you tell them you are a

Unlike the men sleeping on
the streets, I have some
inheritance to take resort in.
But I wonder, only if, those
men on the streets doing
heroin and brown sugar
knew that they could call
themselves 'freelancers'
speak some English, and
get some clean nondescript
clothes, preferably a
tee-shirt and jeans
they could walk into
the posh parties and take
hits of cocaine, MDMA and
LSD from some rich kids
too high to count.


Poem | Harnidh Kaur

 All life born of the sea by Bill Angus

Instruction Manual: Paper Rose

Hold her pressed between your
fingers, index and thumb slowly
ironing away all the creases, kinks,
and loose strings, squeeze down
from head to toe, wiping away the
viscera that flows from her mouth
as you smoothen out her insides
to create a sleek ribbon coloured
with bile, blood, and expectations;
Start folding her inwards, first in
half, then in fourths, perpendicular
overlaps that douple up, double over,
turn up, turn under, and gather in
an accordion bunch held in your
palm, pinch down tightly, make sure
all pleats and ruffles are defined
and smooth- pull one edge of her
bunched up dreams, and carefully
drag her out till it takes shape, elbows
and clavicles sticking out at soft
angles, and in softer shades- stick a
little splinter right up her middle,
skewering her through to hold it up
straight, along with some leaves of
fig, sticking them to her, each one with
a commandment written on it, overlap
upon overlap till you can’t see her,
but just a paper rose that never wilts.


Poem | Sahir Ludhianvi (Translated by Maaz Bin Bilal)

Photo Credits: GB

A Ghazal

(Translated for Śuchismita)

A lusty eye never finds any rest,
I don’t wait for you, but I do expect.

From us the colours of the garden and of spring,
Yet, we have no say over the garden’s running.

Do not sing songs of love, o minstrel,
The mood of life is not quite pleasant.

Why would I believe your oaths of love?
When I keep no faith in my own pledges.

Who knows how many grudges live restless here,
In this heart that doesn’t allow for any grudges.

I am not convinced of fleeing from life, 
But to tell the truth: death—I would not mind. 

To what stage has our age brought us that
On life you have control, but very little.


hawas-nasīb nazar ko kahīñ qarār nahīñ 
maiñ muntazir huñ magar terā intezār nahīñ

hamīñ se rang-e-gulistañ hamīñ se rang-e-bahar 
hamīñ ko nazm-e-gulistañ pe iķhtiyār nahīñ

abhi na chheR mohabbat ke gīt ae mutrib 
abhi hayāt ka mahaul ķhushgavār nahīñ
tumhāre ahd-e-wafā ko ahad main kyā samjhūñ
mujhe ķhud apni mohabbat ka aitabār nahīñ

na jāne kitne gile is meiñ muztarib haiñ nadīm 
wo ek dil jo kisī ka gilāguzar nahīñ

gurez kā nahīñ qāyal hayāt se lekin 
jo soz kahuñ to mujhe maut nāgavār nahīñ

ye kis maqām pe pahuñchā diya zamane ne 
ki ab hayat pe tera bhi iķhtiyar nahīñ