Living is Leaving
Groups of watchmen-
protecting us at night,
armed with sticks, choppers and knives.
Fear robbed us of hunger and sleep.
On some nights, when we could not sleep,
My father would light the lamp to read and write,
cleaning the courtyard endlessly.
The people at our homeland were getting restless –
asking when we would all move to another land.
My father could give them no date,
the permits had not arrived.
In endless discussions in the evenings
we all agreed that we could lose our lives
if we did not leave immediately.
During one such deliberation,
he mused awhile, then declared,
“If we try to cross the border on our own,
we will be swept away in the melee.
We must cross the border with our friends and relatives.
Even if we have to perish then,
we shall all perish together.
I shall start for the capital tomorrow
and get the permits issued by the head office;
else death is a certainty!”
He sank back into deep thought.
Autumnal leaves fall fast.
Prayers at Kalighat
Over my piercing eyes a desire
is called for, again and again
Talking to you is my desire
dancing near the old canal at Kalighat
Where I celebrate my daughter’s feats
taking a special biryani for home
As the summer rain sails over me
my desire makes me of its own
The silent waters of the Ganges
carrying the light of my eyes
Delayed is my mind’s moon
someone calls me to deep dark
Darkness has a voice, mysterious whispers
You call, my desire has an evening, our moods match
Prayers in temples my mother offer
Priests chant for all good things
Long day signs off waiting for your
mood to return and celebrate the best in the world
Unbound from cultural images
her free spirit with a trident and a sword
Bright blue, standing on Shiva she
Keeps time, the dark mother
As she moves toward the deep water
my life meets with the heart taken on loan, undefined.
Note: Goddess Kali is the central image here.
Stories of the Night
Dreams are random tonight
Erratic rain is kissing my pillow
Wishes galore, crackers burst
Are suddenly out of their boxes.
Even the happy ones
Are dressed in pale, black
I ask them again and again
“Why are you back on this lonely night?”
All friends are in their deep sleep
No one can reply, a company
Is giving her duties to others,
Of a sore heart dying for times
Lived tighter, wrote in conversation.
Time is a relentless wheel.
It crushes all the work we do together.
The present cannot hold
Tomorrow may be a new day
A full rite of yesterdays.
I plant saplings for future
My parents are leaning towards a river, swallowing
All come by the day’s end
Small things have the Himalayan responsibilities.
I have no dream that is not her
I have no hearth that is not visited.
All games have results, trophies
The game heart is open
Joint pains, all mid night mutterings
Are self reflections
Afraid to revisit. The heart may be hurt.
Time moves erratic
Sweet people turn lifeless
Machines speak in abundance
Unuttered words are all four letter words now.
This time, the clock is stopped
Emotions fossilized in bloodlessness.
Our house are homes
Doors are shut. Walls
Talk to other walls. All
Whisper, there’s time to grow up
With the heart and the hearth.
A fellow caregiver lends her heart for a loan,
“Learn, poet, learn.”
There’s no end of learning, growing up
With time and friendship. “Stop there.”
Daily mood swings keep arriving, defying
The summer heat, the sessions
Of past thoughts in the waiting room of poems
In the mind, defying old relations
Summer evenings to look back
In our journey toward
A mood’s timely renewal
Through a bohemian touch, demanding
For poems after misadventures with bodies.
Before this afternoon, there are routine messages
Of her arrival, in words and images
There is someone always smiles
Without a four letter word in her mouth
Stories of butterflies in the head
She is enclosed stitching homes in a distant land
Jaydeep Sarangi is a widely anthologized poet with ten collections, latest being, letters in lower case (2022). A regular reviewer for poetry journals and newspapers, Sarangi has delivered keynote addresses and read poems in different continents and lectured on poetry and marginal studies in universities/colleges of repute. His books, articles and poems are archived in all major libraries and online restores in the world, including Harvard University, Oxford University, Sorbonne University, Barkley Library and University of Chicago. He is the President, Guild of Indian English Writers, Editors and Critics (GIEWEC) and Vice President, EC, Intercultural Poetry and Performance Library,Kolkata. He has been known as ‘the bard of Dulung’ for his poems on the rivulet Dulung and people who reside on its banks. Sarangi is Principal and professor of English at New Alipore College, Kolkata and actively spreading the wings of poetry among generations. He edits Teesta, a journal devoted poetry and poetry criticism. With Rob Harle he has edited six anthologies of poems from Australia and India which are a great literary link between the nations. . With Amelia Walker, he has guest edited a special issue for TEXT, Australia. His website is : https://jaydeepsarangi.in/