By Prasanta Chakravarty
The coming comes with the promise of leaving
Natural this dogged dearest way
As if your dog
(your best-loved rug, in chilly January, was obvious for him)
Would remember you after you left.
One morning in America
The news that he died of common cold
Shall startle you.
And then you will hop on to the next work-place shuttle,
Deadlines like manna.
Eyeballs don’t grow old
Looking at your eyes do
For once if you look directly
At Ma’s eyes in that photograph
It will feel she actually used to be a person
Of flesh and blood.
As if she was the whole of Hindustan herself.
Don’t let that happen.
Delhi is a kind city
(contrary to the myth)
The rake’s boudoir
The scholars’ club
The pizza delivery boy’s tip
All lead to a huge, furry quilt
(that someone from a hurtling asteroid had dropped. long time.)
Balloon-like the quilt can expand
Mostly we used to stumble across for reliving habit
Daak-bunglow mutton, old lefty-lyrical songs,
Reading semi-academic papers (as if ideas mattered)
Signals and codes floating adrift.
Such raunchy stupidity. Ours.
Smothering its colours
Dazzling the aftermath.
By and by
You shall dream the exact spot, time and occasion
Where your favourite teacher will backstab you.
Before she does
Take appropriate steps.
If you sit in the first row: blinding light,
If you arrive late and make yourself scarce
In the backroom, the far aisle
(in order to dodge handshakes, board smiles)
Then the light shall arrive late in life.
No escaping martyrdom.
No use being unforgiving in memorial speeches
Say good things
Or just sit there
Your presence the dead man is noting steadily.
“I shall renew the contract. 8 percent rise. No pleading.”
Naveen Jindal, my landlord’s offer
After he returned, cremating his younger son.
Said to have drowned in the barka talaab.
Shear off the last two stanzas
Where you aspired for godsend benison.
The essential stanza, like a whirlpool,
Prasanta Chakravarty is the editor of the webmagazine, Humanities Underground. He has recently edited a critical and creative set of contemporary writings on humanities from South Asia, collected in Shrapnel Minima: Writings from Humanities Underground (University of Chicago Press and Seagull India, 2014). His first collection of poems, Rules of the Game (2014), was published by Dhyanbindu, Kolkata. His work on early modern English sectarian heresy was published as Like Parchment in the Fire: Literature and Radicalism in the English Civil War (Routledge, 2006). He also teaches English Literature in the University of Delhi.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
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