By Namrata Pathak
In this city
living is an epitaph of cryogenics,
by default you breathe in, breathe out –
the amount of spores you suck in
do not kill you.
Against your urges the city
carries a diaphragm of air,
the porous lungs relapse
into an arrogance,
now that oxygen cylinder
is perhaps not needed.
This city is a firm orb in the sky,
it floats in your head.
It is a lie that stretches
from this corner to that corner,
its face a scowl,
some powder and simmer at the ugly nose-ridge,
later, two blobs of rejection on two cheeks.
Faceless faces.And nothing else.
Only you have to whitewash your childhood a bit,
search for a home
in emaciated, dry maps
of your mother’s forehead.
Here, nobody talks, nobody listens.
You cannot document
the forked pathways and potholes,
ashen hands slitting open
the belly of a pregnant evening,
memories pickled by summer-laughs,
limes that store the eyes intact.
Bluish-green, like two marbles.
Why do you murmur?
Here, nobody talks. Nobody listens.
Your city has rhizomes for feet.
Here, you leave as you meet,
you renew as you lose,
you grow roots in a spidery waste
and the bread goes sour with infection
You draw a semi-circle
out of a homecoming,
the feet boils in a rickety rickshaw ride
from the Brahmaputra to Fancy,
the ghats stick out a face,
and yet again
death blooms as a stench of fish
in the North.
I told you, this city is an asylum of silence.
On 10th May, 2016
(The Sighting of the Fish Woman in your 3BHK)
“You can’t cook like your mother.”
Even though filled with juices,
roasted in medium heat,
the fish is bland. Quiet.
They say, in your kitchen a woman
who barely has eyes and nose
dances to life
a filigree of ivory stories,
they cannot hold her to scales.
This fish woman perforates the smoke,
tosses with expertise
the crumbs of your past,
stitches the fins in rough joints
of your face.
Bell pepper. Flakes.
Sprinkle some more,
would not you?
The smell hits your nose with an obstinacy.
Your crumpled sigh becomes the fish,
look,you have fish bones for hands again,
you cut her scaly body into geometrical arcs,
retracts into a mass
of asterisks and slangs.
(Of mangled pronouns: It-He-I)
of slithering monsters
– heads on branches, hands on roots,
an absence of black,
and eyes that haunt –
Here my sigh explodes
into hundred splinters
of a sunless day
yet its every breath
Kaziranga, you inhale
only an innuendo.
Because I knew of many kinds of deaths,
death counterpointed by thoughts,
of days on edges,
a thirst shoved
down strange throats,
a clock ticking away an infertility,
an excess, a failure.
Because this is a life of confinement
I have chosen for myself,
because winter is poorer in Kaziranga.
I empty my pockets
of stale cigarettes
on his probings,
as an evacuation drive
an emptiness moves in unison,
in a moment
of hundred feet of a centipede.
We crawl together
sheets of fog,
into an boredom.
Next to my body
you are closing in again
on a mud-crusted
That was an ordinary day in Kaziranga.
We part our ways.
Namrata Pathak teaches in N.E.H.U., Tura Campus, Meghalaya. Her book, Trends in Contemporary Assamese Theatre (2015), maps the contours of experimental theatre in Assam and highlights the significance of dramatic representation, semiotics, visual culture and cross-disciplinary methodologies in the field of performance-making. Her writings have appeared in journals such as Aneekant: A Journal of Polysemic Thought, Muse India, North-East Review, Negotiations, etc. Currently, she is working on N.E.H.U-Women’s Writing Series, Writing from the Periphery: Women’s Writing in the North-East.
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