The Blog of Cafe Dissensus Magazine – we DISSENT

Three Poems

By Namrata Pathak

In Guwahati 

Day 1

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.

Day 2

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.

Day 3

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
again.

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,
blue-veined,
scaly, familiar,
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,
carved, handmade;
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,
your home
retracts into a mass
of asterisks and slangs.

***

Kaziranga
(Of mangled pronouns: It-He-I)

Communities
of slithering monsters
in Kaziranga,
– heads on branches, hands on roots,
an absence of black,
unkempt barbwires,
light,
and eyes that haunt –
Here my sigh explodes
into hundred splinters
of a sunless day
yet its every breath
is winter.
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 marshlands,
on his probings,
double edged,
as an evacuation  drive
while
light adrift,
an emptiness moves in unison,
aligned,
in a moment
of hundred feet of a centipede.

We crawl together
under shrubs,
sheets of fog,
wild rhododendrons
to grow
resplendently
into an boredom.

Next to my body
you are closing in again
on a mud-crusted
namelessness.

That was an ordinary day in Kaziranga.
We part our ways.

Bio:
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 ReviewNegotiations, 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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***

Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘Bollywood Nationalism’, edited by Dr. Roshni Sengupta, Leiden University, The Netherlands. 

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