Amrit Gangar

5th vol  No 1 (July 2018)

‘KANHAIYA’ BACK IN KOLKATA: 1953-2017

Kanhaiya has returned to you Kolkata, now 74
his father’s rickshaw was broken with his leg
your sky in his eyes had gone unconscious
his scream you had refused to hear then!

Shambhu Mahato is no more, nor Parvati
Kanhaiya has returned to you Kolkata, now 74
he has repaired his father’s rickshaw
nobody there to sing ‘ajab tori duniya ho mere raja’!

Where has everybody gone? Why are slums so silent?
where is the kind Thakurain? And the little girl?
Kanhaiya has returned to you Kolkata, now 74
to find these souls in slums, and Lalu Ustad!

Old Dhangu Mahato killed himself under a wheel
Harnam Singh’s son has 2 + 200 bigha zamin now
and a factory, and a school to his name, a temple too
Kanhaiya has returned to you Kolkata, now 74!

 

Note: He is the same Kanhaiya of Bimal Roy’s film Do Bigha Zamin (1953) who returns to Kolkata to eke out living by pulling rickshaw. I assume he was 10-year-old in the film, and hence he would be 74 in 2017 when he has returned to Kolkata, completely tired of life, both his parents, Shambhu and Parvati, and grandfather Dhangu Mahato have expired; and to his misfortune, his wife too. Old Kanhaiya is back to Kolkata, which is no longer Calcutta.

 

MUKHTAR ALI: WHEEL, VAJAN AND VARICOSE VEINS
“Sahab, mere liye to aap baitho,
aap ki peti baithe ya aapka kutta,
sab ek hai,” in his philosophy of life
septuagenarian Mukhtar Ali was more clear
than i was, he walked on earth, slept on earth
For him ‘vajan’ was the ‘wajood’ all the rest was ‘fazool’
sheer middle-class Marxian mumbo jumbo
i know sahab, looking at my legs and veins
you will write poems and make some money too
“naam bhi kamaoge…”
Mukhtar Ali ferried me every day from
home to office, office to home
i was convinced by his ‘vajan dalil’ (weight argument)
weight is a weight is a weight
and he would charge by weight
Man or machine or maachh or mishti doi or mythology
mattered little to him but vajan brought him a roti
moti mahila will be charged more chhoti less
middle class was chagrined by his humanistic rule
even while going to their gods
One evening a body was found in a Kolkata lane
Mukhtar Ali was no more, his varicose veins
weighed no pain, no vajan, no wajood
only a slogan remained on my city’s wall baaki –
sab fazool! sab fazool! sab fazool!
Amrit Gangar, 18 June 2017

 

A RICKSHAW-PULLER AT BELGACHHIA

As sun scorches your skin at this insane
Kolkata junction, Belgachhia
a chugging tram takes care of him
nor the honking limousine
it would have crushed him, brutally
a bunch of bones
skin showing the whiteness
inside no haemoglobin
he has spent up all his deposits of
erythrocytes, the red blood cells

On this insane junction of Kolkata
many skeletons move, many bunches of bones
jinns are scared of them, ghosts keep away
they carry loads and men and women
pulling them to their destinations
selves getting closer to graves, much closer
wanting no do gaz zamin nor two logs of wood
sticks of bones will burn like incense
skin already burnt awaiting a pinch of ash
wind will fly it not to mountains nor rivers

Wind will fly it to you, your guilt and city’s
where politics has sucked away his ecrythrocytes
to paint flags red, where slogans have turned
him into a skeleton carrying heaps of hopes
useless deceptions he was feeding his children with
as dollops and dahi Marx always chuckled at
the city has robbed this skeleton of his dreams
death he is told not be afraid of, bones have marrow
marrow is your power, comrade, marrow is your tenor
your hips and thighs still run and pull, pull, pull

On this insane junction of Kolkata…
skeletons only look at the sky and the burning sun…

Amrit, Kolkata, 20 May 2017

 

 

Amrit Gangar is a Mumbai-based writer, film theorist, curator and historian. During his college days he used to write poems off and on both in English (as also Gujarati) and several of them were published in journals including Kavi India, Mirror, Youth Times, Calcutta Canvas, Bharat Jyoti, an anthology of poems on Emergency, etc. Of late, he has again picked up his poetic thread. He has authored a number of books on cinema both in English and Gujarati languages. His recent book Cinema Vimarsh has won the Gujarat Sahitya Akademi award. For the past decade or so he has been engaged with developing and expanding his concept of Cinema Prayoga, which he has presented so far across many venues in the world and India, including Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan.