Deeptesh Sen

Stagnation

Someone told me once
that nothing moves in Kolkata.

Even the ghosts,
drenched in sweat and tired of returning,
remain stuck in the traffic
at the crossroads.

The lovers who sit
with crossed arms and baited breath
at 9 am,
I meet them at the same place
when I return home.

There is a blockade at Sealdah
for protesting against price hikes
and pipe-bombs descend on Esplanade
where communists and socialists are fighting.

Nothing moves in Kolkata,
not even a leaf remembers to stir in breeze
for the fifteen minutes
I remain stuck at Rashbehari.

There’s no place to move —
car bonnets kiss in mild consternation
to stop jaywalkers from squeezing in;

people jostle for placeright in packed buses,
and shops selling condoms on the pavements
mock mannequins in brassieres
for their misfortune.

Nothing grows in Kolkata
but concrete plants that vie with each other
like overgrown children
to erase the smoke from the orange sunset.

Stories of resistance
like glittering corpse and flesh
lie in uneasy graves
beneath classroom doors.

Bus to Piccadilly

We never took that bus to Piccadilly.

Wearing your soul on your shirtsleeves
with vacant unease,
floating through the germanium crowd
last summer.

We never took that bus to Piccadilly.

Walking with sheepskin laughter
through half-baked dreams,
a city is also a language.

Bodies that traded ruination
flow through cities, dreams and light
meeting the white bird
that will fly north in winter.

Our voices written on the sky,
Thames seemed to flow softly
like in a dream.

At Oxford Street,
we had fish and chips for lunch
and rubbed the sunlight on our dreams;

at Tate Modern,
we stared at a Klee painting
with time blowing into a storm;

and at Clapham,
we bought forgotten novels for fifty pence
from an old charity store.

On Friday,
the tube station was closed for repairs
and we departed at Green Park
even without a solemn farewell.

You said you loved the rain,
how time dripped in the windows
and pushed you into an infinite fall;

your only regret as you left the city
was not taking that bus to Piccadilly.

Piccadilly is where all the magic lies,
someone had told you;

it is where the moon seeks asylum
in shop windows
and consumes the secret
of forgotten things.

It is just as well
we had missed that bus,

I wondered if you would feel the same
if you had been there.

 

Deeptesh Sen is currently pursuing his M.Phil in English at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. Hisdeeptesh poetry has been published in The Statesman, Kolkata, the Journal of Poetry Society, India, Aainanagar, the Stare’s Nest and the Crab Fat Literary Magazine.