(To Varuni and Toy, Bangalore, 2015)

 

I.

Hills holding hands
Sleepy factories
Announce the city
To come

Trees
Speak in Kannada
The red soil
Is silent

 

II.

Outside the station
Friend and cool breeze
Welcome us

Music in the car
Is English
The cigarette Korean

Our words
Have no country

 

III.

Capped in long hair
Friend is held by cops
Jumping red light

“Only I get caught
All the time” says friend
I point to his long hair

Cop in cowboy hat
Mimics Hollywood in Kannada
Pockets Indian currency

 

IV.

Churches follow mosques
Chased by temples
Fleeting past the window pane

Different architectures
Define religion

Prayers in translation
Make god play second fiddle
To language

 

V.

Electronic City
Trees of buildings
Glasshouses
Warded by stony guards
Young technocrats
In a daily sci-fi

 

VI.

The friend’s house
Empty floor
Meditating on weeds

The friend’s house
Film posters hung on walls
They include Annie
Giving it to those ones

The friend’s house
Man, Woman and Child
Splits into three—
Smoke, words, babble

The friend’s house
Has a visitor that never leaves:
The wind

 

VII.

It takes an hour
To leave the city behind
And hug the hills

The green
Dusts your eyes, your nostrils
Your sleeves

The green
Blows away the city’s colour
From your sooty heart

You green-hungry soul
Sing of green days
Of love wearing green clothes

 

VIII.

Suddenly a lake
Breaks the monotony
A crowd of bathers
Wet like ducks
Watched amusedly
By a group of monkeys

 

IX.

Filter coffee halts
Along the way
Trees of names speak in another time
Of yet another time—

Nirad, the acerbic elf
Says absolute loss of power
Corrupts absolutely

Hegel’s attention
On the Gita’s caste system
His bewilderment
On Arjuna’s famous pause
In Kurukshetra

What irony:
An ancient commentary
Arguing for war
A doctrine of self-control
In another era

 

X.

Night arrives with beef
Slow-cooked in garlic and onion
Peppered in medieval spices

We eat, ruminate like cows
Masticating
The day’s pleasures

 

XI.

The day takes us to 11th century BC
A Rashtrakuta temple
Below the hills
Its tree and abandoned chariot
Older than us

We read the past
Through its intricate designs
In granite

Gods, yakshis, animals
Once drank from the same well
Built by Krishnadevaraya

The acharya sings a bhajan
To the qawali’s tune
As if in response the azan soars up
From a mosque

 

XII.

We go round and round
Up the hill
To match the stature of the sun
Only to discover:
To be above the earth is still
Being on earth

 

XIII.

In between, a woman
Bearing a stranger’s face
Shares presence
After sharing words

She carries the city
On her hips
Soaks my rocky tales
In her eyes

She arrives from the past
Becomes future

 

XIV.

Finally the day of leaving
So much to leave and take away
All at once

Time wrapped up like a gift

In the end—
Places, people, memories
Are aromas

 

 

Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee

Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee

Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee is a poet, writer, translator and political science scholar from Jawaharlal Nehru University. He has contributed to The Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, Huffington Post, Outlook, The Hindu, The Wire, etc. His poems have appeared in The London Magazine, New Welsh Review, The Fortnightly Review, Elohi Gadugi Journal, Mudlark, Metamorphoses, The Postcolonialist, George Szirtes’ Blog, etc. His first collection of poetry, Ghalib’s Tomb and Other Poems (2013), was published by The London Magazine. He is currently Adjunct Professor in the School of Culture and Creative Expressions at Ambedkar University, New Delhi.

Comments

comments