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Theme: Kolkata Share This Page
Calcutta Once More
by Kumud Biswas
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  Strange indeed is this land to a stranger like me
Whose memories are made of rustic things
Like uncouth songs sung in untaught tunes
And plaitive flutes in mango groves
Cattle grazing on on the wide wide green
Or ruminating with drowsy eyes
The babui nest on swaying palms
Womenfolk taking a gossipy swim
With duckling urchins diving by
All in a frame in bounty serene
Like a chain of cranes in a boundless sky.

It's a sentimental dream.
But it is not a dream
That I have been a stranger in this strange land
My horizons are formed by four shanty walls
In the rut within I wallow and swim
In my own excreta and urine
In disease and deprivation.
The spoon-fed chubby children of the rich,
Spoilt, profligate and smiling things,
A pack of dullards claiming to be honest
Honestly believe I am dying or dead
Yet I am where I am not by choice nor default
It was by design of the dullards' granddads
So they might occupy the thrones of grace
And bequeath those thrones their heirlooms.

By an irony of fate
In the fight that followed for succession
I became the fodder for the guns
I knifed the young heart of my own son
With my very own hand –
A heart that throbbed till it became still
And dreamt of castles in the air
Of a dawning millennium
A Utopia.
My son is dead
So are his dreams perhaps.
But am I dead?
On it let their be a grand debate
And also on
Who will take out the procession.

But I refuse to die
Before I find my Utopia
Of a rut on a grand scale
Ruled by mother sow
And overseen by that scavenging jackdaw.
This land, this strangest of lands
Will flow with milk and honey –
Milk from the hepatic hydrants
Honey from the jammed and open drains –
And we the teeming pigs
In impotent rage
Will shout ourselves hoarse –
'No, we are not dead,
We are alive and kicking in our rut
Our very own rut
Our living rut'.

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June 22, 2003
More By: Kumud Biswas
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