When I was very young
I was as light as a bird
Only I had no wings.
Flocks of pigeons would fly
From the roof of the neighbouring house
On the railing of the veranda
Crows would sit
From the other side of the alley
Carrying in their napkin covered baskets
The hawkers would peddle fish.
Leaning against the rampart on the roof
Placing his violin on his shoulder
My elder brother would play the tunes
Of the evening stars.
Leaving my study of English
I used to come to my sister-in-law
A red bordered sari she wore
With a veil on her head.
To enrage her in playful mischief
I used to steal her bunch of keys
And conceal it among the pots of flowers.
Sometimes Kankali Chatterji would come
With a hubble bubble in his left hand
And a shawl on his shoulders.
He used to recite in a racy pace
The ballad of Lav and Kush.
I lost all my interest in my studies
And I wished
If somehow I could join those ballad singers
Then I could forget the bother of passing the exams
And go on singing and seeing new lands.
After the school coming near my home
Sometimes I saw clouds had gathered
And were about to touch our roof
It used to rain heavily
Like trunks of elephants
The gargoyles gurgled a lot of water
And all the roads were water logged.
At night listening the pattering sounds of the rains
I went to sleep and dreamt
Somewhere in a vast plain
The young prince had lost his way.
Like the weeds drifting in the streams
And birds floating under the clouds
My thoughts would wander in a mysterious land
Made of the mountains and rivers
I saw in the maps –
Kwainloon, Mississippi and Yansikiang -
Mixing known and the half-known from far,
A colourful cobweb indeed
Woven with scenes and sounds of various colours.