Two Poems by Ritamvara Bhattacharya

Painting: VAD Art

By Ritamvara Bhattacharya

Poetry, I wonder what made us

Was it the news on the radio that forecasts bad weather, some rain, a flash of lightning and a gush of hail storm?

Having nothing to do, did I creep into you like a ball of Portulaca flowers snug to the cosy shelter of its owner’s hands?

Have I known you since the day I knew it was a sad truth to be a Human or was it the day that I was scared to look at my human shape in a mirror wrapped inside the framework of a skeleton?

I think I had known you since ages, since customarily grandchildren pulled off white hair from their grandfather’s head only to be rewarded with sweets and lozenges.

Maybe it is that I know you since dreams perished, since rocking chairs moved without moving, since missed opportunities were sadly a sign of your own lacking, since job interviews were a conduct of autocracy, since writing thesis depended more on your seductive oomph rather than your wit, since unfed mothers had no milk to carry for their babies, since the naked mad woman was a spectacle at the crossroads, since the count of brother’s marbles increased because he knew how to get through them while I was sleeping, since mother’s teachings seemed monotonous railings, since lover’s black bold handwriting on letters seemed to be a perfect arc of rainbow, since the continuous stare of the neighbour aunty added to the awkwardness of perky breasts at puberty, since the rush of the wind gave an insight to the fallen leaves, since the third in the marriage felt like a riddance from the prison called Home.

Poetry, what made us? Why don’t you whisper in me rather than make me write this monologue. You know that I hated you since Baba said, “Poets are starved, Jibanananda (a well-known poet of Bengal) gave away to his folly of writing poetry.”

I tried to throttle you since I have heard that you will starve me. One night that I woke up to this nightmare and decided to burn your body. I did burn you but could I burn myself alive? I was petrified to the sensation of the glaring flare of the Agni God. I promised to the psychiatrist that I would forget you, as she felt I sleepwalk and ramble which might be because of my restlessness that you create.

I have given word to my mother-in-law that I would cook, clean, make babies. So poetry, you know that you have no future here with me. Why don’t you find another mother to your body? Yet and yet you dwadle drift amble like the drone of the thick wings of flies. If I have to give you away I would part with you to the inspiration who echoed in me ‘Poetry.’ I shall search skies, heaven and underworld and shall give you away to the One who gave it to me without my knowing. I shall wake up without you to be called a Sakchunni (a female married ghost) who spills blood off soft necks to write with blood and echo words like a mad Sea.


Stolen Moments

Evening is a handcuff
The birds are hushed
in the interlock of thick trees.
The cows, the horses, the quick hares
are all touched with an iconographic stillness.
Each hanging shadow for us, my love, for us
is a sweat smitten goosebump, a thirsty hiccup, a long lost pedlar in his aimless wandering.

Your white checked hankey (embroidered A with green at its corner) bitten by my cavernous mouth in manifolds is your console to my hoarse cries in tonight’s stillness (the hankey which I used to wipe my lip marks from your forehead, until I realised marks are what we shall steal stealthily).

All the marks of us
hideously stolen from each moment
is a futile echo of this fork on an empty table.
Each mark remains as a flag of unapology, a brutal smack at all who stabbed us of us
in trams, taxis, terminus, theatres and crossroads.
Your marks are me on you for a Lifetime.
A sentence to a Capital Punishment.

A prisoner in his quarantine has nothing to steal but to efface his stolen moments of good and bad and cozy crimes.

You on me, is the steam from a tea cup, some eglantine shapes in the finest sketch.
(Mom once warned, “Stolen things carry the marks of its owner.”)
This is the only hope, stolen marks of each other we carry.
Vignettes that only the street lamp stands as a vigil.
We create of each other
a marathon of stolen memories
a fury of ghurir lorai (kite fights)
that rips the sky of its sleep
We, the stolen kisses of this memory
is the only sigh of Biraha.

Ritamvara Bhattacharya writes from a darling’s heart, Darjeeling. She believes in what Sylvia Plath said, “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” She writes for the pleasure of it. She writes for the ‘I am’ in her heart, a voice that creates ripples and sensations.


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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Shaheen Bagh and the Anti-CAA Protests: The Struggle to Create New Concepts”, edited by Huzaifa Omair Siddiqi, JNU, New Delhi, India.

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