Madhubanti Talukdar

Currently pursuing a Masters degree in Sociology in South Asian University, New Delhi, I was previously a student of Presidency College, Kolkata. An ardent lover of all things old, and all things Calcutta, I am fascinated by the poetry in the mundane. I enjoy reading, travelling, and taking long walks, and discovering the stories woven around people’s everydays. Someday, I hope to become a teacher, and settle for a quiet life in the hills.

” বৃষ্টি পড়ে এখানে বারো মাস… এখানে মেঘ গাভীর মত চরে”

My drunk father’s voice comes back to me in gusts, a deep, dark voice, the sad words rolling off his lips lazily, encircling me like warm yellow light. I perhaps imagine it. I don’t remember his voice at all. I imagine a lot of things at this time of the night.
He trembles a little; quiet, patient, his troubled hair like a riddle atop his head… words curling around his brain, sepia-tinted faces of old lovers… he keeps looking at his long, slender fingers and weeps copiously. Laal selaam, laal selaam, laal selaam comrade. Barbed wire on the edge of his dreams, blood memories in his eyes, he sleeps by a shallow lake and dreams.

“দূরে পড়ে আছে ঘর, ঘনিষ্ঠ সম্পর্ক…”

There are nights which stretch infinitely, many-hued and mercurial. There are nights when I lie awake in bed with the sounds of laughter of faraway women with makeshift faces ringing in my ears. I want to settle on something, quieten my mind, anything to drown the noise. Ten thousand, twenty thousand leagues under the sea, I find the winter evening when I touched you for the first time.

“আধেকলীন হৃদয়ে দূরগামী, ব্যাথার মাঝে ঘুমিয়ে পড়ি আমি…”

Baba? Is it okay, to not be able to forget? Is it okay to die a little on hearing a certain name, everyday? Is it okay to go on dying a little for so long that you stop being a person, and become only parts, only arms, and feet, and breasts and eyes? Is it okay to become war? I laugh at my life, painted in shades of an ugly ochre.

There were letters. The woman with the shattered-glass eyes kept them hidden. She would have to forget him, little by little, how he moved against her in sleep, for instance. In death, he had won. In death, everyone wins.
She keeps her heart in a jar by the window. A very blue butterfly flits by it at times.

” দুয়ার এঁটে ঘুমিয়ে আছে পাড়া…”

There are mountain roads in Nainital that mimic my lover’s paintings. My dark lover with immeasurable eyes. I watch my reflection on a spoon. Am I graying already? Am I already being built in my mother’s frame? A lifetime of borrowed misgivings. I look away and I sigh. My city sobs violently and I try in vain to console her. “বাড়ি আছো?” it pounds on closed doors in the dead of the night.

My father wakes up from his reverie, pulls out a gun and shoots himself.

Illustration – Swarna Jana

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