This is a poet of circularity—of the potter’s wheel, the rotund staircase, local implements like the maku and the turpun, the chakravyuh, the foundation-stone, the navel, the chalice, planetary orbits, the vortex in the pond—such motifs reappear. This is also a poet who believes that each creation, including the very idea of I, owes itself to the superimposition of the wave function of individual particles, continuously taking shape all around us. Thereafter all kinds of permutations and associations are possible. Sometimes that happens through vaak, through which we exchange bhava. Bhava is a many-valued proposition, a hypothesis which we may also give the name of wonder. Poetry gives shape to wonderment, and so it plays sounds and particles that stay in the nooks and niches of our everyday existence. This exchange of wonderment may sometimes prove incommensurable within the frameworks of our relationalities but it is not impossible to work that out.
Perhaps poetry comes closest to bridging this incommensurability. The poet knows that the all scenes of marvel and wonderment are taking place within a smallish planet called earth, revolving around a mid-sized star in the milky-way. The poet has to forever be aware that art’s source and canvas is finally, the universe itself. The poet’s life, therefore, is a kind of sadhana, the same as that of the scientist. This sadhana, a repetition and an augmentation at the same time, is also a function of a perpetual flux: one that runs between the inner universe of our subjectivity and the outer, galactic presence. Does one travel from thought to mind, or is it the reverse? Do one and one make two or does the very idea of one envelop all duality within it? Does the brahmanda reside within our anubhavas or do anubhavas amass as entropy in this cosmos?
We come back to the circular. The new returns, as the poet rearranges syntax, breaking form— again and again. He also renews an ancient bond with all that is the heart’s—apparently forgotten and left out, and yet all the time, they travel with us and with this our rushing planet. Characteristically, his poem titled Address, from the collection Pa Rekhechhen Parom (Parom Sets his Feet), concludes in this manner—
Sorrows and Grandma
In your next life, like kakurs you shall hang on kakur trees
Saying this, my grandma
Once blessed sorrow
It’s difficult to say why she did this, may be since
It never left us even in times of great distress. Reasons apart,
We are told—
That since that day, thus proliferated
This our immense fruit garden
Some utterances work like a mantra
Though after this
Grandma said so many other things as well —placing her palm on didi’s head
She had said: “Be a Rajrani.” To me too
She had said something, and engraved with baba’s name
That mannat-pebble still dangles in the Peer’s abode.
Baba is no more.
This our sorrow and grandma’s tale
We may also call it poetry, if we wish.
If you are doubtful, why don’t you visit us around twilight someday?
Come, sit around this our courtyard. You’d see
How leaden darkness descends slowly, slowly…
And right underneath the kakur-tree macha
You’d spot, dangling
Dark black, tall long, just-like-that sorrows
and their fledgling little brood.
No legroom in the temple, because everyone
brings sins befitting his means, hence, the hustle
to unburden those
is also acute.
One man supplicates, as if to cede
All his depravity, another flings a coin
And a third, anointing himself
in temple-dust, smeared with tears
Says, “All my sins I hand over to you thakur.”
As prescribed, in clusters
The disciples return each to their homes
But Hari! Hari!
The same stony weight each still carries within!
Descends on the temple-precinct
Roams alone, forlorn
In Kali-kshetra, only a dog despondent.
At the end of a long day’s trek
Evening at a Kohlu’s house
There, Kohlu’s daughter, standing with a lantern,
Lights up the well-side. On the raised deck
Water in a brass urn, a folded gamchha,
And a footstool standing by.
Dusk drops in torrents there
Afar, the thuggee village…
That horned moon now, splits open the kaash grove—
The nightlong pestle rotates in the starry courtyard
In the morning
an ancient earthen pot brims with oil.
Tanti Colony’s Sleepy Time
There spins the spindle, the bobbin whirrs
So late at night. Arre O Paban, in the tant-room
Why weave so frantic baap?
Won’t you hit the sack? In the room, dust swirls
Busy rats, yonder the rusty handle of an
Old umbrella, chaupaya, pillow-wrapped
Blanket, tattered rugs…
Through the low lying windows, afar, strings of roofs
Bolted door. Sleep. Encompassing Dhanekhali, Shantipur
Hums the sound of tant, tant spins, someone weaves tant.
Some go in darkness, some go in shadow
At lantern’s end children are from lessons distracted
There is only babel.
The babbling stays close, so
Sitting at evening’s portico
A few kinsfolk chat, contented.
Like a pillow cover, one day, a swift wrench
shall invert me.
Steadily the hand wreathes.
Flakey cotton swabs underneath
Fog’s unique body…
All through the night
The inside turns out, the outside in.
Who is that who scrubs dishes all night?
Is the ghaat lodged inside the body?
Yes, the ghaat is lodged inside the body!
If the insect decides to traverse the path obverse
To the old-man’s, will it by and by re-enter the body
As the ancient sperm-tick?
The old-man trudges northward
Toward the embedded insect inquiry.
From two throbbing meatballs emanate
In the middle, sprawls a cosmic termination
Dust-particles cipher-like. Unconnected…
In a distant observatory
Beep…beep—the sound luscious. Eyes downcast
On his own
In the radio-receiving machine engrossed nightlong
The scientist-professor Jagadish…
Witness to endless comings, goings
The composed nischindi tree stands firm—a lifetime
Grasping its boughs and limbs, turned restive, fervid
All day he has littered leaves
Right at this moment the wind says—fall, drop, swish.
Around the portly moon
Both hands aloft
Perhaps now he will begin singing—
Roll out on the yard
The Bengal shatrancho…”
As we speak
Moonlight-shatranchi on the courtyard spreads
Dusty feet, eyes downcast, there—the choric voice—
Listen, O blind one
Sound the srikholok
Loop the khanjani, loop it…
Some Days Bereavement Within
Somedays, stripped of their saffron
Slip into dark alkhallas
Log fire, rice-cakes…
No scales, fins in the kitchen the whole day
The whole day scruffy, windswept
Some days when afternoons
Are poised right in the middle of the pond,
The rear-door creaks open.
The whole courtyard suffused
The courtyard wholly suffused
With Ma’s absence.
The Last Journey
Nightlong someone stays.
In the dark someone stands.
Four pall-bearers know him.
Every day they acquiesce to his whim
The one who has left all that was dear
Illusion’s quiet sphere
In the dark someone stays.
In the fog someone stands.
With his piercing, sprawling eyes
In time, he shall take back
Everything he shall take back.