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Torsa Ghosal

Torsa Ghosal

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Clay Love

Shadows of mutilated idols on my eyes,
Sparkling paper crowns lined with false stones
Metamorphous mind tutored him blue lies,
It’s I and not his clay love that moans

Life-like abstraction too never bleeds, nor cries,
Handmade dolls at the potter’s streets
Playthings for adults, who’ve left hopscotch and dice,
He floats with his idol, and ne’er meets

That’s his house, where across the tramline the lane dies,
I’d barge through that green weathered plank door
During hide-n-seek, hide in their shelf like little mice,
Among mustard oil bottles and more

The courtyard is where their potter’s workshop lies,
Autumns when Calcutta dressed for fests
Idols taken to pandals unleash divine ties,
Their task accomplished, his family rests

Distance that photographic memory defies,
Time we never regarded that day
And before Durga puja comes my seraph soul flies,
To lanes where potters still bind the hay

‘I’ll make my own idol this year’ he said, nice!
I followed fingers tuning soft clay
Layers of muddy grey flesh where my vision pries,
He made and lived with it day after day

I saw less and less of him, such a sacrifice,
Only to mould an insensate goddess
And his consuming passion came at what a price,
He never overcame this his charring phase

Transfixed he remained engulfed in passionate highs,
And I would look out of my window
For his fiery trance at some point to remise,
Deity developed to be my foe

Only amidst childish whims if I could surmise,
Even when I saw his reluctance
To sell his idol to the clients for such price,
I would’ve offered some resistance

Idol entrapped him with pseudo-divine sighs,
He was enmeshed during the fest
Time for immersion of holy deity arrives,

unawares he was heard to have followed the idol to where it returns to earth
in the holy Ganges …
the ripples undress and rob his clay-love
dissolving of that clay…
melting of his flesh slippery with mustard oil
… somewhere in the river current…

from that mud unworthy idols they still carve,
somewhere in my neighboring potters’ streets
all rhymes seem out of place ever since,
except in dreams, when I see:

shadows of mutilated idols on my eyes,
sparkling paper crowns lined with false stones
metamorphous mind tutored him blue lies,
and now,
it’s I and not his clay love that moans


In my playhouse, draped in a torn red dupatta
I would imitate Ma. Posing in front of a discarded mirror
Sometimes I borrowed old accessories for bridal deck up
The only thing I was not to touch was
The little silver box of vermillion

Vermillion, like the smoke from incense, eluded.
Something sacred, a bond it forged
Little dreams culminate in a moment
When someone sprinkles vermillion, or so I’d thought-

Vermillion- the color of love, hope, trust…

A young bride decked in scarlet grandeur
With vermillion on her forehead
A few days later, newspapers report:
Row over dowry, young bride’s dead...

Vermillion, the love that turned to dust…

The ambitious girl knew she was meant to reach beyond
All circumscribed limits to unforeseen terrains ahead
They do not understand her, and wreaths of expectations
Masked in the bouquet of a woman’s-duties imprison her instead.

Vermillion- no man’s land to be surmounted for quenching thirst…

Impregnated the middle aged wife bears the prize of life-
A little daughter beaming comes with joy unsaid
But her man is not happy, his family fumes.
Distressed she watches her little angel, at birth, being stifled.

Vermillion- that which compels her to bear it alas…

Her existence in shabby red pockets of the city
Is questioned by a society blackened from toe to head
He visits her everyday, she caters to his needs
Yet unlike his wife her worth remains a negotiable rate.

Vermillion- tinted particles that could validate lust…

Not in my games, though, the presence or absence of it.


Night jasmine!

Bloom like my sleepless star
Though I am dark, drooping, drenched, blue…
An inspired death wish this is.

Night jasmine, you feel like burnt wood
On a day that was supposed to be soaked in rain.

You are sickly sentimental-
The foggy sighs of the last winter day 
Or the pathetic smile before hands slide away.

Yes… yes… I’m still awake.

Night jasmine, I never wanted to re-live these nights.
Are two ages not enough? Let sun set for another era
Before I can overcome or confess… 
Or you can evolve into a caustic sunflower. 

But no… here it is.
Here you are in the womb of pregnant time. 

What am I saying? Are you still listening?

And now,
Whatever I say you’ll misunderstand.
What if I say this was planned?
Night jasmine, can’t poetry be my prayer?
You are the one who reads my poems at night…
Don’t you? Now, answer this one.

Then you can shimmer and consume.
This is my night wish.
So that, on one spring morning
Under virgin light,
Night jasmine, you can go to sleep first.


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