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Lora Tomas

Lora Tomas

Photo by Lucan Husac.

Ferry Crossing


Crammed on a ferry across the Hooghly:
Durga's madness whirls vortices of red
Along the shores. When the ferry docks,
Another river, faster and more dangerous,
Forms and surges through the openings
In both directions.
We drown while gasping for air -
People have swelled
Up to our necks.


I feel the overwhelming closeness
In this unmoving human stampede
Looking at you standing upright some distance away
Surrounded by smooth-faced Bengali boys
Aloof, your skin aglow with new found pleasures
Your blue eyes tracing the elusive skyline just a few
Moments before this mass of passengers shoots out wild
To touch the sandy shores, and I stumble towards
Millions of knees, revealing the skin by slipping
Of the shawl caught mid fall by an elderly lady -
This is not the time or place
For random inappropriateness.
Later, safe behind the half-open taxi window
At a red stand still hushed among the cars
And smells and scents I hear you say -
There were more photographers than Durgas
At the immersion ghats

Hannah and Her Necklace of Rubies

Hannah on the seventh floor of her Calcutta flat
paced up and down until the monsoons
dragged away their slow procession

and now Durga puja drones
throughout the city
while down below at the building's entrance

the posters announce the dicovery of the Higgs boson -
goddess's own particle
elusive enough to prove and redeem everything

the demons behind their veils
surrounding the unstirred Mother Teresa
she is the love at first sight

in her floral blouse and pearl earrings
when she serves us mango curd
and strawberry cheese cake and later

coffee and cigarettes by the window -
a new temple's silhouette as the city skyline
looms ancient and foreboding in the evening dark

while a persistent sitar raga coils from the speakers
and somehow, unexpectedly, the Mediterranean seeps in
with its stark white-and-blue contrasts

the poignant smell of lavender
and summer nights with black bras
hanging in lighted windows

and then she picks up a necklace of two rows
of deep red rubies, polished to perfection
and bought on her way back from Konarak

and puts it around my neck -
there is something casually erotic in the
fastening of the clip

which still haunts me an hour later
in the nearby Navadurga Temple stacked with
blindingly white goddesses that look like Barbie dolls

nine of them different but exactly the same
until she pulls me by the hand and points
to a small statue tucked in a wall niche -

a miniature Black Kali
drowned in heavy tribal jewellery
a little dethroned splint of darkness

it is all astrologically determined
someone intones from behind
like Ram's leaving of Sita or the Great War

and Hanah later, when we were saying our goodbyes,
of how she's once again become this floating particle
oscillating freely for somebody to claim

Camera Obscura

You're telling me about
a photographer taking pictures
of Bangladeshi

using the longest exposure
and self-made lenses

so they had to stand still
for an hour
their nets suspended in mid air

not yet falling
towards the fish
waiting open-mouthed

to surge into them
beneath the dead
frozen waves

their crests of white
foaming motionlessly

while you wrap
your hands around

under red lights
of a bathroom in Goa
saying that

by drawing with light I deepen the shades
of black.

It's what makes dark rooms
as intimate as brothels
or essays of Béla Hamvas.

Lovers Past

"I want this love to be
violently new,
as the forest fire
in its site."

And you said,
"That is how
the jungles
of rebels."

the past lovers'
might still
in your mouth.

But not them.

They have
an inbuilt part of you -
like something
you have eaten
long time ago
and it has left
its mark
as the
restless shadow
on your



Jayanta Mahapatra: In Conversation with Sachidananda Mohanty
Sarojini Sahoo: In Discussion with Kavita Arya

Deepali Yadav: Divakaruni’s Oleander Girl
Disha Khanna: Mahesh Dattani’s On a Muggy Night in Mumbai
Hampi Chakrabarti: Punctured Conscience
Koushiki Dasgupta: The Poetry of Mallika Sengupta

Book Reviews
Atreya Sarma: ‘Mystic Warrior’
GSP Rao: ‘Tapestry Poetry’
Jaydeep Sarangi: ‘Exchanges with the Thinker’
Priyanka Kakoti: ‘On a Wing and a Prayer’

Ambika Ananth: Editorial Note
Abin Chakraborty
Amreen B Shaikh
Ankush Banerjee
Charles Thielman
Jhuma Sen
Lora Tomas
Neelam Dadhwal
Rafiul Rahman
Rittvika Singh
Rob Harle
Rohan Dominic Mathews
Shanta Acharya
Simon Perchik
Sunita Raina Pandit

Shernaz Wadia: Editorial Comment
Anirudh Kala: ‘Mr Haq’
KL Chowdhury: ‘Tenderer than a Petal…’
Madhuliika Ghose: ‘Inspiration’
Prashila Naik: ‘The B.A. Pass Groom’
Sunil Sharma: ‘Dream’
Vempalle Shariff: ‘A Point of Nails’

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