March 21 was declared as World Poetry Day by UNESCO during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999, with the aim of ‘supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard’. It is the occasion to honour poets and their work. In this series to mark the day, Outlook showcases the works of those who revel in ‘one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity.’
If you ask me for a gift ,
I have to tell you that I have gift wrapped my languid noon, quiet balconies
the stillness of this room, where our known and unknown worlds remain neatly stacked in shelves with other knickknacks.
I gift you our leftover wishes,
hung on the clothesline; bleeding colours with every wash,
the wafting aroma of grated lemon peel from my online bakery class.
I gift you the memory of stolen crimson kisses in high school, my recent playlist, my mundane hours.
I also wish to give your my unborn words,
— words that might form an island where our names habitually rest
till the roots run deep deep to reach the complexity of my dreams where poems become streets we walk on, but never meet.
I give you the zigzag of my thoughts
that lead us to a park bench where we left ourselves on a warm spring noon...
my soft wide gaze of long ago
looking up in naive wonder at the inky shibori spread of the sky
the raw green unfolding of a banana leaf that peeps out to see the world,
while your eyes mirror the amazement of new discoveries
each time they look into mine.
I uncage myself from this self
imagine the life of a stranger in a different place and time
finally after traversing through the whimsicalities of life, I gift you the freedom to choose between existing and living,
lure you to walk down the aisle of unfamiliarity,
— conspire against our banal love story
to write a different epilogue.
The verb shiboru means ‘to wring, squeeze and press’ in Japanese. While the word shibori is often associated with the famous style of fabric dying particular to Japan, it encompasses a wide gamut of fabric manipulation and dying found worldwide.
It is the last night of December
I am at a party with some known and unknown faces
Between uncorking and loud cheer some thoughts on time and its nonchalance leaves me baffled.
As one year rolls over to another, I ponder on the movement of moments, how they dissolve themselves continually and how desperately we try to compartmentalise them as past, present, future.
At the stroke of midnight, when voices and music drown in the drink, the frustration of a futile search through nameless roads and alleys, in albums, memorabilia, cards and letters of yesterday splits and scatters.
I gulp down my brimming scarlet sorrow at one go and decide to keep chasing the mirage.
My city is an apsara, decked in shimmering blue plaits, bringing me back nights that verbalise our mad rush into each other.
Life reduces to the last swig in a wine glass, making me realise that I hate newness in any form
A foggy street stretches out of my eyes.
A sleepy dog licks the weariness of the day.
A silent home awaits my footsteps.
The night sky wraps itself around me
It still holds the afterglow of love.
Mallika Bhaumik is a widely published poet with two poetry books. Her first book, Echoes won the Reuel International Award for the best debut book in 2018. Her second book, How Not To Remember was published by Hawakal in 2019. She is also a nominee for the Pushcart Prize for poetry, 2019.