01 January 1970

The Victory Flag Shall Fly And Other Emotions

Every poet has his own father-mother-ideal land. Here poet gives his motherland a tongue, and she says, 'Personal memories? Dust./ Dust my body, a pain killing/ My comforts.'

We are shy, hide in stone cracks like insects
We are shy, hide in stone cracks like insects Getty Images

The Victory Flag Shall Fly

We’ve built our introvert huts here
Lit up tear-stained funerals beside the Ghia river
Played our blood-sieved music to cheer
Dancing crowds with madal, dholak, dotar.

Mud-tracks of cart-wheelsreappear after monsoon
Our blue river elopes with a moss-green stone
Our lips parched, eyes riveted to sky at noon
Waiting for mild-drops to nurse seeds sown.

We are shy, hide in stone cracks like insects
When a sarkari jeep bursts into our fold
But our curious children follow it with zest
For long, so long that we lose temper and scold.

We turn boisterous on full-length market days
Free-floating on palm-juice brewed by our wives
Laugh with the bania who lends us money,pays
For the rations, our sisters’ sexual lives.

Sunlight on our tropical turbans trim and gay
Cicadas fly, grass turns to hay with whisper
Fist-tight, we fight against misery like gods, far away
From the cities bad with smoke, dust and tar.

But this land does not belong to us, lepers,
For we tilled and kissed it shallow
Our fields caged in silence sore and fallow
Strewn with MLA’s handbills, torn ballot papers.

The restless night couldn’t sleep as we are dead
We can’t raise our heads anymore and must lie -----
Yet who can shall grow new flags of leaves, overhead
The victory flag cherishes to fly shall honestly fly.

Mother India

The mother looks at her infant’s dark torso
Droplets trickle from her translucent eyes.
Love needs sorrow, a tortured existence.
A surge of helplessness floods her mind
As they look at each other’s skinny garb

On the Sealdah railway platform of 1947.
Hope emanates from burnt out images, charred bodies,
Corpses heaped on doorsteps on central Calcutta streets.
You can’t rub off the blackness , whiten it with secular lies;
The Great Calcutta Killings before they threw at us partition.
Freedom came with herds of refugees , homeless beggars overnight.

Have the wounds healed , I asked my mother on her death bed.
She uttered with a muffled sob , my soul will live in Faridpur after I die.

What My Motherland Says

Personal memories? Dust.
Dust my body, a pain killing
My comforts. Dust off strains
Of corruptions, black money,
False promises by politicians.
Strangle facists, casteism
Anti-secularists, non liberals…..
Oh, the brainy intellectuals
Do not matter to me, they
Now lack loyalty and trust
Let their brains burst.
Some of them are purposeless
Poets, like the one writing this verse.
They are shadow fighters of words.
But poets should show us the way
The pen, they say is mightier than
The sword. Delete ‘s’, it becomes word.

(Boudhayan Mukherjee, a bilingual poet, author, and translator started as a student editor and literary secretary at Visva Bharati University. His first book of verse "Black Milk" (1990) is followed by five anthologies, a collection of short stories and books of translations.)