Mona Banerjee, from Kolkata, was born into a family of real literary giants; her maternal grandmother was Lila Majumdar, the well-known Bengali writer of children’s books. From her dad’s side, she’s linked to THE Tagores. Maybe this fueled her love for reading, writing, drawing … stuff like that. Family pressures put all this on the back-burner for years, though she wrote occasionally. Now that she’s free, she’s writing again.
Here are some glorious poems from her.
The sun embedded in whipped cream decoration of clouds,
And someone pours over the sky
A lavish ladleful of golden syrup
That trickles downwards to the leaves of the trees
And the house-tops catch a few drops
And savour it slowly,
Reluctant to pass it down
To the plum-sauce-shadow-wrapped bushes
Garnishing their feet,
And themselves garnished with a scatter of nut-gold sunlight scraps.
A soft dash of cinnamon-powder-brown tree-trunk shades
That spread with slow mistiness
Over the whole confection,
As the spoon of night dips with greedy glee,
And the plum-sauce swirls up with the cinnamon;
Honey and nuts and cream melt together
Till the bowl of night is empty
And ready again for another delicious confection.
Rain-slicked roads and streaming house-fronts,
Wipers flicking futile fingers at the drops;
Sodden leaves patchwork the kerbs
As life slithers by in a steady stream
Under umbrellas dripping chill.
Splashes and sprays on reluctant feet,
And a mess of mud hurriedly sidestepped.
Dancers practice foxtrot with puddles
And two-step with the rain.
Odoriferous earth, spiced with the pungency of decay,
Oily mud, household refuse soaked and mashed,
And a sudden counterpoint of wet earth and leaves and grass
From some rare garden-patch
Send tingling memories hunting into the past,
Where another monsoon day lies hidden
In the accumulated dust of years
And the covering cobwebs of age.
Rain-churned paths, a stream of red
Amidst the washed green-and-brown rows of sal,
Silver spears from grey-wool clouds
Hanging over the dark wet clouds of mango groves,
Flicked aside a while by the brush-straight coconut trees.
Leaf-patched roads, fragrantly wet,
Jigsawed by the silver of puddles,
And the splatter of raindrop-fairies springing up
And vanishing into memory.
Bare feet playing catch-as-catch-can
With the pools of silver wet that form
And unform again
In the wet greenness of the meadows.
Where damp-skinned Shyamoli-Dhoboli
Blow their hay-sweet breath at me.
And Kanu-goala’s mother
Calls us in, out of the wet,
Into the warmth of an earth cup of fresh milk.
Futility is a word I never knew
Till I met you.
You changed the way I lived and loved
And know the world I knew before
With so much joyful innocence.
I know the world with eyes of age
And reluctant wisdom
Learnt on the anvil of your love.
I live for you, your love, your self,
And negate myself … futile in my life!
A new word, now —
— Futility —
In the vocabulary of my life;
A word I never knew
Till I met you.
I’ll never see the house again.
The rain washed it away from my life
That bitter January morning
When the red gates shut behind me for the last time.
The rickshaw wheels beat time to my heart’s sobs,
Suppressed behind the formal goodbyes.
The cobra-lily tree waved its last farewell
And the row of slender ‘amlakis’ wept their leaves after me
As the little grey house vanished in the mist silver rain.
The shadow of the royal bougainvillea dimmed my eyesight
As it passed from view,
And my guardians and friends — the mango trees —
They whispered through the rain “Don’t go!”
As I turned away my head and wept in my heart,
As I weep now!
I didn’t want to — they made me!
I didn’t want to leave, to say goodbye!
I’ll never see my friends again!
I’ll never smell the sweet, cold air
Or hear the night-time rush of birds’ wings
Sweeping overhead in time to my dreams.
Never hear the squeak of pulley-wheels
Echoing around the old well,
Under the cloud of tamarind leaves,
As the dark water lips up in the bucket
From the fragrant depths.
Never smell the tang of ‘amlaki’ flowers in bloom,
Or taste the brown tamarind fruit
And the wrinkled ‘kul’— essence of joy!
Never feel the honey-gold touch of the winter sun
Flowing down my back,
Or the rough warmth of the gravel-strewn path
Under my bare feet —
As I rush through a magical world
Of flowers and trees and birds and dogs,
And become one with the light and air.
The ‘bokul’ flowers star my path
And marigolds enamel my feet with gold.
The gardenia sprays my nights and days
With its magical perfume,
While the royal lemon-tree challenges its rights
To my senses!
The hoopoe raises its crest in astonishment
That I am standing still for a minute,
But the heavy-bodied crow-pheasant
‘Koob-koobs’ its approval
As I stop and feel the silken grass amidst my toes
And the swelling joy of knowing I belong
In this magical world of trees and leaves and grass and flowers
And the sweet-spice fragrance of unknown herbs.
And I return to the world into which I don’t fit.
Where nights and days don’t match
But blend together in a patchwork of duns and greys.
And I have no escape…
Only my mind gropes for the images of light,
The images of my lost world.
My lost friend!
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