The Scents of a River
I am standing by the pier dressed in aquamarine blue,
swathed in the setting sun’s tangerine hues —
watching the birds glide past on their homeward flight
over the hull of a mermaid shaped cruise ship —
that I’m to board — in a few minutes.
The wood-planked walkway I cross
with purposeful slow strides —
the wind caressing my face, neck and mind
to an awakened sense of reflective delight—
in keenness of a river cruise over the Ganges
I’ve diligently organized — to end the three-day festival
for poets, who have congregated from over the world —
to recite their poetry in Kolkata — India’s cultural capital.
After we have all settled on the top deck of the ship —
aptly named Matsyakanya — the mermaid:
it seductively drops its sturdy moors, setting sail
into the musky river odour — pervading my senses,
and stirring up my restless and anxious emotions.
The mermaid shaped hulk enticing my imaginative mind —
into picturing the river as the cosy arms of night
beckoning the mermaid into her boudoir —
to be seduced by the gallant moon craving her bosom.
We set off the slated poetry readings once seated,
after we’ve recouped from the sublime environment —
our minds moulded into a soulful mood that’s essential:
with soft ripples of the river drawing us into its groove,
as it’s forging ahead fervently to meet the Bay of Bengal.
The vessel, creating a soft beam of light awakens our minds,
that we may appreciate the beauty of multilingual verses
to coerce now — through the sea of our own thoughts.
When we crossed under the Howrah bridge —
we took an interval from the ongoing poetry readings,
as I looked up and articulated a wish under my breath —
in the age-old belief — it would be divinely ordained.
Just then, liveried waiters came around with platters —
serving delectable kebabs and fish fingers
that tasted divine with mint chutney and tartar sauce —
both in the menu to appease palates, bridge the east-west gap.
Thus, tempting our value for words, sincerity of our thoughts —
assessing if we are poets defenceless to worldly enticements
that tend to muddy the profundity of our opinions!
A lively jazz band now performs as we cruise along —
as series of ghats come alive, with twinkling lights
beckoning us to disembark — for glimpses of their soul.
So that we may romance them with a profusion of words —
once we return to our own faraway shores:
as poets, are we not crusaders of isolated inner voices,
who take it upon ourselves — to uncover private worlds!
There is now an aura of candescence around Belur Math —
after we cross the Dakhineshwar Kali temple ghat,
that wraps us in its eclectic, mystic charm
in arousing pictorial minds — poets are endowed with,
though we now tend to rely on cell phone photographs
over the astute lenses — our mind’s eyes are gifted with!
The dinner of Biryani — with several accompaniments,
also, number of continental selections for international poets —
has just been served on silver-plated buffet salvers
that now reflect lights of the embankments we traverse.
Just like shores we cross in our lives varied sojourns
reflect the perceptions forming our dishes of words,
refined as we are in choices of word-condiments, as gourmets —
for as poets we perceive profoundly with all our senses,
much sharper and more sensitised than most people.
There is a divine caramel custard for dessert,
also vanilla ice-cream drizzled with chocolate sauce and nuts —
to cool, and soothe our spice ignited sensory nerves.
So that, we may return to our personal worlds satiated —
or we might consider our evening’s experience inane,
before we convert this sublimity into words and phrases
to leave sincere and optimistic imprints on Kolkata —
not only as an ailing and poverty stricken ‘City of Joy’.
The night chill of the river breeze beckons us to return,
to the pavilion of commencement of our excursion —
from the fading lights of a series of ghats now left behind,
that will recede into the remote wilderness of our minds —
perhaps never to surface, even till we are dead and buried or cremated —
ashes sprinkled in some edge of a river as Ganges.
May our souls rest in peace then over our life’s word choices —
to uphold values despite resistances and fear of social ostracization,
thus, avoid regret at culmination of our life-cruise’s cryptic end!
PS: I scribbled this today, home after the event …will fine tune it later but posting it with few photos now.
With Sarabjeet Garcha & Tushar Dhawal Singh (poet & festival director) to the extreme right.
Sonnet Mondol(Poet & festival director)
Actor Victor Banerji(also above) & Poet Shonkho Ghosh lighting the lamp at the inauguration at the first years inauguration.
This evening in my poem, was the ending event of Chair Poetry evenings first year – that I helped organise as their Festival Consultant – here in the link are all the photos of the 1st year 2018: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10157002688839974&type=3&mibextid=ncKXMA
Here is all all about this yearly mega event: http://www.chairpoetryevenings.org/
PS: much later, in 2020, I added this poem to my 2nd collection of poems… “Trouvailles: My Moments of Yugen”