The Essence of a River

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I’m 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 the mermaid shaped

Cruise ship – I’m to board in a few minutes

 

The wooden 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 the river cruise

Over the Hoogly – I’ve diligently organized,

To end the three day sojourn

For poets from all over India and the world,

In Calcutta – India’s cultural capital.

 

After we’ve all settled down,

The cruise liner aptly named – Matsyakanya

Seductively drops its sturdy moors,

Setting sails into the musky odour of the watercourse –

Pervading my restless and anxious mood:

The mermaid hulk enticing me into a dreamlike form

As if the beckoning river were the cosy arms of night

Preparing for her nocturnal snooze;

For like a woman – a river’s got a diurnal life too

Over seducing the man craving her bosom!

 

We start with the slated poetry readings

After a few minutes to recoup

So as to fit ourselves into the soulful mood –

In watching the soft ripples

Of the river drawing us into its groove

As it forges a passionate bond with the sea,

Even as it creates a soft beam of light in our minds

That we appreciate the beauty of multilingual words

Coercing through the sea of our thoughts!

Under the Howrah bridge when we crossed,

Taking a break from the poetry session:

Looking up, under my breath a wish I fervently uttered –

In an age old belief it would be divinely ordained.

 

The liveried waiters now come around

Serving us delectable fish fingers and kebabs

Along with mint chutney and tartar sauce,

In bridging the east-west culinary divide:

To test our concentration of words –

Are we as much in love with the sincerity of thoughts?

Or are we poets – as defenceless to worldly enticements

That tends to muddy the profundity of our views!

 

Then there’s a jazz band that performs

In the darkness, as we cruise along

With the twinkling lights of varied ghats

Beckoning us to disembark

And romance them with a profusion of words

Once we return to our own remote spheres:

For aren’t we all verbal crusaders

Of isolated inner voices and uncovered worlds!

 

The aura of candescence around Belur Math –

After we’ve crossed the Dakhineshwar Kali temple,

Binds us in its eclectic, mystic charm

Arousing pictographic minds we’re endowed with,

Even if today we tend to rely more

On photographs our mobile phones hold

Over the sharply astute lenses –

Our mind’s eyes are gifted masters of!

 

By now, dinner has been served

In a series of silver-plated buffet platters –

That reflect the lights of the embankments we cross

Like those shores in our lives varied sojourns

Which reflect the perceptions?

That forms our palette of words:

Even as we’re sophisticated and fine-tuned

To the ecstasy of our palates as to words –

From world cuisines we partook lifelong

On our travels over varied dominions;

As we tend to perceive with all our senses –

Stronger and much sensitised than most people.

 

So now, the divine caramel custard for dessert

And vanilla ice-cream dripped with saucy chocolate:

Chills, numbs our Indian spice ignited senses,

So that we can return to our personal worlds –

Safe from a weakness that might squash our souls

And render our experiences wasted,

Before we convert them into words and phrases!

 

The night chill now beckons us to return

To the pavilion of commencement of our sojourn;

As the dwindling lights of humanities we’ve left behind –

In our stride for distinction in city lived luxuriant lives,

Recede into the remote wilderness of our minds –

Perhaps never to surface again:

But once we’re dead –

Buried in similar mud or cremated,

And our ashes sprinkled on the waters

Of this very river Ganges

Or any other that we may be close to then;

May our souls rest in peace over our life choices –

At the culmination of our journey’s cryptic end!

 

PS: I scribbled this today, so it’s still an initial draft, that I will edit and fine tune shortly…

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