A Village in Bengal: Itachuna Rajbari

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That morning at nine, we set out on a lengthy drive,

crossing expressways, hotels, and airport to our right.

 The flyovers we crossed were modern and manifold

above high rises and abodes the airplanes groaned.

 

Bally bridge we traversed over the Hoogly’s high tide,

Belur Math and the Dakshineswar temple to our right:

across lush harvests was a rustic and picturesque sight,

water bodies rippling under wide expanses of blue sky.

 

Altering an erroneous course despite of google maps,

on village tracks to the red and white Rajbari’s ramparts:

the vintage edifice was imposing its office cosy and small

huge palm hand fan on its wall, green door in relic form.

 

The courtyard, with a Radha-Madhav temple led to stairs,

to high-ceiling rooms lodging zamindars of 14 generations:

our cosy room and foyer, gave an old worldly regal charm

view of garden, lotus pond, poultry pen, woodchessboard.

 

A gondhoraj sharbat heralded the traditional Bengali meal

at a dining hall across our room, facing the inner courtyard:

served on kasha plates with half a dozen bowls of vegetables,

there was dal, luchi, rice, curried eggs, chicken, and mutton.

After a siesta, imparted its history, we went on a guided tour

of a palatial home that has retained its Zamindari splendour,

with unique furnished rooms, each of the kin had resided in

depicting the last chain of its residents’ lives, named therein.

 

Past a foliage to a walled lake house ladies had bathed in,

we walked up to a cow shed, its occupants now gallivanting

amidst lines of cottages that flaunted deer, rabbits, and fowl

all sprinting around, making a cacophony of unique sounds.

We were taken on a brisk stroll of this palatial country estate,

also, outside it to a temple on the opposite side of the road:

back inside to public offices, dance hall, rooms full of antiques

we were shown the splendour of well-maintained royal spaces.

After a visit of two sprawling kite-flying terraces, during sunset

from where was audible a medley of musical accompaniments

of the priest’s arati at the alpana bedecked well-lighted temple:

we descended to partake in it seek Lord Krishna’smiracles.

 

After few games of ludo, snakes and ladders, also badminton,

over masala chai, snacking on vegetable pakoras in the garden;

we watched a drizzle turning to rain, under a cementedcanopy

then relished a classic Bengali dinner with rice, curried mutton.

 

At seven next morning I wandered out of our imperial fortress,

originally built in 1766 by the Borgee Maratha’s titled ‘Kundan’:

to sneak a view of the village, Itachuna that was renamed ‘Kundu’

by this family who had built here a school, college, and hospital.

 

I walked awed by lines of well-to-do cottages flanking clean roads,

pretty with manicured gardens waking up late to a winter’ssun:

a maze of paths amid tiny ponds in which flocks of ducks paddled

but the exotic mud huts stood up with elan, vying for my attention.

 

After cups of Darjeeling tea following walks in the Rajbari’sgarden,

we ate an elaborate breakfast of luchi with typical Bengali garnishes:

then took on the village roads to drive back into urban civilization,

to duplicitous lives where there’s no reprieve from class distinctions!

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“You don’t make art. You find it.”
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
– Pablo Picasso

This poem is in my upcoming 2nd collection of poems titled Trouvailles: My moments of Yugen. The details are in the link here…

https://shuvashreechowdhury.com/2020/08/16/trouvailles-my-moments-of-yugen-my-new-poetry-book/

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