Then I was not the antagonist in your fiction
Pine needles. The hill breeze. Take me home. It is winter
and this has been a while. This silly disorder- nostalgia
On a plateau purple peppered, mountain harebell stare;
I remember brushing with my finger on a canvas as catholic as the sky
a dreamland underneath the blue, punctuated by flocks of cloud.
I dreamt. No. I lay on my land, much before you called me an “outsider”
I have missed winters for long, long time. You
stole my pine song of December and placed it
on the entrance of the neighbouring cemetery.
The snow on stripped jacaranda tree looks odd.
Choler clutches a branch.
You too run for cover
and find a way to my inked patch. Unfenced. Unmanned.
Remember the times we shared full clad peach trees. We shared
its sweetness. Its green.
Then you didn’t find me a child of the ill-fated refugee.
Then I was not the antagonist
in your fiction.
We could sit down quietly. Cheek to cheek. Free
our feet. Dunk into the watershed
our secret spot.
You and I shared words. You and I shared dreams. Wrote poems on love
stealing adjectives from the downhill dandelions, blushing, giggling, utterly spurned.
Fear then had no home
now both sides grow pale.
In a full moon night, the pines now bare blood lump.
There are many these days who whimper through me,
many who salt my poetry, now more than ever.
About the poem
This was written with an urgent feeling. We have been children/ grand-children of migrants in North-east India. Our roots spread out to our next bordered country, now Bangladesh. End of last month, we found ourselves in a tight spot, plucked out as “outsiders” we were asked to vacate our land and labelled “Bangladeshis”. Here we stood stark robbed off our birthplace. All at one go, we were landless, skyless, named antagonists. This is a fourth-generation narrative.
when you place them on the feet of a dead
they lie poised with elegance
you do not grieve for everyone dying
you pay obeisance to a curling era.
Hydrangea: a prayer drop.
Purabi Bhattacharya is a writer and poet, involved in teaching and writing for over two decades. She is the author of two collections of poems, both published by Writers Workshop, India; and reviews books as a panellist for the literary e-journal Muse India. Twitter @wordblossom