Custom Search

Calcutta and Another Poem

by Jit Bhattacharya
(Kolkata, India)

By Jit Bhattacharya

How..... to what pulls you, this city
through its veins, through its roots
spread, grown chaotic
its shame, its id ... obstinance
makes you feel as one, like a king
like a baby back in her womb
its passion, its senses from strong
to maudlin, the soft deceit, cowardice
veiled in cacophonic apologies
its deep rooted care surfaces languid,
lingers longer than necessary

This modern city born occidental
free thinkers, churned with Durga, Kali
allegorical and godless at the same instance,
halted suddenly in its tracks unbelieving
stumbling as a high bred woman raped,
sari torn hanging around her bruises
limping on high stilettos, eyes defiant

Is it the indo-gothic arcades jammed with
ramshackle colours in abstract lines
dusted vibrant... mad rush
under a hot morning sun
sweat dripping, people hanging
from door rails on dented tin buses
zig zag, here there, crowds swell
there are patterns underlying mercurial

Or By-lanes escaping from the noise
winding by a banyan thick trunked
ageless into the quiet of
green venetian blinds wide
facing oblong above curved terraces
half hidden by rustling leaves
wrought iron gates intricate

Safe haven to middle class genteel
matriarchs with translucent skin,
oiled long black hair glistening
speak in measured sweet syllables
smell of fish lightly spiced, burnt
with mango, wrapped in banana leaf
mobile hawker in the afternoon heat
hanging, gives his mournful cry
on a deserted street

Its anglo mixed quarters still show signs
of lounge music, pish pash
neo-classical structures lining alleys
cut up with stairs false ceilings
second hand vinyl stores tucked between
butchers, tailors, bakeries
khansamas bred in adjacent
saracen streets a little north where
live descendants of Wajid Ali

Or cobbled lanes snaking through
red brick warehouses by the river
hide traces of lost commerce and order
painted clay gods, hanging wires
in dark corners, where ghosts of the past
mix easily with the living, a continuum
slowly over time disappearing

With each passing year its stories
its secrets....its very soul
retreating into buried crevices
into a darkness invisible to many
other than a few who, like you,
know where to look
Is this how it pulls you....this city?

Looking On From A Verandah
By Jit Bhattacharya

The white and gray cat
suddenly jerked
its head up
in a blur, bounding
up the tree trunk
leaped to lock its jaw tight
around the squirrel's neck
noiselessly climbing down
the gardener, hollering,
gave chase
the cat swiftly skirting
the edge of a water well
dropped its prey while
escaping through
the grilled iron gate
it was too late
as the man held
the scrawny, black-striped
dirt-brown squirrel
limp by its tail
And soon, the quiet of
the mid morning sun
settled back again
surely in the leafy glade
amid rustle of leaves,
cooing of pigeons
mango, magnolia
chrysanthemums in the shade


Comments for Calcutta and Another Poem

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Nov 04, 2019
Reply to Kusum
by: Your Name:

Thank you, Kusum, for your very kind comments. I can sense you are a poet yourself. Please keep in touch. I could be reached at If you would like to share some of your work with me, I would gladly read it.


Nov 04, 2019
by: Choppra Kusum

Jit, your poem was truly a masterpiece, as much poem as a painting. As one reads, the images appear before the eyes, although my only visit to Cal was way back in 1989! But could just see those bazaars, those shops, those houses --- sadly losing ground as the world rushes ahead, wishing that the past would somehow obliterate itself.
thank you writing this colorful, yet touching poem.
Kusum Choppra

PS... do share if you carry on your website.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Poems.