Commissioned artwork by Anjali Menon
The Dialogue of Deluge
Soggy moist mornings, water refusing to budge
Her fifth house this one
Reminiscing three years of dialogued deluge
Bamboosticks, girdled ropes, withered petticoats
Yet Komola’s water would refuse to budge.
There were officers here
The Thursday before the water would hit
Piled heaps of log files
Figures dancing around
Like broken chalks over her daughter’s slate
From last year,
She could manage to save.
They would narrate warnings
Like every other year...
Then forget them,
In rations and lost belongings
Like every other year....
Islands they’d call home
Would be floating around
In muddy silt of Ganga
Rising an inch year over year
Gutting them down sans hope of fear.
Suffocating her ripples in braided ropes
Her fleshy breasts serenading a peek
For Dinu, Ishwar and Gopal
Never missing a chance of brushing aside
Each time they’d lend a hand
Tightening her braid-held grip.
A councillor would always visit
With food and relief
To the one who would come
From another Institution.
One, to break the path of dam,
Of homes that’d no longer float along
Daughters of Komola and Beenu
Studying in schools
Not being washed away every monsoon.
She’d see the fish swim back
Waiting in her largesse of earthern pots
Kept aside for November
When she would not find rice.
She’d see them all
Snorkelling past her saved coins
Freed from the conceals of petticoat
Trying hard to save
Few pieces of this year’s clothes.
Each year she counted losses
In utensils, clothes, bamboosticks and ropes
Forgetting to count in
A mother or a seven year brother
Taken hostage then engulfed
In an Aila or a Bulbul years later.
People would come and go
Which her five year daughter
Would still fear
Watching corpses in camps high on fever.
Mid September already
Half the battle over
Another year of endless paddy strings
Dormant in countless drops.
Drops forever waking up Komola
In dreamt hisses of salinity
The taste in which her eyes
Would await cataclysm.
*The Sunderban area of Gangetic West Bengal, home to world’s largest mangrove delta, faces the heat of climate change more than anywhere else in the country. There are islands sinking rapidly due to rising seawater levels and sees one of the highest climate migration in the global context.
Commissioned artwork by Anjali Menon
She’d Wait For June
The last summer
When her body would endlessly ache
From cracks and parchments
Crusts of mottled leaves
Scouring across the veins.
She’d wait for June
Little knowing of unanswered hopes
Boundless thirst of saline tears
Refusing to give in.
Cumulo nimbus clouds, foreboding thunder
Prayers had been answered
This year and a way too far
Bags full of seeds
Would now need to find a way
Into water that would come home to stay
For the frogs had been wedded
Too soon in fear
Of burnt saplings, ephemeral cropheads
That would never grow
Wrapped in losses from last year.
They’d pound her in, one after the other
Seed after seed laid
Caring little of those already in there...
In acids and potions of harshness
Bubbling in pyretic thirst.
For the thirst to quench
In wells, taps, messengers named after water tanks
Sealing rarely those cracks
Still laying naked with her seeds intact.
The gates would stay open
For days on end until night came
To call him back into the fields
Watching his soybeans turn into weeds
Damp air funneling a fungal breath
Ceasing little the orgy of pests.
The gates would invite him
Into meshed abyss
Where creaky frames of his ancestors
Kept hanging onto rotten walls
Belittling the cheapest frame
Of a thirty five year old father
Latching onto walls of custom, dead in dismay.
Baritone footsteps, fragrant white flowers
Heralding a body after the other
Each time they’d trample upon her cracks.
Third year in row
That her children’s price would refuse to soar,
Unlike the mercury, unlike the rain
Divorced from each other
In untimely brown of the foliage.
Fire engulfing every surround
Ashes into smoke
That smelt some of dead sugarcane
The rest of water lost men.
*Regions like Vidharbha, Marathwada in Maharashtra, India, sees drought and sometimes intense flooding every successive year. Regions face widely erratic climatic conditions and thousands of farmers every year succumb to suicides due to crop failure arising out of climate change.
Adrija Chatterjee has done her Research in Foreign Policy Studies. From being a teacher to a researcher and a content manager she finally found home for her identity in the childhood calling for the world of fiction and poetry. Dissecting the various dimensions of human existence and echoing marginal voices in her small way. Her fiction and poetry pieces have been published in Telegraph’s short story, Parabaas, Active Muse and Cafe Dissensus. She writes both in English and her native language Bengali.