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Fictional Picture Frames by Madhura Banerjee

In a few family albums,

the photographs are arranged in no particular order -

My parents’ first vacation by the sea stood next

to my infant father's rice ceremony -

I could say he was reborn in his marriage -

My aunt dancing kathak on her school stage,

next to me pointing to the peaks at Tiger Hill

Black and white snapshots of my grandparents’ wedding

next to the rolling green tea estates of Ooty -

The spiral-bound skull of colour-blind memories

My two-year-old cousin, in a fairy costume, looks

through the frame containing her in a Polaroid shot,

at newborn me crying in a hospital cot,

something time and reality never allowed her to see

Draped in my mother's saree, at my school farewell,

I look past the frame that cuts off my waving hand

but leaps into the sepia cheeks

of my grandmother, knitting a child's pullover -

The needles fell from the hands of time,

through these disarrayed stitches of remembrance

I come across another picture of me, beside her,

my mother's mother, whom I never saw,

the decades since her death contained

in the space between our picture frames -

Was it so easy to find happiness

in the fictional rearrangement of memories?

Isn't that what writers do?

From Madhura's new book Monsoon Arrives at the Junction Crossing (Dhauli Books, 2019)


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