Pashmina, Tombstones have names & Witness by Sayen Aich


There have been evenings
When my grandmother would weave stories,
from the pashmina threads of memory.
That still kept her going.
With such delicate threads one had to be careful.
A little lie here, a little too much effort
And a castle of stories would crumble down.

She would seamlessly arrange all the events
which by then, I knew by heart.
She would weave
the long, narrow, and now foreign lanes
from her memory.
She sprinkled a fistful of Dacca rains
onto the portions she felt needed
A little more care.

Soft summer evenings would creep into her eyes
And take her to a courtyard,
Where lilies were planted first
and then children who couldn’t escape
the partition. When I asked her, if all this was true
That women were raped, killed and raped again
And men lost their manhood
Before they lost their lives
She would smile at the Sylhette moon
Always an hour and a half here and there
Compared to the one in Calcutta,
And sigh: “some pashmina silk,
was sharper than knives”

Tombstones have names

And here I am,
Writing about my favourite hell.
Holding a tourist brochure in hand,
I wonder at the delusion,
Proclaiming, and welcome to heaven on Earth
You see, in heaven,
Gods don’t crack down,
On Angels shouting- and quote: Azaadi! Azaadi
In heaven,
Tombstones have names.


Agha Shahid Ali visits me
Every night I cheat on a poem.
Every time I met words slip
Like soap on the bathroom floor.
He sits by my bed
Mumbling his disapproval of my verse
Sneering at my rhyme
Jeering at my moon.
On certain nights he asks me
To walk through Lycidas
And write letters to October autumn.
Blue ink on brown leaves,
Walking through subways
I bump into people
Whose death certificates
Are dying inside classified folders.
And suddenly without a warning
Without advice
Shahid leaves
I am without my poem
I am without my witness.

Sayan Aich Bhowmik is currently serving as the Assistant Professor of English at Shirakole College.  A published poet, he is also the Assistant Editor of the blog Plato’s Caves, a semi-academic space for discussion on life, culture and literature.

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