Jaywalking at Kolkata: Subho Maitra


Dwindling between Tagore and Kerouac I discovered my city,
zaniest credo of being took me to the Old Park Street Cemetery.
I couldn’t find a single bone that carried memory of spice trade,
I didn’t find a beetle nut-chewing clerk of Writers Building…
Ahoy, sturdy mariners who built this necropolis of dream,
I am anchored here forever, a Tantalus figure,
Let me be at slaughter house then.

Harkatta is the next best whoring area they say.
Sonagazi is history, but Harkatta got soul,
soul of a mistreated slut.
I find everyone Mary Magdalene there,
I used to buy cheap rice liquor from them,
They bootlegged sure
But I drank the blood of Jesu Christo.

Revati, I saw you in polka tunic,
I forgot the colour, my specs betrayed me long ago,
Gariahaat had a boulevard then,
And I only a pair of Levis.
How come, I see you often in the streets,
Holding hand of a youth, his hair disheveled.
Does he still listen to George Michael?
Does he get thrown out of a pub being underage?
Why do I feel goosebumps, my stomach numbs,
Every time I see you around the corner?

Lindsay street, Free School Street, lazy walkaholic time, Samosa and Tea warming my taste buds. I am searching for a daal-gost eatery, I am no poet and cared a damn ‘bout being in who’s-who list. Like the old musical instrument store of Braganza I exist as an enigma of the city, quite unnecessarily, it is the labyrinth of New Market life of mine. Don’t throw your poems, your novels and your oh-so-brilliant-clap-clap-clap garland of accolade…. I find them boring and every night I drink it down with a few peg of rum.

Seems all these streets, by-lanes, alleys are sinews
Throbbing with trams, buses, cars, feet –
Mere blood rush of hypertension.
Rollicking beer bottles burping out
Its last oozing hour, by hour
Our own sweat, sweating out phlegmatic ennui
This is the summer,
Hell yeah, this is the summer.

Those yellow green trains, weaving a strange tapestry named Kolkata – which a hawker only knows while selling cheap needles, buttons, threads to the commuters – multihued threads from one railway tracks to another binding melancholy of heroic losers of the city the clerks and the casual labors, each day contemplating life over easy death.

White has become my color,
The color of rice, fragrant, noble
Even as served at a pavement shack.
Come, sit here with the multitude,
Here you can become humane,
While gnawing hunger creeps,
Watch a cabbie, a construction labor, a slut
All conjoined in stainless steel plates,
Arising from the epiphany of white appetite.

Rain and fog in Calcutta hides your loneliness,
You are not the only jaywalker, and the pavement
With bickering mongrels hides its leper skin.
Here you are stuck forever for good,
Item- number lookalikes and betel chewing cabbies
Racking your brain, fades away while you walk,
Like a knight with a pike (umbrella that is!)
And splashing rain types out labyrinth of desire.

I see faces and no meaning
I see poor, abject bodies and no motion
Life is a daily myriad of sulfurs, vitriol
Corroding our soul, vaporizing
And the remnants mix at the open pit drains
Sometimes in this city of garbage, Revati
I peep towards sky, where the satellites
Waits to find out last throbbing of us,

About author

Subhadip Maitro
Subhadip Maitro 2 posts

Subho Maitro (Subhadip Maitra) is an author, translator, and journalist. He is a bilingual writer who has written poems and short stories in both English and Bengali. He has written two books of poem Jadukori Boighar (2014), Adar bapari jabe Armeni Ghate (2016) in Bengali. He was invited by Sahitya Academy of India’s Juva Sahiti poetry reading session in 2014. He was also one of the 25 feature poets selected by the Prakriti Foundation for The Hindu Lit for Life, 2014. Subhadip Maitra also writes short stories. His Story was selected for Shunya Doshoker Golpo Sangraha, an anthology of Bengali Short stories of first decade of this century. He has attended short story workshop of Kahani Punjab at Dalhousie on 2014. His poems, short stories and essays have been published in various magazines and web journals of India, Bangladesh and USA. Sahitya Academy’s journal Indian Literature published his poems and translation works.


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