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On Re-discovering Gold in Rajasthan and Other Poems – Shuvra Das

Dec 3, 2021 | Poetry | 1 comment

On Re-discovering Gold in Rajasthan

After eight days of bus ride on dusty roads,
past furrowed fields and colorful women,
through The Pink city, and The Blue city,
marveling at forts, ornate palaces, and turbaned heads.

After eight days of the same tunes from a cassette
the driver flipped as he quietly smiled at us –
a shy smile of apology, as this was
the only music he carried.
We are so grateful for his folk tunes,
they caressed us like the soft palm of a
Rajput mother from a different life.

Finally, we arrive in Jaishalmir,
to lay eyes, for the first time,
on the city of our childhood dreams;
the camels, the golden fortress
seen first on-screen, like a ray from a distant land.
Just like in Ray’s magic, the maze of streets where
Dr. Hazra got lost, is still here,
as are the ruins of an ancient house,
the famous yellow temple, the golden sandstone,
all dazzling in sunlight bright,
just like it did in our childhood dreams.

For a moment we are all Mukul-
memories that should be long gone turn vivid,
rising from a childhood in a previous birth;
or maybe, just like the Rajasthani tune
that jumps out from a movie you
go back to, over and over again!

Stresses and Strains

The call comes right as you are
to go in for the first exam of the term.
The bank is declining your loan request;
no collateral, and parents don’t earn enough!
Questions crash on you like waves on a rocky shore:
-Calculate the stress?
Why me?
-Calculate the strain?
Why now?
-What is the Young’s modulus?
What now?
-What is the combined stress? The principal stress?
Wait!
The Greek symbols suddenly look very alien;
the teacher, from his ivory perch, suspects foul play.
His eyes remain glued to your pale face, your sweaty palms, your brown body;
while your mind agonizes elsewhere:
financial hold on tuition account to be lifted,
need to leave class early, sibling to be retrieved from babysitter,
not enough Ramen in the house to last the week,
dad may lose his third job, his second!
Stresses combine with each other in lethal ways.
The principle of your existence gets clearer:
“Money rules, money makes the rule,”
as your anguish from stresses all around,
settles in.

Making Summer Memories

The shock of finding a new Zucchini in the kitchen garden!
The monotone of mosquitos above our thinning hair-lines.
Slender, ever-growing corn plants,
embraced by the curly tentacles of a overflowing bean-bush.
And you holding that sharp serrated blade,
slice through watermelons, and honeydews.
The sweet fragrance of the juice oozes out
from the gash of a wound on the fruit.
A line of ants march across the deck-table
with the evening sun on their backs.
The distant laughter slices through, just like the constant
buzz of a table-saw cutting through pricy lumber.
You pout and focus as droplets of sticky nectar
crawl down your bare fingers and pieces of fruit
steadily fall into the bowl like cool, sweet, gifts of love.
In your hands, the deft swish of the sharp tool
has the assurance of a master sculptor.
A bright-eyed bunny lays a longing gaze across the grassy patch.
A faint shadow of a deer tiptoe through the woods,
the lazy summer day changes to dusk, into twilight,
and then into a pretty, starry night.
Fireflies twinkle around us and we
wonder in silence, if we will get this back again?
Summer bells ring as we settle down
around the lamp, for one more session
of memory creation.

__

Shuvra Das is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and lives in the greater Detroit area.  He spent his early childhood in Howrah,India and graduated from IIT Kharagpur and then did his Ph.D. from Iowa State University.  Photography, painting, writing, travel and theater are some of his passions.  He is currently involved in a lot of grassroots activism to help save democracy in the US.

1 Comment

  1. Arnab Banerjee

    Rajasthan was vivid and real. Vibrant and many of us have seen Rajasthan first through Ray’s lens.

    Reply

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