Amrita Valan

Thoughts of Kolkata

Kolkata sits on my shoulders and back
Warm kind sunshine, even in winter.
I wear it like a favorite fuzzy cardigan
And wipe my tears on its grubby threadbare sleeves.
Kolkata and I are besties
On the best days of my life.

Waiting out my preschooler’s classes
At Minto Park
Loads of cosmetics and tee shirts and tops
Earrings and bangles on display in glass topped wooden
Show cases,
Smart ladies doubling up mommy duties
Earning a little extra
While waiting for their school-goers.

In fact, I am wearing such a top right now
And in my drawer sits sparkly green bangles
And a Ganga Jamuna bracelet.

I loved their yoga tips and how to rinse and
Repeat to get the glossiest coiffure.
Kolkata is simple a cosy city of
Welcoming friendly folks
And it’s a joy to be born
In what Lapierre termed the City of Joy.

It bounces back from its miseries
It is my Jadughar of dreams
My Saanjhbaatir  Roopkathara
The Thakumar Jhuli of my childhood

It is lying on mother’s lap listening to her
Read from Bishwakosh
It is drooling at the lips as daddy opens
Candy striped cartons from Flurys
The chocolate and almond cubes
The aromatic mutton patties.

Tastes linger. Good tastes evolved.
Books bought at the annual fair
And imported Ham and sausages
From Naval dockyards or Outram ghat
Or Fort William,
Frequented by dad. I was too young
Too busy dizzily blossoming
To notice details
Growing like a happy go lucky weed
Under the blazing Kolkata sun.

Jadughar: Literally House of magic refers to museum.
Ganga Jamuna: A design alternating two contrasting colours, generally gold and silver. 
Thakumar Jhuli: Book of Bengali fairy Tales narrated by Granny, (Thakuma)from her bag of tales, (Jhuli)
Bishwakosh: A Bengali encyclopedia for children
Saanjhbatir Roopkathara: Reference to a Bengali children’s supernatural move, used here both as topical reference and for its literal meaning, Fairy Tales from the twilight hour of transition.

Amrita Valan is a writer from India who has contributed to many international poetry journals and anthologies. Her debut book of poems, Arrivederci is available on Amazon since May 2021.