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Four Poems by Namrata Pathak

By Namrata Pathak 

Termites

Almost every other day
when the teapot
lets out a cry,
you find a new home.
Not that the legs of the teak bed
get shorter. The old yellowing papers
are eaten at the edges.
The photographs are a stale smell.

It was decades later
you remember
you don’t have a home to go,
nor a yearning to return.

The teacups slant sideways
on the mahogany table,
unsteady
like grandmother’s memoirs
of the partition
with little emphasis
on standing tall,
more on falling, losing ways.

Deaths have many methods
to tell a person about his frailty.
The best is the inevitability
of falling in love.
The act of waiting under
a starry canopy
night after night
for a poem that fails you.

The quilts are sunned.
The wood is Pidilite-coated.
The clothes are washed with a disinfectant.

You remain
stout like a flowering bamboo
in the corner of the bedroom.
Ominous. Each day,
new whorls, new tendrils,
new effervescence.

A lingering
nostalgia fails to drown
in the simmering red and blue
of a desolation
called the sun, look,
it hanged
itself to death a century ago,
with the hope of no return.

***

Safety Pin

It fastens the jagged ends of a hope.

The skyline runs into your basement
like two torn fabrics
vying for an attention.

It shatters the illusion of borders.
Conjoins and conjoins
till there is a tear,
a spillover.

A ruthless mapmaker,
it unclasps countries
deciding the fate of people;
all is undone.

Forming a loop, it lets you
hang in tenterhooks.
It is the betrayal
of a lover that haunts you
for the rest of your life.
His face in all the faces.
His laughter ricocheting, vile,
threading through your soft skin,
like the sharp point
of the pin;
only manuals of accidents
tend to
teach you about self-love.

***

Notebooks

A lover’s touch knows no bounds.
Fingers run down the ribcages,
draw concentric circles
on the navel,
a white lotus on the back,
many kinds of hunger on the lips,
fire,
a dappled swan,
the moon floating in the grey,
fingers dance,
stoke,
simmer, let go.

He asks,
what to draw,

wondering if the blankness
of paper would have been enough
to let her know –
what is love.

***

Rotis

“Round. Round like this – ,” mother said.
For someone like me who has an aversion
to all things round, there is nothing to do
but to fidget the fingers and look away.
Or sometimes hoping to bask in
a clumsy morning
restless to die as the last embers,
the last flicker of light,
too imperfect to last forever.

“Make it fluffy. Like this – ,” mother is quite happy
at the result, her face beaming
with a sense of accomplishment. I remembered
a muggy night, her face soaked in tears,
her body with third degree burns,
carefully wrapped in cotton. That night
she smelt like a roti burnt out of sheer negligence.

“You have to turn the flame into medium,” mother quips,
knitting her eyebrows at my bleak prospects.
Unlike her, I fail to place my faith
on modes of nourishment. A crow pecking
at the iron grills, spews venom in the kitchen.
Its incantations of hatred hit my ears.
I am hungry too, not for food, but for things
that mother doesn’t conjure up, of love.

“Come, have. Rotis are ready.”
They taste of a familiar hollowness.
Of nine months of liquid, blood and darkness
in the womb. Of rain. Storms. Loss.
Dewed grass blades.
Hills. Pine woods.

Everything but home. 

Picture Credit: Aniqa Tansim Taba

Bio:
Namrata Pathak teaches in the department of English, North-Eastern Hill University, Tura, Meghalaya. She has an M.Phil and PhD from English and Foreign Languages University (formerly, CIEFL), Hyderabad. She has four books to her credit, and her latest is forthcoming from Sahitya Akademi. Her articles and creative writing have found a place in Vayavya, Nezine, Café Dissensus, Northeast Review, Kitaab, Coldnoon, Setu, Indiana Voice Journal, Muse India, Raiot, The Tribe, Dead Snakes, The Thumb Print Magazine, Wagon Magazine, Bengaluru Review, to name a few. She has been a recipient of FCT-Ford Foundation Fellowship and UGC-Associateship by IIAS, Shimla. She is currently working on a book on drama/theatre and an anthology of poems from North-East India. Her debut collection of poems, That’s How Mirai Eats a Pomegranate, was brought out in 2018 by Red River. Her poems are included in the Sangam House Monsoon Issue: A Special on Poetry from North East, July, 2019 and anthologies forthcoming from Aleph and other publishing houses.

***

For more stories, read Café Dissensus Everyday, the blog of Café Dissensus Magazine.

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