The HyperTexts

Shamik Banerjee

Shamik Banerjee is a poet from India.

To Michael R. Burch

When novice anchorites sit quietly
For long, adjudging that's true meditation,
Their abbot says, "Fixate your concentration
On every breath." They make it, finally.
Likewise, you are the great guru to me
Who, bit by bit, dissolved the cogitation
That formal verse acquires its validation
By archaism's use exclusively.
Dear Michael, you've not only cleared this fog
But cast modernity's refulgent glow
Upon this once misguided, nescient bard;
And in this era where it's dog-eat-dog,
Through altruism, you went on to show
That guides like you are mankind's best reward.

As Spring Recedes

As spring recedes, we too shall move away
This quarter from all aggravating cares
To places where we've always longed to stay.

Think Paro, Basel, Kathmandu, Marseilles,
Or Melrose, to whose beauty none compares.
As spring recedes, we too shall move away.

These townies and their foul cerebral play
Of nosing into others' closed affairs
Won't haunt us where we've always longed to stay.

I was just twenty-seven yesterday,
And now my half-denuded scalp despairs.
Therefore, with spring, we too shall move away

From here, absorb the sun, and sip Gamay
On beaches, splayed on soft sunlounging chairs
In places where we've always longed to stay.

Since old age will uproot us anyway,
Let's leave a mark like all historic pairs.
As spring recedes, we too shall move away
To places where we've always longed to stay.

Shyamlal Goes to the City

So far away, my heaven.
So far away, my home.
Here, there are lanes to hotfoot it,
But not a path to roam.

Where is that chafing duty
To wake at dawn and traipse
The quaggy country grounds and fetch
A basketful of grapes?

I meet a hundred people;
We cross-smile every day,
But there's no soul to chortle with
And fritter time away.

No Amla trees. No Coucals.
No brooks. No breezes blow.
Just rabbles in my front and back;
Trains up, and trains below.

A person made of plastic
Stands in a display case—
His smile outglows the one who sits
Within an office space.

Oh, father, I have learned that
Your words, indeed, are true.
The city's golds are gewgaws when
Seen from a closer view.

A Winter Lamentation

It's suddenly two Celsius.
All felt bright yesterday.
The sun was simpering at us,
Now spirited away.
My bed's become a sopping ground.
Steel cups are colder than
Those naked palings that surround
The dwelling of this man.
The tougher problem than this cold
Is lavatory trips:
My frosted fingers hate to hold
And pull the trouser's zip.
Some lands are chillier (that's true),
Like Ooty or Shillong,
But for this snuffling guy, just two
Degrees are superstrong.
Yet, though I must get up to shake
The hard sloth off my body,
I'm all too snugged. Could someone make
Me one cup of hot toddy?

Note: Ooty and Shillong are two hill stations in India.

To My Body

Do not relent to pangs and sores
When dotage comes. Let death be quick
To pull me from these earthly shores.
Do not relent to pangs and sores
For want of eighty years or more,
Nor pass each minute being sick.
Do not relent to pangs and sores
When dotage comes. Let death be quick.

That Brief Love in a Railway Bogie

A sleeper coach....both Bengal-bound;
Side berths that faced each other;
It was a solo trip for me
While you were with your mother.

Our likes turned out to be the same:
The rich Masala Tea
And when there were no chaiwallahs,
We'd opt for Jhal Moori.

While passing through the vestibule,
I saw you standing there
Against the door; the summer breeze
Was fanning your soft hair.

No dialogues...and though my mind
Remained upon a book,
It watched out for small pleasantries
So we could share a look.

Night came. I helped you place the berth,
The pillow and the sheet;
While climbing, your small jhumka fell
Beside my shaky feet.

I picked it up; reached out to you;
Placed it on your cupped fingers;
You smiled at me, our young hands touched—
A second which still lingers.

The Flower Girl

In seething sun, beside the chock-full route
To Noida Eighteen's rapid transit's stair;
She stands clad in a threadbare kurti suit,
Immersed in soil and sweat, with rumpled hair.

"O' bhaiya, didi, five rupees a rose.
Take! take! for your beloved and dear friends."
She calls out to the breathless crowd that flows
Like frenzied waves to where the pathway ends.

Her form gets lost behind their lightning pace,
And feet get trampled every now and then.
She topples if a blow lands on her face,
Yet, gets up, cleans herself, and sells again.

She said to me one day, "Bhai, please buy one."
Her streaming eyes met mine, I bought a sheaf
Although a friend or lover, I had none;
I left with joy and she left with relief.

To the Earth from an Astronomer's Standpoint

Oh! little, ovoid, bluey ball,
Are you in truth my 'Earth' at all?
You were a mammoth days ago
And now a pismire slim and small.

Oh! look at you, atomic dot,
Are you the keystone of my plot
And praxes that I've come to know?
I am bewildered by this thought.

Good Lord! beneath your cirrus thin,
I've rivalled men, I've sought to win
For which propitious day or tide?
For what acclaim to store within?

Now who is friend or who is foe?
Now what is mine, what do I know?
Now who is right and who has lied?—
All vanished with Truth's undertow.

But what I'll do is what I'll borrow
From joy to man, his lightened sorrow;
Today we are from that one Tree
Divided logs; same ash tomorrow.

My Uncle's Desk

To him, this desk was no less than
A pretty maid is to her man;
The groom, my Uncle, wedded it,
His bride, the desk, he petted it.

At it, he taught my life's first letters—
'The more one reads, the more one betters';
From it, harangued and often scolded
Whenever my mischiefs unfolded.

At it, reviewed his files, accounts,
Son's tuition fees, the bills' amounts,
The sum to borrowers he gave,
A month's expense, how much to save;

On holidays, at break of day,
He sat at it to fully pay
(Through lens of lunettes spectacles)
Attention to his articles.

He decked it with a flower vase,
A flagon old, an hourglass,
A penholder, a blunted comb,
And picture of the sacred 'Om'.

When minded to hilarity,
Made aunt's and children's mockery
While sitting there and taking sips
Of Ginger tea with grinning lips.

And when in grave and tetchy mood,
Strict language formed his attitude,
But not for long this state would be
When he sat there for poetry.

He sat there one full night to catch
The Cricket World Cup's final match,
And all throughout the coming day,
His run-down eyes upon it lay.

The countless verses that he penned,
The letters for his dearest friend,
The tomes of novelettes he read;
Each happened at this very stead.

Time passed. He aged, so aged his bride—
With oldhood comes life's ebbing tide;
His movements slowed and came to rest
When Parkinson's impinged his chest.

Brute Fate! it took from him the right
To feed and bathe, to hold and write;
With each day, it severely wrung
And stole the power of his tongue.

He summoned me on his last day
Through my aunt to make his last say—
She gave a note, it read: 'My will:
Before I'm rendered cold and still,

'I'm passing down my desk to you.
I hope, like me, you'll love it too.'
I smiled at him, his eyes looked pleased—
Took one last breath and got released.

Before my eyes, his desk now stands—
No woodworms, cracks or trace of ants;
Still burnished, solid, gives a glow
As if produced a while ago.

I sit here now and tell my mind:
'The dearest thing one leaves behind,
Keeps us close though we are apart
And bears the imprint of his heart.'

In Autumn

It's autumn and my spirit is reborn
Like Dahlias that bloom in orange shades;
My heart is cheerful, so this lovely morn
I'll take my steps towards the silent glades
Where once I held my Amber's silken palm
And spoke those words a lover longs to say,
And sauntered by the bluebells sweet and calm
Like freeborn clouds that drifted by that day.
Three years have flown by since she found a place
Amid the realm of God, beside His eyes;
I've never missed this date since then to trace
This spot of our love's tale. Love never dies;
It lives for me among these silent leas
And in our symbols chiselled on the trees.

Black and White (September 1, 2023)

The happy wind was singing to
September's maiden day;
The friendly Sun was clinging to
The hillcrest and the bay;
And man with his assertive crown,
Proceeded through this vibrant town;
No hurdle clogged his way.

The girls were lowly chunnering,
And boys were raucous, yelling;
The pink-tinged clouds were colouring
The heaven's vault, their dwelling;
But not one being, large or small,
Had the minutest clue at all
What rainfrogs were foretelling.

At noon, a bellow from the skies
Alarmed the birds in flight,
The spendthrift shoppers' sated eyes
Shrank low from shock and fright;
Each shuffling soul then rushed to find
A roof or shelter of some kind;
The day appeared as night.

But far away, that leaden clime
Perked up the rural men,
Their fields lay bare all summertime—
No raindrops fell since then;
But those oppressive days had flown,
The fields were wet, their faces shone,
And life revived again.

How strange and polar nature is,
How magical its plan!
How orderly it metes out bliss,
And hopelessness to man!
Just as it did to us that day
When its stormy onrush turned one gay,
And turned the other wan.

If I Consider Winter as My Foe

If I consider Winter as my foe,
Whose swordlike chill has rendered me unwell,
Declined our paddy's health, its yieldly flow
And turned our home to one cold hoary cell;
This judgement, then, will be against the Lord
For He who blew this chill, brought Summer too
Last June, did fields of teeming rice afford
And fill our home with light and bloom anew;
But if I think of regions where the Sun
Remains throughout the year with ruthless blaze,
The natives there who wish its stay was done,
Beseech the Lord to grant them frosty days—
Though both, alike, beg Him for easeful lives,
What I deem branches, to him, are but knives.

The Minister's Lesson for the King

Two artists drew a scene in their own styles and ways
And showed it to the king because that was his will.
He scrutinized both artworks with a focussed gaze
And said in awe, "Indeed, both have the perfect skill."

The minister, however, had a different plan.
He asked him, "O' my Sire, would you not like to know
Which of these two accomplished virtuosos can
Produce the most enthralling piece?" The king said, "Oh!

I like this good proposal. So express your mind."
The minister replied, "We'll tell them to prepare
Some artworks of their choice but those should be unsigned,
So that there is no bias and your judgement's fair."

The time arrived. He scrupulously viewed the hues,
Details and concepts. All were equally profound.
He said at last, "I cannot tell which one is whose,
But both are my state's treasures hence, let both be crowned."

The minister then smiled and said, "My Sire, likewise,
Almighty, the best artist and judge does not see
Whose mark His artworks bear: Allah's, Krishna's or Christ's,
So, as much as His heaven's for you, it's for me."

The HyperTexts