All the Lives
I am thinking about all the lives I am leaving behind.
One where I am sitting in the courtyard of my ancestral home in Ajmer catapulting moons towards the tamarind tree while it grows spirits and ghosts.
Another where I am counting the stars in the stretch mark riddled galaxies of a lover’s waist, often infinite.
A third in which we witness the hills roll onto the bowling alley of tectonic plates scattering our homes, one on top of another.
The one where my mother teaches me how to lift jalebis flowing in sticky sugar syrup, like suns that one could chase all summer and never grow tired.
One where I am living among the roots of mangroves, watching them drown themselves in clayey pools during high tide only to emerge next fortnight.
This one where my friends are sitting across from me in a crowded canteen, and the fizz from our cola bottles vanishes, a stale saccharinity fills the room.
All of it fizzles out, condenses, drop after drop,
inching downwards & we start sipping
whatever is left behind.
In Grandmother’s kitchen,
we often cook warm stories.
Sometimes fish curry and fried brinjal with rock salt.
Crisp and fresh like border news
from the Bramhaputra.
I mindlessly correct her mentioning
it was Tsang-Po, like an automated cellphone.
Rivers too have daak naams,
She hums tunes in a silenced tone as if a stubborn bone is stuck in her throat. Maybe, listening will do the trick
similar to swallowing cooked rice.
The memories of hostel days, hang loosely
from her temples along with strands of white hair.
The skies were raided, the horizon arched backward
supporting clouds pregnant with warfare.
During blackouts, the days were spent
knitting blankets and pasting brown paper on windows.
Maacher jhol was only served,
when peace steamed slow, wrapped in banana leaves. If you listen closely, it is still simmering,
not ready to be served yet.
The emptiness, like that of outer space,
reflects off her forehead.
She stopped wearing bindis after
Grandfather’s passing the previous year.
the hilly heaps of rice and bones,
She licks her fingers asking me to follow;
every drop is precious.
Meandering and splashing,
it floods and melts in my mouth.
Wherever it flows, she believes it’s
eventually coming home.
Here, faith settles upon resting deltas
with no desire to move the ancient mountains.
I say before leaving as she
hands me a tiffin for the road.
Paridhi Poddar, hailing from Kolkata, believes that words begin to form deltas here, carefully silting into poetry and, sometimes she manages to collect a verse or two. Her work has previously appeared in the Verse of Silence Magazine and was also published along with the shortlisted 25 poets in their Poetry in Pamphlets Collection Contest, 2021.