Poetry by Gayatri Majumdar

Gayatri Majumdar
Tiny fish shift the fluorescence of your eye,
the red, yellow, fuchsia gaze of flowers
remain the same.

You would think tonight the moon
would chase a random supernova
exploding your heart

With a sky lowered spooned by a sea,
butterflies leave patterns marbling time
yellow, black and moss

Your hair falls into the eye of an impending storm
shifting about mauve lily leaves to the edge of sleep,
Pothos giants scaling the green fever of silence – 
sometimes too much can be said.

Now then beside the chipped bricks of last millennia’s debris
against myths and homes of owls, parrots, geckos, baby squirrels

Inevitably jump-start 
                           from light portals around leaves and deep hurts
to lost causes and terracotta bells.

With great difficulty the bees on your grey-striped shirt, escape – 
tonight they plan to make nectar

And this red staircase – damaged, broken – climbs nowhere

Stuck in forever

Which is now cupped in the palms of your heart
held out to pray.

Water-green dragonflies force the lilies coming out
as the night’s Indian lilacs, rusty leaves crackling 
carpet this page white – their fragrance rhapsodic – 
how will this inebriated night end

Spinning as it is with make-believes, fights over territories,
creepy crawly things?

Gayatri Majumdar, the founder of The Brown Critique (1995–2015), has authored six books. She co-founded ‘Pondicherry Poets’ and curates numerous poetry/music events. Gayatri is associated with Sri Aurobindo Society in Pondicherry




The Road to Freedom

By Kanchan Dhar

Freedom. A clichéd status today. So many on social media, in books, in organisations promote it, debate it, but what is it really? It’s not a concept, it’s a journey, the outcome of which is the absolute liberation of the soul. Freedom doesn’t come easy. I feel that it’s a luxury you toil a hundred years to attain and another hundred to enjoy. Pain, blood, tears are some of its usual companions. Freedom also means you value your breathe, your moments so fiercely that you would be ready to flout every ridiculous postulation of society. The road to freedom is a trek to a Himalayan peak; you might stumble on the ragged terrain, roll down, lapped in snow, or lose breathe and muscles on the way; you might also successfully make it to the peak, a little battered but euphoric, perhaps even end up paving a safer path for another. Leave a trail for a fellow neighbour. Is it not worth a try?

I won’t say I have attained freedom, but the journey has started most certainly. And I won’t lie, it’s been so painful. It’s a lonely path, since you have to let go of so much, the baggage that society or your family loads on your little head right at birth. You must let go of it because you cannot possibly trek with a heavy weight without breaking your back. You only backpack what you really need, the basics to survive, so that light-hearted, you can enjoy your journey despite the challenges. In my case, I had to let go of an insensitive husband, an abusive father and his “home”, a dream career, the promise of an elite degree, cities that had briefly been my happy home. Every now and then a painful memory, a verbal trigger, a photograph lodges a rock so heavy in my heart, it takes days to unload it. I welcome the breaks and move again. You can never trek without the necessary pauses; you need them to strategise and recharge, plan the next mount.

As the pain grazes my skin and departs, I grow a little more than before; I have lately begun to worship my spirit, for recognising my worth; my eyes, for daring to witness a marvel; my feet, for leading me on. I have grown to become a devotee of life itself from a consumed, scorned lover. The transition amazes me! The peak is far still, but what keeps me going in spite of the hurt and the pain is the fact that I am tasting freedom in the air already. Its fresh, embracing, cool, and motherly. It’s the thrill of my gut, the strength of my footsteps, the magnificence of life that envelopes me in many shades, as I constantly push myself towards something better. The goal high up the mountain comprises of scented meadows draped with rhododendrons, an unnamed tributary of the Ganga, birds that squeak wild, butterflies flitting about seasonal blossoms in sensual glee, perhaps even a temple of a Himalayan goddess right on edge of the spur with clouds for a backdrop. A personal definition of a Turkish delight!

But am I really alone in this? What about the whispers that reach my ears from mountains afar, the gusts that willingly breathe stories into my ears? The rocks I walk must have been graveyards to millions of mountain people for eons. What about their memories, their stories that glide invisible along my feet? Every mountain trek is painful, at the same time exhilarating. So is the journey to freedom. To belong to the peak, even for a moment, to earn the oft-forbidden fruit called freedom, I would undertake this journey again and again.

Kanchan Dhar is a writer from Odisha/Pondicherry, India. Her pieces have found places in several anthologies from India and the US. Her debut book, Becoming Himalaya, is currently in press.





By JGeorge

The way a cracker fires up to the sky, and then blooms into scattered pieces of joy;

Like sprinkling water, is exactly how my father’s hand moves in hopelessness.

He raises his hands upwards, a little higher slowly,

and then throws his fingers from its closed bud, to the air opening up,

“Ohh…Onnulla” (Oh! Nothing) ,

with the “Ohh” dragging itself to the top and in “onnulla”, all that agitation and frustration

cracks up open, falling back to his lap.

I really don’t remember how she initiated a hug or being in her embrace,

her, she – my grandmother, his mother;

was it firmer, with left hand holding and right patting, or the other way, I wonder.

But this piece of movement, is so familiar to me, like the signature end note of a musician,

it was hers and now, I see it all growing in you, father.

The lines of worry piling up, just like the ones on your forehead;

how that lips down turn themselves, after nothing (Onnulla) and

how she turns her head sideways away from me.

All in you, I see replicated well, the worry, the anxiety,

the deep sadness dwelling behind those heavy eyelids.

She was sixty when I went to stay with her,

and now, you are in your sixties while I am here for this extended lockdown stay

and maybe it’s this inacqaintance that I notice as a bare connection.

Or maybe all I want to ask you is to open your fingers a little more widely to a hug,

and watch joy sprouting from hope, in a million faint moments around,

something she never understood.


JGeorge’s poems appear or is forthcoming in several online and print journals, most recently in “Mookychick”, “The Initial Journal”, “Active Muse”, “TROU Lit Mag”,”Peach Street Mag”, “The Martian Chronicles”, “FishfoodMag”, anthologies of “Boundless”(Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival 2019) and “Love, As We Know It” (Delhi Poetry Slam). Currently, she lives in Pondicherry, pursuing research at Pondicherry University.