Categories
Humour Poetry

Algae Masks

By Sekhar Banerjee

It is always easy to use Google maps

when you love to guess

a place but do not wish to reach,

as if, it is an old mulberry bench

in a bottomless sleep

.

However, you will not possibly find

this place

where I am sitting now in the middle

of autumn’s heavy late-afternoon traffic – an urgent

meeting of brown dry leaves

and some broken yellow sunlight

.

Here I am going to leave

all old latitudes and longitudes

neatly creased

and folded like a new tourist map

near the empty tea cup; in them, you may find

shadows of fish, bougainvillea seeds,

bees in November, dry deciduous leaves

and ample ember 

.

But coordinates are much like our obsessions– hard to go;

they will follow

you through the busy streets in the evening

behind every pedestrian with algae masks

like numerous notifications

for one lost search

.

Sekhar Banerjee is an author.  He has four collections of poems and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. He is a former Secretary of Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi and Member-Secretary of Paschimbanga Kabita Akademi under the Government of West Bengal.  He lives in Kolkata, India. 

.

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.

Categories
Poetry

Origin

By Sekhar Banerjee

Watermelons have intense violence stored inside

them — the blood and serum of summer

and they are always calm. I appreciate the plant’s climbing habit

from the womb of the seed

to the intricate womb of heat — vertical and horizontal;

it has a miasma of secrecy to hide

what it is developing inside its

spherical mind

.                        

And the rind of the fruit is striped,

dark green or blotched

to guard whatever finally transpires —  red

or pink

with numerous sorrowful pips throughout

like a smile without a meaning

.

and I think of the sandy soil of a roadside farm or a forlorn

river-bed somewhere which was harsh

on it — like a trigger

to finally teach us  

how something develops — from seed to plant

to fruit and from fruit to seed to plant again

in reverse order — the order that we generally follow

in love

.

Sekhar Banerjee is an author.  He has four collections of poems and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. He is a former Secretary of Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi and Member-Secretary of Paschimbanga Kabita Akademi under the Government of West Bengal.  He lives in Kolkata, India. 

.

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.

Categories
Essay

Republic of Rananim

Sekhar Banerjee explores the relevance of D H Lawrence’s utopia … a tribute to the great writer who was born on 11th September 1885

D H Lawrence

“I want to go south, where there is no autumn, where the cold doesn’t crouch over one like a snow-leopard waiting to pounce. The heart of the North is dead, and the fingers of cold are corpse fingers. There is no more hope northwards, and the salt of its inspiration is the tingling of the viaticum on the tongue.” – writes D.H. Lawrence, or rather, D.H.L, in a letter to J.M. Murry in October, 1924 from a ranch in New Mexico. His death was then only six years away.

Lawrence always wanted to go somewhere. As we often do.  But, classically, DHL’s escape was never a tour. It was a flight; a refuge; an escape to an alternative space. We do not do it always.  However, we, at least some of us, do it sometimes.  We go from North to south and, again, from South to North with a secret intention of a flight even to the East and the West.  His letters reveal that it was neither a romantic wish nor a search for a place to live happily ever after. It was a desire, a fate, an ending ordained. This mortal wish was neither aggravated by a logical conclusion to live happy and healthy for another seventy years and write more on ways of the world, intimacy and relationships in a secluded place, nor by a wish to be immortal. He, actually, sought a comfortable place to live and die, unmasked. All he wanted was to unbound, to unfurl himself like a flag of his being — a flag of DHL. It would have been his republic.

However, deciding on a direction depends solely on where you are, and how geography and, to some extent, your perspective affect you. A north can be a north just beside your house, a south can be a south beyond your town or the continent, and a west is something which is just opposite of the east and vice versa.  But directions, rather than your perception of a place in a desired direction, dictate how you interpret directions and places.  Lawrence, for that matter, went almost to the end of directions — Australia to the south and Mexico to the west. And he had tried to measure such kilometres and latitudes that encompass Sri Lanka, India, and Vietnam in Asia besides some major cities nestled in sunshine in Europe and, obviously, in America.  Why had it become so imperative to traverse so many miles for him, mostly in sea from 1913 till his death in Venice in 1930 like an unhappy fish?

Aldous Huxley writes: “I remember very clearly my first meeting with him. The place was London, the time 1915. But Lawrence’s talk was of the geographically remote and of the personally very near. Of the horrors in the middle distance – war, winter, the town- he would not speak. For  he was on the point, so he imagined, of setting off to Florida- to Florida, where he was going to plant that colony of escape, of which up to last he never ceded to dream. Sometimes the name and the site of this seed of a happier and different world were purely fanciful. It was called Rananim, for example, and was an island like Prospero’s. Sometimes it had its place on the map and it was Florida, Cornwall, Sicily, Mexico and again, for a time, the English countryside. That wintry afternoon in 1915 it was Florida.”

The search for such Rananims gets more pressing when faced with constrictions — of war, of societal regulations, of totalitarian regimes, of rigid beliefs, of weather and of health — mental or physical, or, for that matter, a pandemic of world war proportions.  Don’t we all now harbour a wish to escape to a sanctuary of safety of eternal sunshine and quietude? 

The desire and resonance for a Rananim is as old as the birth of fire and use of iron. For Lawrence, it started as early as when he was seventeen or eighteen. All he wanted at that age was to take one of the big houses in Nottingham where he and all the people he liked could live together. This idea of a Rananim, a safe sanctuary of emotions and wellbeing, surfaced in DHL’s mind throughout his life. Beginning as a child’s wish to an indistinct political philosophy to a romantic idea of a promised, virgin haven  to, ultimately,  a dystopia of his own psyche, the Rananim he harboured inside the recess of his colourful mind changed its place , shape and essence with the changing realities of the world and the standing of his mind. But he held on to it like a piece of wood which he would use to make his own chair and would sit comfortably under the shade of a tree in a place only to be soothed — free and happy. In a letter to S.S.Koteliansky (January 3, 1915), Lawrence writes:

“We are going to found an Order of the Knights of Rananim. […] I want to gather together about twenty souls and sail away from this world of war and squalor and found a little colony where there shall be no money but a sort of communism as far as necessaries of life go. […] We keep brooding the idea – I and some friends.”

This was a pure, almost naive, wish to escape to someplace else.

Do we have our Rananims ? Don’t we all have a faint trace of an idea of living a ‘full’ life in another place, another time, as if, it is a memory of the past life? Don’t we actually have a sense of a perfect place etched in our skulls like a sense of proportion or a sense of aesthetics? How many times did we say while visiting a place that we would have loved to settle here or how many times did we look for pieces of land for a perfect dwelling – mostly in the countryside? What, then, compels us to think in a certain way for a paradise which might be lost forever?  Is it the endlessness of wars, violence or a pandemic? Is it a Sylvania (Latin: forest land ) printed in our genes since pre-historic times?  Or, rather, is it a monolith of a society which, slowly but surely, bypasses the individual and his or her otherness?  The more ‘other’ you are , the more you are excluded , and that, in turn, like the stereotypical third law of Newton, forces one more to dream up a parallel world, a civilisation of his or her own like an exclusive club with limited members. It’s either a Prospero’s Island or a Rananim of D.H.L.

We all have our republics within ourselves. And there are definite yet illegible directions inside our lingering thoughts to reach those Utopias. In another place, in another landscape, in another country, in another time, or in another society. We also, intrinsically, know that these Utopias are also destined to fail. They are always conceived to fail. Still we wish to find one.

Sekhar Banerjee is a bilingual writer.  He has four collections of poems and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. He is former Secretary of Paschimbanga Bangla Akademi under the Government of West Bengal.  He lives in Kolkata, India. 

.

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL. 

Categories
Poetry

Two Poems

By Sekhar Banerjee

Juxtaposition

The renovated church near the promenade

has a large bell

in wrong metals – it sounds like a sea-coast cannon

and the new washrooms stand side by side

.

like soldiers, anxious

before returning to the garrison

You spin oddness and similarity like a nervous Tibetan

weaver making religious motifs

on a scarlet silk scarf

or a sleepy tailor stitching consecutive wrong

buttonholes in a formal shirt

We take a side and arrange similarity throughout the series, as if,

every uneven number is our special child

.

There is an ice-cream seller with a pair

of maroon shades in the rain

You can’t decipher his eye movement

.

like dissimilar chairs in a perfect table

You come to understand

juxtaposition is rather a choice than a coincidence

.

The Essayist

Nowadays every organ in my body

is an individual. I walk like the French Revolution

and I see the working of my limbs

 like an eighteenth-century staggering power loom

I roam and I count

one by one: this is my hand, this is my head,

this is my perception of my face

And, I know, those are my legs which will not let me fly

and that is my only solace for losing all wars nearby

like an essayist balancing his words

in the second draft 

And I look at my severed legs only in the dark

when the last pomelo flowers of spring

start blooming on them,

as though, they are my French floral brocade shoes

and I float

with my bereaved knees

 like a renaissance painting – white and blue

.

Sekhar Banerjee is a bilingual writer. He has four collections of poems and a monograph on an Indo-Nepal border tribe to his credit. He lives in Kolkata, India.

.

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL.