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NaPoWriMo'23 TTT x PoemsIndia: Exploring the soul of your city through poetry


A portrait of Ghalib outside his ‘haveli’ in Gali Qasimjan, in Old Delhi’s Ballimaran, where he spent the last nine years of his life. Photo: Anant Raina Courtesy @TheWire

Dilli by Mayukh Dutta


the soul of my city is a tormented one

an archaic mausoleum of forgotten families

this city broken and repaired in centuries since

forgets one tale to create another.


the soul of my city lives in its alleys

cracked concrete narrating partition promises

embraced the many who sought refuge in these arms

yet burns till today with no armistice at night.


the soul of my city is in the language of its creators

where once Urdu sat on the steps of the Jama

poetry became a prayer for the thousands at sundown

a people's voice ended with a broken tongue.


the soul of my city is its ability to breathe

while it freezes in the cold and suffocates in the heat

it breathes out hope and horror to those lost in its sidewalks

but feeds all enough for all to sleep.


the soul of my city is its infinite rendezvous

where people remember more than they forget

the city keeps on repeating the same recitals of time

and yet finds itself a different costume to wear.


the soul of my city is in its voice

a calling that perished great empires and caused great wars

bloodied pages in history are filled with this voice

a summoning of lustful possession of its accursed bricks.



My Town is an old soul by Akshaya Pawaskar


My town is an old soul.

A quaint charm of ‘Susegad’ life morphed into the fast pace of modernity.

It gives a semblance of a huge banyan tree,

in whose shade we thrive.

It has a sense of familiarity,

change, non-pervading yet subtle hints of it.

It has a sense of safety.

I will always be a child here.

Perhaps, it is because my mother lives here or perhaps the town has become my mother.

Perhaps it is because I have always been sitting in its lap

like a fossil embedded in its amber.

Gods watch over it from all sides from their numerous temples, chapels and mosques,

Coexisting peacefully.

Farms and hills abound, so also creeks

and waterfalls,

narrow coconut palm-lined lanes

going to the villages,

the oldest roots of them all.

Poets are carved out of its soil

and poems are weaved around

its every tree.

They rise from its

non-effacing sunsets, they are born from

its simplicity.

Dogs gathering at night in its verandahs,

cows wandering its streets,

the slowly swelling gridlock

threatening its sanity.

The Areca nuts touching the sky

in the kulaghars,

the cashews and the hues of paddy fields

welcoming me back

whenever I fly far, knowing I always come home to it.

Ask me if it’s where I want to be

in ten years from now and

I will unapologetically, say ‘yes please’.



Calcutta is a love letter to the amber sunset by Ananya Dasghosh


There's a patchwork of Tussar silk and

vermilion dots on the foreheads of women

in my city, they pray for Gods in

weddings and funerals. The tramlines

are chronological chromosomes of

a sold era standing in memoir-like

unshaved armpits of puberty.

When you see the Calcutta houses

marked in advertisements, they are

postcards with differently abled

people once residing and now a

muted lover. There's a domestic

perfume that lingers in the air

of this city tied through the

humid sweat of it's pedestrians.


My city is an imprint on the

ghats registering names from

the passenger list of the local

train. There's so much of singularity

and plurality in this city that the

coffee houses sound of radio

telecasts, the mechanical rumors

in the chai stalls under the streetlights

are a busted rewind button.

I have seen candid stills make

poetry in this city on thick thighs

and on prisoners' foreheads and

we didn't die a death in history.


My mother's eyes and the city's

lights grown old under the torrid sun,

and Calcutta makes the most painful

love of longing and desire. The

fish fillets caress in turmeric and

salt, the rosogollas make festivities,

yet there are so many unspoken

tragedies. Somedays it is the

journal of revolution, somedays

a monochrome afternoon of

Feluda's movies. It is a strange city,

you will find love, the renaissance,

the revolt, the gun shots, the

migration and the history of

ghazals.


Calcutta is the ticking bomb

under your chest, a yawn of a

child, a bruise on your leg, a

barren palm reaching the sky,

a trending hashtag under the

metaphors, a daily wage worker

having meals, a mother breastfeeding,

a poetry that is apolitical and

an innocent mother tongue and

a transgender not being an

emergency ward.


Calcutta sits on my fingers

like a chronicle, braided in a

dawn from masjid to mandir.

There are banners, a queue of

art lovers, a museum of soft riots,

and swampy football fields, you will

finger stains of chai on white kurta,

or samosas tied in newspapers and

yellow taxis running like nomads.

You will find empathy and kindness

in handpulled rickshaws, ink spillages

in freedom of speech, hungry bellies

under political food chain and

houses burnt down in cosmopolitan.


Calcutta is a love letter to the amber sunset,

a prayer making goosebumps on the flesh,

and corners selling happiness

~ a love affair in liberation, chaos and literature.



My Delhi fits me like an oversized hoodie by Antara Vashistha


My City, My Delhi,

It hums

the endless drones

of a time traveler,

speeding through lanes

modern and old.


If you've never been in love,

Come

Take all the exits you need to enter Delhi-

dynamic, divergent, disproportionate

in its being,

with stories brewing in every alley,

Sniff closely in the corners of Connaught Place,

You will find that

Delhi exists in a time-space continuum,

it is still

as much Ghalib's as it is your next-door neighbor's,

It is as much mine as it is yours,

My Love,

Trust me,

You will find yourself enamoured

by the nights at Nizamuddin,

Your eyes will break into smiles,

carving paths near Lodhi,

or better yet find yourself encumbered

on the boulevards of Uttam Nagar,

Or gently hold your hiraeth,

If you're like me,

on Delhi Metro Platforms-

Yellow, Blue, and Green,

we have all the colors here,

no labels, take your pick.


My heart finds hearth in Delhi,

And I wear my heart on my sleeve,

screaming South Delhi Slangs

to anyone who would listen,

dreaming in Green and Yellow Autos

about falling in love in the moonlight.

When I speak,

My tongue becomes fraught with the word 'bhai',

My love language becomes rife with trips for momos and egg rolls,

Time often

ceases here.

My Delhi fits me

like an oversized hoodie,

In its extremes of cold and heat,

we survive in solidarity

You will find balconies dripping with kindness

and water for birds,

Rugs resting on each street

for dogs to relax in December nights.

Delhi

breathes through me like the ghost at Dhaula Kuan Metro Station,

caressing old bookstores and coffeeshops,

hotels and Havmor shops,


Delhi's soul exists

at the sole of my feet,

humming perpetually

the endless drones

of a time traveler.



Cochin by Nikita Mohan


An incredibly strange of a notion

belongingness can be.

Devised by humanity

to test its own worthiness

of ever being accepted by a society

birthed in existence to reject.


I felt no such longing

to be identified with

one place, one culture, one people

subjecting myself to a potential

denial, dismissal, or refusal

to be granted my spot

in an overpopulated clan

with arbitrary principles

until

I stepped into the land

of palm trees

and pazham poris.


Cochin

with its comely candour

has held me for years

clutching me tight

as an adoptive mother might

in its glorious deep blues

and infinite lush greens;

in its remarkable blending technique

of pinks, oranges, and even lavenders

if and when I find myself

sitting at the edge of this land

being put on a show for

by the Arabian Sea.


Enikku Malayalam Arrilla

I do not know Malayalam

I confess with a tinge of guilt

almost always it is met with

a curious smile

"Corpilla, It's okay. English or

Hindi?"

Neither threatened by outsider infiltration,

Nor diminished in its grandiose tradition

Kerala feels no need to compensate

for its thin and scrawny built

clinging to the waters.


It can very well hold its own

in debates of politics

economics

and human index

but most of all, its humility.

How fortunate am I

to have longed to belong

much after being accepted.

The lights and high-rises

make sure to remind me

I'm not so far from my northern home

and the sea breeze reassures me

I'm quite far enough if

I ever feel the need to be.

 





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