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April 2023


by Upasya Bhowal

There are people -
People is a certain city
Who wake up to the thud of the morning newspaper
Plonking down on the balcony.
Out of bed in a jiffy,
Their first priority is not the mundane brushing of teeth.
They instead prefer to set the saucepan blubbing,
As the familiar aroma of tea leaves
Wafts down the house.
A long sip and the crackle of flipping newspaper pages later,
They are ready to take on the day.
From the ting ting ting of a bus moving on,
To the ding ding ding of a tram stopping by,
From complaining passengers
To rap songs blabbered incessantly by the conductors,
From “Dada, jaben?” (Sir, will you go here?)
to flatout rejections.
From the hurried running of polished office shoes
Right down to the ringing calls of peddlers
That echo every now and then -
This is the alarm clock
That my city wakes up to.
People here settle down to the unparalleled comfort
Of the slurp of Mushur daal,
The crunch of aloo bhaja
The mmmm of maacher jhol
And the unfaltering reassurance of
“Arektu dao na..”
(One more serving please)
And after lunch is done,
The entire household
Willingly submits itself to sleep
In the middle of the day -
Cherishing their mandatory bhaat ghum too dearly to give it up.
Sometimes in the evening,
A stranger might stop another on the road,
“Dada, eta kon dike ektu bolte parben?”
(Can you tell me where this place is?)

And even after a long, hard day of slogging,
You will hear the tired office goer
Lay down detailed directions,
Show the way
Before heading home
To rooms echoing with blasphemous serials and their plethora of sound effects
Or Tagore’s melodies floating out of old cassette players and gramophone records,
As cups of tea and slices of conversation
Are handed around,
To close off the day.
The next morning,
My city tunes in one again
To this mixtape -
Of the old world gliding by
And the new one setting in.



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