Srinagar, December

by Sutapa Chaudhuri (January 2016)


It is winter here. The tulips

in the Mughal Gardens stay

 

nipped by the customary frost:

yet refuse to breathe in cellophane

 

bouquets. The young shoots

of the sunflower die, rejected

 

by the frost bitten earth.

The Dal lake, freezes,

 

a bejeweled landmark—

a thin sheet of ice obliterating

 

the bustle of the ferrying shikaras;

the trees silent and still with frost,

 

matching emptiness ricocheting

through the latticed windows

 

of ornate houseboats moribund

in the still waters. Life hibernates,

 

waiting again for another season

of slight warmth, playing

 

hide and seek in the piled up snow—

an innocuous whiteness rests

 

on the thorns of the hoary rosebushes

and the encrusted apple trees,

 

like the dollops of smile

from bright eyed honeymooners.

 

The snowy roads eager for the touch

of gamboling children on the mountain slopes

 

or to taste the warmth of a kiss stolen

from the embracing lovers strolling

 

hand in hand on this earthly paradise.

The snow dredgers clear the roads—

 

neatly cutting away, shearing the skin,

soft and smooth, exposing the dark flesh

 

for the army patrol and the ire of their

ever voyeuristic rifle eyes.

 

_______________________________________

 

Sutapa Chaudhuri has two poetry collections — Broken Rhapsodies and Touching Nadir. My Lord, My Well-Beloved is a collection of her translations of Rabindranath Tagore’s songs.

 

 

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