DURGA SEXTET I.
DURGA PUJA, REVISITED: 2015-17

 

1. PANCHAMI

SUDEEP SEN

 
 

I dream of the celebrations tomorrow
             amid neighbourhood women
                                        selling home-cooked food,
                         handmade wares,
children running around unfettered,
                         at the annual puja’s Ananda Mela.
 
I sit thinking of the night ahead
             with her wearing white, sheer white,
dhaker shaaj revealing to me
                         what she might want —
                                                                   there is desire —
except now is not quite the right time
             with so many people milling around us.
 
Light as a cloud bearing her name —
                                                    crystal glass in hand —
she half-leans on me on the blue linen sofa,
             brushing against my side ever-so- slightly,
not once, but a few times, subtly,
                                        enough for me to feel
                                                                   her heat.
 
She swivels her neck,
                         her night-black hair
tousles beautifully in an arc
             periodically covering her brown eyes —
her eyelashes and luminous strands of hair
weaving a magic
                         that stares deep into my pupils.
 
Out on the balcony as she smokes her last,
             she tells me the secret of singlehood —
fragile cigarette ash-tips fall off the ends
                         of her long-nailed slender fingers.
 
It is time for everyone to leave —
though she might have wanted to stay on.
                         Today’s celebrations must end,
as must the joys of this evening’s high.
 
Most, except you, have dispersed by now.
As we say our goodbyes,
                                                    hug and kiss —
she surreptitiously slips her lilac lace handkerchief
into my breast pocket
                                                    and whispers
                                        a ten-digit code into my ear.

 
 

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