Prayag Saikia

Twilight - Poem by Prayag Saikia

It is the month of Shravana*
Afternoon time
Dark clouds sketching patterns in the sky

Now and then
The lightning effects
Are coming in
Through the windows

A room
One bed
Ma bedridden
I am sitting near her legs
Both are engrossed today
In reminiscence

Ma asks
Tell Bhaity
What was the name
Of the capital of Tripura
Lying near Mizoram
I can't recollect
Memories are lost

Why ma.. It's Agartala
And … anything else

Many days back
Your grandpa said
Flutes of Tripura is very famous

That beautiful flowering tree
In our garden
With an enchanting fragrance
What was the name
Ma.. it's hasnahana

Yes… it's hasnahana
Ma repeats
Slowly the lips quiver
Bhaity, pick up the pen
Then pointing to a leaf of paper
On the table beside the bed
She says
Write down the name
Life's meaning would be lost
If the beautiful names are forgotten

Octogenarian my ma
Conscious to stop the erosion of memory
Ma asks these days many such things
Else she is afraid of getting lost
Question is the lone support
That does not allow
The fragrance of memories to fade

Ma understands
Time would stall if she dozes off

The big tank that one comes across
When going by Roha
What was its name

I say
Why ma
It's Jongal Balahu
King Arimatta
Have you forgotten those
You had been a student of history

Just to tease her
I ask
Ok tell me
Who was Jyotishman Saikia

Ma pauses
Thoughts flow fast
Who was it…
After long
Ma remembers
‘It's my grandson
Your elder brother's son'
Is it
Then say who was my elder brother
Ma again tries to untie the knot
She does not fail
She says … looking at me …Prayag
You're Prayag
Your elder brother Pranjal

A smile lights up ma's face
How strange is this forgetfulness
The pet name behind the good name
Of my heart
It's not coming
To help her out
I say
You're right - it is Xondada

Xon made a movie
Ma ponders …the name doesn't strike
Ma delves deeper and deeper
Into the unending bottom of the mind
Somewhere the shooting star
Appears to plummet down

Xon has been lost
In the quagmire of life

Her eyes well up
A drop of tear
At the corner of her eyes
Its the thirteenth day of
The great war of Kurukshetra

Ma takes the kerchief to the corner of her eyes
I understand her
Ma knows to hide the tears of emotion

Ok, Bhaity
I remember a picture of Dhanmama
It's name - Nimila Onko
It was the first directed one of his life
As regards to movie
You didn't get to watch
Xon was too young
Your pa and I carried Xon
Reema did not go
Reema was tended to by grandma
She was just a baby

I forgot which talkies it was
Joyshree or Krishna
Perhaps it was Krishna
Owned by Kasibehani

Ma, .. do you remember the story
No.. can't recall
Memory is now a illegible manuscript

In our old album
There was a still of Nimila Onko
I remember the picture
A group photo
One family
There your Dhan mama
I mean your Lakhya Mamakoka
Who looked for people always

Maybe... but I have forgotten
But... one thing Bhaity
My Xon too chose uncle's path

Ma you acted too

Why did you forget
In the school function
You enacted the role of Sohrab
And Padum Baideu..

Ma smiles
The smile of getting caught
Cheeks blushed

Padum was Rustom
Who was it, that said
Hiran's voice is loud
Hiran should have been Rustom
Who said actually
Was it Pragya
It was Lily Baideu

You sang too
Chorus of three siblings

Do you remember ma..

Ma says...yes vividly
At the annual Puja at Samaguri
At our ancestral home
It was a moonlit Autumn night
We were wearing frocks
The picture is not yet erased
Forgot the lyrics of the song
Body of the song

As I mention song
I often remember a Carol
Come everyone
Let us together sing paeans of Jesus

Ma sings
Lightning dazzles in the sky
She takes a recess
And asks
Would it rain

Again I pry open the memory
Ma.. do you remember
The singing practice of Reema
At the initial stage

Ma ponders
One name is coming.. Bishnupad
No... it is not Biswas Sir
First it was Sushil Banerjee
Who literally mingled in song

She stood first in the exam
Held by Sushil Banerjee
In Bhajan
Sir handed her a nice award
A beautiful tiffin box
The house of Sushil Banerjee
Was adjacent to that of
Jyotish Bhuyan - the physician
Ours was in Fauzdaripatty

He was talented
But remained in penury
You very well know
A village saint do not get support at his place
He and the famous Sachin Dev Barman
From Tripura
Both trained in Singing under the same guru at Dacca

Ma, was his name
Khalifa Badal Khan

Wow, I can't remember that far
But ma, you do remember a lot
Even through all this forgetfulness
It appears as if you are feigning
When you say
You do not remember

No Bhaity
It's not like you thought
Sometimes something crosses my mind
The next moment
It gets erased from the slate of mind
Suddenly the lightning of memory flashes
Then again it is the dark cloud
Nothing can be seen beyond the cloud

Octogenarian my ma
She thinks as if some octopus
Emerging from somewhere
Is trying to wrap up
The bumps of the brain
With its eight tentacles

Erosion of memory
Means an identityless journey
Ma peers over the hay etchings of memories
No, it must not be lost
Bhaity do you understand
I am holding to whatever
Like a drowning person
Afraid to drown
Bhaity do you remember the swirling Luit
The brilliant boy of our times
Had been lost
Who was it
The neighbour to
Our ancestral home
Mahi Chandra Bora
Who wrote the birth mystery of the lawyer
His son
A student of Cotton of yesteryears
What was the name

He was fed up with sufferings
He chose
As his last resort
The Luit in spate
The mighty Brahmaputra
What was the name

Wait, ma
Perhaps Pabindra
There is some mention
In Homen Bargohain's writings
About his death

Yes Pabindra
But what is it ma
When his lady was brought home
I wrote a poem

Do you remember it ma

No nothing
I was born and brought up
Beside the Luit
This was perhaps induced by Burha Luit

I forgot the poem
But I do remember one line
It's not mine
It was the last letter of Pabindra Borah
Today there will be a marriage
Between the cold stone
The River Brahmaputra

Ma you could remember
So vividly
No Bhaity
A deseased body is very loathsome
The soul suffers immensely

Ma says
Had there been a Shan-gri-la
In its true sense
Where there is no claws of age
Time stills stays serene
No war no famine no epidemic
Only love
Only love and peace

Ma you remember Shan-gri-la even now

I remember vividly even now
A snap of Hugh Conway
He is my favourite
The love he received
The peace he enjoyed
The target he achieved
Everything is divine

What an immaculate creation of
James Hilton
Lost Horizon
One can read everyday
Keeping on the bookrack of the chest

Do you remember ma
The story
Forgot a bit
But Shan-gri-la
And Conway
Still exists
I pray to thou
So that
It remain so
Till I close my eyes eternally

Lost Horizon was in my B.A. classes
Your father taught me
B.A. I appeared privately
I.A. in Nowgong College
Jajneswar Sarma
Mahesh Dev Goswami
Nirmal Chandra Samaddar
Were our teachers

They were teachers of your father too
There were not excesses
In their language and style
They had excellent judgement
They are like stars
Ma do you remember the
Story of Saint Brandon

Got to think
I remember the story
Saint Brandon
Sailing on a ship

I remember ma
I shall tell you
Like I did back then
Just one thing
You did act
Sang too
Wrote poems
You have passed over a little
Of your character to us
Which identity you prefer best
Ma smiles
Nothing of it
would have
Given peace to my soul

But you forgot
I am a teacher
If I am glorified in this form
Can there be anything
More to be sought
Ma pauses
I too stall looking at her
Ma asks
Bhaity, what month is this
I say Shravana

Ma says the next one is Bhada
Tell your eldest Mami
It would be nice
To offer a Xarai of Bhada
At the earliest
At our ancestral Naamghar
There is no guarantee
When the body ceases
to exist

I ask ma
What is after Bhada
Ma says Autumn

Ma pauses
This time she questions
Bhaity those beautiful flowers
That bloom in Autumn
What was it called
Ma, it is Night Jasmine
Bhaity note it down
The grip of memory would be lost

(Translated from original Assamese by Bibekananda Choudhury)

Topic(s) of this poem: life

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 25, 2018

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