Of the selections, what startled me was the imagery in Sonnet Mondal’s grim ‘the nameless man scooping out milk from the road to drain the drought inside’ or ‘a forsaken boatman/rows for food in the twilight.’ The fact that food and scarcity of spirit are the same.
The Nameless Man
He is scooping milk from the road
to moisten the drought inside.
In these white flooded paths
there are no bends for discourses.
They empty kaleidoscopic dreams
into queues of migrants.
The uncombed gentleman who used to
sit outside our house everyday
is missing without a mention in my diary.
Nameless, defying the lockdown
he has left a whole story unfinished.
The windswept mirages of April
are starving the city-memories.
Occasionally, they simmer
to bathe in the Nor’westers.
The balconies and windows
of my house bring in impulses –
Sounds of TV serials, some news debates,
a distant music, a raucous quarrel,
a mixed smell of dinner…
Inside, the snoring of my dog plays
with the tireless squeaking of the ceiling fan.
A pen scratches on paper
while the songs of insects try
to lift the mist
settling lazily over the city.
On the horizon, permeating the night –
a symphony of the quiet.
Where roads do not unfurl
the need for limits
breathes through dry tears.
Where Solitude takes wing
for the falling Sun
amnesia shrouds a generation.
Caged, wingless, a bird waits
for the last dusk
as a forsaken boatman
rows for food in the twilight.
Sonnet Mondal is an Indian poet, editor, and author of Karmic Chanting (Copper Coin 2018) and Ink and Line (Dhauli Books 2018). Founder director of Chair Poetry Evenings – Kolkata’s International Festival, Mondal edits the Indian section of Lyrikline (Haus für Poesie, Berlin) and serves as editor in chief of the Enchanting Verses Literary Review. He has been a guest editor for Words Without Borders, New York, Poetry at Sangam, India, and was one of the directors of the Odisha Art and Literature Festival in 2018. His works have been translated into Hindi, Bengali, Italian, Chinese, Turkish, Slovak, Macedonian, French, Russian, Slovenian, Hungarian, and Arabic.