Passwords and firewalls
No city with gates so tall
Offices with locked doors,
Stadium entry, no ticket
Like a cat
Breaking into hearts, soft as fur
When the men are away
Abhimanyu, I stammer,
Born of air
Father, I hear you still,
How to enter the circle of circles
I listen intently,
But when sleep’s rosy fingers
Touch her moist eyes,
I too cannot stay awake
The lesson remains half-learnt.
Tell me, father,
How to find a way out
Now, I am called to duty, again.
Inside these grilled gates
Where they ask for identity
The office files fry
The game is bloody
The movie boring
The same old story called history
That men carry knives wherever they
Are. They deceive just at that
Last moment when you think it’s all sorted –
Those ledgers, the balance of accounts.
I have to go out for a smoke.
There must be a fire escape somewhere.
Do you know the way out, father?
Note: Abhimanyu, Arjuna’s ill-fated son in the Mahabharata. Inside his mother’s womb, he listened to his father tell his mother how to enter the Chakravayu (the circle of circles in war). Half way through, mother fell asleep, the lesson remained half learnt. Abhimanyu knew how to get in, but not out of the Chakravayu. When called to war, a teenage Abhimanyu fought bravely, inside the inner circle, before being slaughtered, unable to find a way out.
Amlanjyoti Goswami’s poems have appeared in publications in India, as well as UK, Africa and USA. A bunch of his poems find place in ‘40 under 40: an anthology of Post-Globalisation Poetry’, published recently by the Bombay-based poetry press, Poetrywala. He grew up in Guwahati, Assam and lives in Delhi.