Jit Bhattacharya – ‘In the New Land’, ‘God(s)’

In the New Land


The first time I stepped onto the New Land,

the first time I crossed the oceans

to land in any Western nation,

I was made of Anglo colonial prose,

bits of Sanskrit shlokas my father recited

when explaining something verbose

the burning tropical heat sweating

thousands on the streets, shoving, pulling,

without rancor, with a wink

incessant rain falling hard for three days straight

breaking asphalt, flooding drains

dark patches on buildings waterlime stained

flesh of ripe mango, sapodilla soft succulent

fish market cobblestones wet with scales, skins,

bones among cacophonic bargains


I was walking along the Skukyll expressway

people craning from car windows curious

I did not know nor understand

no one walks on a highway, my friend…

of this beautiful fall morning

leaves turning brown and yellow and red

the cold clean air heavy in apprehension

home always at the back of my head

like an earthing numbing the now to surreal

The first night I buy a packet of burgers

and on biting into a patty taste its rawness

Did I really expect a ready-to-go burger, like

those Archie comics to pop out of this carton?


You see, I came from housemaids who

cooked and cleaned and cleared tables

who were like family, surrogate mothers

except they could not sit on the furniture:

unwritten laws of social encryption


Women here jerk their arms in taut angles

stiffen their fingers into claws when talking

their eyes frank, open, non-judgmental

The Nigerian woman I used to dread

standing on the way on School House lane

explaining Jehovah’s Witness. She was earnest

wearing the same soiled cream coat

with her knotted dusty hair, her dark eyes

insistent, standing there alone waiting

Did I say the first time in any Western nation?

That was a lie when I was five

we lived in England for a time

In school some called me ‘Blackie’

and laughed in almost a good-natured way

made me feel uneasy, not yet upset

some days I didn’t want to meet those boys



I was from where a name marked a person,

his place, the measure of his respect

Now the name was a puzzle, sometimes a test

as a map without markings, meaningless

By Children’s Hospital at the parking place

I ran up and down from street to basement

driving cars getting tips, steerings glazed

with hair oil, floor strewn with paper cups,

crumpled wrappers, hair pins

Valets from 7 countries, 4 continents drop

all their baggage behind for to run and hustle

here, second job waiting once this shift is clocked

“When you getting a real job, JB?” asks one

I learnt quickly you need to have wheels

to land a real job or earn a woman’s attention


A Yehudi, lettered in scriptures, revered

turned into someone to be circumspected

A Zulu warrior standing tall, majestic in pictures

turned into one wearing a baseball cap reversed

Bougainvillea, Kadamba, Frangipani gave way

to Wintergreen, Coneflower, Coral Bells, Sage

From days filled with siblings, aunts, cousins

to a loneliness like a silent volcano imploding

from the navel, pushing up softly…

to a freedom pushed open to a widescreen

no questions asked, do you have the money?


And so we learned to live with each other

home loans, PTAs, landscaping lawns

Italian wedding soup, golubtsi so soft,

melting reuben at Jewish Deli on Locust

hot injera soaking up last of kitfo juices

Brooklyn Gurdwara houses 30 families

with all their belongings bundled in

blankets and bags sleeping on the floor

shuttling between two worlds lost


like a meteor hurtling in space searching






If you consider God as

the sum of all things left


and as some of the unexplained


with new understanding and reasoning,

even as new phenomena


that escape logic and expression,


You must have realized

the concept of God …


and cannot be tied down to

a written Word

or a Time

or a Place


One could be content

with the 33 Asuras and Suras

that represent each

natural phenomena, animal

form or human emotion


And on the wisdom and practice

of ways to assuage

the battles raging within

the sides always changing


To make choices that

do good to more than oneself

and do not impose on the Kafir

with your burden


Question the fallout in

the 11 gods and demons

inside of you taken

to form a Godhead greater than

sum of its parts


Or in trying to unravel

the formlessness of

a Brahma abstract


You may suspect

Prajapati probably lies outside

of any human intellect


And the God in likeness of Man,

the crafted dogma, bias –

Its time has long passed

like a horsewhip

used to fly

an aircraft



Jit Bhattacharya graduated with a Masters degree in Decision Science from Drexel University, Philadelphia. He is a professional Data Scientist with 20 years of experience. He also teaches Statistics, part-time, to Data Science professionals. He is a self-taught musician and plays acoustic guitar; his interest in music includes several genres, incl. jazz, rock, and classical.

His poetry has been published in Muse India, Indus Woman Writing, and Indian Ruminations. He currently resides and works in Kolkata, India.