Sunday, June 23, 2013



that beautiful space in time,
when I am, only mine.
Nondescript of every other description-
I am the rustle of bamboo in the winds
making love without purpose
or the need to express.

The darkness here is mine,
the occasional happiness too.

In some unknown corridor of the neighborhood,
a conch blows
out of propriety and context.
Stale winds fan an old lingering song,

I exist in the darkness of such songs.

© 2013 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury
( Image from the Internet)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Conversations with a Koyel

This afternoon, I sat on my balcony with a book. there are some large trees where I stay. A clump of bamboo in the garden particularly attracts a lot of birds, mostly very small constantly flittering away as if all the fun was in the wagging of a coloured tail. But there is one bird which unfailingly makes its presence felt by its melodious and persistent call. I've tried to trace the Koel, sometimes in the backyard and sometimes in the front and finally found it to be hidden within the bamboo in the front garden part.

The rather persistent call from the bird made me shut my book and look out at the adjacent road and the other neighborhood houses. There has been a small construction work going on for a few days and I idly watched the men going about their work. The call of the Koel went on uninterrupted, if possible even louder this time. 

Suddenly, a worker came near the wall of the house looked at the clump of bamboo and shouted, " ka re itna kahe batiya rahe ho, ab chup bhi ho jao, tanik jirai le" ( Translates to- what happened, why are you talking so much, can't you be quiet for a while so that I can rest a bit?) he stood there, hands in the hips still looking upwards, almost as if he were waiting for an answer. There was complete silence for just about 2 minutes..I held my breath, my eyes almost popping out. The man turned his back to the tree, almost going off and then stopped halfway, scratched his head and came back. He looked at the bamboo, threw up his hands and shouted again, " ab itni bhi kya narazgi, hum sachi muchi thodi bolein hain, chalo batiao aisa sannata acha nahin lage hain". I looked at the bamboo tree hopefully, the leaves shook a bit...a small bird hurried out in a hurry and suddenly the song was back! The ever persistent coo back again, I almost laughed then, but shut my mouth, thinking the worker, might overhear me and feel embarrassed. Meanwhile he looked at the tree, lifted his hand and exited with a smart " Jai ram ji ki"

( Image from the internet)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Football and the worship of Kali

I was watching 'Egaro- The Immortal Eleven', a Bengali film released in 2011 yesterday. A refreshing film, it celebrates the centenary of the historical football match between Mohun Bagan and East Yorkshire Regiment for the IFA Shield. The match saw Mohun Bagan winning the shield on 29 July 1911, a time when the British still ruled over India. Though on a simplistic level, the film is about one particular match, yet on different levels it also showcases the patriotic passion that drives the eleven players and those who are associated with them, as well as the spectators who even if for that one moment stand united against the British regime.

There are many aspects in the film which are really nice, especially because it hasn't been reduced to a song and dance ritual like Bollywood films. A portrayal of the culture, traditions and people of those times are interesting( though there are some very slight inaccuracies).

One scene particularly caught my interest. An underground revolutionary group headed by Nagendra is shown worshiping the Goddess Kali, while recruiting new members to the group or even praying to her for inspiration for their goal of killing the British officers.

Kali worship in Bengal probably began in the 18th- 19 the century. Usually so far associated as a goddess worshiped by petty thieves and robbers, Kali now began to be worshiped by the elite of Calcutta too. The atrocities of the British regime combined by the devastating famine, probably made them look for an all powerful deity who graphically represented brute power (the martial aspect of Shakthi) against the forces of evil.

There is also evidence that during the early part of the 20th century revolutionaries of the Indian freedom struggle , used the imagery associated with the worship of Kali. The name of revolutionary groups like Anushilan Samiti comes to the fore in this regard. According to Tantric belief the worship of Kali transforms negative energies and defeats demonic forces, probably why the revolutionaries could associate themselves with her.

Interestingly, the freedom movement has seen its fare share of influences through feminine forces. Abanindranath Tagore( nephew of Rabindranath Tagore and founder of Bengal school of Art) painted his famous watercolor 'Mother India' in 1906, representing the country as a beautiful, ascetic goddess clad in pale saffron. This image became the artistic icon for the nation during the struggle for freedom.
Curiously, the image was inspired from a book by Sister Nivedita (a Scots-Irish social worker and devotee of Swami Vivekananda), called 'Kali the Mother'.

( Image from the Internet)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

-The Morning after-

Sleep induced eyes, look at the morning after.

A drunk rises from his stupor
into the normalcy of vegetable vendors,
sleepy children trudge off to school-
A beggar takes his place,
in streets teeming with hope
illicit lovers raise their eyes
from a night of flirtation,
to the normalcy of regained composure-

In faltering steps,
life assumes proportions normal.

© 2013  Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

( Painting by Manish Khatri)