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Masks by Sayan Aich Bhowmik


When I write in Urdu

The words drag themselves from the right

Like children taken to school

Against their will.

The letters set up camp

Lighting a fire

With the remains of their discarded brothers.

In the evening, they sit by a stream

The surface of which is polished mercury.

And whisper sad songs to each other.

Halfway through the poem,

An unruly couplet wanders off

To a nearby village

And returns smelling of,

Grandmothers' shawls.

The others, having already reached the end

Exchange their masks

And prepare to walk again.

Sayan Aich Bhowmik

Sayan Aich Bhowmik is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Shirakole College, Kolkata.  He is also the co-editor of the blog Plato's Caves, a semi-academic space for discussion on life, culture and literature.

About This Poem

The poem is on the one hand a meditation on the futility of writing and on the other an ode to nostalgia and the times gone by. Words sometimes act as masks, sometimes more potent in keeping things vague and opaque rather than transparent and palpable.

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