Anamnesis of East Bengal

 Anamnesis of East Bengal

Grandmother sang that tune.

No – she played the sitar,

And spoke like a River.

The River gave way to deserts,

And her story lives buried under –

Sand glows where waters did.

The River carried boats

Made from banana stalk –

The Goddess took a ferry.

There is a forgotten tongue;

The purge came n’ washed it down

Along with a few little stories.

There’s the story of rice

There’s the story of honey

There’s the story of koi*.

We have names and desserts,

We have a new old River,

We have her crumbing banks.

We don’t have grandmother

We don’t have her stories

We don’t have her speech.

The speech was sturdy,

The bhasha was her,

The bhasha was us.

It had the strength of rivers,

And whirled like the summer breeze;

It smelled of mango flowers.

’Twas pale as sandalwood,

And nimble as the sitar gats^;

It could measure you in jests.  

It sang the Mymensingh ballads,

It bred a thousand Suns,

It gave shouts of Hari Bol.

There was a River of blood,

Grandfather rowed a boat,

Grandmother took the ferry.


Marginalia:

*koi – The Climbing perch, Anabas testudineus

^gats – A melodic composition in Hindustani Classical Music

Sreejit Datta

Sreejit Datta is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Centre for Civilisational Studies at the Rashtram School of Public Leadership.

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  • Quite emotional.

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