Autumn in Calcutta: Krishna, Gulzar Sahab and I

Four palanquin bearers come to my house
at the dead of night.
They know Radha is a somnambulist,
loitering alone in Kalkatta streets, all decked up
like a new bride in a full moon,
like a young and restless ghoul.

The last mail train from Mathura to Kalkatta
reaches Howrah at midnight.
Lovers and bandits share
the same waiting room facing the Howrah bridge,
the steely resolve of Radha
She is now married to a manhole maker in Kalkatta.

It is autumn and Gulzar Sahab is restless
He wants to find out
where exactly Gokul is in Kalkatta.
I tiptoe around the lanes and bylanes
of Burrabazar to find a suitable accommodation
for Krishna, the young politician from Mathura:
the old town with the flight of steps on loss and Yamuna,
ornate houses, the abode of oil refinery
and pure milk.

I know Krishna’s sad flute ringtone is a pretext
for something much bigger. In love
or in loss.
I know Radha is still all milk and honey
and She too is an embodiment of love and loss,
like Kalkatta in autumn.
She is now absorbed in a new life
in the dingy lanes of Burrabazar
while Krishna and Gulzar, with her ancient last letter
to Mathura in hand,
search for Radha in autumn
in an old Kalkatta postcode, now changed

Sekhar Banerjee is a Pushcart Award and Best of the Netnominated poet. He has been published in Stand, Indian Literature, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Bitter Oleander, The Lake, Better Than Starbucks, Thimble Literary Magazine and elsewhere. He hails from Jalpaiguri – an old tea town in sub-Himalayan West Bengal, India. He lives in Kolkata.

Featured image: Surajit Mandal / Unsplash