“Naren”

the other day
i met Anjana Basu
online
following a forgotten vision
one i had
most likely
eons ago

if
my unexplainable
however reliable
instinctive being
is right on the dot that is

at any rate

i pursued her
inquired about her life
even traveled to Allahabad
to see if her town of birth
resembled mine

i took a connecting flight to London
where she had been schooled

within a couple of hours
i appeared in Kolkata
at her doorstep

a gracious hostess

she invited me in
her home was grandiose
not in an empirical sense

oh no!

she knew
what alone had mattered in life
love and light shone out loud
through every nook and cranny
of her otherwise humble abode

she served us tea with milk and honey
it was prepared in a colonialism-free manner
true to her upbringing true to her mother-culture

she had placed
rashly-improvised store-bought delicacies
(i had after all showed up unannounced)
a delicate modest-in-size-tray showed them off

the plane food made my fingers think again
they resisted reaching out
with a strong will
much stronger than my eyes’ appetite
so, i declined with my utmost proper
nay-say-gratitude

we talked and talked
actually, she talked and i listened
to her mesmerizing novellas
her Black Tongue
the novel for which she had been recognized
as the winner of the Hawthornden Fellowship
(in Scotland)

her successful endeavors in script-writing
and more . . .

details about her accomplished self
she had no intention to reveal to me
had i not done my homework right

the subject then came to “Naren”

an epic story-teller at its best
disguised as a poem in free-verse
and thus, began Anjana Basu:

The words I have for Naren are purely prose.
Prose. Prose of a chest
A mat of hair against the sun. Sometimes
It’s counting the tiles on a floor
Held down. Or a bed field of crumbs
And a dirty foot. Even greying underwear.
Sometimes an evening spent in hatred
Following in one’s head the footsteps of a whore
Down some dark lane or a street of crumbling houses.

These are words for Naren.
Perhaps a synonym for rage or hate.
Or even an undefinable word called love
That you could find in rage or hate.
There are other meanings – even other shades
Left out. Footsteps of a child or whore
Or other women deliberately taken
And then the running back to a familiar bed.
I called it lost child.
There were other words too –
Lover, Boyfriend, ex-Husband, boy-husband.
It meant keeping company in an empty room
With haunted corners. With shame
And a telephone wire.
Company against reason or sense
Or the blotting out of a curtain –hiding
From pigeons or from seeking eyes.

These were words for Naren.
Are still perhaps.
Pretended love made in a mirror,
A shuddering belly and tonsils hurt
The way a face may flush or voice darken
Denying everything but lust or hate, or accidental love. Naren’s words.

when this wonder-filled wondrous woman
of unforgettable demeanor ceased her voice to be
her tangibly exquisite
enriching enchanting exfoliating
purity-extracting plate of human-ness
took the external load off of her
and lain there for me to devour

plenty of leftovers gathered up in an orderly row

i am on my way to bring them over to you

 

© hülya n. yılmaz, 2.15.2018

[This poem was submitted for the March, 2018 issue of The Year of the Poet, a monthly international anthology published by Inner Child Press. The Year of the Poet has its regularly contributing poets from various parts of the world and features between three and four new poetry writers every month. Now in its fifth year, this book showcases -outside its monthly changing featured poets, the poetic works of fourteen “permanent” writers. The book’s 2018 offerings have been conceived to highlight a different civilization each month. Accordingly, it serves also as a collective educational undertaking to offer insight into various aspects of civilizations of the past and present.]

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