Calcutta

Inspired by Brown Girl, Bluegrass 

Calcutta 

Capital of West Bengal

Colonial Capital of British india

Also known as Kolkata or Kalikata, for ease of Anglican tongues

Calcutta 

My birthplace

The City of Joy, Food, History And Music

Home of College Street

And Victoria Memorial, a large marble dedication to the usurper, or better known as Queen Victoria

The Indian Museum

Park Street

The birthplace of artists like Tagore

Martyrs like Teresa

And girls, like me.  

Where my grandparents spent their entire lives, raising their two daughters

Where my parents met during their masters program.

The place where they got married. 

Where I was born,

On a cold, January Sunday in the hospital furthest from my mom’s home. 

Currently, the city where my grandparents still live

Where my grandma spends her weekends in the Calcutta Club, playing poker with her friends and enjoying the luxuries of colonial practices the Brits forgot to take back with them

Like well dressed butlers

And being called “ma’am”

And being proud patrons of an elusive “gentleman’s club”

The city where I spent my early childhood

The city where my best friend lives as his father serves in the Army. 

I haven’t visited my home in over three years.

Calcutta, the City of Joy

Amma

This poem is written about my maternal grandmother, I call her Amma. The first few lines are Bengali, the language that we speak. Enjoy!

Baba high court judge chillen. 

Amader Patna bari khoob shundoor chiloo

I wish you could have seen it, Roshu

Our sprawling bungalow in Patna, 

Filled with vines, wild mango trees and dogs. 

Judy the greyhound

Wendy the dachshund

Ma’s pet deer, before it became illegal to own one.

She kept a garden in the back where she grew vegetables.

Of course, she was never the one who cooked them.

There were multiple secret passageways for a little girl to get lost in.

The rain in the monsoon seasons would pitter-patter against my window frame.

The humidity would cause my hair to frizz,

Oh, if only you could have seen it, Roshu. 

Baba commanded respect, his people loved him. 

He stood up for the low wage workers, 

Argued for the little guy

I hope you do the same, Roshu.

The house was full of music, light and colors. 

I wish you could have seen it, Roshu. 

Before, well, everything.

Before the demolition, court cases and family against family. 

I wish you could have seen it, Roshu. 

I know you would have loved it, Roshu.