A life dictated by my blood. They taught me, though,
That it, like everything else in the world,
Like the red joba that nestled in the corner
Of the marbled terrace where I took my first steps,
Is a construct.
And being a construct, like everything else,
Like the photo of Babaji my grandmother
Encircled with flowing smoke from glowing dhoops,
It means nothing, not really.
Bengali. But the words,
Didn't form themselves on my tongue; the script,
Did not flow. It was slowly, painfully etched,
Only to be slashed with red ink,
Followed by a whisper of shame.
I turned with relief to the obscurity of Auden,
Who should have felt alien,
But didn't. Rather, a friend, not an easy one,
But the kind who throws light on your shadows,
Over steaming cups of tea.

The stories run through my veins: the old house in Purulia,
With mango trees that the old people climbed
When their legs were something like mine.
But the story of the ankle of Achilles is familiar,
As familiar, more familiar. And it carries me
Away on the backs of night clouds,
Faster, more furious, than even the swiftness,
The legendary swiftness,
Of Arjun's arrow.
I spring to attention because I was taught to at school,
When the proud strains of that proud song is sung.
And it belongs to me.
But so does the front seat of that double decker bus,
That speeds through the famous road,
That has no trees,
Not one.

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