Category Archives: Poetry and Prose

Layers

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The scales I bore
to wade through
the deep dark waters
with time
started to peel,
the feathers I wore
to vanish
into the vast night sky
one day seemed
ruffled and torn,
my limbs too
that I had carried
to reach out to another
someday
now seemed worn and weak,
my skin
once as bright as moonlight
turned wan and wrinkled.
Yet as I lay
in unstirred silence
still and restful
under the star-filled sky
my mind wandered light
far and beyond
in complete wonder and glee
as never before!

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2014

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Ceiling Of Solitude

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Source: cliphut.wordpress.com

Source: cliphut.wordpress.com


Like a single strand of hair
the frail fracture runs
across the bare ceiling
over my pillow space,
those black twisty cuts
have thickened with time
revealing at last
its lonely weathered face,
it has carried
the unbearable weight
of the rickety ol’ fan
that has turned each blade
in monotonous reflex
bowing to orders
like its enslaved clan,
I see cobwebs
stealthily spread
their tangled tentacles
o’er the sprawling white
that stares steadily at me
as I stare back
mocking each other
and seeking solace
in the still stifling night.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Goddess & Whore Listed Under ‘BEST FICTION BOOKS’

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Now available on Kindle too!

Now available on Kindle too!

‘Goddess & Whore’ has been listed under the ‘BEST FICTION BOOKS’ category on BookAdda. The book has also been showcased on BookAdda’s Home page, along with three other noted titles! …This might seem as a ‘no big deal’ to most reasonable people, but somehow I just can’t stop smiling at the thought!…cheers to all!

The book is now available on Amazon and Kindle too.

Link: http://www.bookadda.com

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

The Corset Strings

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Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

The corset I wear
torments my frame
forcing me inwards
as I crumble
drained
into a heap
day after day
‘n’ withdraw deep
into my rib cage
where quietly rests
my aching heart.
Those unforgiving fingers
to which
in complete faith
I’ve surrendered
the strings
of my baroque corset
that mother wove
so they could fix my robe
firm and taut,
they quietly continue
to tighten their grip
o’er my chest, my waist
and even my neck.
I gaze in pain
into my mirror like before
just this time
I can see me in it no more.
I resolve never again to stare
at the old reflection
within that betrayer—
nor do I want
to fight those hands
and their diabolical plot,
instead I wait
long suffering
through every twisting force
on my soft pale skin
so I’m rid of the corset
and the oppressed frame.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Press Release: Goddess & Whore, Now Available Worldwide

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Goddess & Whore: Now available on BOOKadda, Flipkart, Amazon, Kindle, and in selected bookstores across India!

Goddess & Whore: Now available on BOOKadda, Flipkart, Amazon, Kindle and in selected bookstores across India!

October 2013, Singapore.

Goddess & Whore – a collection of modern poems – reaches bookstores worldwide this festive season.

Goddess & Whore – a collection of modern poems – weaves into a vivid narrative of a woman’s journey as she steps out of her various social identities and abuses to discover the true meaning to her existence. What begins as a nagging sense of disquiet and discontent evolves into a quest for inner peace. She draws inspiration from nature and begins to disentangle herself from all those relationships and resentments that she once carried, and only then does she discover her real indestructible self and makes the crossover that signifies the transformation of a being.

The poems celebrate the joys of womanhood and the beauty of nature even as they address certain social issues like the position of women, the rejection of the girl child, the violence against women, the traditions of fasting, and dated customs and rituals; and all these concerns culminate into a single question – ultimately what matters?

“The book aspires to convey the simple desire of a woman to be accepted for who she is, along with her dreams and aspirations, follies and foibles. She doesn’t wish to be glorified as a goddess nor be despised as a whore. At a broader level, this sentiment holds true for all human beings, whether man or woman,” explains Madhurima. “The book is available on Flipkart, BOOKadda, Amazon, Kindle and also in selected bookstores across India.”

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Blacks Amidst Blue

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Source: hdwallpapers4free.com

Source: hdwallpapers4free.com

I looked intently from behind my veil
for a face that would read my eyes,
but all I saw was a flock of crows
that teased my drape with their vicious cries.
I wondered if it was the veil
or the screeching crows that caused more stir,
a stray thought chivvied that rummaged my all
and ere long robbed me of every hope.
I sat still as that was all
I was ever wont to do,
the sky was filled with screams of crows
I watched in gloom the blacks ‘midst the blue.
Tattered and soiled yet my veil remains
my old ally, my guise, my hide, my sole refuge —
it saved me from the spite they felt
when they learnt it was a girl.
Their regret and fear form my prison walls
unyielding, rigid, lifeless and cold,
the sky would make a warmer drape,
your assuring eyes would’ve harboured hope.
For long I wait to rid myself
of the curtain that thwarts my view,
to watch it torn down with deep disdain
and pour back my breath into the vast open blue.
A strange disquiet pervades my soul,
tears of anguish threaten to spill,
for one last time I close my eyes
and explode in flames to question the skies…

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Goddess & Whore: Cover Launch!

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Goddess & Whore, to be available in bookstores soon!

Goddess & Whore, to be available in bookstores soon!

5 October, 2013. As we enter an auspicious time of the year, when we celebrate the goodness and godliness in every human being, I use this opportunity to share with all of you the title and cover of my upcoming book, ‘GODDESS & WHORE’. The book is scheduled to reach bookstores, in and outside India, very soon. I sincerely (and selfishly) seek all your good wishes and blessings that should help me retain my insanity and utmost sincerity towards life and my craft. The cover/artwork of the book has been consciously kept bold, festive and unapologetic – characteristics that resonate with the very essence of the book’s content and intent too. This book marks the beginning of a journey that should most definitely contain several lessons through which I shall get to know myself better, as a person and as a writer. Do bear with me, be with me and guide me through this journey…

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Life, With A Pinch Of Sugar Instead

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I have always felt that my keen passion for food has turned me into an intemperate glutton as also a complete epicure with an almost accurate power of detecting the individual condiments and spices concealed within a dish, that product of smooth and selfless blending of varying flavours only to create a greater magic, like all other things in life. It is as though the well-seasoned and prudently cooked fare speaks to me as I bite into that succulent piece bursting with juices; the luscious gravy beckons at me even as I cautiously savour a spoonful of the delectable fluid dodging that threatening little circle of smoke over it only to experience the explosion of flavours and textures of intelligently pounded and roasted spices; and I close my eyes so nothing around me can distract me from this gratifying experience. As those textures and flavours melt into my mouth I am able to track every one of those otherwise untraceable ingredients for its subtle aroma or for a tell-tale tang for people like me to notice. You see, it prefers to reveal itself only to those who care to seek it and value it. And I am only reminded of the flawless resemblance that all this bears to life and our own varying abilities to understand it.

While most people obsess over the obvious use of salt in moderating the taste in a cooked meal, which isn’t entirely fallacious, I feel that it is actually the slight drizzle of sugar into the simmering gravy that lends that extra zing and even astuteness to the taste and character of the dish that can no longer now be simply tagged as ‘salty’ or ‘sweet’. Be it the mild bitterness in taste or the burnt golden tinge of the caramelized sugar or its discreet presence only to soften the harsher lines of salt, sugar has always been a more assuring accomplice in this game of blending the obvious.

As an agent of delicious deception that leaves those who gobble and guzzle in pure delight incapable of simplistically describing the final dish as entirely salty or sweet, sugar has taught me great qualities of subtlety and discretion besides the power of sweetness. After all, too much of it will risk having it exposed! It has revealed to me the element of obscurity where neither life nor any person can be defined by a single façade. It has also trained me to observe the beauty within the intricacies that I slowly unravel with every bite and every sip…

Even at a young age I was able to tell whether it was the cinnamon that lent that tangy taste or if it was the coriander powder or the bay leaf or even the extra pinch of turmeric powder that lent character to a dish. And it would not be fully inaccurate either to attribute that uncanny ability to my love for eating. You might even think it is the presence of the ‘Bengali’ in my DNA that plays this trick and results in a loyalty for sugar, and there is a slight chance you may be correct too, but I would still like to believe that it is my sincere love for the undiscovered that attracts me towards these subtle complexities in flavours that make a dish more desirable and appealing.

In fact I have always believed that just like a gentleman is judged by his shoes, a character is judged by the food it consumes. Believe it or not, the kind of food we enjoy says a lot about the person we are. Conversely, it is our temperament, moods and beliefs that quietly govern the kind of spices or food we eat. As for me, I have always enjoyed that beauty within the mystery of life that reveals itself only to those who fearlessly delve into it, ready to surrender themselves to the infinite possibilities, only to discover more.

These condiments are no different from the paints on a canvas that mingle and merge with each other blurring the sharp lines and edges. It’s the way a good make-up blends along the right contours. Hence, for me that touch of sugar that lends softness to the overwhelming presence of certain spices and flavours has always been the supreme deciding factor about the ultimate appeal of a fare to our palate, and it is this soulful experience that allows me a glimpse of the condiments used. Every time I roll a portion of a culinary delight on my tongue, I am able to get a whiff of each distinct aroma of every spice. It is like a gift that comes with a few kilos of extra weight, of course…but I seldom regret that since my Bengali roots seem to bail me out on that front as well with a crafty and specious justification!

It was this love for food that drew me towards cooking, though I solely operate within the closed walls of my kitchen. I took to cooking not by choice but by necessity since the taste of my mother’s and grandmother’s cooking had zealously clung on to my mind and my tongue, and so to try and replicate it in order to sustain myself was the most obvious way to go about it. Though even today I find my cooking miles away from what the other two ladies in my life prepare, thankfully my gift to track that taste and tell the difference between their artistry and that of the likes of me still remains untouched.

It was my mother who taught me the use of sugar in the most unimaginable options like lentils, pulses, vegetables and of course curry! But you would never be able to tell, except for grandma, ma and me who can often trace the absence of this selfless sweetener by the sharp solitary taste of salt. The only time when sugar is not used is while seasoning or marinating poultry perhaps! I imagine this is because sugar refuses to stay in places where its presence is too obviously revealed. Instead, used in the right place and in the right quantity it melts, just like magic dust, irrevocably into the background only to exist as a lingering possibility that soothes the senses. And only one person could validate its existence with complete certainty – the one who cooked it. As for me, I choose to appear conveniently forgetful when a grumpy conventional foodie confronts me with the usual absurd loyalty to salt and a disdain for sugar in every-day meals.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

You and I, Seasoned With Poetry ‘n’ Fairytale

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I have come to believe that this magic potion called life that we unmindfully gorge on day after day and even occasionally gag on, is actually seasoned thoroughly with two unobtrusive ingredients that lend that untraceable yet captivating flavour to the main component, as they slowly sink into it layer by layer. These are a drizzle of fantasy and a dash of poetry that define and dictate the true essence of what we consume unmindfully that, in turn, decides who we become ultimately. And yet most of us, being who we are, seldom notice or even realize their presence and the power that this seasoning duo possesses. Instead, we attribute every other quality to only those condiments that meet the eye.

What we are able to conjecture are perhaps the more widely approved colours and textures that are tossed into the simmering cauldron to replicate that familiar taste that reassures us of our deceptive yet intoxicating sense of power instead of challenging our opinions of what we defend as the well-defined. Of course, those ingredients too are necessary to shield us from the unapologetic harsh reality that we bite into, as often we seem to have lost the capacity for accepting what stands unaltered. These condiments know the art of appeasing us so we may never know what lies beyond them.

How many of us are truly aware of who we are, or what we consume. And yet what we gobble up day after day, unwillingly or willingly, unwittingly or intentionally, decides what we shape up to even as we continue to define what we are tucking into. Not that I give credence only to what meets the eye- the stark reality- nor do I have a blind faith in the unreal imaginary world of fantasy, simply because I have little faith left in my ability to tell the difference. For me everything is real just as long as I care to believe in it. And yet, there must be events or circumstances that remind us of the existence of a world of reality that may not yet be within the realms of our familiar beliefs or conventional understanding. But such a world exists and so it must be real. Else, nothing is… nothing ever was. Though at times the latter seems like a probable option too, perhaps a harsher ‘reality’.

Flavours of poetry and fairytales, on the other hand, while defying the contradicting notions of ‘reality’ and defending fluid designs of possibility, add richness, zest, and a delectable array of magnificent hues and splendid aromas to the fare. They connect the impossible with the possible within the human mind, defining best the seasons within the human heart and often leaving it altered for life with a sense of wonderment towards life. They create a connect between us and life by blurring out the differences with their soothing touch so we are able to rise above what we cannot change and obtain the gift of being reverential as we notice life through all its shades.

It is that potion of poetry and fairytale in us that connects us to nature and life, lends us a pair of eyes that can see beauty and celebrate joy, and a heart that can weep in melancholy, pathos, love and happiness. It reminds us of our wanderer soul that can let go of all its possessions and rise above them to feel true liberation.

Our physical form too thrives on rhythm. The heart throbs in poetic beat while the mind drifts into the unfamiliar obscure realm beyond the familiar. We survive on hope and love that seem not unlike words taken from a fairytale. Notice an infant and you would have a chance of knowing what this means. You can mesmerize a young child with a wonderful story that happened behind those gigantic fluffy clouds, or even sing her to sleep with a soothing rhyme. It is in these acts alone that an infant feels reassured and at peace. And that is our first proof!

We have all, unknowingly or knowingly, fed on these two elements and thus they remain, even today, an integral part of our being. So even as people argue relentlessly about how poetry and fairytales are only for some people and not for the masses, I steadfastly hold on to the opinion that these two elements are actually an intrinsic part of the human consciousness. Literature and Science have, in fact, derived these flavours from the human mind and so they continue to stimulate and inspire the human intellect and have the power to resonate in every corner of our being even today. Poetry and fairytales are for everybody everywhere and for all times. If there is hope there is a fairytale too; if there is joy in beauty then there has to be poetry there as well!

There is much poetry and fairytale in our hearts and dreams even today. We might have only forgotten the art of noticing and exulting in their quiet presence due to the overwhelming presence of other much weightier matters. But we seem to have forgotten so many things that we would do well to recollect and rejuvenate… and remind ourselves that poetry and fairytale continue to remain an inseparable part of life and nature and the very essence of our existence. But as they say, good seasoning works its way through best when it is kept in the warmth!

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

The God I Saw

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an infant i saw

under the staggering light

of the earthen lamp

on that still callous night…

when meaning had crept

out of every human heart

when hopelessness ‘n’ remorse

had ripped open every vulnerable part…
she had arrived
to save us all

and lead us
to a fresh new start

no weapon she bore

not a crown she wore

only a pure innocent heart…

patient ears to hear our woes

dark eyes that exuberated joy

her four little hands held aloft

a book

a flower

a flute

a toy…

yet familiar to me she seemed

while in blinding radiance she beamed

i recalled alas
that frail ‘n’ hungry cry

of a newborn girl

discarded and left to die…

(another poem from Madhurima’s book ‘Goddess & Whore‘)

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Nine To Five

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(another poem from Madhurima’s book ‘Goddess & Whore‘)

the tiny cloud
o’er my coffee mug
slowly fills
the air-con space
the rhyming clicks
on my black keyboard
begin to pick
their daily pace…
i take a sip
and retrieve my lip
the stain of red
still on the mug
i answer my phone
in rehearsed reflex
and feel a frown
upon my brow…
i haven’t much time
to fill my mind
with thoughts
of disappointment and fear
my coloured nails
in harmony click on
without a sign
of remorse or cheer…
i pull back my chair
that yields to my will
and stride down
the quiet corridor
my four-inch heels
confirm my being
announcing themselves
on the lacquered floor…
this is my world
from nine to five
when i decide
my destiny
no judging eye
can reach me here
no ladle nor knife
can make pieces of me…
I’ve seen
the raised eyebrow
the look you give
from time to time
but i choose this time
my book instead
and leave you to fuss
o’er my alleged crime…

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Romance II

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Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

(another poem from Madhurima’s book ‘Goddess & Whore‘)

the satin sponge
that smells of talc
sets the stage
for the act to start
for day after day
it waits on me
to mask my flaws
with its magic touch…
the contour brush
with its gentle strokes
runs its fingers
o’er my neck and cheek
it teases me
like an ol’ lover i know
it can sculpt me
fierce or meek…
the dark chic stance
of the liner’s tip
kisses mine eyes
with its soothing moist lip
like a childhood pal
it reaches within
and quietly discovers
the dreamer in me…
my oldest romance
the charcoal stick
loyally guards
the defenceless in me
as it traces my eyes
with its own dark song
seeking to cloak the tale
that remains untold in me…
the lovely lipstick
tries to stay
within the space
in me she fills
yet time and again
its mind does stray
and once again
the colour spills…

(another poem from Madhurima’s book ‘Goddess & Whore‘)

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Poetry Vs Cigarettes

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(another poem from Madhurima’s book ‘Goddess & Whore‘)

click click
click click…
the keys of my laptop
no less of a poet
echo their only rhyme
only to celebrate
my words
that have just been born
as i suck the bitter air
from my lit tobacco stick…
its tiny red ambers
like rubies breathe
alive and ablaze
each time i filter
a lung full of fresh air through it
but they reduce to soft ashes
soon after
and collapse
disillusioned discoloured
as i set the smoke free
from my lips
that provokes once again
my senses…
fifty thousand words
‘n a million cigarette puffs
it has cost and earned me
yet i argue on
with questionable irritation—
why these damned cigarettes
sell more than my poetry!
deep within though
i have a nagging doubt
if it’s my vanity
that seeks solace
and similarity
with the bitter taste
of the burning tobacco
that reduces quietly to ashes…

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013