Rumjhum Biswas’s prose and poetry have been published in India and abroad, both in print and online. Notably in South, Words-Myth, Everyday Fiction, Muse India, Eclectica, Nth Position, The King’s English, Arabesques Review, A Little Poetry, Poems Niederngasse, The Little Magazine – India and Etchings – Australia. Her poem “Cleavage” was in the long list of the Bridport Poetry Competition 2006. She won third prize in a poetry contest run by Unisun Publishers India in February 2008. A flash fiction by her was shortlisted in the 2008 Kala Ghoda Arts Festival literature section Flash Fiction Contest managed by Caferati. Her poem “March” was commended in the Writelinks’ Spring Fever Competition, 2008. She won third prize in the Muse India Poetry Contest 2008. Her story “Ahalya’s Valhalla” is among the notable stories of 2007 in Story South’s Million Writers’ Award. She was a participating poet in the 2008 Prakriti Foundation Poetry Festival in Chennai. Links to her work at www.rumjhumbiswas.com. She blogs at http://rumjhumkbiswas.wordpress.com/
Pelicans On The Brisbane River
“They’ll be here soon,” said the man in the wide brimmed hat
lumbering on his way down
into the wide belly of the tourist launch.
So we stayed above, sipping iced lemon tea
picking at our lamingtons nonchalantly flicking
crumbs off our clothes. Honestly speaking
nobody cares except for mother. “Don’t be so
impatient,” she said, as she smoothened her hair
before it succumbed to the river breeze again.
“Didn’t the man say they’ll be here soon?” So we waited
above the snowy froth churned up in our wake.
The launch skimmed like a water skater on the river’s skin,
flying faster than the flock of birds that seemed
to be doing a marathon just for the heck of it.
Some people preferred Brisbane’s sun bitten breeze
so they went up. But some, like mother, wanted the soft river
spray. We however outnumbered them all
clambering all the way up and then
all the way down. The river crept smoothly along
humming a song. Until finally the stars of the show
arrived waggling like miniature paddle boats,
jelly- jawed and ready to receive
our excited offerings of fish and more fish peeled
from buckets of ice. The pelicans smiled.
They spread their wings out wide for us and our cameras. They knew
what to do and they knew what to eat. Unlike that other
family that day, so lost in contemplation at the lunch buffet,
holding up a softly murmuring meandering queue
as they pondered and weighed
the pros and cons of each and every dish.
The Other Side of the Sun
Dusk has hefted this bloodless day
upon grim shoulders
and is now striding towards a horizon
where the Borealis are waiting
Night drops down on iron haunches
and scans the sky
for a Moon, any Moon. Even an Arabian Moon.
Instead this night is hit full in the face
with wind, sleet and hail
Snarling at this January day, winter’s dragon
row by row by row on power lines and telephone poles,
ready to champ down hard
on bird, beast and man…
Its power is elusive. Elusive like the mirages
in the burning fields
on the other side of the sun. Redemption is too far away
and winter’s flinty fingers are breaking now
over the dreams of the dead lying forgotten
in unimportant lands.
I am at this portal
where the corridor of infinite doors
opens up one after the other
multiply and recede further
and further away from me.
Light turns opaque. Light turns heavy.
In that deep and perhaps dark world
light turns. Time ceases its terrors.
Dreams release their hold over notions.
My mind becomes torpid like a tomb.
My thoughts are embalmed. Sound
becomes numb and sight is nullified. Touch moves
more than a thousand touches away
from skin catacombed by sutures.
In the darkest maws of my belly
another consciousness stirs.
I cede control. I cede myself.
There is no ‘I’. No ‘Me’ left to hold.
Afterwards the hours are counted and stored
in the bag of oblivion.
Time becomes wafer thin.
Afterwards my tongue begins to seek words.
My words desire utterance and a man who loves me
understands me. Translates my wishes to those
who wield syringes.
There is no ambiguity here.
Eventually I unhinge and flow back
through the canopy of infinite doors
from that long corridor.
I return as one who was
a special guest of death before the gap
between then and now was squeezed
into an infinitesimal thing. I return as the one
after whom the world spun
and fell back like rain.
But I do not care then. I do not care.
Like a new born baby, I do not care.