It must be a dream that motivates a foreigner to leave their country and…..
Debanjali Mukhopadhyay ( 1955 — 1996)
She was born in Kolkata,though travelling to many unknown lands less popular was her passion. Being a post- graduate in Bengali Literature from Jadavpur University, she started writing from an early age during her sophomore days and her poems were published in many journals regularly. Her first and only book “Banshphool O Ei Shob Nirjanota “ was published in 1988. The hills of north-east Indian terrain , the rivers , woodlands and the riverine plateaus of Bangladesh attracted her and she travelled for months to reach their ethereal beauty.
Debanjali , only a span of forty years remind us of Dostoyevsky’s “ Notes from Underground “ when she also emerges with a new narrative for her century.And yes, what the protagonist did with himself was not the same to be applied for Debanjali . But here as we see how the non hero speaks pitilessly about himself saying , “ Why! I could not ever become an insect! “ ; Debanjali calls herself a forest girl , dwelling by the ark of an ecstasy like blades of grass, twigs and foliage. Her diction speaks her inner alphabets which remain intentionally away from the popular babble of stereotypes. Her solitary consciousness of other worlds allow her to mix anecdotes, lost sagas and myths in her easel offering enigmatic moments of the universal cosmic time .The poetic fervour and vocabulary constantly raids the missing links of the living and the dead and we see a number of entries where the poet , as if dives to another inwardness of her soul to grab the keys to open tangled dreams that persists within her psyche.She sometimes would hover through coloured textures, draw and then scratch off , only to let a crimson cloud- stairway engulf her dead mother and the text is reborn in concentric birth cycles when her mother returns for the rest of her life—
Sandalwood night, when my mother
Came to me like a doll
For a holiday
Chained cradle circles
Are pushed for a swing
As a breeze, when she goes and goes and goes…
The date tree in a lustre – brown square house
One day a bird arrives and perches on a ripe date
And Ma entered the household playfully.
In an instant her divine reddish curls of a fairy caught fire,
Her opal white skin wrinkled,
She ran towards the windows
But never did she find the path
strewn with icon lights,
Which she took while flying down to earth.
And in silence, all doors of the zircon chateau locked themselves up !
She gradually had a husband and several ugly children.
Then she , as Aparna sat in penance.
Suddenly one day , the sky lit up with icon lights to sew a pathway
She spoke to none but left her home . ( Story of a goddess)
Debanjali’ s cognitive insight gathers from a wide range of images in her ancestral memory stored inside her helix from time eternal. The Milky Way, the Andromeda galaxy, the cult of mythical gods and goddesses, primeval legacies from different parts of the world seem to happen within a never ending meandering circle, hence repetitive verb forms , colour tints , nature landscapes appear in her poems like a cosmographic pattern of irregular patches. Words of a particular lexicon appear in a semantic orbital field , sometimes in an inclusive semantic nexus or in a temporary semantic field eg in the above poem , words like “ divine” “ fairy” “opal” “ icon lights” constitute the nucleus of the signified . Her only anthology can speak enough to bring about a new edifice that stands aloof from a whole generation.She can be of no match to her contemporary or the poets of later decades .
“Rootprints of an alien: Poems of Debanjali Mukhopadhyay
The Roving shadows
Layers of cotton flesh removed one by one
And herein the corpse was found.
Only her favourite antique lamp of green stone
Had a last ray on her face
The Egyptian queen
Closes her eyes in deep silence
Like the galaxy of Ila , she lies in a trance
Mapping her own lunar phases after death and
Euphoria of a divine energy
Asleep on the cosmic wings of a white foamy sea
Startled by a mad sweep of wave
Sprinkles from tiny temples
Which were , her so -very – dear closets
Deformed human bodies are the
Shadows, the Andromeda galaxy…
Universe of a magic light…carries
A casket of life, yet to be
A saga of three sisters
She lives within the Helios of red graphite, my sis
A hermitage of walls closed with woods stacked for
A ceremonial chant before the Rigveda was born.
Old tales , ripe grasses and twigs are weaved
To make yellow green hymns into a shady cloud
Of chiaroscuro, where she, the other stayed
Only to become a bird.
Her voice sounds the song of mythical chants never to cease.
The third ‘ s desire to be a fish in fresh flowing tide
Kept her an alien behind black sands, oblivious
She waited, unsurpassed carrying a pearl of eternity.
Once the three flowers were meant for the gods
Womb of the forest
Forest girls walked down a shade of lush leaves
Blades of grass or strands of disheveled tresses with red berries
As if tied up with a ruby sickle tiara
They move amongst flower beds , orchards and past deep woods
Through the plethora of yellow dazzling lights and burning flames
Of a laboratory
As I walked with them I grew
A leaf from my skin
Then two , three, endless.
Innumerable leafy patterns clothed me
Slowly immersed, closing me again and again
the forest hid my whole existence
Then me also —-
I, half born
She, leaving me aside
Heads to an emerald canopy
takes a long dip
Bathes herself a shrine.
Warm hues of dusk on her feet
She scuffles powders of red leaves
As a shadow of blood sprouts on virgin white nails.
Then she returns to her easel
My rest half was complete with quick strokes.
An obscure white diaphragm
Only to allow a black green embryo in .
As she tried to make pieces of that auspicious woman for her sons
She herself groping in many legs
Paddled inside the brightness of male shadows,
Dead caverns of filth and waters trapped
A blood stricken needle which weaved her heavenly muslin.
Sentenced to aphrodisiac , white scents arouse promiscuous males
To poison the earth , when
The thirsty mirth grabs a female in a boisterous collapse.
Plunged within anonymous labour of giving birth
Slowly distributes her sons to this auspicious lady.
Translation, Ballari Sen