To Horace, Dryden and Pope; grudgingly, to Ananya Borgohain
Here me well, guide me through,
O thou Departmental Muses of Literature few:
First thou Queen Bee,
So fair and bright!
Then King G,
Homer’s seed, eternally alright.
Next you Sh-,
So stoic and composed,
Much aft the manner of noble Octavius’ nose.
You, good M, Wife not of Bath-
Possessed, perhaps, with Dryden’s great craft!
Thou Alexandrian Grandma,
Sailing in black Othello’s wake
Greenblatt’s disciple, singing in Bradley’s praise!
You, O Chughtai, our Library’s dread Queen,
Shakespearean master, beyond gender seen.
Now to thee Banger, O Pitampurian Knight,
Thy blessings in Bengali I seek with delight!
As I do with D, in her own Paradise Lost,
Trying to find, only tragic Lucifer knows what!
And finally you, O newly come S
Atwood’s delight, in theory compressed!
Listen to my song, inspire me anew,
For this once while, descend into view,
Leaving behind thy wicker-thrones few.
Unpremeditated verse I shall offer none
(Alas, old Puritan, I shall go not thy way!)
Conscious and deliberate ‘twill all shall be
Pretentious and assuming, certain disgrace to Pope’s remedy
I shall be what I am, you’ll find here no hope.
Of childhood and teenage, little can I show:
Nature’s child (one of the daredevils, y’know),
Once across the great Serpentine Blue she flew,
Much like what young Icarus thought to do,
Then there was a blast, a grievous blow;
Sooth to say, ‘tis all the Eagle knew!
Come I now to Dhillika, so fair and wide
Looking, indeed, like an Ahomya bride!
To its tree-lined avenues, perennially new,
To Sophia’s Citadel, so green and old,
To the good Rai’s college, third of the triumvirate,
To a red-as-rose building, sanctuary of the nymphs,
To a rectangular room, lofty and out of view:
Here sleeps our Queen, our heroine great!
Resplendent in her nightie, battered and frayed,
Her eyelids heavy with the old man’s sand,
Soundly does she sleep, the four-pronged world at her feet!
Slowly comes Dawn, fiery Helios’ gentle herald,
Up rise all, to toil and work;
But our sovereign Queen heeds not a blooming whit!
She tosses around, turns her beauteous face, and
Under Morepheus’ spell, falls again in place.
Seven, eight, nine, and ten pass,
The Sun to its peak rises fast,
At eleven does a spirit gently ascend,
He positions himself, careful not to offend, and,
His Master’s orders still ringing in his ears, whispers thus to His beloved dear:
“Awake, O Lady, our mandrake fair!
Arise thou Augustan, thou critical Virgo great!
Take up thy Pepsodent, brush thy mangled hair,
Bathe this body, this fleshy cage,
Dress in thy outfit,
(A new one, of course, for repetition thou so incurably hates!)
Apply some kaajal, that oh-so-black soot,
Paint on some lip-gloss, spray some perfume and
So attired, mascara and foundation in place, venture out!
Great things are for thee set, onerous tasks arrayed!
Thousands to vex, millions to irritate!
KFCs to plunder, D-schools to lay bare,
Springrolls to gorge, breadpakoras to gobble,
CP to terrorize, the Metro to wail!
So arise from thy slumbers, O methodically busybodic maid,
Arise now my Lady, awake!”
So quoth this Spirit, this Hell’s angel great
Watching in earnest, fearing he should fail;
Lo! Parted she her eyelids, displayed she those orbs,
Those brown-black scourges of a zillion chickens small,
Turned she her gaze to that waiting devil apace and
Lo! she set him ablaze! and
As he burned down,
She relapsed into shade…