Consider a single cloud—angry and scowling, drifting away and bobbing up and down, almost like it’s in the ocean trying to reach the horizon, and how dark and maddened, by itself amid plains of skies, giving home to avian flocks who pierce through this lone cloud without hesitation or thought. Upon fields and fields of endless minds, this lost scorned billow, to remain unfound—to exist as such as one only wants to—in reckless fury.
Consider your dead uncle who at the age of 99 hoped that he wouldn’t make it to the turn of the century—how mad was he when he heard the fireworks thunder above Kolkata and his eyes, still open and unsatisfied. And when he finally passed, you smiled and looked at photographs from years ago, remembering his hopeful voice of wanting to no longer be alive—a teacup and a handkerchief—the wisdom in the walking cane, step after step into knowledge now no longer.
Consider the River Ganges, its glittered dhotis and saris floating with stray wooden boats, a hole here a hole there—a rickshaw in the distance, in search of vanilla ice cream, perhaps, and how they bathed and soaped their garments, a cleansing, a ritual, the birth of evening as the sun descended and dissolved just beyond the edge of your tongue. You listened to the current transform your thoughts into holy rays of silence.
So you looked to identify this cloud—the one that filled your skull with confusion and chaos, in search of a friend who lacked love and passion for this place, and in this place, to be slashed by lightning or to vibrate from its rumbling touch, the only touch you recognized in the dizzying rotation of land and mass. Let such sensations take you away and forget about currents shocking your streams for every thought about the pains of each and every continent.
So you saw that child tucked away into a construction pipe as large as the vehicle that shakes along with the uneven streets of Kolkata, stuck in traffic—for every horn, there was progress, for every gesture and nod, there was an understanding that we might reach our destination but the seconds minutes hours were just figments of a taunting dream . Who was that with him—this baby? Maybe a brother or a sister—maybe they seek shelter from the summer heat or perhaps it was their home for the time being and you couldn’t help but to to think about catalytic converters and air conditioning and why you felt so lost and how they, those two, seemed so comfortable and at ease in such a metallic refuge.
So the morning conchs sounded amid the chatter of crows—the rise of day, and how you would look out the window to see a misty city on the brink of its beginnings. You, on the balcony of your grandfather’s flat, a bucket of marigolds next to you, strung along the railings, freshly washed cloths—its aroma ventured and mixed into the sounds of sizzling fish, for an early lunch. Below, cricket on a thin stretch of grass, wickets and rocks, and the murmuring thuds of the game quietly blends in with the waking city.
Consider this cloud—haunted and in search of peace now, and now no longer a desire for misery. To make amends with love all around—the love it rejected since the origin of earth or you. Able now, to cover and let be all that lives below, and consider how, in recognition of its own flaws, to become malleable, and float in harmony with that which it didn’t know. Let it be and let it go—this dark bale of sky.
So evening’s breath—the glowing huts of smoke and fire, and you’d walk around as night arrived, the air lit by cooks. There was a cart where one was selling books, and you stopped to see the collection. Your eyes stinging—you continued walking and let the natural Kolkata ragas consume you. Not so much lost anymore, you consider a single cloud and how it left without a word, and you were left alone in the middle of a Kolkata dream, where there was always a shine a gleam a glimmer because there was always hope—a hope to live and die and a hope to be reborn.
Shome Dasgupta lives in Lafayette, LA. He is the author of i am here And You Are Gone (Winner Of The 2010 OW Press Contest), The Seagull And The Urn (HarperCollins India), Anklet And Other Stories (Golden Antelope Press), Pretend I Am Someone You Like (Livingston Press), and Mute (Tolsun Books), and the forthcoming books, Spectacles(Word West), and Iron Oxide (Assure Press) which is a poetry collection. His stories and poems have appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, New Orleans Review, New Delta Review, Necessary Fiction, Parentheses Journal, Magma Poetry, and elsewhere. He can be found at www.shomedome.com and @laughingyeti.